I’ll start with the bad: there’s no Stan Lee cameo in this film. That’s weird, it’s the end of an era. A definitive part of these movies will now no longer happen. You’re so used to it that you expect it, then when it doesn’t happen you remember why, and it’s kind of depressing. But enough about sadness, onto this post-genocide film. This is the first film in the MCU to come out after Endgame, so a lot of eyes are on it. It’s also the first one after Iron Man and Captain America have left. So this needed to be great. Anything less than that would leave it being dubbed a failure. Thankfully this is great, simply great. The story is fantastic. I mean, everybody who knows anything about comic books knows that Mysterio would actually turn out to be the bad guy, so when that happens it’s not exactly a surprise. Jake Gyllenhaal continues to remind you that he’s actually really good. Not as good as he was in Nightcrawler, but good enough to annoy you that he’s not in more films.
The way they do it is pretty damn great though, featuring callbacks to characters you probably don’t even remember existing. It also continues the emerging relationship between Peter Parker and MJ in an incredibly sweet way that will melt the coldest of hearts. A similar heart-warming moment occurs between Ned and Betty Brant. Oh, I guess I should talk about spoilers. I can’t talk about this film without mentioning spoilers. Particularly for the mid-credits scene. Tbh I have been kind of underwhelmed with quite a few of them. They’ve mostly been jokes or otherwise moments which didn’t feel worth waiting for, the notable exception being the Ant-Man And The Wasp mid-credits, which used the mid-credits scene to not only provide an emotional gut-punch, but also make you genuinely excited about what happens next. This tops it. The first one anyway. The second one shows that Nick Fury hasn’t been Nick Fury, he’s actually been one of the Skrulls from Captain Marvel this entire film (you do have to wonder how long that has been going on, how many times in films has Nick Fury not actually been Nick Fury?). This is kind of interesting for the future as it shows how he’s preparing to set up an earth defence system.
But it’s the one before that which is the most interesting: J. Jonah Jameson turns up! Not as a newspaper editor, but as some kind of internet “news” prick like Alex Jones. He plays doctored footage which implicates that Spider-Man committed mass murder. He then shows a video of Mysterio announcing Spider-mans real name. Well, he goes “Spider-mans real name is Pe-” and then it cuts out. You think it’s salvageable. You feel safe. Then it comes back “real name is Peter Parker” then shows a picture of him. This is a huge game-changer for the character. But you know what? I REALLY wish it happened earlier. Just imagine if the two Spider-Man films were somehow earlier, and this happened whilst Tony Stark was still alive. This leads to Peter Parker becoming hated by the world, Tony tries to protect him but Captain America thinks he’s guilty. THIS kicks off Civil War, leads to characters dying, and the guilt of that stays on the conscience of Peter Parker. Then the guilt on Captain America when he has that realisation that he’s been leading a war against a teenager. The emotion of that “shit, I wasn’t thinking, I was a complete prick” moment would have been off the charts. I would have loved that, and not because of how disappointed I was with the lack of consequences from Civil War. Now, that’s all well and good, but who has to play Jameson? JK Simmons was the PERFECT casting for that role and is the best part of the original Spider-Man trilogy. I may not be a big fan of those movies, but I have to admit they nailed that and anybody replacing him would have to try VERY hard to delete JK Simmons from peoples memories. Which poor bastard is replacing him? Luckily they got the perfect replacement. This guy is not better or worse than JK Simmons, but is on the same level. Once you watch this movie, you won’t be able to unsee this guy as Jameson. Instead of JK Simmons, we have……..
Perfect. Absolutely perfect.
So yeah, go see it, it’s brilliant, and sets up the next stage perfectly, shit’s changing, and it’s going to be great to see.
So, that’s it, as close to a season finale the MCU has had yet, this film genuinely feels like closure for a lot of the characters. A fitting closure too, it completes a lot of story arcs which have been running since 2008. Whilst there’s been a few missteps along the way it’s generally accepted that the films have been of high quality and with interacting storylines to keep you invested (even if they weren’t as carefully crafted as they needed to be at times, with major plot holes and continuity errors between separate films). I did love this film, I really enjoyed it, and didn’t feel it outstayed its welcome (which considering it is 3 hours long, really says something). It deserves the praise it’s getting, but I still can’t help but feel slightly disappointed, not with what happened, but with now can’t happen. Like I wish they pushed the Civil War storyline further, as it is it never really felt like a proper division between two sets, it always felt temporary and outside of Civil War itself, kind of small. It never had that urge of paranoia, you never felt like the heroes against registration were under any threat (with the possible exception of Ant-Man in Ant-Man And The Wasp). If you look at the movies after Civil War:
Doctor Strange (completely unaffected by Civil War as not recognised by the government)
Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 (In space so unaffected)
Spider-Man (pro-registration but didn’t affect the movie much. This is annoying as a big part of the Civil War comics was Spider-Man unmasking and revealing his identity, nothing similar to that has happened in this universe since the first Iron Man movie, and that was clearly Tony Starks decision, there’s no “forced to reveal identity” moments yet.)
Thor: Ragnarok. (Again, in space)
Black Panther (not as affected by the Registration Act as it could have been)
Ant-Man And The Wasp (The most affected, but not essential)
Infinity War (just causes a slight “we need to find this person” moment)
Captain Marvel (Set in the past)
To be honest, I can’t even remember if the Act passed at the end of Civil War. That’s how little it’s affected the movies, and that can not be fixed now, it’s too late for it to start coming into effect now, and that’s disappointing. The other thing I’m disappointed in is that there were no post-snap movies. Ok, yeah, technically all movies now are post-snap, but they’re also going to be set after the resolution. There should have been a film between them, so many villain origin stories start with them losing their families, and yet the perfect opportunity for one now won’t happen (oh, spoilers, the people killed by the snap come back, but 5 years have passed in this world so they will be 5 years younger than they should be when they come back, I REALLY hope they make a big point of this in future films). We mostly saw how the snap affected heroes, we didn’t get much of it affecting the world, the opening scenes were done to show that, but the audience isn’t as invested in that as they should be as they’re sitting there waiting for everyone to get revenge on Thanos. Can you imagine how much more effective it would have been if there was an entire movie set in that world? The chaos, the frustration, the paranoia, the fear, the bastards using it to make money, the conspiracy theories! Do ordinary people know it was Thanos? As far as most of them saw, half the world just disappeared with no explanation. The only way they’d know it was Thanos is if someone put out a press release, which I can’t really see happening somehow. So can you imagine the conspiracy theories that would arise from that? It would be INSANE, and yet we will never find out (although I am thinking of writing a short Marvel story set in that universe, just to express that idea).
I know I haven’t spoken much about this film, but I feel if you wanted to see it, you would have seen it already, there’s nothing I can say in this review that will change that. Also, the entire internet has opinions on it and has expressed them better than I could. They’ve been right; it’s emotional as hell, full to the brim with references and fan-service, things are paid off which you didn’t even realise they were setting up, and most characters get their time to shine. It’s not perfect though; Captain Marvel seems misused, only seeming to exist as a Deus Ex Machina, and she’s involved in one of the most cringy moments of the franchise so far which is clearly designed to get a reaction in the cinema but is so false it seems like pandering. Despite how many characters are included, some rather important ones are missing with not even a mention. Also if you think about some aspects of the plot for too long it does seem to fall apart slightly.
But despite that, I highly recommend it, so far it’s been the best example of spectacle so far this year, and I doubt even the Godzilla movie could top it
The opening scene to this did not fill me with hope; Statham’s accent was off, we saw an action scene that wasn’t that great, and the character dynamics were a bit meh. It was at this point I worried, that I’d watch something just dumb, instead of dumb fun. As the film went on, I warmed to it, even at some points being able to tolerate Statham’s accent (why they couldn’t let him do a natural one is beyond me). It isn’t anywhere near as dumb as I expected it to be. I mean, if you think about it for a few minutes there are numerous scientific inaccuracies throughout, but the point is you have to think about it. They don’t immediately jump out at you. It’s fun enough, and well-crafted enough, that you don’t really notice any flaws or problems with it. Yeah sure, once you’ve finished you will have lots of “wait a minute, that didn’t make sense”, but in the moment you don’t care as you’re too entertained. Jon Turteltaub (who also gave the world the best bobsled-themed movie of all time in Cool Runnings, and also gave us the pilot episode of Rush Hour, which I didn’t even realise had a TV show based on it) knows what to do; he is great at showing scale. It would be very easy to forget how big the titular Meg is, to just show a plain shot of it with nothing else in frame to give an indicator, he doesn’t do this; every time the shark is on screen, you’ve given a reminder of how absolutely massive it is. It’s spectacle cinema, but in a different way than Skyscraper was. Skyscraper was about set pieces, this is about creating something larger than life, and I haven’t seen it done this well since Kong: Skull Island. It helps that the CGI holds up REALLY well in this film, there’s not many moments where you sit there thinking “that looks fake as shit”, although you do wonder how a movie featuring a giant shark can look more real than a scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming where two characters have a conversation.
It’s also funny as hell. With the right kind of jokes. You don’t have people get brutally killed then characters making jokes about it, the jokes are contextual and relevant, which is a welcome change.
I’ve spent most of this film gushing over how likeable and fun I found this. I suppose to be balanced I should talk about the bad things. That cast……are actually good. Ruby Rose continues to be incredibly likeable in almost everything she does. Hmmm, okay so I can’t go for that as a negative. Okay, the obvious pandering to the Chinese market…..wasn’t that big an issue. They had good narrative reasons for a lot of it so it wasn’t as jarring as it was in Independence Day. Damn, have to go with something else. The romance….actually kind of worked. Jason Statham’s character is joined by his ex-wife on the trip, so I expected it to go the traditional way and have them get back together. But nope, he ends up with another character, (played by Li Bingbing) joining her and her child. Okay that’s it; the child actor……wasn’t terrible and provided the film with a lot of emotion and heart, wasn’t distractingly awful, and her decisions didn’t render her a useless load on the rest of the characters. This was helped by both her performance, and good writing. Gosh darn it! Going to have to go with something else. The restrictions placed upon it by the rating? Actually that would be a valid criticism. It keeps threatening to be gorier than it is, and it would be a lot more satisfying if we could see more blood. This needs gore, we need to see destruction and lots of people eaten and we don’t get that. There’s a scene in particular near the end where the shark heads towards a crowded beach. The film builds up a brilliant scene full of carnage and fantastic set pieces, which we then don’t get as it pulls away at the last second. The film gives the audience an over-the-pants handjob when it really needs to fuck us.
And that’s where I’m ending this. Next weeks reviews will be The Festival and The Equalizer 2, where I’ll spend most of the review trying not to call it “The Sequalizer”, and probably failing.
Our final look back at 2017, after this it’s onwards and upwards as we look forward to the wonders of 2018 (by which I mean, Coco, Ghost Stories, and Three Billboards, two of which I’ve already seen, so really the year is all downhill from here)
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
The entire film sinks or swims on his performance. If he doesn’t give a good performance then this entire film sinks. The writing, the directing, it’s all for nothing if you don’t buy the central performance. Fortunately, he’s superb. Not just vocally, visually he just owns this performance. Starting off seeming really cocky and arrogant, then ending up terrified. If this doesn’t lead to him leading more films then I officially give up on Hollywood.
I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?
Jason Sudeikis. – Colossal
Genuinely creepy and unsettling. Brilliant. I expected his performance to be comedic and one-note but he managed to turn in a magnificent performance that made him seem like the creepiest person on the planet, but believable. You could see his thought processes in play and knew why he was thinking like that. The revelation about his creepy persona makes sense because of how well it’s been set up. A sign of not only a great performance, but also great writing.
Hugh Jackman – Logan
This is a personal choice, because I didn’t think he could do as much as he did in this. The way he carries the character contains a lot of backstory. He’s no longer the invincible hero, he’s playing him as someone who knows his time is up. Someone who knows he’s not long for this world and is struggling to face his own mortality. It’s a depressing performance for a comic book film, but works wonderfully.
McKenna Grace – Gifted
Want to know how good this performance was? It was a performance by a child actor that I didn’t hate. The character is a know-it-all smartass. So it would be incredibly easy for her character to come off as annoying and pretentious. The way McKenna plays her, however, is great. She’s played as someone who knows the downside of her intelligence, someone who knows that whilst she is much smarter than her uncle/caregiver, that doesn’t necessarily mean she knows more than him. It’s played with a slight vulnerability to her which renders her incredibly easy to root for and support. No idea where she, as an actress goes from here but I’m intrigued.
And she had great chemistry with Chris Evans
Anne Hathaway – Colossal
I do love Anne Hathaway. She’s most known for romantic comedies sadly but has a phenomenal range. For proof of this watch Rachel Getting Married, she gives an amazing performance as a recovering addict haunted by her past choices. She’s just as good in this. Some of that is obviously down to the script, but a lot of it is down to the performance. She plays someone who is broken incredibly well, I’d like to see her as a psychopathic killer in a film.
Mandy Moore – 47 Meters Down
Yes, THAT Mandy Moore. What do you mean, who’s that and what’s that song? Do you people have no respect for late 90’s pop? Damn kids, get off my lawn! Anyway, in this, she was very, very, good. So good that I forgot I was watching a former pop star and just got heavily invested in the story. I kind of forgot I was an actress and felt I was watching actual people. That’s not the easiest thing to do.
Very bad, but all the worst because it had a good concept. If a film is just bad, that’s okay, if a film is bad but has the potential to be good, I find that a lot harder to forgive. Even the good parts of the film seem to have come from other, better films.
Dull, dull, dull. So boring. I’ve suffered from insomnia for years and this film almost put me to sleep. It almost feels like it would take effort to make an action film this dull, so in some ways, it’s actually quite impressive.
The Belko experiment
It runs out of ideas before the trailer has even finished. Would be a great short, but as a feature-length film, it’s an abomination.
The Dark Tower
“surely this isn’t as bad as everybody says?” It is. It really is. And serves as more proof that Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent.
Best Film Moment
Atomic Blonde: The Stairwell Fight
I am a sucker for a good really long shot. Especially in action sequences. I love nothing better than a fight scene where you can almost feel the impact of every hit, where’s there no cutaway before every impact. If one of those goes on for a minute I’m in heaven. I know that doesn’t seem long, but sit back and time that out, and picture a fight scene with no cuts lasting that long. Bit difficult isn’t it? This was NEARLY 10 MINUTES! Now this isn’t actually, one shot, it’s just edited like that, but it’s still a really impressive feat and is visually magnificent. The seemingly unedited nature of it means when the character hits someone, you really feel it. It feels like a fight, rather than a fight scene. It’s actually really great character work too. It means you don’t view Charlize Theron’s character as some kind of invincible hero, you view her as a human who is potentially one mistake away from being severely injured.
Wonder Woman: No Mans Land
No Mans Land. If you want to explain Wonder Woman as a character, and as a feminist icon, show this scene. Without a doubt the best moment in the DC cinematic universe, by a long shot. This film may have been underappreciated when it comes to the oscars (which is something I don’t agree with, but I get why), but this scene is something that I feel deserves to be seen by everybody.
Spiderman Homecoming: The Car Scene
You know the one, where Michael Keaton’s character is taking Peter Parker to the school dance and slowly comes to the realisation of who he is. Marvel films have had great action set pieces in films lately, but this is a great character piece. It’s a testament to both the script and the performances that what could have been dull turned into one of the tensest scenes of the year.
A Monster Calls: The Stories
This was a great film, super depressing and wonderful. But there were moments throughout the film where it became magnificent. Whilst the Liam Neeson tree was telling stories (it’s an odd film) the art style switches from a normal live-action film to something which can be best described as a living water-colour painting. The images flow through each other like they’re made of water showing off a multitude of colours leaving the viewer gobsmacked at the pure unrelenting beauty of the whole thing. This is the one out of the three that you might not have seen, so here’s the scene in question:
Not just a good film, a very very important one too. This is like the fourth time I’ve had to talk about how much I love this film in these end of year blogs. It’s had almost everything you need. Great story, great actors, great script, great directing, not too many cliches. This film will be spoken about for years to come, and hopefully, lead to a resurgence in socio-political horror.
More than just a superhero film, a great western tale about morality and mortality, with a great performance by Dafne Keen too.
Yes, Get Out is a better horror film. But this was more than that. This was a great coming of age film. Genuinely heartwarming with characters it’s impossible to not to love.
The Big Sick
I’m a sucker for romcoms, and I’m a sucker for depressing bleak films. Who’d have thought they’d be a film that can combine both? Made all the better for the fact it’s based on a true story. Also the winner of the “Most surprising cameo by a cast member of Crazy Ex Girlfriend” award, which doesn’t exist as an award, but if it did, this would win it, and Downsizing would win the award for 2018, and nothing else because it was dull.
The “Well I Liked It” Award
Murder On The Orient Express (Rotten Tomato Score: 57%)
The visuals alone should have merited a higher score for this. I think part of the dislike for this is just because it’s a remake. Every single remake has had people bitch that it’s different from the original (I bet back in the day people were complaining that DeNiro in Cape Fear wasn’t as good as Robert Mitchum in the original). Yes, the glut of remakes is a problem. Actually, no, strike that, the glut of lazy remakes is a problem. You can remake anything you want as long as you put the effort in. I would much rather watch a remake made with love than an original idea made “just because”.
Table 19 (Rotten Tomato Score: 26%)
I’d accept a low 50 score for this, but 26 is far far too low. Incredibly funny, great performances and a magnificent script. I’m a sucker for great dialogue, which this had in spades.
The Last Word (Rotten Tomato Score: 37%)
Do people just not appreciate dialogue any more? Yes, the story was cliche at times, but the way it told it was magnificent. Also it should be commended for promising something dark, and then delivering on it rather than just going for the happily ever after ending.
Best Film To Look At
Blade Runner 2049
Because LOOK AT IT!
Do I actually need to say anything else? It looks so gorgeous I almost made an audible response so many times. Almost every shot could be used as a poster.
Mainly because it proved that spectacle cinema can still work in this day and age. I’m a cynical person so assumed it would have no impression on me. Yet I was amazed when I watched it. Was sucked into the universe completely.
Superbly done. Also had one of my favourite endings ever. It made it look like it had a “slightly unhappy but full of hope” ending, then it went the other way and made it super depressing. Most of the film takes place underwater, and it looks gorgeous. There’s one scene where a flare is going through the ocean water and you it’s almost complete darkness apart from the small flare making its way up, beautifully done. Since most of the film is underwater it relies heavily on performance. Luckily Mandy Moore completely knocks it out the arena with her performance in this
-Getting a sequel. Because sequels to shark films always go well. Advice; don’t go 3D and hire Michael Caine.
A Monster Calls
This is not an easy film to watch on an emotional level, almost seems like it’s attempting to emotionally blackmail the audience. It’s kind of a mix between Pan’s Labyrinth and a Neil Gaiman book, sort of a modern-day fairy tale. There are moments whilst the tree is telling stories (it’s an odd film) where the film switches visual styles so it almost becomes a living watercolour painting, it’s awe-inspiring and genuinely new, never seen anything that was done like this (the closest is when Hermione was telling the stories of the Three Brothers in Harry Potter and the style switched to a weird animated one). The only previous film I’ve seen of the director was The Impossible, and that was in 2012 so can’t remember too much about it, but I can remember being really impressed with the way he directed certain moments in it and was really good at creating visual tension, which is a good sign for his next film; the Jurassic World sequel
+The art styles when the monster is telling the story
-Longer than it needs to be. Sigourney Weaver’s accent wavers.
Like a companion piece to John Wick, looks superb and the music is brilliant. Had one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. And there’s one scene which everyone has to see; a single shot fight scene that lasts about 15 minutes, one of (in fact probably the) best fight scene I’ve seen all year. It doesn’t cut away before impact like most do, it’s mostly silent, no music so you hear every hit, and the fight has an effect on people, you can see them get gradually more exhausted as the fight goes on. Highly recommend seeing this.
+THAT scene. Also the soundtrack.
-Comparisons to John Wick are inevitable.
The opening scene alone ranks it among one of the best films of the year. Very well done. Great films usually inspire you into film-making. I think this has the opposite, this is like “yeah we can’t match that”. Bound to inspire a lot of poorly-done imitators. 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 continues to exist.
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.
+A technical masterpiece.
-The plot is wafer thin. And the female characters are woefully underwritten. Oh, and it’s got Kevin Spacey in it which makes it an uncomfortable watch.
Blade Runner 2049
I have not seen the original film, don’t get me wrong, I am aware of the film, and it’s importance, and I understand a few references to it. This, combined with lots of people saying they didn’t understand this film and that it was too complex, made me think that I would hate this film. Not because of what the film is, but because I just wouldn’t get it. My response was going to be “it’s good, it’s just not for me, and I was really confused”. Well, I was confused, I was confused by the confusion. People are talking about it as if it’s a really complex plot where you have to pay close attention to everything in every scene and do a lot of research beforehand to understand, I knew nothing and still knew what was going on, it’s not that complex if you’re paying even the smallest amount of attention. I mean, I understood it and I’m basically a moron.
Was surprised that Harrison Ford didn’t appear until MUCH later than I thought he would. I expected him to make an appearance at about the 1/3 mark. Nope, it was more like the 2/3 mark. Which was a bit strange as he was all over the marketing campaign and was the lead in the original, so a lot of people would have been waiting around him to appear. Although I suppose this did mean that by the time he did appear, everybody was already invested into the story, so he didn’t really take away from Gosling. Make no mistake, this is Gosling’s film, and he nails it. Although the supporting cast does a great job too, So many of your new favourite actress’s will be in this film. A lot of unknowns were cast, yet gave amazing performances. Ana De Armas and Carla Juri deserve special mentions. They both portray their characters with enough vulnerability to make them believable, yet enough determination that they fit this universe. Their characters were great too, you imagined they all had lives outside of this film, they exist on their own terms, not just related to the story. It felt like you could write entire novels based around them.
The world itself was beautifully created as well, not just visually (although it was visually stunning), but also in terms of believability. Those of you who read the review of Valerian will know how important I consider world building to be, particularly in this genre, for films like this the universe it’s set in is almost a character in itself, so if you don’t do that well it really effects it. Done really well in this though, everything looks just dirty enough to be real, yet clean enough to be futuristic. On that note; this film looks SUPERB. You could pause this at almost any point in the film and use that as a poster. This, combined with Arrival last year must surely make Denis Villeneuve one of the best-regarded directors around.
I also liked how the story threw a genuine curveball in the closing stretch. I do like a good twist if it’s well done. That’s the trouble with a lot of plot swerves, they come out of nowhere and make no sense. A good one makes sense, a GREAT one will be so logical you’ll feel stupid for not realising it sooner. So in summary, this is going to be one of those films that pretentious film buffs constantly try to show you, let them.
+LOOK AT IT! Seriously, just look at it.
-Not a “popcorn film”, in the slightest, so won’t appeal to everyone.
Oh, it’s flawed as hell (particularly in terms of time and establishing exactly “when” certain scenes take place in relation to each other) but all those flaws do is take it from a 10/10 to a solid 8. Anne Hathaway gives a performance which equals Rachel Getting Married (which if you haven’t seen, you really should, it’s superb), and Jason Sudeikis is creepier than I ever thought he could be, the kind of performance which makes you think he could easily move into more dramatic roles, or play a serial killer. So well written too, so much so that I immediately looked into the writer and made a note to watch everything he’s done. It’s also extremely unique, I can’t think of a film to compare it too, stands alone in a genre of one, and I can’t see anybody doing it better.
+Unique story wonderfully told
-As creepy as the guy is, his motivations never really ring true.
“You know how films have gunfights between people? Imagine if that was an entire film” “you’re fired”. That’s what should have happened. Instead, we got this, and it is glorious. Definitely worth a watch as a curiosity. It is essentially a gunfight in a warehouse, for an entire film. But it’s done so well that you’re never bored, you never sit there waiting for it to end. It helps that the gunfights are really well choreographed, not every bullet hits, people conserve ammo when they need to, and bullets to the arms actually do damage as opposed to just “ouch, that arm is slightly weaker now”.
+It works. As a concept it really shouldn’t work, but it does, and it’s superb.
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”.
There’s a lot of VERY good eye-acting in this film. I know that sounds stupid but there’s a lot of moments in this film which are enhanced by the way the actors utilise their eyes. A lot of times things that ordinarily would take a lot of dialogue to say is done just via an eye movement. Tremendous showcase of acting skills, and luckily it’s in a very important film. 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. One which is like “think what they could do if they had the mind of a white person”. As such the film has a weird dynamic where the villains kind of worship the heroes. Very weird, very unique, and VERY well done.
This film was 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. I was wrong, he did brilliantly, 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. Don’t get me wrong, it is still very very funny and the mood whiplash between horror and comedy is very well balanced. Usually in films like this you run the risk of having 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. 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.
+The sense of unease that’s present throughout. Its greatness increases on second watch.
-There are not more films like it.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2
Did you enjoy the first one? Then you’ll enjoy this. Just as impressive, funny, and brilliant as the first one.
+Has the emotion that the first one was lacking.
-Apart from that, it’s not that different. Also, the pacing is all over the place.
Happy Death Day
This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.
+Incredibly funny, and with a compelling central mystery.
-Not scary enough.
Oh this was good. This was very good. Get Out was more of a social drama, and Happy Death Day was more comedy, but in terms of pure visceral horror, this one wins hands down. Eye openingly scary. So scary that clowns complained, yet manufacturers of red balloons didn’t, probably because it’s led to an increase of people buying them. Horror remakes are always hard, because they will be compared to the original, and people hate change so usually will detest anything different, but if you don’t do it differently then you end up with Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. So essentially you need to keep same tone, but add a new take on it. This does it, and does it well. Oddly enough it’s kind of sweet as well, but it does have to be because it’s SUCH a character driven film so you need to care for these characters.
John Wick Chapter 2
If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll enjoy this. It’s basically the first film, but more so and in a way that never feels like it’s walking in the same footsteps. One of the first times in a while I remember leaving the cinema and being incredibly excited for the sequel.
+Masterfully well made.
-Does occasionally seem like it was just done to set up a sequel.
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. 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 its 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. 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.
+The first comic book movie I’d describe as a true cinematic masterpiece.
-Very underwhelming villains.
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 Parker 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.
+Tom Holland is perfect.
-Not entirely sure it works as a standalone film. Bit too heavily indebted to other MCU films.
I enjoyed it, a lot. It’s what I deem “social mystery” film. Where the audience has to work out why certain characters are who they are, what caused them to be like that. It’s like an Agatha Christie murder mystery if the victim was good manners. It’s a hard film to describe the plot about without it sounding really bad, it’s mostly just people talking. But the characters are so well created and acted that it works. A lot of people dislike this film, and I kind of see why, nothing really happens. But to me, it was wonderful, one of the most emotionally honest films I’ve seen in a while.
+Really, really funny.
-Attempt at emotional heartpull seems a bit obvious.
The Big Sick
Incredibly funny, and with the right amount of heart. You’d need to be made of stone not to feel touched by this film. The characters are so well-written as well, every character seems fully fleshed out. They seem like they exist outside of the film.
They’re basically my kryptonite, especially dialogue. I’m a sucker for great dialogue. It’s also a genre that doesn’t really get affected too badly by the quality of the way you’re viewing it. Some genres are really badly affected by what you watch them on. Horror, for example, is not exactly something you can appreciate watching on a small television screen on an airplane. With advances in technology happening at an astronomical rate, visual spectacle fades, good writing doesn’t. The best rom-com’s; When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall etc, all have one thing in common; fantastic writing. You can watch them again and again and still love them. They also have a wide audience. As much as I do love odd films like Buried (Ryan Reynolds in a box), Bogowie (a Polish film about heart transplant) and Four Lions (a comedy about suicide bombers), I’m not stupid enough to think they have mass appeal. They’re too weird. Rom-coms are for everyone though. They have universal themes that almost everybody can identify with. So where does this film stand compared to the greats of the genre? It’s a little difficult to tell at the moment, but I have a feeling that if I was to sit down in six years time and watch this, I’ll still love it. It also has the best 9/11 joke you’ll likely to hear all year.
+Will make you laugh cry.
– As much as he nails the performance 95% of the time, there are a few heavily emotional moments where Kumail Nanjiani looks like he’s desperately hiding a smirk, robbing the scene of some of the emotion
The Death Of Stalin
Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.
+Satire that bites so hard it leaves teeth marks.
-Historically innacurate at times. Also, Jeffrey Tambor in it can make it difficult to watch in light of recent allegations.
The Last Word
Holy crap where did this come from? It’s like High Fidelity mixed with Christmas Carol. Really good. I really wish this film had a better marketing campaign so that more people would have seen it. Genuinely one of my cinematic highlights of the year. Seemingly just with me though, a lot of reviewers really hate. I loved it though, very dialogue and character-heavy. Genuinely sweet and heartwarming, there’s a scene near the end which is a bit “meh”, but other than that I loved it. A story about an elderly woman who hires someone to write her obituary before she dies, only a lot better than I made it sound.
+The dialogue. Specifically, as it relates to the lead. So fantastic.
-Not promoted by the studio, like, at all.
The Lego Batman Movie
Usuall, it’s taken me about ten minutes into a film to think “okay I’m into this”, this film sold me in the first sentence. From the opening narration:
“Black. All important movies start with a black screen. And music. Edgy, scary music that would make a parent or studio executive nervous. And logos. Really long and dramatic logos. DC. The house that Batman built. Yeah, what Superman? Come at me bro. I’m your kryptonite”
That sets up exactly what type of film you’re about to watch; a film that’s very silly, and gloriously so. It then gets sillier, there’s an odd faux-mance between Batman and the Joker which culminates in Joker teaming up with Voldemort, Sauron, Godzilla and King Kong. Yes, this film is silly, but you can tell that whilst the film-makers are making jokes about Batman and the mythos, they do have a genuine love for the character and his world, they’ve clearly done their research. References to not only previous films, but also very very obscure villains (who’d have thought that Condiment Man would finally make an appearance?). The story is really good too. There’s a tendency in comedy films to think the story isn’t important, this is very very wrong. Perfect example of this is Airplane, that film only works because of the story, yes the jokes are funny, but they’re funny within the context of a serious situation, the story itself isn’t comedic, but it has comedic situations in it. My rule of thumb for determining whether a comedy films story is good is this: would the plot also as a serious film? I think this one would work, it’s a story about a lonesome superhero dealing with his isolation whilst also maintaining a mutually destructive rivalry with the Joker (which is also one of the themes from the seminal piece The Killing Joke). Since I saw it I’ve been trying to think how to sum it up in one sentence, and I think I’ve finally found it. The sentence which best describes everything about this film, so here it is: this film is basically Deadpool for children. And we all know how great Deadpool was.
Plus, there’s a Christian group in America protesting it and calling it “gay propaganda”, so you have to see it, even if only to annoy them.
+Trying to list all the references this film makes will make your head explode in nerdgastic joy.
-Not much of a sense of tension at any point.
War For The Planet Of The Apes
A stunning end to one of the best trilogies of the last few years. Some people considered the franchise dead in the water after the Tim Burton version, the knives really were out for Rise, but it managed to become highly regarded not just by fans of the franchise, but by the general public. It made weirdly concept sci-fi cool again.
+The ending that this trilogy deserves.
-The realisation that the trilogy has missed out on a lot of opportunities it will now never take.
I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a watercolour painting. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing, like they want to take every possible moment to leave a good impression on the audience. This film is every bit as fantastic as BvS was critically reviled.
+Gal Gadot. This is her film and she owns it.
-Pretty bad villain. Which I’ve just realised is consistent for a lot of superhero films lately. That’s odd as normally villains are the most interesting part, yet for last few years a lot of them have been really bland.
So, that’s 2017 in review. Next week will be the 2017 film awards, then it’s back to usual with random reviews and opinion pieces every monday. And to answer the question; I never got to see Disaster Artist.
So today’s the day. The UK release date of one of the most joyful and fun films of the summer; Spider-man Homecoming. As reviewed here you can tell we love it, so we needed to do something for this. So we decided on this; pre-casting. Much like (i.e. almost exactly the same as) our recasting series only taking place entirely in the past. In this case, it will be if it was made in the mid-to-late 80’s. Yes, we’re turning it into a literal John Hughes movie. Notes before we start; we’re ignoring hindsight for this, if someone was awful in the 80’s but suddenly gained magnificent acting ability in the 90’s, we can’t use them, it’s based entirely on them in the 80’s, future potential means nothing in this.
Peter Parker – Andrew McCarthy.
This is probably the hardest super-hero to cast, ever. Most superheroes you just need an actor who can do one of the following:
Occasionally look dark and brooding.
Be muscular and cool.
Spider-man is the opposite of that, darkness in that character is like a rabbit in the zoo, it just doesn’t belong and if you try to tell me otherwise I will beat you around the head with your “Welcome To The Rabbit Enclosure” sign. I don’t want to say he needs vulnerabilities as that makes it sound like you need him to be able to cry, but you need to cast someone who ideally you can never imagine being a superhero. That’s part of the character’s charm is that he’s truly leading a double life. Bruce Wayne still has an identity and a life worth living outside of Batman, you take away Spider-man from Peter Parker and he’d be destroyed as a person. You also need someone who not only CAN deliver a cheeky one-liner in middle of a fight scene but also make it seem like they’re the kind of person who would DEFINITELY do that if given the chance. Andrew McCarthy is one of the brat pack actors that people seem to have forgotten about for some reason, which is unfair as he was tremendously talented (still is, only has moved into directing with Orange Is The New Black). He’s someone who can play a wise-ass, but not an ultra-confident bullying one. As such I think he’d be perfect for this.
Mary Jane Watson – Molly Ringwald
Some of these justifications will be longer than others. This one is simple; She’s Molly Fucking Ringwald and everybody is a little bit in love with her, if you’re not, you’re lying to yourself, and to me.
Anthony Michael Hall – Green Goblin
I always thought he had a hidden darkness to him, like his characters are just one insult away from snapping and trying to destroy the world. So thought he’d be great as Green Goblin, thinking specifically of how the character was portrayed by James Franco in the movies. Somebody who feels underappreciated and overshadowed by his friend. Someone who would definitely describe himself as a “nice guy” whilst he plies women with alcohol so he can sleep with them. Someone who’s villainry is not only justified to himself, but he also sees it as the only logical thing to do.
Sandman – Emilio Estevez
Cheating with the ages a bit here, but it’s an 80’s comic book movie, authenticity to the source material was never exactly top of the list. In this he’s a football player who got injured when he was a background character in a Spider-Man fight scene and so harbours a grudge against him. He follows him around to gather dirt on him and ends up in a freak accident where he becomes Sandman. Never really considers that Peter Parker is Spider-man as he’s so far different in terms of social status that he doesn’t acknowledge him. You need an arrogant dick with a ruthless stare for this, so Estevez.
Aunt May – Mai Zetterling
Finally, someone who wasn’t in the breakfast club. The trouble with casting Aunt May in things like this is it can be easy to forget her toughness and determination. You need someone who seems like the kind of grandparent who treats their grandkids really well, but who is feared by her own children. Odd thing about this casting is it would have been her first film in over 20 years, and last time she was seen she looked a bit different, she was one of the original sex symbols in cinema, so to see her go from that to kindly Aunt May would be an odd transition, and would definitely help ticket sales even if only out of curiosity.
Flash Thompson – Rob Lowe
Obviously. Although this is dependent on one thing; Flash Thompson’s character being merged with Sandman is a definite possibility in this so would need to be differentiated enough. I think only way to do this would be in their interactions with the characters, Flash is the tormenter of Peter Parker, whilst Sandman is tormenter of Spider-man, play enough off the similarities between the two and it could end up being pretty intriguing.
So, that’s it for today. Where did we go right? Where did we go wrong? And why did we not cast John Cusack?
As I’ve said before, who exactly were these films aimed at? People who liked the originals won’t want to watch these as tonally they’re completely different, and it wasn’t as though there was a huge demand for them. Now if they did it in the 90’s, that’s a different story. Those two shows were both at their peaks and films released at cinema based on those would have made big money. But 90’s was a weird time for TV films, they tended to have terrible reputations (not entirely because of all the terrible films based on Saturday Night Live skits, but they certainly didn’t help). The only one that comes to mind that REALLY worked was South Park, which seemed to be the tipping point for the show and changed it from “this show will cause harm to children” to “cultural icon”.
Ideal director: Roland Emmerich (again)
Again, why exactly was this made? This would have made A LOT more sense in the 90’s. Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and Dragonheart (google it) showed what could be done back then, and the capabilities of creating a realistic looking giant ape (which is trickier than other giant animals mainly due to the hair, seriously, hair is REALLY hard to animate without looking fake as hell) was possible on a fundamental level, as proven by that classic film, Mighty Joe Young. Come on, you know that film. Oh, you don’t? Nobody does? Oh, okay, maybe that’s why a Kong 90’s film wasn’t made.
Ideal director: John Hughes
Very specific time of the 90’s, early 90’s. John Hughes 90’s, that time when films aimed at children seemed to still be suffering from an 80’s hangover. The perfect time for this would have been around 1991. With Batman Returns about to be released, and with the success of the first live-action Batman still in minds, studios would have bought up more comic book properties and used them in unique ways. A Bush/Reagan-inspired ultra American Superman movie would have been made to try to make people try to forget about Quest For Peace, a Terry Gilliam Watchman would have been made, with David Bowie doing the soundtrack (and probably playing Dr. Manhatten), and to cater for teens a John Hughes Spiderman would have been made. Okay, it would have been better in the 80’s, and casting an 80’s Spiderman Homecoming is a whole different conversation altogether (that’s called foreshadowing).
Happy Death Day
This would have killed in the late 90’s. Just after Scream landed but before horror got all serious and torture-porn-ey. Probably with Sarah Michelle Gellar in the lead, with a soundtrack consisting of The Offspring and Blink 182. The more I think about this the more I think that would have been fucking awesome. Basically like Idle Hands, which is one of the most 90’s horror films I’ve ever seen in my life (and is quite funny).
Ideal director: Roland Emmerich
Here we go, the film that inspired this entire list. I showed someone the synopsis to this and their response was “are we sure this wasn’t made in the 90’s?”. Kind of cheating as this film was delayed horrifically and wasn’t originally meant to be released this year, although not massively cheating as it was supposed to be released in 2016, which wasn’t a massive difference, although it does explain the obvious reshoot moments. It’s not just the story where this is 90’s, a lot of the story beats seem to come straight from a 90’s perspective; English villain, a moment where a dog nearly (but doesn’t) die, a small child, a needlessly happy ending that seems to come out of nowhere and completely ruins the notion of self-sacrifice.
Roald Dahl may have hated almost every film that was made of one of his books, but to me, they usually work pretty well. Willy Wonka will always have a special place in my heart (mainly because of Gene Wilder), and The BFG last year was so good it was described as
“fairy lights and sunshine on celluloid”
by someone incredibly important and intelligent (yeah, it was me). Am I missing any out?
Oh yeah, that one. So whilst Dahl hates them, films of his work are generally loved by people. That’s down to the worlds he creates, the fact he writes FANTASTIC child characters, and of course, the stories. With a lot of children’s books, you look at them as “books for children”, books which are fine if you’re young, but lose their magic as you get older. And the ones that don’t suffer from another problem; you can easily see their influences. You can read them and think “oh, the author obviously has read x before”. These don’t, they’re unique stories, wonderfully told, that’s why the films work.
2. It’s quite dark.
Well, I saw “quite”, it features a scene where the main villain changes a small child into a mouse. It’s not instantaneous, it’s like you can feel it happening to you, you can tell it’s not painless. It also features a scene where the villain tries to push a baby off a cliff. I love kids films like this, ones which you watch them as an adult and think “why did we let kids watch this?”. It’s kind of basically a kids horror movie (much like Goosebumps, which I still recommend everyone go see). I mean, the opening features a child being cursed so they disappear into a painting. That’s not a kids movie, that’s a fucking Twilight Zone episode.
3. Ensemble Cast
Okay, the kids acting isn’t exactly good, but the adults are. Jane Horrocks is lovely and her silent disgust is evident throughout, Rowan Atkinson is good with the small amount he’s given. My favourite though is Mai Zetterling. This was one of her final films and she really shines, it makes me sad she wasn’t in more things. She’d have been perfect as Aunt May in a John Hughes made Spiderman movie in the 80’s (what a good idea for a blog that would be, that’s foreshadowing).
4. Anjelica Huston
This film is hers. She doesn’t so much chew the scenery, as cut it into small manageable pieces and delicately nibble on it. She plays such an evil character with so much poise and sophistication (so much so that she doesn’t seem to walk, but glide) that she almost becomes likeable. I think she may be one of my favourite actresses, when she’s good she’s REALLY good. There’s this, The Addams Family, and 50/50, and I’m sure there are many others which I’ve yet to watch. She’s one of the few actresses I’d really love to be able to meet and just talk about her films with her.
5. Possible remake
Usually, I’d be set against this, but apparently, if it gets made it will be done by Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, with Jennifer Lopez as the main witch. I want that so much. And now I’ll end this the same way I end every day; with casual attempted infanticide.
I can’t really make a fair judgement on this as I have never seen any of the others. Despite that, I did recognise a lot of scenes from this that seemed to be taken straight out of the other films in the series.
Funny, easy to get through, and kind of quotable too. Great youtube series.
The opening scene alone ranks it among one of the best films of the year. Very well done. Great films usually inspire you into film-making. I think this has the opposite, this is like “yeah we can’t match that”. Bound to inspire a lot of poorly-done imitators.
Not the best film ever but a great time-waster. The kind of film which I could see buying on VHS from a boot fair in the 90’s. Some great jokes, and very unsubtle. Odd that this is seen as a John Candy movie, I see it as more of an ensemble piece. Alan Alda, in particular, is great. Unlike a lot of satire, this has actually aged REALLY well, particularly in regards to the American invasion of Iraq/Afghanistan/Cornwall. There’s one line in particular which has aged, erm, weirdly. When they’re trying to find a new enemy to declare war on, someone suggests international terrorism, to which someone replies:
“Well, sir, we’re not going to re-open missile factories just to fight some creeps running around in exploding rental cars, are we, sir?”
Doesn’t really seem like Pixar. More like Dreamworks. Even the way they use music seems very Dreamworks. Pixar movies are supposed to be monumental events that change your life, this really isn’t one.
The worst Pixar film I’ve seen (and I think I’ve seen all of them). Doesn’t help that it focuses on the worst character from the previous film. I usually describe Pixar films I don’t like as being “almost like a Dreamworks movie” (see above for evidence). This was more like “Mid 90’s Disney straight to video sequel”
A song I loved so much I used it in a script almost immediately after hearing it.
Despicable Me 3
Too much going on. Has about five separate plots going on. The story (well, stories) are only there as an excuse to tie chaotic scenes together. It’s like the scenes were written first, then the actual story was thought of later.
One word to describe this: impressive. Visually, in terms of performance, in terms of the way the story is told, it’s all very impressive. The one thing that stops it being perfect (in my eyes, anyway), is that it’s missing that one standout scene. That one “even if you don’t watch the film, you have to watch this” scene.
Picture what you think this song sounds like, yup, that’s exactly what it sounds like.
Gone Baby Gone
Amy Ryan is really good in this. Almost unrecognisable from her role in The Office. I wrongfully assumed she was just a comic actress, but her performance in this is sensational, almost makes me wish this was released this year so I could put her in the “best performance” category at the end of the year. Casey Affleck is, erm, he’s okay. Nowhere near as good as he was in Manchester By The Sea, but you can see the genesis of his performance in that film in this one. It also has one of the most brutal endings I’ve seen in a while.
The sound of a drunken party in New Orleans. But a “teenage movie” drunken party where the worst thing that happens is somebody spills their drink. Nobody vomits, nobody fights, and nobody gets angry. They just drink and dance.
It Comes At Night
I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. Probably because I saw at the cinema. I know some horror works great at the cinema, but I feel this would work better on your own in a small room. You need to feel part of that world, feel isolated, like a visitor in their world, and sitting in a vast room full of other people takes you away from that.
Next Goal Wins
A documentary about the Western Samoa national football team (or “soccer” team to those of you are wrong) who suffered one of the biggest defeats in international football when they lost to Australia. Interesting moment in here where they talk about one of the players who is “third gender”. At first, I was annoyed at how they talked about it, to me that seemed like a much more interesting story than the one being told, then it hit me; the fact they’re not treating it as a big deal is fascinating, and is a big deal. It’s not about them, it’s about the team as a whole. The fact they are so nonchalant about it is wonderful, and kind of beautiful.
Some of the dialogue makes me think the writer has a rom-com in him somewhere. So natural and brilliant. Performances are a little stilted at times, very “end of year school play” air to some of the line deliveries. There’s a child in it, very briefly, who has the best delivery out of all of them. Her tortured cries are so realistic it makes me wonder whether this is actually a snuff film. This film is actually a lot better than its reputation would have you believe. Yes, the series did eventually descend into torture-porn, but the first film has one hell of a plot (also, one hell of a plot-related issue, but meh). Remarkably restrained, a lot of the horror comes from the situation, and one of the most brutal scenes is one where you don’t actually see anything, you just hear it.
I love it. So so much.
Stuart Saves His Family
Dark, but could afford to be darker.
The opening episode features a puppet prostitute getting shot in the head. What more do you want from a TV show? A buddy cop comedy set in a world where puppets not only exist, but deal jelly beans instead of drugs. The main character is called Herbie Smooshiloops, and at one point gets a ukelele out for a police press conference. Very funny, and a really good story. That kind of thing is usually not done in comedy, people have a tendency to think “well if the laughs are good, you don’t need a story”, wrong. Very very wrong.
The Last Word
Holy crap where did this come from? It’s like High Fidelity mixed with Christmas Carol. Really good. I really wish this film had a better marketing campaign so that more people would have seen it. Genuinely one of my cinematic highlights of the year. Seemingly just with me though, a lot of reviewers really hate. I loved it though, very dialogue and character-heavy. Genuinely sweet and heartwarming, there’s a scene near the end which is a bit “meh”, but other than that I loved it. A story about an elderly woman who hires someone to write her obituary before she dies, only a lot better than I made it sound.
Weird references to 9/11 and Katrina (i think it’s Katrina anyway). On the one hand, it places it in the world. On the other, it seems a bit, I dunno, weird to use those things where thousands of people died as a plot point in your piece of shit movie. I think that might actually be my biggest problem with it, not that it uses real life deaths in a film, but that it uses real life deaths in a shit film. This series will definitely have to suffer through a Halloween-watching live blog at some point.
The Space Between Us
I was actually looking forward to this. But no, just no. Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, and Gary Oldman do the best with what they can, but what they’re given was not great. My main issue is the obvious lack of scientific accuracy. May seem a bit nerdy, but it’s not high-level science they fail, what they do is the equivalent of a medical TV show saying “she got pregnant because she held hands with a man”. You wouldn’t see that in a TV show as it’s obviously false and only belongs in Alabama sex education classes.
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.