Tuesday, 19 June 2018

'Ocean's 8' Review

For years, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has been planning the biggest heist of her life, targeting the world famous Met Gala. She must assemble a highly skilled team featuring hackers, con artists and a suburban mom in order to pull off a job worth over $150 million.

A cast can only do so much for a film. With the newest addition to the 'Ocean's' franchise, it's been the film's main draw, with the impressive crop of high-quality actresses looking to bring in a new audience into the series. Although the talent delivers big with genuinely enjoyable performances, they can't cover the film's weaknesses that spawn from its writing.

'Ocean's ' really fails to capitalise on its great ensemble with a complete lack of character or development, leading to each and every character is incredibly disposable. Each character has a very basic introduction and a moment to showcase what they will bring to the group but after that, they are left with very little to progress them throughout the rest of the film. The character interactions with one another revolve entirely around Sandra Bullock's Debbie so we don't get a great deal of this diverse cast mingling with one another. With this, the film does lack some personality, as none of the characters really feel any different from one another. There are no distinguishable traits other than the skills they bring to the team as the film hopes your admiration for these actresses will be enough to get them by.

Although the writing leaves a lot to be desired, these actresses try their best to add a fun energy to the film and succeed in doing so. Bullock and co are a joy to watch but it is Sarah Paulson who really stands out. Her character receives the best treatment from the script, with her being shown to have some form of a backstory, personality and just simply being an integral part of the heist. Paulson is fantastic with her character having the most hands-on approach allowing her to shine more than her co-stars. There is no weak link with stellar performances all around but you can't help but think how much more enjoyable they would be with better writing.

Not only does the writing leave the characters underdone, there is a sheer lack of drama and tension which in a heist film is a problem. The film's idea of creating tension is having Helena Bonham Carter look at a necklace long enough for it to be scanned or bus-boys stalling whilst taking a tray of dishes to a kitchen. There is never any moment where you feel as if the protagonists are in any real danger of being caught as they don't run into any real hiccups along the way. Although the heist itself is fun, it could've done with a bit more intensity in order to add more excitement to the final act. It has to be said that the heist itself is still enjoyable regardless, with some clever tricks, great costumes and the cast's charm shining through.

'Ocean's 8' gets by with its stellar cast, but the film's lack of character and drama stops it from being anything more than average. Although the film has its moments and is fun and enjoyable, you can't help but feel that it has come short of its potential. There is some optimism for if there is to be a sequel but also plenty to work on as well.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Saturday, 16 June 2018

'Hereditary' Review

After the death of her secretive and difficult mother, Annie (Toni Collette) and her family start to experience some changes in their lives. As more is found out about the families past, the trauma intensifies as the family look to escape the terror they are destined for. 

Recent horror films have taken different approaches to freshen the genre up, through new ideas or building on those previous tropes. 'Hereditary' looks to build on this, with clear inspiration from past films being handled in a mature, clever and fresh way. 'Hereditary' combines art and horror exceptionally as its shocks are truly shocking whilst maintaining its aesthetic appeal.

Horror is most effective when there is a sense of realism behind it which reflects the real world in disturbing ways. With 'Hereditary', what seems like a 'demon' or possession movie has deep laying themes of mental illness, stress, family and coping with loss which is showcased in deeply harrowing ways. Like other A24 films, it is fairly unconventional with metaphors and ambiguity being used heavily throughout the film which may take time for viewers to absorb and fully appreciate. The jumpscares are kept to a minimum but are used effectively with chilling build ups and brilliant use of tension. There are no cheap tactics with 'Hereditary' as its story, performances and atmosphere do more than enough to keep you on edge. This is best summed up by how a simple click of the tongue can continuously make your skin crawl.

From the very start, it feels as if something is off and you are immediately drawn into the film. First-time director Ari Aster does a masterful job in creating this constant feeling of unease, with his slow pans and long takes early on establishing this feeling before escalating further on in the film. Less is more and Aster displays this as he hides actions and figures in the darkness with subtle movements giving away that something creepy is around the corner. Aster uses every inch of the screen which no doubt will benefit the film on rewatches as viewers will pick up on creepy and disturbing moments that they may have missed the first time around.

Toni Collette is undoubtedly the star of the film as her characters emotional turmoil allows the Australian actress to showcase her abilities. Whether it's bickering with her son or screaming the house down in terror, Collette is wonderful and never silly, creating a true feeling of dread and fear for what is happening. She is supported tremendously by Gabriel Byrne, a great contrast to Collette's character as he is the calm head who looks to keep everything together. Both Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro leave a lasting impression with impressive performances in such intense roles, with their youth and innocence adding to the trauma.

'Hereditary' is an incredibly clever horror film that trusts its story to carry through its horrifying messages. It never engages in lazy tactics and respects its audience and it pays dividends. This is not only the best horror films of the year but one of the best films in general of the year. This remarkable debut is truly special and is a genuinely terrifying art piece. 'Hereditary' is exactly the kind of horror film we should expect and hail with plaudits due to its boldness, creativity, intensity and the sheer terror it creates. Genuinely horrific and unpredictable, 'Hereditary' is undoubtedly the best horror film of the year.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, 9 June 2018

'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom' Review

Years after the disaster at Jurassic World, a rescue mission is set to retrieve the dinosaurs from Isla Nublar where a volcano threatens all living species. This mission soon turns for the worst with the dinosaurs being auctioned off to the highest bidder as weapons. Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) must stop these creatures being sold off for the world's sake.

'Fallen Kingdom' starts off with a horror-esque, dark and creepy sequence with director J.A. Bayona showcasing his talents yet again using larger than life creatures. This suspenseful scene joins the original 'Jurassic Park' as one of the best starts in the franchise's history and offers hope for the remainder of the film. Unfortunately, there is little of this creativity and originality to be found in the rest of the film.

The latest installment of the 'Jurassic' series may as well be titled 'Greatest Hits' as the film is filled with moments found in previous films with little more to them. Audiences will feel the nostalgia being forced upon them as the film tries to re-create classic scenes and moments with updated CGI and technology. The problem is that the film doesn't have the magic and engagement of the audience to get the maximum effect from these scenes. Due to this, it just seems like a cheap imitation more often than not. Unfortunately, there isn't much to rave about in terms of new additions to the series, with a potentially interesting look at John Hammond's relation with previous partners being squandered for more explosions and dinosaur attacks. The 'Jurassic' series now has very little meaning to it, other than dinosaurs being a metaphor for nuclear weapons, with the action spectacle being the main feature. 

The biggest strength of the film comes from its casting, with Chris Pratt's unquestionable charm and charisma making the film a lot more enjoyable. His pairing with Bryce Dallas Howard works tremendously yet again, giving the audience a genuinely likable pairing to root for. Rafe Spall and Toby Jones provide good support in villain roles with greedy motives and although not given much to work with, leave a lasting impression on the film. With better material, this cast could do wonders with a wide range of quality actors featuring but we just have to settle with them making the film watchable. 

'Jurassic' is undoubtedly now just another franchise that offers very little to be excited by. We can expect sequels to come out every other year but they won't be much different to each other or worth the time. It's a shame to see this series go further and further away from what made it so great in the first place. 'Jurassic' is now just another 'Transformers' or any other franchise that is just being milked for money which audiences will eat up undoubtedly. As far as generic blockbusters go, 'Fallen Kingdom' ticks all the boxes and although it's watchable, it offers a very limited experience in terms of shocks, thrills and excitement. 

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars