Wednesday, 21 June 2017

'The Mummy' Review

 Originally, the new branded Universal Dark Universe was to be started off with 2014's 'Dracula Untold'. Due to negative reaction, the film seems to have been removed from the slate of Dark Universe films. If the same cruel fate was to be applied to 'The Mummy', we could expect another restart to this collective universe.

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) makes a living selling off ancient artifacts on the black market to the highest bidder. Whilst under attack in Iraq, Nick and his partner unearth Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an Egyptian princess who was mummified alive and imprisoned for thousands of years after trying to take over the Egyptian empire. With Ahmanet now free, her powers are growing stronger as she looks to bring the God of Evil to life by using a human host. It is now up to Nick to stop her before the world feels her true power.

'The Mummy' currently sits at 16% on review site Rotten Tomatoes. To put that into perspective, that's lower than 'Dracula Untold' (23%) and lower than 1999's 'The Mummy' (58%) and 2001's 'The Mummy Returns' (47%). The fact that this reboot has done worse than the previous 'Mummy' films and the disowned 'Untold' is a damning indictment on the start the 'Dark Universe' has made. What was once a great series of horror monster films, now looks set to become a series of generic action films.

The film does get off to a fairly good start, doing a good job of establishing the mythology surrounding Sofia Boutella's Ahmanet, showing the evil the princess possessed whilst making motivations clear. Unfortunately, less than 5 minutes later, Tom Cruise jumps in to turn this into another generic action film. Cruise, stunts, and explosions soon become the main focus for the film which ultimately is the downfall of the film. John Landis was quoted as saying " As soon as you announce that Tom Cruise is in 'The Mummy', you know you're not going to see a horror picture! It's not gonna be 'The Mummy', it's going to be the Tom Cruise show" and this definitely seems to be the case. In a film like this, the focus should be mainly with this character, making them be feared and truly a monster. This is the case even more so when you have someone as talented as Sofia Boutella as the titular character but she is criminally underused.

Boutella isn't given lots to do in the film as her character seems to suffer from what most Marvel villains do. The supposedly feared Ahmanet allows a large group of faceless henchmen to do most of the work, leaving her with less screentime as we hardly see her do anything. It also doesn't help that the film looks to get absolutely everything that Tom Cruise does into the final product as possible. There is a clear example of this in the film where Ahmanet approaches armed guards to get into a tomb and right before we get to see what she can do, it changes to a different scene with Tom Cruise. Boutella has shown her capabilities in films like 'Kingsman' and 'Star Trek Beyond', where both films utilized her skills to great results. Unfortunately, she was not used nearly as well in this film which is a huge missed opportunity. 

In all fairness, the film does have some exciting moments featuring good stunts and choreography. The plane scene where Cruise and co-star Annabelle Wallis are floating in zero gravity is quite marvelous to watch and is the kind of thing that Cruise excels at. Cruise's performance is what you can expect from him in any other film which does give it that feeling of being a generic action film. You could swap out Cruise for any of his other recent characters and there would be very little difference if any. When the character is facing off against supernatural presence, you'd expect a lot more fear from the character. However, Cruise never really seems fazed by this and just goes on as if it's an everyday encounter.

That is the main problem with the film as a whole. There are many moments that the film could take more serious to make it seem more dangerous or creepy but it is ruined by an out of place joke, One of the first encounters between Cruise's character Nick and Ahmanet is a sacrificial ceremony as she looks to execute Nick. For some reason, the creators felt it was a good idea to have moments where Cruise would be laughing throughout and then shortly placing a comedy moment in the same scene. The use of Jake Johnson in this film didn't help as he was this figment of Cruise's imagination and used solely for comic effect. Again, this felt so out of place especially when it is happening during the main attack from Ahmanet, who should be feared not treated as a joke.

'The Mummy' shows just how a big budget movie can be a joy to look at with great sets and well-filmed action can still be a tonal mess with a weak story and poor use of talent. The decision to make this have more laughs and jokes really doesn't help a franchise where you look to build monsters. We don't need another generic action franchise. The Dark Universe can and should be so much more different to anything else as it has such great characters to use. There is nothing from 'The Mummy' that suggests the 'Dark Universe' is heading in a different direction and due to that, I can't say I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of these films. Boutella is underused, the Mummy isn't the main attraction, there's very little horror and threats are treated like a joke. A huge missed chance and an even bigger disappointment.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'The Mummy'? If so, what did you think of the movie? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the movie. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

Friday, 16 June 2017

'Wonder Woman' Review

It's safe to say that the DC Extended Universe hasn't got off to the best of starts. with 'Batman V Superman' and 'Suicide Squad' failing miserably and 'Man of Steel' being nothing more than an average film. Due to this, a lot of pressure was on the shoulders of their latest film to bring some credibility to the series. 'Wonder Woman' brings life to the DCEU by blowing its predecessors out of the water and in doing so, takes its place amongst the hierarchy of superhero films.

Before she became Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was an Amazon Princess called Diana, a warrior who was brought to life by the God Zeus. Diana grows up on an island hidden from the rest of the world until World War 1 spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on the island. After saving Trevor, he tells her of an ongoing conflict that is killing many people all over the world. Believing this to be the work of the evil God of War Ares and that she can help end this trouble, Diana decides to go with Trevor to help fight and try to end the war.

Patty Jenkins makes her long-awaited return as a director in a feature film with only her second film and the first big budget movie that she has helmed. Due to her lack of involvement in feature films, it was questioned whether it was a good idea for Jenkins to direct such a big budget and socially important film. Once the credits start rolling, all of those doubts have been put to bed as 'Wonder Women' succeeds on many levels.

It's been made clear that DC should look to Marvel as inspiration for how to handle their cinematic universe, with it looking like DC have been rushing their projects to catch up with their competition. 'Wonder Woman' does what no DCEU film has done before. It is handled with care and precision as every detail is used to help progress the character and the story. A bit more time could have been spent on looking at exactly what Diana's powers are - as someone fairly new to the character, there were some surprises that seemed to come out of the blue. In comparison, 'Wonder Woman' unsurprisingly does a better job than the DCEU's previous origin stories, creating an instantly likable, entertaining and charismatic lead character from the beginning.

When it was announced that Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman, I was very skeptical. I was yet to see her in anything as a lead character and thought of her has someone who would only be capable of providing a supporting role. I never thought that she would be considered to be one of the first female leading roles for a modern superhero movie, especially with all the pressure that would come with that responsibility. Thankfully, I was proved wrong. Any queries I had surrounding the Israeli actress were removed after watching her fantastic performance as the Amazon princess. Gadot shines throughout the film, whether she is adapting to 1910's Europe or showing great humour and wit and of course, in the action scenes. Fans of the character can relax knowing that their beloved heroine is not only in good hands but is the shining star of the franchise so far.

Of course, Gadot is not alone in her quest to bring credibility back to the DCEU. The only Chris not in the MCU Chris Pine plays off Gadot as Steve Trevor, an American Spy who crash lands on Diana's island and brings her to the war effort. Pine and Gadot share excellent chemistry as Trevor is tasked with explaining and guiding Diana through 1910's war-ridden Europe. Due to the chemistry from the pair, the moments where the two are just traveling and getting to know each other are just as enjoyable as the superhero action that you are expecting. The likes of Robin Wright, Ewen Bremner and Connie Nielsen provide good support but don't have a patch on Gadot and Pine who really steal the show.

With superhero films, the downfall is usually that the villain is not that strong and this, unfortunately, is the case for Wonder Woman. The film actually has three villains, General Ludendorff (Danny Huston), Dr. Poison (Elena Anaya) and later on in the film Ares (David Thewlis) but there isn't enough focus on any of them, especially the latter. Ludendorff and Dr. Posion are the main targets for Steve Trevor and the war effort but there isn't much from them that is memorable. We aren't given any reason to really fear these characters or feel that they can be a threat to Wonder Woman which makes it obvious how the eventual encounter will end up. There is some intrigue behind the Dr. Poison character which I look forward to seeing more of in the future. There is a twist surrounding Ares and that he has been masquerading as someone else all along. For me, this twist didn't work too well and took me out of the film as I couldn't imagine a God just sitting in day to day life as some sort of politician. I guess it does make sense that the God of War would surround himself with people sending others to war whilst they stay and twiddle their thumbs.

What 'Wonder Woman' does so well is create so many morally complex situations. Steve Trevor is constantly faced with difficult decisions, made harder due to Diana's rash decision making and lack of knowledge. The actions of the characters really affect what happens in the next scene to drastic effect. These moments really take a toll on Diana which makes her seem human and that she truly feels the effects of what she has indirectly caused. This is something that isn't often developed too well in this genre but 'Wonder Woman' really succeeds with this element.

With such a high-budget superhero film like this, you expect the action to be very good and that is true for the most part. Jenkins does well with the action although does seem a bit obsessed with the slow motion effect during scenes. These are a bit overplayed and do make it feel quite video game like at times but the most important part is that it is all easily visible and won't give you a headache. A problem that I do feel with the DCEU's action, in general, is that the final battle is just punches and people being sent for miles rather than something that seems choreographed. That is just a personal preference but it did disappoint me that the climatic battle did end up like that. Other than that, there aren't many complaints. The over the top action scene is absolutely incredible which is made even better due to Rupert Gregson-Williams score that had inspiration from the Wonder Woman theme in 'Batman V Superman'. Those who enjoy the typical superhero action films will enjoy Wonder Woman as the standards are met for the general audiences.

I'm surprised by how good 'Wonder Woman' actually was as I certainly had doubts surrounding the film and its lead actress. Thankfully, they've proved me wrong big time and even more impressively, restored my faith in the DCEU. In a time where a superhero film is released every other month, 'Wonder Woman' does a great job at feeling fresh and maintaining a high quality. An important film that hopefully opens more doors for female filmmakers and inspires many more

Final Verdict =

So have you seen 'Wonder Woman'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not, which I encourage that you do. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

Saturday, 22 April 2017

'Rules Don't Apply' Review

Small town talent show winner and devout Baptist Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) arrives in Los Angeles, gaining a contract under the legendary Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty). Once she arrives, she is introduced to Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) who would work as the young actress' driver and the pair hit it off instantly. However, both have strong religious beliefs as well as Hughes rule that no worker may have an intimate relationship with a contract actress, forbidding them from being together.

The last film that Warren Beatty directed, wrote and starred in was nineteen years ago with 'Bulworth' which he gained an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Beatty has had a great career in film, succeeding on so many levels with different aspects of filmmaking. However, it is a total shame to say that Beatty is the main reason that 'Rules Don't Apply' is not a success.

If you have seen the trailer for 'Rules Don't Apply', you would see that the film is advertised as romance film between Lily Collins and Elden Ehrenreich's characters. Although this is still an element within the film, it is, in fact, a very small aspect of the story. The film does actually start off with a focus on the relationship between Mabrey (Collins) and Forbes (Ehrenreich) but it is soon moved to the side for Beatty as Howard Hughes to come in and be the main character of the film and turning the film into a biopic of some sorts. 

The film starts off with Marla first coming to Los Angeles with her mother, wide eyed with high hopes and she is soon introduced to Frank Forbes and Levar (Matthew Broderick) who will work as a driver for her whenever necessary. The rules for the drivers is that they are forbidden from having intimate relationships with any of the contracted actresses, creating a conflict and a barrier for the two protagonists to battle against. As the film starts to develop the relationship between the two, Collins and Ehrenreich's chemistry shines, engaging you into the film and makes you care for the two characters. The scenes where the two are onscreen together are by far the most enjoyable as the film plants the seeds early on for the two and you expect the film to just flourish from then on. This is until about twenty minutes in when Howard Hughes is introduced into the story.

As Hughes (Beatty) is introduced, the film slowly and gradually becomes more and more frustrating as the focus moves away from the two characters you were invested in early on. Beatty takes the spotlight and runs away from it but not in a good way, as the story changes into a telling of the latter years of Hughes life, where it was questioned whether he could function on his own or not. This takes centre stage and despite Beatty being fine in his performance, it is nowhere near as interesting as what was shown in the first twenty minutes and in the trailer. Warren Beatty seemed to be on a mission to make sure that everybody knew that he had an impact on this film. Despite being the writer and director, Beatty cannot hold himself back from completely messing the film up in what can only be described as Beatty going mad with power. There are a couple of decent moments involving Beatty such as the long ongoing shot with himself and Ehrenreich exchanging small talk to one another which does show that he does possess great talent. But the problem is that he wants to be the star of everything. He meddles too much with the film and it takes you away from what you want to see in the film. It seems like Beatty wanted everyone to know that this was his and only his film.

The film could've and should've followed the relationship between Collins and Ehrenreich but it, unfortunately, does not. We get treated to over an hour and a half of Beatty holding business partners up and showing glimpses of dementia. The rest of the cast is then resorted to simply playing second fiddle as the film abandons its best parts, all so Beatty can be the star. It's not very often that you see a creator become so madly in love with themselves and put themselves in the forefront despite the film's best interests. This is a project that's only intention is to make Beattrelevantnt in todays society after years of inactivity. He would've done just that if he had just took a step back and just wrote and directed a competent romance film. Beatty is charming enough to even play a good side character who can help the film progress, instead, he completely destroys it. 'Rules Don't Apply' is a frustrating mess as early on, it has the potential to be a worthwhile watch. However, it doesn't continue that and instead is as clear a vanity project you'll ever see.

Other than the clear meddling, the film does well to capture the old Hollywood feel, with its cinematography, setting and costumes playing a big role in doing so. The film is really easy on the eyes with everything looking great in what is the most consistent part of the film. As far as the acting goes, there is no real problem with any of the characters. Matthew Broderick provides great support as does Beatty's wife Annette Benning, bringing some great scenes amongst a cast mainly much younger than themselves. The experience shines through from these veterans who showcase their talents with limited screentime but lasting impact. 

A return after many years is, unfortunately, a disappointing one. This could've been so much more but it is a frustrating mess of a film. An egotistical power trip does not make a good movie and hopefully, those involved will not be harmed too much by it as they are not the problem with this film.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Rules Don't Apply'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my blog, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

Thursday, 30 March 2017

'Life' Review

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are close to a ground-breaking discovery- the first finding of life beyond Earth. As the crew begin their research on the extraterrestrial life form, it grows and becomes smarter before eventually breaking free from quarantine. The crew must do whatever it takes to stop this creature from reaching Earth.

Looking like a cross between 'The Thing' and of course, 'Alien', 'Life' looked to face a struggle as it looked to create a new sci-fi/horror film in space. With claims that it was just 'Alien' but updated, many have been put off of the film. There is no denying that the trailer may seem similar but it is unfair to brandish this film as being exactly the same due to an alien attacking in outer space. As long as there are new, fresh ideas within this genre, there is no problem. And that is the case with 'Life'. Is it as good as 'Alien'? No. But it is most definitely a competent and effective film within its genre.

'Life' brings a much more realistic look to a horror/sci-fi film as it simply looks at what would happen if we found life beyond Earth and if it wasn't friendly at all. There isn't anything elaborate with the plot. There's no invasion, no real conflict to begin with and not even that much exploration that we get with space movies. Instead, the film focuses on making this film feel claustrophobic by keeping it in tight settings with characters not having loads of room to roam around in. The characters are also moving in zero gravity throughout the whole film, making it even harder for our protagonists to move around. Small details like this really changed the look of the film, giving it its own identity whilst showcasing films that it has been inspired by at the same time. 

The cast although fairly small for a feature length is made up some great talent that really elevates the film. The A-list stars Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal shine with Reynolds bringing great wit, whilst Gyllenhaal is the more focused character who as it at the centre of what is going on. The film also brings great diversity within its cast, none of the actors featured are from the same country with three different continents on show at the same time. The supporting characters such as Hiroyuki Sanada and Ariyon Bakare are excellent in their roles but it is Rebecca Ferguson who yet again steals the show. Ferguson is fantastic throughout the whole film, reacting great with wonder early on and then terror as the film progresses. Ferguson is a star who deserves more roles as she makes everything that she is in instantly better. What I really enjoyed about the characters in this film was that they weren't making stupid decisions that were brainless. This is a trope well known in horror so it was refreshing these incredibly smart characters not act stupidly and try to do the best thing in order for their crew to survive. Whenever someone is vanquished, it's due to the evolution of the creature, not by luck and stupidity from the characters.

As the horror elements go, 'Life' succeeds a creating a horrifying situation. The idea of being in space with something that cannot be controlled is a terrifying situation. For me, being stranded at sea is scary enough but being trapped in space in claustrophobic conditions seems much worse, nevermind with a creature hunting you down to grow stronger. The film does a great job handling the creature - known as Calvin - throughout the film. We see a clear progression with the creature as it not only grows but becomes smarter as the film goes on. This aspect was handled very well as the creature seemed like a true threat that only got more powerful, rather than it just happening all of a sudden. There is time dedicated to showcasing this but it would be safe to say that some of the characters could have done with more focus on them at the same time. The environment allows for an easy eery and creepy setting to be created and director Daniel Espinosa deserves credit for achieving this.

In a film like this, where the backdrop is outer space and there is a CGI main character - the creature Calvin -, the special effects have to be on point. Once again, the film cannot be criticised for how it looks. This is a beautiful looking film with the special effects working very well. The background of outer space is beautiful but yet carries that fear the film looks to bring. The creature also looks unique and frightening as the film progresses. The set design also is fantastic as the film looks to bring that claustrophobic feeling to the film. Without this, the film may not have been nearly as effective.

Lastly, the ending of this film is really great. The intensity is raised to the highest throughout the whole film as the film really pays off. There is great drama and horror that combine incredibly well with pounding music that makes a very effective ending. Some say that it may be predictable but it is an effective and perfect way to end the film. 'Life' isn't a game changing film and yes, you can see inspiration from other films. But there's definitely a lot more to this film than just an 'Alien' rip-off. This film deserves a lot more credit and it's a shame to see an original film like this get an unfair rep. For fans of the genre, 'Life' is worth seeing as it is an effective, tense movie with some great performances. Go into this film with a clear mind and don't look to compare it to other films with similar ideas. It's not a carbon copy and deserves more acknowledgement than that. 

Final Verdict =

So have you seen 'Life'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

Monday, 20 March 2017

'Beauty and The Beast' Review

Belle (Emma Watson) is an intelligent young woman who lives with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline). One day when Maurice goes out to sell goods, he is taken prisoner by a Beast (Dan Stevens) who mistakes Maurice as an intruder. Belle takes her father's place as the Beast's prisoner. It soon becomes known that the Beast is a prince who has been transformed due to his inability to love someone. As time goes on, Belle becomes closer to the Beast as he looks to finally break the curse.

Tale as old as time, the 'Beauty and The Beast' live action remake is finally here! After the great successes from live action remakes of 'Cinderella' and 'The Jungle Book', nothing seems to be safe from being brought to life. As someone who enjoyed both films, I was fairly excited as this news as there is plenty within 'Beauty and The Beast' which could be brought to life with that special Disney magic. Although it is fair to consider these remakes unnecessary, there is plenty to enjoy and marvel at in this live-action version of the first ever Best Picture nominated animated film.

With these live action remakes, there are many important aspects that the film has to succeed with in order for it to be a success. For one, you have to make sure that you do the characters justice, especially those who are beloved by fans. Emma Watson is great as Belle in what is a near perfect casting. Watson is known to be a clever young woman and this transcends into her performance, there's just more singing involved for her. The supporting characters like Kevin Kline as Maurice and Josh Gad as LeFou were both great with Kline bringing emotion to the film and Gad bringing humour with some quippy lines. The one character that could have been done better is Gaston, portrayed by Luke Evans. In no ways is this a bad performance, it's just that Gaston as a character is very cartoony. Gaston is over the top with his arrogance which may be hard to replicate within the film. Evans never really comes across as a truly despicable human who is as self-centred as the original portrayal was. In saying that, there are many moments where Evans shines, especially during his self-titled song and during the finale of the film. Just a little more of that Gaston arrogance would've really nailed this portrayal of a very memorable Disney character.

The non-human characters in the film have a similar fate as for the most part, they are handled and performed exceptionally well. This was perhaps the biggest challenge as it is easier to bring human characters to life as you simply use actors that resemble them. Much like in 'The Jungle Book', CGI characters are made up for the likes of Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Ian McKellen) and Mrs Potts (Emma Thompson). The fun, cartoon characters are replaced to look like realistic objects to tremendous results. The characters look great and the vocals are great throughout, both in dialogue and in song. The only one problem with the CGI characters, unfortunately, is with the Beast himself. The Beast is not up to the same standard as everything else in the film, looking clearly animated and out of place at times. This is fairly disappointing as Disney had done so well with the creatures in 'The Jungle Book' but they weren't able to replicate the same results yet again.

The original film's runtime is 84 minutes with this remake changing that to a longer run time of 130 minutes. With this, you would maybe feel inclined that there is a lot more that has been included in the film. In reality, there isn't much changed from the original film but with some more details added in. There's nothing game-changing in the new version but there are some good moments where the film ties up some loose ends, like what happened to Belle's mother. The story is handled very well as it doesn't mess around with the elements that made the original so great. The magic and message are still ever as apparent in this remake which is the main goal for these films. Although it is the same story and message redone, there is no denying that this is handled with the utmost care. The newest version of the tale is one that families and younger children will definitely love.

There are new songs introduced in this film but what will be stuck in your head are the classics you remember from the 1991 version. The new versions of 'Gaston', 'Be Our Guest' and the titular song are all great and even more magical as they are brought to life. The songs are still ever as catchy but the choreography, settings and costume all help to make these moments extremely enjoyable. The musical moments of the film are great to watch although the newer songs don't hit the mark nearly as much. In saying that, it is a complete joy to see these moments brought to life. The animated version is still great to watch but it is something else seeing these sequences be brought to life. There is a high appreciation for the effort gone into these moments. Claims that this film is lazy can be rubbished entirely due to moments like the Gaston song where you can see costume designers, set designers, actors and the director all coming together to make something that is not only special, but a pleasure to watch.

As far as these Disney remakes go, this is my favourite so far. Is this a perfect remake? No. But does it still carry that all important message that it is what inside that counts with a person? Absolutely. Is it still a highly entertaining musical that will leave you humming the songs for days? Yes. Is the magic still there? Yes. This film succeeds on many levels and is sure to bring great enjoyment to those who see it.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Beauty and The Beast'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not! Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

Saturday, 18 March 2017

'Free Fire' Review

Justine (Brie Larson) sets up a meeting in an old warehouse where two gangs intend to trade guns for thousands of dollars. When a brawl ensues between two of the gang members, the warehouse becomes a battlefield filled with gunfire as each side looks to survive.

Ben Wheatley first made his name as a short film maker and animator which allowed him to grow in the industry. Wheatley has gone from strength to strength, gaining opportunities such as directing episodes of 'Doctor Who' and adapting J.G Ballard's novel 'High Rise'. In his latest film 'Free Fire', Wheatley returns to an idea that suits the short film format perfectly. With 'Free Fire' coming in with a runtime of 90 minutes, Wheatley is at home with his newest, original idea making a fun, witty action movie in the process. 

Set solely in an old warehouse, two gangs look to trade weapons and if you've seen the trailer, you'll know that it goes south very quickly. The two gangs are separated with a group of Irish nationalists led by Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley, and a ragtag group featuring Sharlto Copley and Armie Hammer. In a film where it is just a constant shootout in one location, you need characters who are interesting and in this case funny for the film to work at all. Sharlto Copley in particular, shines in this film, bringing great wit and humour to the film. If you know of Copley's previous work in films like 'District 9' and even the likes of 'Hardcore Henry', you'll know that he is a great character actor and will go all out in hi roles. There is no difference in 'Free Fire' as Copley steals the show yet again. The likes of Jack Reynor and Sam Riley provide great support as more humorous characters as Murphy, Smiley and Hammer are solid as usual. The characters are benefitted by the great script written by Wheatley and Amy Jump. The script is incredibly funny with all the characters bouncing off one another perfectly. The standard of comedy writing is very high as the dialogue and set pieces are all set up and executed very well. The jokes land and without a script like this, the film would fail completely as there isn't much more to the film.

What holds 'Free Fire' from being a great film and a total blast is within its action. At first, it is nonstop and highly enjoyable to watch as we establish the rest of the film. The problem is, there aren't many new things that happen with the action. There are a good 10-15 minutes where it is just random shooting with nothing happening. There is a lot of characters crawling and aimlessly shooting throughout the film which becomes very repetitive very quickly. Sometimes it is moved to a slightly different location but for the most part, it is the same action throughout the whole film. Although the film is only 90 minutes long, there isn't enough action to fill that short a period. Once you've seen the same thing happen the first three times, you start becoming fed up with it. As the film draws nearer to the end, there is more creativity but it is too little too late. Thankfully for the film, as we previously mentioned, the humour keeps it entertaining despite problems with repetition.

As far as the technical side of the film goes, everything is up to a high standard. The sound design for one is great as the constant shooting, clashing of bullets and use of weapons is very good, providing a realistic feeling as well. The action is filmed well with a wide range of shots to make sure that you can see exactly what is going on at all times. Wheatley shows his talents as a director very well here as although it is a small film, everything is still done to the highest standard.

'Free Fire' is undoubtedly a fun movie as its comedy and characters are truly brilliant. Sharlto Copley's performance alone makes this film worth watching but you shouldn't expect an abundance of action set pieces in this film. 'Free Fire' is a fun watch that you can just switch your brain off and watch.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Free Fire'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the movie or not. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

Friday, 10 March 2017

'Kong: Skull Island' Review

In the final days of the Vietnam War, a military organisation and some scientists jet off to an uncharted territory that is unknown to the rest of the world. In their search for civilisation, they find an island covered and ruled by monsters, none bigger than oversized ape and king, Kong.

The last time we saw the iconic, colossal ape was in Peter Jackson's 'King Kong' in 2005. That film was very successful, both financially and critically, even winning 3 Academy Awards. However, 'Kong: Skull Island' looks to take a different approach, looking to make the film a complete action movie. The 'beauty that killed the beast' story is swapped for more larger than life creatures. In a period where reboots are criticised for offering very little new content to the series, 'Kong: Skull Island' does look to do something fairly new with the character. With eyes looking towards a new 'MonsterVerse', 'Kong' brings something new to the table, bringing new creatures alongside it. Unfortunately, other than good action, there isn't much to rave about this version of 'Kong'.

In essence, 'Kong' very much is a blockbuster that you would really expect to see during the summertime, with huge creatures and explosions dominating the screen. This, of course, leads to the film being predominantly action based, featuring CGI monsters battling it out. The 2005 'King Kong' was highly praised for its special effects and that praise can be carried on into this movie. Not only does the main character Kong look incredible but so do the other creatures in the film. Now, it is expected for the creatures to look great in a high budget film like this, but it is still incredible to see lifelike creatures. As someone who's favourite film features large creatures, I'm a sucker for seeing an epic brawl between two behemoths and 'Kong' definitely delivers that. Due to this, the two-hour runtime does go past quickly as you can really sit back and just enjoy the spectacle. That only really goes for the action, however, as the quality of the rest of the film really lets it down.

'Kong: Skull Island' is ultimately undone by a very, very weak script. The script looks to balance brutal and hard hitting action with an abundance of humour. The dialogue feels incredibly out of place as the tones clash to make something fairly terrible. You will be rolling your eyes as jokes are seemingly forced in to try and make the film funny. There's no reason for this to be the case. This film should've been tension filled and even scary as these people look to stay alive on an island where everything wants to kill them. In fact, this even detriment the action aspect as something brutal will be about to or happen and then you get some cheesy joke. When you're showing the brutality of these creatures, you do not need the characters making a mockery of it. The humour is so out of place at times and it simply isn't funny. In fact, the funniest parts of the film are unintentional.

What helps make 'Kong' more enjoyable is the amount of absurdity within the film that you cannot help but laugh at. To some, these may be too hard to bear and will simply hate it. For me, I couldn't help but laugh at these moments which did actually bring enjoyment to the film, not necessarily in the best way. When you're trying to make an emotional death, you can't have a character be picked off in a brutal and ridiculous way. When you create a rule within an area or scenario, you have to maintain it. There are so many ridiculous moments in this film that are baffling. It really makes you question the studio's decision making as you can't imagine how some of these moments snuck into the final cut of the film. Again, these moments show just how much of a mess was made with the tone in this film which ultimately is its downfall.

When you look at the cast of this film on paper, you have an incredible ensemble on your hands. You have recent Oscar winner Brie Larson, Marvel fan favourite Tom Hiddleston, the always incredible John Goodman and highest grossing actor ever in Samuel L Jackson all starring in this movie. After seeing such an impressive cast, you'd be very disappointed to know that the film does not use any of them to their full potential. You could've used any actors in these roles as there was simply nothing to the characters. They are very one dimensional and you aren't given a lot of time to really relate, care or even like most of the characters. Any sort of development is completely rushed, especially the minuscule relationship between Larson's Weaver and Kong himself. It seemed as if they wanted to try to create a bond between the two but it was very half-hearted, only using two scenes to try to make it impactful. You're probably thinking, why would you go see a film like this if you are looking for strong, deep characters? Well, the film tries to make many emotional moments that pander to the audience to try and be more than just a dumb action film. Also, if the film is about those people trying to survive on this island, should you not want to root for them? Should you not want a reason for them to survive other than it's just a certain actor. The cast could have been utilised so much better, even if this was just another action film. 

I'd be lying if I said that the latest Kong film wasn't entertaining. Sometimes this was due to some great fights and moments of action - despite some Michael Bay-esque slow-motion scenes. However, a lot of the enjoyment comes from this being one of the most ridiculous films with unintentionally funny moments. A better script and utilisation of characters could've seen this become a great monster movie. Unfortunately, these aspects caused more damage than Kong ever could.

Final Verdict =

So have you seen 'Kong: Skull Island'? If so, what did you think of the film? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not! Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor