Wednesday, 26 October 2016

'Doctor Strange' Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is striving in its impressive third phase. After 'Captain America: Civil War' got the phase off to a fantastic start, Marvel is looking to maintain their momentum by adding yet another hero into the mix with 'Doctor Strange'. A character much different to anything we've seen before in the MCU seemed to be a gamble, but thankfully, it was a gamble that paid off.

Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is one of the top surgeons until a car accident leaves him with severe injuries to his hands that make it impossible for him to continue his work. Seeking help, Strange goes East to Nepal in order to find someone who could cure him. He is taken in by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who then informs Strange that she and many others are in a tough battle against dark forces who to destroy reality. Strange is forced to make a decision on whether to be selfless or use his new abilities to help save the world as we know it.

The Marvel formula seems to be gold at this moment as each installment in the MCU seems to be of a decent standard at the very least. The combination of fun, interesting characters, alongside cool abilities, great action and humour is hitting all the right notes for fans and critics alike and 'Doctor Strange' seems to follow that trend.

What seems to separate fans of Marvel and other comic book movie franchises is the use of humour and the general more light-hearted approach to the superhero genre. That may be the difference yet again in opinions about Marvel's latest film as the humour is ever apparent yet again. The film follows suit by using a lot of jokes throughout the film, even poking fun during some more serious scenes. For the most part, the humour works very well with Strange possessing the quick wit similar to the likes of Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark. The delivery from Cumberbatch with his jokes are a key part of the success, as well as the reactions from co-stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong. At times, the humour does feel a bit out of place or the joke just lingers on for too long, especially the moments with Strange's magical cape.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a name that seems to be linked with every role in Hollywood and with performances like this, it is easy to see why. Cumberbatch is very cool and humorous as Strange, showing great range as the character turns from being selfish to selfless. The talented actor was very impressive in his role where he was allowed to truly shine, and it may be my favourite role of his to date. Tilda Swinton does well as the very wise 'Ancient One' who seems to hold secrets from her followers as Chiwetel Ejiofor does well, especially playing off Cumberbatch.

Unfortunately, 'Doctor Strange' follows the Marvel formula once again when it comes to the villain Kaecilius. Mads Mikkelsen is a natural when it comes to playing a bad guy, as he shined as one the greatest Bond villains La Chiffre in 'Casino Royale' as well as pulling off the character of Hannibal Lecter very well in the TV series 'Hannibal'. Mikkelsen brings a cold ruthlessness to his performances but he wasn't really able to showcase this in the film. Instead, he is actually shown to be fairly weak throughout the film as he rarely shows dominance over our heroes. Kaecilius had the potential to be something great but like most villains in the MCU, he fell rather flat.

The origin story of Stephen Strange is fairly well established as it sums him up very quickly, showing he's arrogant and likes the finer things. Once we see him lose the ability to operate we see the vulnerability of the character which the film seemed to handle fairly well. However, the film seems to brush over Strange's learning of his new found abilities fairly quickly. We see him do some training, accomplish a feat and then seems to be a natural straight away. We don't see much of him trying and failing which made it seem as if he had been doing it for years, rather than a couple of days. There could have been so much more done with this which would have allowed them to flesh out the powers of the character a bit more as well. Due to this, there doesn't seem to be that big of a progression in Strange's skill level as the film goes on which shouldn't happen in the introduction of a brand new character.

What really allows 'Doctor Strange' to shine is the stunning visuals on show. These visuals may make you feel as if you are tripping on something at times as the film showcases the magic that these characters possess. What is even more spectacular is how they incorporate these visuals with the action in the movie. The film uses the manipulations of reality to create some truly jaw-dropping scenes that are like no other. This could've turned out to have been a complete mess if not done properly, but thankfully, these scenes were crafted incredibly well to allow us all to marvel at them.

Overall, 'Doctor Strange' is a worthy addition to the MCU, bringing a film that follows the same kind of formula, but also bringing new aspects to the series. Unfortunately, there are some aspects that hold the film back and sadly, it has to do with the villain once again. If you are a fan of the MCU then you should really enjoy this one.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen ' Doctor Strange'? If so, what did you think of it? 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

Sunday, 23 October 2016

'Ouija: Origin of Evil' Review

"It's a f**king board game" shouted esteemed YouTube film critic Chris Stuckmann as he placed 'Ouija' on his worst of 2014 list, showing his anger towards the horror film. However, two years and an 'A' rating later, his opinion seems to have changed drastically on the concept. And to good reason, as 'Ouija: Origin of Evil' is a very effective horror movie.

The widowed mother of two Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) runs a business where she pulls a hoax on those who want to communicate with the dead. She brings in an Ouija board to help bolster her act which draws in an evil spirit. Once she tries the board out, it attaches to her youngest daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson) who starts to cause havoc. With the help of a priest, Alice must try to banish the evil spirit from her daughter before the spirit causes too much damage.

2016 has been a great year for horror but when it comes to a build up, you won't get any better than 'Ouija: Origin of Evil'. There are a couple of reasons to do with this and the biggie is the time the film takes to establish its characters. The film doesn't rush to try and instantly scare you, instead, it focuses on the Zander family fairly closely. We get to see the flaws of the characters, learn what has happened to them before and what their personalities are like. You are made to care for this struggling family as we see the mother look to bond with her children after the loss of her husband. Once the film has established its characters, then the horror elements come into play and boy are they effective.

In all honesty, the film relies on the effectiveness of the character Doris played by Lulu Wilson. After her mother tries out the new Ouija board, the evil spirit attaches itself to the young child, using her as the apparatus for causing terror. If this role wasn't acted out well, this entire film would crumble. Wilson does a fantastic job as the incredibly creepy Doris, she is deeply unsettling and will send shivers down your spine by simply smiling. One of the best performances from a young actress this year, in a role that really helps the movie succeed. Elizabeth Reaser and Annalise Basso make up the rest of the Zander family, with both of them producing good performances alongside Wilson. Reaser does fantastically as the mother who looks to keep things together and you can see things take a toll on her as the film progresses.

The origin story to the Ouija board takes place in the late 60's and the film creates that retro feeling very well. Something that the director chose to do was have cue marks flicker throughout the movie to make it seem as if you were watching something old. This was a small thing but added to the feeling created, alongside the likes of the clothes the people wore and the cars that they were driving. This is kept consistent throughout the whole movie and does add an extra layer as the filmmakers have gone that extra mile to create a genuine feeling of the late 60's and early 70's.

Director Mike Flanagan shows yet again why he is one of horrors best talents in the industry. He crafts his scenes incredibly well, using slow build ups to create suspense with payoffs that aren't just cheap jump scares. One of Flanagan's best attributes in the film is undoubtedly his use of screen space. Flanagan sets up his shots to allow for other things to happen in the background, this allows the film to play with your mind even more so as you see things happening but not clearly. This adds to the mystery and also the suspense as you wait for the scares to come. His direction throughout most of the film is incredibly effective as everything seems to have been crafted very carefully for maximum effect. If Flanagan continues to impress, we won't have to wait too long for him to get a bigger budget film that will allow him to showcase his talents even more.

In saying that, there is a moment where you feel the film start to lose its way. As the film reaches its finale, it becomes a lot more crazy with them letting loose. Some of these moments do work, with others not doing so so much. Due to the film only having a budget of $6 million, the effects that are inserted into the finale look fairly bad which in hand made some of the moments look really bad and funnier rather than scary. This was a shame as the film did so well building the characters, the story and a good finale would have surely gained this film heaps of praise from fans and critics alike. It is really unfortunate that the film seemed to lose its stride as it fizzled out in the end.

Overall, 'Ouija: Origin of Evil' was a whole lot better than I expected it to be. The trailer didn't completely sell me but some great directing and very strong performances made this a fairly good horror movie. What stops this from being a great horror is its lackluster ending that isn't at the same quality as the rest of the film. Worth seeing if you are a horror fan as there are many aspects to like in this film.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Ouija: Origin of Evil'? If so, what did you think of it? 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

Saturday, 22 October 2016

'I, Daniel Blake' Review

At aged 79, Director Ken Loach stepped up to receive his second Palme d'Or, the biggest award at the Cannes film festival. Describing it as 'very strange' to receive the award in such luxurious fashion due to the depressing nature and harsh conditions that are apparent in his latest film 'I, Daniel Blake'. With his realistic approach, Loach has produced one of the year's most powerful films.

Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a carpenter who has now been deemed unfit to work due to a heart condition. Due to this, he is in need of state welfare but the process is a nightmare for Blake as he is offered little help with it. He meets Katie (Hayley Squires), a young mother of two who has recently moved to Newcastle from London due to lack of housing. Together, the two struggle through the process as they look for help from the government to help provide for themselves and their families.

If you're looking for a film that is going to thoroughly entertain you, this most definitely isn't the one for you. This film is not one that will fill you with delight. In fact, it will do just the opposite.
Loach's brutally honest approach to the welfare system in the UK packs an incredible punch that will most definitely impact you. There's something that we can all relate to in this film; whether you have a relative who is suffering from a similar condition to the title character, or just have a relative who wouldn't be able to go through the online application processes that easily. Due to this, the film resonates with you as you couldn't imagine this happening to a loved one of your own. But the film oh so clearly shows that this is happening every day. It is infuriating to see these poor people being messed around, getting very little help when they desperately need it and being forced to waste their time. The process of these people goes through tests to see if their fit, as well as different tests from their doctors which do not coincide with each other, filling out countless online forms and pointlessly looking for work, despite not being cleared to do so, will most definitely light a fire inside of you. The system is shown to be broken and with very little being done to help these people, you will really feel yourself becoming more annoyed at the system as the film goes on.

The film doesn't just target the systems treatment of the ill, but of young families too. Blake comes across a young mother Katie whose story is equally as tragic as she struggles to provide for her children. Katie is then taken down a very dark route compared to Blake, all due to being late for one meeting at the job centre. Hayley Squires does a tremendous job in this role where she breaks down on many occasions and is forced to do terrible things in order to provide for her family. It is heartbreaking to see this unfold before your eyes and Squires captures this magnificently.

Comedian Dave Johns plays Daniel Blake in a film which only gives him a few moments to show his comedic talents. Johns brings that feeling of a true working class man to the character in an impressive first leading role. His reactions to everything that is happening is what you would expect from this kind of person who has the right intentions for everything. Realism is the main factor in Johns convincing performance as he would happily go back to work and isn't looking for an easy way out. His character looks to help out the struggling Katie by fixing up her home when the council is too slow to do so and even providing a sort of father figure to her kids. He looks to keep the children on the right foot, even getting huge improvements in the son's behaviour. His performance and likeability make you root for him but also makes the story that more tragic for the viewer.

In this film where it all seems doom and gloom, there are a few glimpses of hope that make Daniel Blake seem like a figure who could inspire a generation to really make a change. The graffiti scene will fill you with joy as you see Blake let off some steam against the establishment. Unfortunately, there wasn't much more of this with it not showing any other occasions where people stand up against what is going on. That is a damning look at our society today, showing that we aren't doing enough to force a change, which would allow these people to be more secure much more quickly. Loach seems to have intentionally done this to show that there should be much more support against the way the State runs certain things. A wake-up call before it is too late for many more people.

Due to the nature and tone of the film, there have been grumblings from people claiming that the film is boring. This isn't your typical film for sure as it clearly looks to tackle real life problems. If you're just looking for an easy, entertaining watch then you should probably stay away from this film as it won't fulfill that need for you. However, you should give it a chance to see the powerful story that has been crafted.

Overall, 'I, Daniel Blake' is an incredibly powerful film with subjects that most of us could probably relate to. It's safe to say that it can be depressing at times as this film packs a punch which will hopefully create a discussion for change. Johns and Squires are both fantastic in their roles in a film which will impact you for sure.

Final Verdict = 

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

By Angus McGregor

Thursday, 20 October 2016

'Trolls' Review

'Trolls' have been a toy that has been passed through generations ever since the 1950's which is a fairly impressive feat. The 90's and mid-2000's even showcased TV shows, musicals and video games featuring the tall-haired creatures- neither being that memorable or successful. Dreamworks are certainly hoping that this time, the franchise would have more success in their first big budget film. Fortunately, Dreamworks have created a film that their target audience will most definitely appreciate; not so much for older audiences, though.

Poppy (Anna Kendrick) is the princess of the Trolls who was led to safety by her father many years ago from the Bergens, terrifying creatures who feast upon the Trolls. Feeling confident that the Trolls will never be found again, Poppy throws a large, loud party for all the Trolls. Branch (Justin Timberlake) is wary of the Bergen threat but due to being the opposite of Poppy, nobody really talks to or believes him. The party attracts the attention of a Bergen where several Trolls are kidnapped. With the help of the knowledgeable Branch, Poppy must bring her friends back before they are turned into supper.

For a kids movie, 'Trolls' ticks all the boxes for when it comes to entertaining younger children. Bright and colourful characters? Check. Simple story? Check. Upbeat tone and catchy pop songs? Check. The film most definitely is the ideal film to satisfy younger audiences, which is clearly the aim for a film like this. Dreamworks know what the film is and don't try to be like Pixar or Laika. Unfortunately, that does mean that the older members of the audience - most likely parents - will not get a whole load of enjoyment out of this film. The humour in the film is very childish and directed towards the enjoyment of children. It isn't cleverly done like recent film 'Storks' that uses well-crafted, yet light-hearted scenes to draw out laughs from all members of the audience.

The main theme of this film is clearly for everyone to be happy, which is evident from the trailer alone. Being happy is driven into the film, being the main story and even the main tagline for the advertising campaign. After a while, you do get a feeling of this idea constantly being drilled into you which does become quite tedious. Maybe that's just the grumpiness in me but a man can only take so much.

Anna Kendrick leads the cast in this animated musical which allows her to show off her vocal talents. She is perfect in this role as the always happy Poppy and even has the singing voice to match. Kendrick is easily likable and that transfers into this role which she pulls off very well. Alongside her is Justin Timberlake as Branch, a Troll who isn't constantly happy and seems to be a worrier. Timberlake and Kendrick interact very well with each other, with the two characters being polar opposites and disagreeing with each other bringing some entertainment.  Again, Timberlake handles the music side very well, bringing a song that I frustratingly can't get out of my head in the process. The pair is most definitely the standouts due to having the most screentime but it can't be taken away that both were great in their roles. James Corden, Gwen Stefani and Russell Brand all provide their voices but none of them make a mark on the film.

As someone who only knows of these creatures from the old toys, the film does a fairly good job at creating the world where they exist. It was fairly interesting seeing this fun, colourful world like no other where it seems as if the creator's imaginations were allowed to roam free. Although not a whole lot of information surrounding the world was given, the motivations and mystical aspects were made clear early on and set the tone for the rest of the movie.  It also allowed for the unique style of animation to roam free, producing some different but nice looking scenes.

'Trolls' looks to push a love story between Poppy and Branch with Branch sulking whenever Poppy's attention is with a fellow Troll whom she cares about. This continues in the film to the point where out of nowhere, Branch proclaims his love for Poppy. However, after that, nothing happens with it. It seems as if they were planning on going that way with the relationship but it seems as if they forget about what they did. It isn't brought up again or even suggested that they are an item which seemed very odd. I don't understand why they'd build a side storyline to ultimately do nothing with it.

Overall, 'Trolls' is the definition of a kids movie. For children, they will be entertained by this film due to its bright colours, fun characters and catchy songs. For adults, they won't enjoy this as much which is expected for this. Timberlake and Kendrick both are great in their roles and even more so with the music parts as they bring the fun to these two main characters. I can't recommend seeing this unless it is for taking little ones to see.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Trolls'? If so, what did you think of it? 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

Sunday, 16 October 2016

'Inferno' Review

Ron Howard and Tom Hanks return to continue the Robert Langdon series with 'Inferno'. Another adaptation of Dan Brown's series of books, the previous installments have been panned by critics despite financial success, 'The Da Vinci Code' even gained Ron Howard a Razzie nomination for Worst Director. The series hasn't exactly set the world on fire but with 'Inferno', Ron Howard certainly looks to do so. 7 years after the previous film in the series (Angels & Demons), the series still hasn't been able to find its feet in yet another disappointing installment.

Robert Langdon (Tom Hank) wakes up in a Venice hospital where his doctor Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) helps him escape from an assassin. Langdon's memory is lost and with the help of Sienna, he looks to gain it back. Billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) has come up with a plague that will wipe out half of the world's population to help with overcrowding. He is found dead before he can set it off leaving Langdon to rush across Europe to find clues before the plague is set off in a race against time.

The film starts off with Ben Foster giving a talk about over population that distorts the sound and visuals. Once he has finished and is suddenly on the run. It seemed to be a good start as they created a charismatic figure with a decent chase scene through Venice. And then he's killed off. Now that would be a spoiler if they didn't show it in the trailer or if they had him be alive for more than five minutes. After that, it is all downhill.

The story is a complete mess. The intentions and motivations are not clear from everyone so it just seems as if there is a witch hunt for no apparent reason. The authorities, a secret service, and an assassin are all looking for Langdon with no real reasoning behind it. This allows the film to use many twists that seem to go against what the characters want to achieve which was baffling to see unfold. Those who looked to help only seemed to create more barriers for our hero to get through. It also unfolds that Zobrist had the help from someone but didn't include them in the process of carrying out the attack. Now this seems very far fetched as if you were planning something so deadly and had help along the way, why would you not include them just in case something were to happen? Oh, just so the film can actually happen. At first, this seems like a good twist but then it is so mind numbingly stupid that you cannot believe that it has actually happened. The premise is intriguing and should be thrilling as Langdon searches for clues to find the location of this weapon. Throw in the mythology with Dante and you have something that should intrigue a large audience. Unfortunately, it isn't handled well and falls flat on its face.

There are so many aspects of this film that are so frustrating as they are clearly just fitted into the story so that it can progress. The most evident part of this is the security involved in every scene. It's laughable at how bad they are at their jobs in this film to the point where it is far too unrealistic to take seriously. The finale is possibly the worst as nobody realizes this large weapon in the water that must have been lying there for at least a good week or so. The film really isn't clever with these moments and makes you think about what else they could blatantly get away with. It's hard to get behind a film that is so predictable and has it stakes taken out due to some odd coincidence at every turn. 

Ron Howard uses a lot of montages in this film and not to good effect. They are very unnecessary and don't show anything that worthwhile. Howard looks to be artistic with these but it just seems to be style over substance as they fail to make any impact on the film. What Howard does do is revel in the opportunity to film in these beautiful locations. Along with cinematographer Salvatore Totino, the locations are made to look marvelous and is one of the few shining aspects of the film. However, due to the film lacking in quality, all it makes you think is "That would be a nice place to visit sometime".

I'm a fan of Tom Hanks and he is an instantly likable character which does make him bearable in this film. This certainly isn't a memorable performance from one of Hollywood's finest but it isn't terrible in any case, He doesn't have much to work with in all honesty but Hanks charisma does pull through in the end which does make the film slightly more bearable, Felicity Jones does fairly well as well but I think we are all hoping that her next film is a lot better than this one. I wish there was more of Ben Foster in this film especially after how good he was in 'Hell or High Water' but unfortunately, he had very little screen time. Irfan Khan appears in the movie and provides a few laughs that were slightly out of place but in a film as poor in this, you'll take any moments of enjoyment that you can.

Overall, there is very little good about this movie. The acting is ok with some nice scenery and that's about it. A very poorly constructed story from an acclaimed director was very surprising and overall disappointing. Not that thrilling, 'Inferno' isn't one that you should be wasting your time or money with. I hoped that it would be a while before I seen a film worse than 'The Girl on the Train' but it only took a week! 

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Inferno'? If so, what did you think of it? 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

Saturday, 15 October 2016

'Storks' Review

2016 seems to be a year full of surprises. The blockbusters have let us down with some of the most anticipated movies of the year disappointing audiences worldwide. For me, the films that have really surprised me have been lesser known properties as well as films from genres I wouldn't consider as my favourites. Although I do enjoy animated movies, I certainly never expected to like 'Storks' as much as I did!

A long time ago, Storks were used to deliver babies. However, their market has now changed as they focus on delivering packages to customers. Junior (Andy Samberg) looks to get a promotion at the company and is given the task of firing undelivered child and now young adult Tulip (Katie Crown). Junior can't bring himself to do so and Tulip accidentally reactivates the baby making machine bringing a new born child to deal with. Desperate for that job, Junior and Tulip will look to deliver the baby, facing off against fellow employees and potential enemies before his boss finds out.

To my surprise, 'Storks' is one of the best cinema experiences I have had in a while. The main reasoning for this is due to just how funny this movie is. The film is rated 'U' here in the UK and when I realised this, I dreaded the worst. I was worried that this film would be completely watered down and the humour suffering a lot due to this. I could not have been more wrong. There are so many clever jokes that work incredibly well throughout the film that had me in stitches. None more so than the jokes featuring the wolves that were amazing. They do use this joke a few times but the execution each time is perfect and even comes out unexpected, making the impact very effective. The film is filled with great comedy that isn't too childish. Early on as the story establishes the character of Tulip, it does suffer from targeting towards the younger audience but that has to be expected in a kids movie. The character of Tulip brings out the most childish parts of the film with her hyperactive personality and bright colours clearly appealing more towards the younger members of the audience. At times, the humour involving her was very childish but thankfully, she wasn't the main focus for the humour. 'Storks' had me laughing so much throughout the whole movie which is something I can't say about most of this years comedies.

The voice actors in 'Storks' deserve huge credit for their work in this film. Andy Samberg and Katie Crown do very well as the two leads, bouncing off of each other very well. Samberg did very well with the snide remarks about Tulip and the baby and also with the characters progression as he becomes more and more caring. Kelsey Grammar plays Hunter, Juniors boss, and provides a fearful voice to the large stork very effectively. Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key play two wolves and the two combine very well once again, as you'd expect from the pair. By far the standout performance comes from Stephen Kramer Glickman as Pigeon Toady. The pigeon was a complete suck up who tried to fit in by using annoying phrases whilst also being an egomaniac who dreams big. Glickman used a voice that was over the top for the pigeon but was so hilarious throughout the whole film. Any time the character came on the screen, you knew laughs were coming due to Glickman's performance what was one of the highlights of the movie.

The 'U' rating also made me wary that the film would not hold much of a story and just be bright colours and childish humour to entertain young kids. I never expected that this film would look at aspects in real life in the way that it did. The film goes into some depth about the likes of parenthood and how they should look to spend time with their kids before it's too late despite having busy workloads. It also looks closely at how relationships can build between people to being close like family despite no relation at all. This aspect was particularly interesting as it then looked at the opportunity for one of the characters to meet their biological family and how it effected their relationship in a negative way. It was handled very maturely and realistically which goes for a lot of the themes in this film. Not only does the film reflect family life but also our behaviour towards brands and products. This was used more so for comedy but is still effective in the movie. The film certainly isn't as deep as the likes of a 'Zootropolis' or a 'Inside Out', but 'Storks' definitely isn't  just a simple kids movie by any stretch.

As the film looks at many aspects of life as well as focusing on different characters and their stories, the plot does get quite muddled up. The film focuses mainly on Tulip and Junior which ends up making some of the other aspects disappear for large chunks of time. You do feel as if you lose interest and completely forget about some characters as the film doesn't give them that much attention but still dots them about in the film. The whole aspect of getting the baby to its rightful home does seem to get lost as well at times due to the journey but it can't be denied that it is a very fun one. With the journey being so fun, the film seems to get away with this as it creates such an entertaining watch that you don't really miss it.

Overall, 'Storks' is an incredibly fun family movie that surprised me a lot. I haven't laughed so much in the cinema in a long time and I certainly didn't expect this movie to have that effect on me. Some good messages about family and day to day life are mixed in with the comedy to make this film highly enjoyable. The cast do a fantastic job especially Glickman who steals the show. Definitely worth seeing, whether you have kids or not!

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Storks'? If so, what did you think of it? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the movie, I can't recommend it enough! Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

Sunday, 9 October 2016

'The Girl on the Train' Review

Based on the book that shocked the world comes 'The Girl on the Train' starring one of Hollywood's favourties Emily Blunt. Another thriller focussing on a murder mystery, 'The Girl on the Train' had the potential to be this years 'Gone Girl'. However, once you see it, you'll be wondering why you didn't just watch 'Gone Girl' instead.

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) commutes every day to New York on a train where she always has a look at her ideal perfect home with a perfect couple living there. Suddenly news report that Megan (Haley Bennett), the woman of Rachel's perfect couple has gone missing after Rachel saw her with another man on their balcony. She goes to the police to report a possible suspect when she is accused herself after a loss in memory makes her story and alibi clunky. She now looks to regain her memory as the police try to find who the killer was.

The marketing for this film really focussed on it being shocking and a real mystery that will stun you which of course makes you excited to see the twists and eventually the outcome. Unfortunately, all this film has to offer really is that the characters are all linked becuase they have slept together. That's as much as it is really which didn't really carry that much weight to it. You don't know a whole lot about these characters so it doesn't impact you in the way that you'd hope. It also doesn't help that these characters aren't the most likeable and only seem to be having sex or sulking over something. Simply putting it, the film really doesn't carry that much tension that a good thriller should. Nothing is that compelling and borders on being melodramatic a lot of the time. 

People who have read the book say that they never imagined Emily Blunt as the lead character. As someone who's first introduction to the story was this film, I feel that she did a very good job in the role. She seems very unstable straight away and plays this off very effectively. The faults in the story have nothing to do with the cast as the likes of Rebecca Ferguson and Luke Evans also put in good performances which the film cannot back up. There are some lines of dialogue that are also a bit questionable but you cannot blame the actors/actresses for this as they have to work with what they are given. It's a shame that with the talent on show, the rest of the film isn't able to use them in an effective way despite the actors/actresses best efforts.

The structure of this film looks at the present day at first and then very so often it will tell you that the next events shown will be from many months ago. It does this a lot to showcase the lives of those involved but nothing that interesting or particularly enlightening happens. The relationship between Megan and her shrink (Edgar Ramirez) seemed to show some potential which could have lead you to think of that being a main factor in the mystery. However, a suspect is taken out of the picture shortly after this meaning the lead is gone straight away, not giving it any time to build up tension or mystery. Again, the film uses these flashbacks to show who is sleeping with who behind who's backs and it just isn't effective. Due to this, the film is fairly dull with not many interesting things happen. In a drama like this, it cannot afford that.

It's interesting to see that the author of the book Paula Hawkins was not involved in the screenplay of the film which ultimately may have hurt the film. As it is her idea and story, it probably could have done with her being involved in some way, like Emma Donoghue did so well with in 'Room'. It may have solved some of the problems such as dialogue and added that tension that apparently features in the book. Unfortunately, she wasn't which may be a cause for why this story was handled so poorly and didn't have that powerful effect.

Overall, 'The Girl on the Train' is not a film that you should be rushing to see. A thriller that isn't thrilling at all, this was a huge disappointment. The cast does a reasonably good job but ultimately, they can't do enough to save a film with a choppy narative and some poor dialogue. Watch 'Gone Girl' if you want to see a similar story done well.

This was actually the 100th different movie I have seen in the cinema this year. I really wish something better had been on that landmark instead.

Final Verdict =

So have you seen 'The Girl on the Train'? If so, what did you think of it? 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!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

'Blood Father' Review

The movie 'Taken' starring Liam Neeson seems to have inspired or spawned many other films very similar to it. Mel Gibson is back in his first role since 'The Expendables 3', returning to the action genre once again and having his own shot at saving his daughter. 'Blood Father' isn't a carbon copy of 'Taken' straying away from the story that has been done to death in a fairly good story. Despite setting up something good, 'Blood Father' just seems to be lacking that special something.

Lydia (Erin Moriarty) looks to be in deep trouble as she hinders a robbery by accidentally shooting her boyfriend Jonah (Diego Luna) and fleeing. She looks to get help from her ex-convict father John (Mel Gibson), who is out on parole. John is now drawn back into the drama as Jonah's thugs attack his home looking for Lydia leading the pair to go on the run. They are now targeted by a vicious drug cartel who won't stop until they are dead. John won't go down fighting as he looks to protect the daughter he never got to raise.

'Blood Father' showcases Mel Gibson back again as a badass and does a great job surrounding his character. In many ways, the character John Link reflects Gibson himself. Link looks to make up for past wrongdoings and looks to be on a path of righteousness. Gibson looks to be cleaning himself up in recent years and with this film and upcoming project 'Hacksaw Ridge', he looks to be doing so which is fantastic news. Gibson shows that he will do anything for his daughter and genuinely cares about her as he looks to make up for not being there. Gibson does bring a good performance that does allow him to branch out in scenes where he can let off some steam, much like you would do if someone was trying to kill you and your loved ones. An entertaining performance with room to still improve but it is a step on the right foot once again for Gibson.

Erin Moriarty plays the very troubled Lydia and is an interesting character. She is very flawed as she makes bad decisions due to influences such as boyfriends and drugs but you can see that she wants to change this and be free from the trouble. At times, Moriarty sold this fairly well and others not so much. It was an inconsistent performance for me but with some work and possibly better guidance, Moriarty could shine in another supporting role. The rest of the cast features your basic looking Mexican drug cartel thugs led by Diego Luna who does a fine job but nothing to really get you talking about. William H Macy is good working with Gibson as his sponsor who always has his back and even brings some badass and humorous moments. 

The trailer showcased this as a gun blazing action packed film which seems to be misleading as it focuses mainly on the relationship. There are some decent action scenes throughout the film but not as much as you'd expect. Due to this, the film does seem to slow down a lot and loses a fair bit of its tension. The performances aren't that compelling or dramatic enough to fully support this which does seem to hinder it. I do feel that they couldn't decide whether or not to go full out or keep the film fairly grounded. Instead, they seem to do both which isn't fully effective.

The ending to 'Blood Father' does elevate the film as it really gives you what you want. Clever with great action, the film delivers in the last act with their being apparent stakes. It doesn't follow the usual action ending which felt very fresh amongst the typical endings. This allowed the film to end on a high and effective note in a way that not many seem to be doing so right now. 

Overall, 'Blood Father' is a fairly entertaining movie which Gibson really helps with. Without him, this could easily have not been nearly as effective as he did a great job as John Link. Some minor problems including the focus but a strong ending has you leaving the theatre pleased with what you saw.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Blood Father'? If so, what did you think of it? 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, 7 October 2016

'Swiss Army Man' Review

It's not everyday that you see a film where you have Harry Potter playing a flatulent corpse. One of the most bizarre plots of the year brings us 'Swiss Army Man', the comedy where a man befriends a corpse that has super powers that you have never seen before. 

Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on an island and is about to end his life until he spots a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) that has washed up on the shore. Lifeless, but very flatulent, Hank uses this to his advantage as he uses the body to get back to the mainland. Now he finds himself lost in the wilderness, dragging his corpse friend now named 'Manny' with him.

The film starts with Hank looking to take his life and almost accidentally successfully does so until he sees Radcliffe's lifeless body. It is made very clear straight away that the corpse's bowels are all that is working. This gets the film started with a barrel of laughs as the body becomes out of control due to the flatulence. This does go borderline to overdoing it as it is very childish humour and if it had went on much longer, it could've easily become very tedious. This does start to make you doubt the film as you are unsure if you would be unable to take that same humour for over an hour and a half.  Fortunately, the film handles this fairly well as the film progresses onto the next chapter of Hank and his new buddy Manny's relationship. This does happen a lot with the humour as the comedy is handled very well, not overstepping it which it could have easily done so.

I've found myself struggle to sell this movie and explain it to people without them looking at me rather puzzled. That's because the original ideas of the film are like nothing seen before and are that bizarre that you can hardly imagine a film like this. Manny becomes a human version of Swiss Army Knife- hence the title 'Swiss Army Man- which includes his penis becoming a compass, being able to shot objects out of his mouth at high velocity and working as a water supply. Manny's body becomes useful for just about anything that will allow Hank to survive which does lead to some scenes that are beautifully edited with quick cuts that bring some very humorous moments. As said before, the film doesn't rely on the same thing for too long and ends up moving onto something else equally as original before it becomes too much.

Amongst all of this madness is much deeper messages however. It's crazy that a film that is know for a farting corpse actually is one of the more enlightening and touching films of the year. The movie looks at Hank dealing with personal troubles such as his hunt for love, fear of death, not doing what you really want to and overall being happy in life. It goes fairly deep into these subjects with Manny offering service as a therapist. Even the use of farts stand for something deeper as it is really about holding things in due to being embarrassed about what others will think which Manny teaches Hank about. Again, this shows that Manny was helpful in anyway possible to Hank, offering emotional support rather than just physical. Manny also seems to go through the stages of life, having to learn new things like a child to learning about sex as a teenager then further on to learning about true love as an adult. These aspects certainly surprised me as it came totally unexpected, especially once you see the opening scene.

Daniel Radcliffe deserves great praise for his role in this film with only being able to rely on his delivery and facial expressions. He is magnificent and deliver every line as hilariously reacts to everything in the only ways he can. This involves him sitting in very awkward positions or face down in the dirt but Radcliffe does fantastically in a role that would not have been easy in the slightest.  Paul Dano also does a great job which consists of him having to carry the lifeless body around the forest. He is clearly not in a good place and Dano shows this very well throughout the film.

The main flaw with this film is in the last act for me as it continuously bounces between ideas to the point where it becomes fairly messy and hard to keep up with. There are so many switches in the end that happen which makes it seem fairly confusing at times. It certainly does follow the trend of strange things happening throughout the film but it certainly could lose some people after all of the hard work that had been done in the rest of the film. A problem as well is that the film may just be too bizarre for some people which may get in the way of them fully appreciating the movie. It goes borderline to being too silly for people to take the messages seriously which is a real shame.

Overall, 'Swiss Army Man' is the most bizarre film of the year, but most definitely in a good way. One of the funniest films of the year with a much more clever message than the material suggests. Everything seems to bizarrely work but it most definitely isn't for everyone, you could easily become fed up with the humour or just miss the messages due to the humour. The two lead performances are fantastic as 'Swiss Army Man' really surprised me. The ending does hold it back a little but this original film takes a whole bunch of risks that work out well for the film. Bizarrely wonderful, this film is worth seeing as it is nothing like anything you have ever seen before.

Final Verdict = 

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

By Angus McGregor

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Month at the Movies: September

What a month at the movies September was! When you compare it to the massive disappointment that was the summer of 2016, the gap in quality is humongous. This is possibly the toughest list I have had to create as there was so much quality and I wouldn't want it any other way. I was fortunate to see 13 different movies this month in what was a very solid month overall.

If you aren't aware of this series, I pretty much go through the month and rank the movies that I saw that month based on a combination of quality and how much I enjoyed the film. So lets get into the list! 

13. Anthropoid

The only movie that I didn't particularly like this month was 'Anthropoid'. A very slow and uneventful build up made the film feel very tedious and downright boring. The finale is very solid but a poor start had already done the damage. Not the most compelling period drama you'll see and if you wanted to learn about the events surrounding 'Anthropoid', then you'd probably be best watching a documentary.

Final Verdict = C-

12. Blair Witch

The surprise continuation of 'The Blair Witch Project' was a very mixed bag when it comes to a modern horror movie. There were many flaws in this movie, none other than the excessive use of terrible jump scares made this film hard to root for. However there are moments of genuine terror, including the final act that is truly frightening. An average horror movie that lacks consistency but still a reasonably enjoyable watch.

Final Verdict = C

11. Ben-Hur

The remake of the highly successful and multiple Academy Award winner was always facing an uphill battle. It was hard to see what would actually be done better in this remake and it appeared to be true. Nothing was done particularly bad but with nothing being improved, it makes you question why it even happened. It would be harsh to say that this is a bad movie though, just pretty average.

Final Verdict = C+

10. The Infiltrator

Bryan Cranston delivers yet again, this time as Bob Mazzur who is infiltrating drug dealers, a different approach to the subject matter compared to 'Breaking Bad'. Unfortunately the film struggles to find focus and doesn't get that interesting until later on. Once it reaches that point, the film does burst into life having a very strong finish. It wasn't enough though to make this a great film but a reasonably good watch nonetheless.

Final Verdict = B-

9. Morgan

Morgan looked set to take the success of last years 'Ex_Machina' with impressive trailers that showed a Frankenstein's monster set up. Unfortunately, the film couldn't decide between going all out with the action or to use the effective slow build apparent in 'Ex_Machina'. Anya Taylor Joy shines again though showing why she's one of Hollywoods best young actresses, see her scene with Paul Giamatti for evidence. An entertaining film throughout that could've been so much more but unfortunately didn't completely deliver.

Final Verdict = B-

8. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Tim Burton seems to have more misses than hits recently but thankfully, 'Miss Peregrine' was a step back on the right track for the visionary director. A fun film with that classic Burton darkness combined fairly well with the interesting characters really helping the film. These characters could have been explored deeper which was a missed opportunity and some poor CGI holds the film back from shining. Hopefully Burton can build on from this and get back to the heights he previously had reached.

Final Verdict = B-

7. The Girl With All The Gifts

Zombie movies are one of horrors sub genres that has been exposed to death recently to a stage where you think most ideas surrounding it have already been done. 'The Girl With All The Gifts' brings a fresh look at the genre with more intelligence featuring in the film, especially with the "hungries". Paddy Considine and Glenn Close are great in this film which isn't your normal look at a zombie film. There are some puzzling aspects within the film especially surrounding the creatures but overall, this is an entertaining, morally complex film.

Final Verdict = B

6. Kubo and the Two Strings

From Laika comes yet another great original story, this time disguised as a Japanese myth, 'Kubo and the Two Strings' is one of the most beautifully animated movies of recent times. A fun story with interesting characters made this easy to watch with great work from the voice actors. At times there were scenes that seemed to be filled with exposition that slowed it down and hurt it but nothing too severe to sabotage the quality of this film. If it wasn't for 'Zootropolis', this would probably be my top animated movie of the year.

Final Verdict = B

5. The Magnificent Seven

It seems as if remakes are a constant feature at the cinema these days but I cannot deny that I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Magnificent Seven'. A phenomenal cast where Ethan Hawke shines, the classic fun western feeling is captured magnificently well. Some great action set pieces make this is a film that the summer was crying out for and was delivered just too late. True entertainment with themes of revenge running through it, this is a remake done right.

Final Verdict = B

4. Don't Breathe

I love how great 2016 has been for horror movies. 'Don't Breathe' can be added to the list of great horror movies as it's intriguing premise and dark twist work very effectively. Another example of how modern horror should be made, 'Don't Breathe' was a low budget success that deserves more attention. Tense throughout with great filmmaking aspects makes this a film that appeals to more than just your horror fans. Be sure to see this one if you can.

Final Verdict = B+

3. Deepwater Horizon

Based on the 2010 BP oil spill, 'Deepwater Horizon' is one of the most powerful movies of the year. It tells the story of the crew where 11 men died on that unfortunate night and director Peter Berg displayed the horror and braveness that occurred. Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich all do great jobs in making this film even more impactful in a film which shows a side of the story that wasn't documented so well. A true disaster film that did a great job of portraying these men as the heroes they are on the Hollywood screen.

Final Verdict = A-

2. Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Perhaps the best comedy of the year has once again came out of the wacky and brilliant mind of Taika Waititi. The story follows the incredible journey of a young wannabe gangster and a grumpy Sam Neill in the New Zealand wilderness and the results are fantastic. Funny throughout the whole film, this film really is one that has snuck up on audiences. Again, this film needs more attention and is well and truly worth seeing.

Final Verdict = A-