Sunday, 22 July 2018

'The Secret of Marrowbone' Review

Plagued by a mysterious presence from their past, Jack (George MacKay) looks to protect his family after the passing of his mother.

With an impressive young cast and mysterious, well-made trailers, 'The Secret of Marrowbone' looked incredibly promising. Eery whilst not giving much away about the story, the film was set up to look like a tense and interesting affair by its marketing. Unfortunately, this was not transferred into the final product at all, with the film being extremely disappointed and very messy.

It must be said that despite this film failing to hit the mark, it isn't at all to do with a lack of effort or laziness. 'Marrowbone' is the directorial debut from successful screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez and is a fairly ambitious effort from the Spanish filmmaker. However, Sanchez' inexperience as a director shows as he looks to cram in more than the film can handle as the film has major pacing issues. The first half often forgets at times that it's a horror film but does very little to build character or use the time to create interesting scenarios to keep you engaged. There's a weirdly large chunk of time dedicated to playing on the beach and decorating as if the film was a BBC special about children in the countryside which doesn't mix well with the tone the film tries to set later on. During this time there is no attempt at all to try and build any sort of interesting or likable characters. To sum up, the first half of the film is very poor, with it being dull, lifeless and sadly, downright boring. The second half tries to make up for this a bit too much as the pacing goes from 0 to 100 very quickly. Soon enough lots of information and events are rapidly being thrown in with little breathing period. In amongst the ending is a twist that the film heavily relies on but its effect gets lost in amongst all of the ongoing chaos. The film is very unbalanced with far too little of interest happening early on and then far too much ensuing nearer the end and by that time, you've already checked out.

As previously mentioned, the cast for this film made 'Marrowbone' a lot more appealing with an impressive crop of young talent but even this aspect failed to deliver. Anya Taylor-Joy is completely wasted as a love interest with very little character other than her endearment for Jack, played by George MacKay. MacKay is undoubtedly a talented actor, but the script sees quite an emotionless performance with the occasional overly shouty dialogue that doesn't allow him to showcase his abilities. As for the likes of Charlie Heaton and Mia Goth, they are only there to make up the numbers as again they are wasted. There isn't much character in this film at all and with the dull story, it doesn't make for an entertaining viewing. 

What is unquestionably disappointing is the horror elements, as the film resorts to predictable jump scares and loud noises as its main source of 'horror'. There was a potentially interesting element regarding mirrors but it falls completely flat combined with the final twist. This is perhaps the most disappointing part of this film as the scares don't seem to have much thought within them. Although the rest of the film does miss the mark, there is a clear intention to try something ambitious and slightly out of the box. Unfortunately, with its execution of horror, the same cannot be said.

'The Secret of Marrowbone' does take risks with its storytelling but the craftsmanship isn't quite there. The pacing is all off which really harms the effectiveness of the chaos that ensues later on in the film with there being very little of interest happening early on. Despite an attempt to create a film that really makes you think, 'Marrowbone' is certainly an unfortunate misfire.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Monday, 16 July 2018

'Mission Impossible: Fallout' Review

The best intentions come back to haunt Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as dangerous plutonium falls into the wrong hands with plans to attack a third of the world's population. Hunt will join up with familiar faces and some new members in order to right the wrongs previously made.

There's nothing worse than seeing sequels being forced out with little care, passion or creativity evident within the final product. After 22 years, you'd maybe think that the 'Mission Impossible' series would end up heading that way like countless other franchises in the past. This most definitely isn't the case, as 'Fallout' is not only the series best film but one that will be looked at as one of the best in the entire action genre. 

Continuing from the high standards set by 'Ghost Protocol' and 'Rogue Nation', 'Fallout' looks to and succeeds in raising the bar once again. With the previous installments in the series, there are specific moments that stand out as the highlights and the most memorable moments of the film; the Burj Khalifa scene in 'Ghost Protocol' and Tom Cruise hanging onto the side of a plane in 'Rogue Nation'. With 'Fallout', there are simply too many to choose from. From brutal fight scenes in bathrooms and cabins to insane motorbike chases and an incredible skydiving set piece, the action in 'Fallout' is second to none with different styles of this genre being displayed magnificently. Each scene is packed with a high level of intensity that is matched equally with creativity, creating highly enjoyable and thrilling moments that leave you in complete awe. 

There's a reason as to why Tom Cruise is held in such high regard in the action genre as his clear passion is evident in each and every role he takes. His commitment is second to none and once again it is on show with him performing countless stunts that really draw you into the film - with his broken ankle making the final cut as well. Not only does Cruise go above and beyond in his action scenes but also delivers fantastic moments of wit and even emotion and his character faces turmoil in his personal life. Alongside a tremendous ensemble cast that features an impressive turn from Henry Cavill and another great showing from the magnificent Rebecca Ferguson, the different tones transition with ease and never feel out of place. Cruise produces another textbook performance as he continues to amaze whilst showing no intentions of stopping anytime soon. 

A lot of credit must go to writer/director Christopher McQuarrie who becomes the first director to return to the series. McQuarrie has created a script around these action set pieces that is full of mystery, intrigue, humour, creativity and sheer cleverness with very little moments feeling overlong in its two and a half hour runtime. 'Fallout' truly deserves to go down as one of the best action movies as the sheer effort and creativity that has gone into this film is easily noticeable. There is nothing generic about 'Fallout' as it looks to push the boundaries further and further as the film goes on and that is due to McQuarrie's fantastic abilities as a filmmaker.

'Fallout' is undoubtedly the best action movie of the year and the best that we have seen since 'Mad Max: Fury Road'. It has everything you want in a great action movie, from kickass heroes - both male and female -, insane stunts, great fight scenes, a perfect mix of humour and seriousness and genuine threats from villains and situations. A pure thrill ride from start to finish, this is easily the year's best blockbuster bar none.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Mission Impossible: Fallout comes out on the 25th July in the U.K

Monday, 9 July 2018

'Sicario 2: Soldado' Review

As the Mexican Cartel's start to smuggle terrorists across the U.S border, CIA officer Matt Traver (Josh Brolin) recruits the help of Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro) in order to take them down. Using one of the top kingpin's daughters to raise the tensions, the plan goes wrong leaving everyone to question what they are fighting for. 

'Sicario' spawned the career of screenwriter Taylor Sheridan, making him one of Hollywood's most promising talents and rightfully so after another two successful outings which gained him an Academy Award nomination. Sheridan works closely with crime thrillers, with tensions and stakes being raised continuously culminating in a thrilling finale. For the first time in Sheridan's career, this was not the case as studio interference looks to have caused a blemish on what was so far a perfect résumé.

'Soldado' wastes no time in grabbing the audience's attention, with a graphic but in the long run meaningless terrorist attack within the first few moments. This moment looks to set the tone and main story of the film but soon becomes very apparent that its only intention was merely to shock and showcase a tougher, grittier tone. It's a bizarre start to the film as this incident is barely brought up again and has little effect on the rest of the story. There's no retribution or punishment relating to this attack which is put to the side and forgotten about very quickly.

Much like its predecessor, the film focuses on the ways that government bodies will take care of business, even using inhumane and illegal tactics in order to achieve their goals. The grittier tone is carried out with drone strikes, interrogations, kidnappings and murders in broad daylight as the way the U.S may deal with things is shown in shocking ways. There are plenty of exciting and clever set pieces as the main bulk of the film features an interesting insight into just how far these high ranked officials will go. Focusing on a staged rescue mission, the relationship between Alejandro - played magnificently yet again by Benicio Del Toro - and Isabela (Isabela Moner) shows a surprising development of both characters as they bond over trying to survive in tough circumstances. Sheridan showcases his talents as a writer tremendously throughout the main bulk of the film, with great set pieces and dialogue carried out by simple small talk. There isn't as much artistic appeal but Sheridan's strengths shine through creating a thoroughly thrilling and exciting experience nonetheless.

However, despite all the good work done creating the main chunk of the film, its decision making in its finale almost completely derails the film. You can basically tell at a certain point where studio interference came into play, as the need to set up further films undoes a lot of the good work previously done. One of the films risks is undone which leads to a cheap and downright cheesy Hollywood ending that ends up being the films most shocking moment. 'Soldado' is a perfect example of why talented filmmakers should be trusted and how studio interference can have a huge negative effect on a film's outcome.

Despite the loss of Villeneuve, Deakins, and Blunt, 'Soldado' manages to create an interesting and gritty story nonetheless. Until it's finale, it looked like a very worthy sequel to a great film but is unfortunately tainted due to its extremely poor ending. What was a solid and exciting thriller quickly becomes a disappointment that has you leaving with a bad taste in your mouth.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

'GLOW' Season 2: Review

The 'Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling' are back after a successful pilot. With this comes new problems in production as well as behind the scenes as the gals deal with problems at work and in their personal lives. Ruth (Alison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin) continue to butt heads whilst Sam (Marc Maron) takes a bigger role as a father whilst trying to keep the show running as smoothly as possible.

'GLOW' burst onto the scene last year with unashamed silliness in what was a fine and perfectly enjoyable debut season. The introduction of fun, interesting characters and the conflicts each face was enough for the show to be a success and gave a taster of the potential that the series had. Now back for season 2, the show isn't pulling any punches and takes that step forward in making a good show a great show that can't be missed.

GLOW continues to showcase a cheesy, silly tone as a main feature in its second season and does so more than its predecessor - best summed up in episode 8 'The Good Twin'. The volume is turned up as the comedy delivers with wilder and sillier antics apparent in each episode. Despite that, the shows main strength surprisingly comes from its more serious moments, providing unexpected dramatic moments that match even the best of dramas. This second season is incredibly bold and takes risks by trying to pack its episodes with as many issues to tackle as possible. From relevant topics to this day like representation and dodgy sleazy executives to the exploitation of stereotypes, troublesome family lives and generally finding your place in this environment, season 2 looks to tackle many different issues that woman would've faced at this time in this industry. The show is no longer solely an entertaining comedy, it's an important series that looks to tackle real issues and deserves full credit for its more serious turn. The show's combination of serious drama and silly comedy is a sight to behold as on paper, they are polar opposites yet, they contrast wonderfully creating one of the best and most unique shows of the year.

With the shows bizarre yet effective use of tones, this allows the diverse cast to showcase their incredible range in many different ways. Alison Brie shines in her leading role as she yet again bounces between tones with incredible ease. Whether it's as 'Zoya' - or twin sister Olga - showing off her goofy side and comedic chops or facing off against her co-stars in the serious moments, Brie is fantastic and could easily find herself very busy during award season. Each side character deserves an abundance of credit, with the likes of Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron and Kia Stevens all shining throughout the season, packing plenty of emotion and laughs into the series. There is no weak link, no character who you feel doesn't belong or isn't impactful. The series continues to build each and every character, making everybody feel important and necessary to the overall story with their own individual moments to shine. I'm yet to see a better ensemble cast as these misfits work together perfectly with chemistry that is off the charts.

With only 10 episodes in the series at an average length of 33 minutes an episode, the show never lacks any dull moments as time flies by with each episode. GLOW is the ideal show to binge as each episode is meaningful and entertaining meaning many will fire through it easily. And as a show that covers all bases, it is to no surprise as the show is filled to the brim with compelling and fun entertainment. The second season is best summed up by one of its final lines; "Highbrow, lowbrow, comedy, drama, heartache, violence, this show has something for everyone". You will laugh and you'll cry. You'll feel uncomfortable and it'll make you overwhelmingly happy. This is a very special series from a show that has really found its identity and deserves all the plaudits it gets. Compelling and fun from start to finish, season 3 cannot come quick enough.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars