Vivarium (2019)

I remember when I watched The VVitch years ago and was amazed at how it made somewhat standard scenes seem creepy and scary. A shot of a tree would somehow be one of the scariest moments in film and you have no idea why, it’s just great film-making. This is similar. It has a moment where they drive up a street to a house, that’s it. Nothing happens to them, nothing jumps out at them, it’s just them driving up a street. It’s also the creepiest scene I’ve seen in a LONG time. The houses are identical, like they’ve all been copied and pasted in an unnatural manner. The whole film is like that, the mundane made incredibly creepy through FANTASTIC film-making. Normally in horror it’s darkness that makes things creepy. This is the opposite, everything is so well-light and normal and bright that it’s that that makes it creepy.

The story is good, but ultimately frustrating sometimes as there are multiple questions which don’t get answered. Normally I’d call that annoying and lazy, but with this it works. The tone is perfect for that kind of narrative. It’s supposed to be a confusing mess as that’s what the characters are feeling. It makes you feel as helpless and trapped as the characters. There’s not enough focus on how character empathy can be tied into the narrative structure. I’ve made a conscious decision to do this when I made Poppy Blooms. I intentionally kept everything in that building so that the audience would feel as limited as the character was. The best case I can think of where the opposite has been the case and the narrative structure has been hurt by it will be The Mercy, aka, the film where Colin Firth is stuck on a boat. As I said here the film was supposed to be about how isolated he felt, but it kept cutting back to other characters, and had a lot of flashbacks of him interacting with people, as such you never felt as isolated as he did.

This is the opposite, it’s a confusing mess, because the characters are confused. I refuse to believe the confusing nature isn’t intentional, the film-maker is just too talented for that to be the case. I’m basing that off one film, yes, but it is a very good film. Plus, anybody who made this scene is certainly one of the most talented film-makers the world has.

I highly recommend this film, I’m not going to want to watch it again but I’m very glad I watched it. Well, maybe “glad” isn’t the correct word but you know what I mean, if you have shudder (and if you don’t, you should), it’s available on there.

2018 In Film Part 2: The Meh

The qualifier for this is somewhat more complicated than the previous one. These aren’t necessarily bad films, just films that I don’t need to see again. Mainly films that I didn’t like, but can appreciate one thing in it. So quite bad, but had a single redeeming feature that makes them slightly worthwhile as a curiosity. There’s a few here which I can see people being annoyed about are in here. So I should point out that this is nearly all personal opinion, so please don’t firebomb me.

Adrift

I appreciate what they were going for, and it is a great story they’re telling, it just wasn’t really told well enough. I think part of this is because the central romance seemed incredibly rushed for me. They fell in love incredibly quickly and I didn’t really buy it. It also lacked tension, because if a film is “based on a true story”, and the story is about someone trapped somewhere, you know they get out, otherwise who would they have told the story to?

Original review here

+Great idea, and the lengths Shailene Woodley went to to look the part are very impressive, or the make-up team did a great job on making her look half dead, one of the two.

-A romance story where the leads lack chemistry.

Aquaman

THIS is the one a lot of people will disagree with. A lot of people love this film, and I can kind of see why, it looks good, and has some very funny moments. But personally, I was bored shitless during it. I looked at my watch so much I almost got RSI in my wrist (obvious masturbation is obvious). That’s its biggest flaw, but it is quite a damn big one. I’m not even sure if it had a bonus scene mid-credits, because I left as soon as the film ended, I couldn’t be bothered to go through any more of it.

Original review here

+It looked great, and established the character as a serious hero.

-Soooooo dull. Could have lost at least 30 minutes.

Assassination Nation

Nowhere near as slick as it needed to be. The kick-ass final section is BRILLIANT. But it takes ages to get there. Props to it for having an actual trans actor in it, that doesn’t happen often enough. I feel this film could have been great, if the rest of the film matched how great the closing is, I’d love it. As it is, I feel kind of cheated.

Original review here

+THAT closing section. Also it opening with trigger warnings was pretty genius.

-The pacing.

The Cloverfield Paradox

This is let down mainly by the script and the really poor attempt to link it to the rest of the franchise. The first Cloverfield is brilliant, and it seems like nothing from the series has matched it, mainly because of the ways they’ve attempted to link them into the mythos. All of them would have worked better as unlinked original movies. What do most people talk about in this film? The final two seconds. That’s not the sign of a good movie.

Original review here

+Daniel Bruh is brilliant.

-Bad script.

Fantastic Beasts

This does not seem like Harry Potter, it seems like a cheap knock off written by somebody who has no idea about foreshadowing and legacy. It doesn’t even have the adorable nature of the first film (which, by the way, it completely disregards the ending of within about 4 minutes).

Original review here

+Looks magnificent in parts.

-THAT ending.

The Mercy

A film that I feel was let down the story structure. The fact it went from him alone, to his family, meant that you never really felt isolated like the character was. I felt it would have been stronger to have more of the focus on him. Also, it’s just not, I dunno, ugly enough. Compare it to Adrift, which I didn’t like, but you felt they were near death, you never really got that here.

Original review here

+Looks beautiful

-A bit too beautiful.

Mortal Engines

I feel like this film should have been a bigger deal. For some reason there wasn’t much marketing about it though so I don’t think it did too well. Shame as it’s incredibly inventive and the kind of thing cinema needs to do more often. So why is it in here? The pacing is all over the place, as is the tone, and the character relationships don’t really ring true. Shame as it looks SUPERB.

Original review here

+The set design. Everything looks just dirty enough to seem authentic.

-Script is kind of lacking.

Ralph Breaks The Internet

I would probably think more highly of this film if the first one wasn’t so great. The first one is amazing and is one of the best animated films that’s not Pixar of the last few years. This one? Seems incredibly lazy by comparison. It also is way to reminiscent of The Emoji Movie at times.

Original review here

+The Disney Princess scenes. Expect for them to be ruined in spin-offs.

-Never comes close to being as good as the first one.

Slaughterhouse Rulez

Again, this was probably let down by high expectations. I expected this to be one of the best films of the year. Instead it was just meh. It wasn’t as clever as it needed to be, with only one or two scenes living up to the films potential. It’s not as satirical as it should be, the public school system is ripe for satire, particularly in a horror film like this, yet it doesn’t do it. There’s also hints of a much better film in this.

Original review here

+Asa Butterfield’s character arc is a joy.

-Constantly sets up dominos it has no intention of knocking down.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

Look, I like Kate McKinnon, I really do. When she’s on form nobody can touch her. But she has a tendency to improv too much and it can get a bit grating occasionally. That’s the issue with this film, it seems way too improvised at times, scenes go on too long just for the sake of a small laugh. It doesn’t recognise that sometimes it’s best to sacrifice a small laugh if it doesn’t serve the film well enough. My other issue? The characters don’t seem to take the threat seriously at times, running around joking way too much for people in their situation. So this means we don’t take the threat seriously, so it kind of ruins any dramatic tension.

Original review here

+At times, incredibly funny.

-Too unfocused.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

This movie was patchy as hell. Had really funny moments, and occasionally was incredibly meta and brilliant. And other times it had a farting balloon monster who was defeated by a song. Sadly the it was about 70/30, with the 30 being brilliance. It did have a lot to like about it though, it had a love for comic book movies, which is always great, and some of the moments seem like they could be extended into truly great movies. Just a shame they waste them for 4 minute skits.

Original review here

+The funniest Stan Lee cameo in a while.

-Somewhat embarrassing to watch at times.

Uncle Drew

As far as sports movies go it was thoroughly okay. Serviceable but not the kind of film I’ll remember unless someone points it out to me. Yet I did like it whilst I was watching it, the writer and director were skilful enough to know how to wring emotion when it was needed, yet also how to bring you back to laughter. It is incredibly predictable though, and goes through almost every single sports cliche you care to mention.

Original review here

+Lil Rel Howery anchors the film. Also the fact his character is shown to be good at basketball because he practiced (rather than a natural gift) is admirable.

-Not needed, by anybody. You don’t NEED to see this.

Venom

I really wanted to enjoy this. I wanted it to distract me from life, but it couldn’t. It’s too lazy. Also, it doesn’t go hard enough, this needs to be a hard-R, and it’s PG-13. It is a great potential start though, it could lead to a great franchise, but it has to learn from the mistakes of this movie.

Original review here

+The relationship between the human and the symbiote is great.

-They kept the “turd in the wind” line in.

Widows

I really wanted to like this. I like the director, the writer, the cast, and the story seemed great. Maybe my expectations were too high because it definitely didn’t meet them. It felt emotionally hollow, some of the shots were, I hate to say this, dull. The shot construction never really added anything to the film. Also, the story was a bit, well, meh. You never felt the jeopardy, and it wasn’t even fun enough to make up for it. A real shame.

Original review here

+The performances are simply incredible.

-A twist which adds nothing to the film.

 

 

 

The Mercy (2018)

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

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

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

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