Category Archives: Movies

Ready Player One, Best Wreck it Ralph Sequel

Ready Player One was made for me, I caught the latter end of Atari, love movies, play video games, am white as fuck. I think a lot of people like me realised this early one when the trailers packed as many pop culture cameos in as possible. But not in the way that Scott Pilgrim did, where the references were so subtle that you’d be laughing while the plebs were watching on wondering what they’d just bought a ticket for. These references are stark and in your face.

I’m sorry, this review is going to move into straw man territory for a moment, but it’s cathartic for me.

I’m about to go on the heavy defensive now because I feel like the film has been chucked in the bin by a lot of people before they’ve even given it a chance. These are people who smugly point out product placement in movies, knowing that they are smart enough to see behind the curtain and have seen the Illuminati’s dark mechanisms. “Ha haaa, you won’t use nostalgia and heavy handed pop culture references to separate me from my money.” they say. As if The Force Awakens wasn’t one massive reference to itself, and as if they hadn’t blown money on it without thinking about it.

In the future, everyone bumbles into each other with VR Headsets on

Ready Player One is a movie about fan ownership of pop culture, it’s about escapism, it’s about archtypical Steven Spielberg kids fighting EA from putting pop ups into their simulated lives. The stakes don’t seem high, but not every story needs to be about destroying the real world. Spielberg is back on form with this film, for a man verging on about a million years old he brings the dynamism and energy to a film that almost never slows in pace. This is a kids adventure film with enough good humour, fun, and references to keep all the 30 somethings in the theatre entertained the whole way.

T.J. Miller does a stand out job bringing humour into the film as an animated Reaper-like character who plays one of the main bad guys. His jokes always land, and having an antognist that doesn’t really give a shit, while also caring deeply about the world he inhabits is refreshing.

Wow this is the closest I’ve ever been to a digital woman.

The movie follows Tye Sheridan as some everyman white kid who just doesn’t want to live in the shitty real world and instead spends most of it in a simulated world called the Oasis. He’s part of a small group of people who are trying to crack the mystery left behind the OASIS’s creator. Anyone who gets to the bottom of the mystery will be handed the keys to the kingdom, the stock options of the company worth a trillion dollars, and are allowed to do whatever they like with the Oasis.

Of course an evil corporation wanting to aggressively monetize the platform is also trying to bruteforce the mystery by sending 9 to 5 worker slaves into the Oasis en mass, so the kids always have a healthy number of expendable opponents to take out.

Wow this is the closest I’ve ever been to a real woman.

I honestly went in quietly hopeful for the film, and by the time I walked out of the theatre I was a little embarrassed and surprised to say I really liked it. It’s a cool film.

My cohort Matt who watched it with my commented that “I cringed no more than I do in other movies. I feel like if you’re wondering whether or not you want to see it, that line is important”.

I seriously recommend it.

Tomb Raider, Good Except for all the Tombs

My expectations for Tomb Raider were low. Very low. I think if the movie played all the way through I would have been pleasantly surprised, that’s how low the bar was. And you know what. I was pleasantly surprised. While I thought Alicia Vikander was the bomb in Ex Machina I just couldn’t see this waif of a human being the Tomb Raider, ya know? But by the end she’d sold me, fine take the crown from Angelina Jolie, it’s not like she was using it anyway.

The movie starts off strong, as all good origin films do. Even early on it has a fun chase to keep audiences entertained. All this promise at the start is setting up the pins in their tried and true time-worn grooves. The closer Lara gets to her quest the more samey it becomes. But you weren’t going to go see this movie for its twists were you?

When it does get to its setpiece moments it does revel in them, giving you time to enjoy it. Roar Uuthaug, a director with nothing particularly notable that you’d know, does a good job of making you feel like you’re there with Lara as she’s rolling around in tetanus ridden derelict planes or almost getting stabbed by random traps. This is perhaps the films biggest strengths, when Lara takes a hit, you know she isn’t just going to forget about it a second later. It has physicality, something a lot of these sorts of films tend to forget about.

This bit isn’t even in the movie, I just thought you’d like it.

For gamers the story seems familiar enough, Croft gets washed up on an island there is no escaping from surrounded by constant storms. Wait a minute, isn’t that King Kongs Island? She’s hunting after some Tomb©, but quickly gets tangled up with an evil corporation wanting to use supernatural powers for its own ends.

Also like the (rebooted) game it falls into the trap of Lara going from an innocent virgin of life, to a cold hard killer in no time flat. It builds up the brutality and violence of guns, and her first kill leaves her visibly shaken. By the end she’s shopping for her own death dealers.

This probably isn’t something we’d have thought about much up until recently. But weekly school shootings can make you look sideways at characters who get a taste for blood.

Matt, our resident professional with an opinion thought the start was great, but the second half not so much. “The movie was great except that bit with the tomb raiding.”

If you wanted to turn your brain off for an hour or so, you can’t go wrong with Tomb Raider. Don’t expect any surprises though.

The Mercy – Film Review

Either you’re from the generation that remembers the events of Donald Crowhurst, or like me, he hasn’t been meme enough to be remembered. Tales of daring across the ocean don’t exactly penetrate my generation like it did the last. Circumnavigating the world these days is relatively a breeze, but back when Crowhurst made his single man attempt at sailing around the world without touching land in 1968 it was almost a death sentence.

That’s what the story ostensibly covers, an almost impossible adventure by an amateur sailor who had never been out of sight of land before. With a solid portrayal by Colin Firth as the optimistic underdog Mr. Crowhurst. To be able to afford an ocean going boat he goes into partnership with a PR guy (David Thewlis) to hype his adventure, and a local businessman (Ken Stott) willing to front the money. These are the first mechanisms of a self laid trap for Crowhurst. He has a tight deadline to get his boat in the water, as the other competitors have already set sail.

The stakes start to rise as his boat is launched unready, and a last minute contract written up betting his entire house and business on the journey forces him to dive headfirst into the adventure he had always wanted to undertake. That’s the thing about dreams, if you invest too much they get out of your control, and if you do it unwillingly, a dream can easily turn into a nightmare.

From there the story becomes one of survival. Fortunately you aren’t just watching a silent Colin Firth plodding around alone for an hour and a half. To keep the pacing the story goes back to dry land, to see the impact his insane adventure is having on the nation, the media, and his own family.

Rachel Weisz does an epic job as Mrs. Crowhurst and has one of the best speeches in the entire movie that will stick with you long after you leave the cinema.

Matt, a professional with an opinion, felt as though it was a cautionary tale, “It made me feel glad that my own sense of adventure amounts to little more than driving the long way home every now and then.”

This isn’t a paint by the numbers underdog tale of triumphing over the odds. Truth is rarely sexy. It’s a great film, but don’t expect to come out feeling like a million dollars.

Four Films to Catch This November

Here are the movies to check out this month. You have your blockbuster, your comedy, a shit movie by George Clooney, and an edge of your seat thriller that I’m definitely going to be checking out.

Justice League

Here it is, finally make or break for DC. They’ve had some real stinkers on the lead-up to their Avengers knock off but this is their chance to finally prove themselves. They’re coming off hot from Wonder Woman which was released earlier this year and they’re coming out swinging.

The movie picks up with the death of Superman, because you can’t have your deus ex wandering around right at the get go. A villain called Steppenwolf lands on Diana’s amazonian island and uses this as the staging ground for destroying the world. Apart from this his main crime is getting Boney M stuck in my head.

Fuelled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against the V. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

It’ll be an ambitious movie to pull off and it has a darker tone in general to it’s Marvel counterparts. Zack Snyder knows how to do action for sure and it’s going to be a safe bet that there will be a ton of neat CGI explosions and fight scenes in Justice League.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the movie though. Zack Snyder had to drop out due to family tragedy at one stage, with veteran heroes director Joss Whedon in the directors chair. Zack’s vision for the movies also haven’t jelled with the studio either. DC had a much different idea for the movies, but they’ve got a personal philosophy of being director-driven in their decision making. Or so they say.

So with two directors directing such an important movie for DC is it going to come across conflicted? “They both have a strong intuitive sense of how a scene should play,” Ben Affleck told SFX magazine of the two directors. “and they’ve thought about it well ahead of time. I don’t get the sense that either of them had specific styles that sort of superseded the way they wanted to tell the story.”

Fingers crossed.

The Disaster Artist

Either you’re amped to see The Disaster Artist, or you have absolutely no idea what’s going on. James Franco went full method actor to get into the role of  Tommy Wiseau, the creator of The Room, a movie that has become a cult classic for being such an atrocious film. The movie plays as a behind the scenes look at how such an abomination got made in the first place. Franco gets his little brother Dave Franco to play his co-star Greg Sestero, the optimistic actor who was just looking for a break in the industry.

I feel like you need to have seen The Room to fully appreciate this film but at the same time I can’t in good conscience tell you to go see it beforehand.

 

DETROIT

A timely move by Kathryn Bigelow (Academy Award winning director of THE HURT LOCKER and ZERO DARK THIRTY) brings her raw edge of your seat style to a piece of American history. Civil unrest in Detroit in the summer of ‘67. It’s unflinching, but it’ll make you flinch plenty. This isn’t a feelgood social commentary. This is a horror made only worse by the fact that it’s based on a true story.

For many of us this’ll be the first time we see John Boyega act in a more serious role than his Star Wars part is giving him. Will Poulter (Maze Runner, The Revenant) does his best as a racist cop, and Hannah Murray gets a chance to break away from Game of Thrones as a little white girl caught up in the racially charged events.

Suburbicon

George Clooney is sitting in as director with a 60s set noir story he wrote alongside the Coen Brothers. Matt Damon plays a nice white collar dude in a white picket fence suburb with other nice white people. Perfect setting for a boring life where you raise your kids. Except this is now a daydream movie where action sneaks into real life. Nothing is what it appears and Damon has to navigate the violent underbelly of suburbia. Clooney attempts to ape the Coen Brothers cleverness and dark comedy and fails. The film also ham handles race, so if you’re looking for some decent commentary in that department skip Suburbicon and check out Detroit instead.

Happy Death Day – Suprisingly Not a Pile of Shit

I was unable to make it to the screening of this film so in my place I sent professionals with opinions Matt Rust and Quin Polderman.

They are men of few words, making them perhaps the worst individuals to have on as writers, they did however both agree that they “would’ve paid to watch that.” which is perhaps the most glowing review for a movie you can get.

“It has all the ingredients you’d find in one of those ‘loop movies’ but with the benefit of a ridiculously hot lead actress.” Quin told me.

The movie is essentially groundhog day, except the twist is that the Jessica Rothe, the aforementioned ridiculously hot lead actress, just happens to be getting murdered on the day. She has to figure out how to break the loop and remain unmurdered if she wants to live.

If you think that this movie sounds a lot like Groundhog Day then you aren’t alone, Happy Death Day makes a direct reference to this fact right at the end.

The film is directed by Christopher B. Landon who’s most notable works include all the followup Paranormal Activity movies and last years Viral.

“She was a total bitch at the start it it was so easy to hate her,” Matt went on. “But like the minute she was nice and smiley to people she was totally bangin’.”

“We both agreed that it’s pretty incredible how much more attractive the main character was with a positive attitude.”

This opinion troubled me, as I find the sexualisation of asking women to smile or have a positive attitude two steps back for feminism. I deeply regret having these guys as friends, or in fact as acquaintances.

I support a woman’s right to remain undeveloped as a person and not be murdered over and over again in an effort to teach her a lesson.

Blade Runner: 2049 Review – A Worthy Successor

This will be a spoiler free review.

Blade Runner: 2049 growls at you with a weight that presses down on you. This is a world that wants to bury you, and it starts with the sounds, fills out with the visuals, and flourishes with the story. It’s sound design is industrial and oppressive, but it’s still a world I want to explore.

Officer K, played by Ryan Gosling (the guy you get to play strong silent types these days), takes up the roll as the Blade Runner. Blade Runners kill rogue replicants or bio-engineered androids for people that don’t give a shit about the in-world syntax.

People who love the original know that these movies aren’t about the violence. With that said, 2049 doesn’t feel like it shies away from violence when it needs to. But that’s not why the original is a timeless classic. It’s timeless because of the questions it leaves us with, and the ideas it sets rolling around in our heads. While most people will probably come away from the original somewhat bored due to its slower pace, I think after a couple of weeks of pondering it you’ll go from “eh” to “Shit that movie is amazing.” If it wanted to it could have been a Total Recall style film, but instead it went down the route of neo-noir.

The same goes for the new film, prepare to get your brain engaged. It takes the same mystery as the original, but comes at it from the opposite direction. It unravels the idea, and at about the time you’re asking yourself when the 160 minutes is going to be over cause you’ve already figured it all out, the mystery winds itself back up and you’re left questioning everything again.

Ana de Armas plays Joi, the girlfriend of K, and the concepts she introduces into the story may have already been well plummed by movies like HER but she’s still a great ingredient in the story. Also she’s adorable.

Dave Bautista, otherwise known as Drax The Destroyer from Guardians of the Galaxy jumps into the start of the movie to offer the first pieces of the puzzle.

Also the guy from this meme plays a fun little bit-part:

Jared Leto plays perhaps the most annoying character in the film. The blind owner of the new and improved Tyrell Corporation, he’s driven by the need to understand the last party trick Tyrell came up with. He gets this across mostly by talking in bible verses.

Harrison Ford doesn’t feature in the film as much as I thought he would, and I think this is to the films credit. Even when he’s on camera, you don’t feel like he’s leeching away the limelight from our new hero.

The movie adds to the mythology of the world in a good way. Only a few obviously open threads leaving it open to sequel territory are left lying around. I’m not sure another film could pull off the same trick a third time. But I’ve been proved wrong before.

Sophie Chung, my new improved professional with an opinion who doesn’t abandon me just because they’re buying a house said “What happened to all the third world countries? Couldn’t they have paid all them for labour instead of making clones?”

“Paying them defeats the whole point.”

Is it a great film? Yes. My God yes. It is long though, so you better pee first. You don’t want to miss a single scene.

I’m not sure how the process goes for hiring someone to run an IMAX but I’m pretty sure it starts with a job interview question like “when you turn up your music, what number do you put it up to?”

“Usually I turn it up to 11.”

“No further questions. You’re hired.”

That was my only complaint with the actual viewing experience. One of my friends came out the cinema with mild tinnitus. Watching the movie without 3D on the massive IMAX screen was amazing though.

Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets – A Hot Mess I loved

I’ve been amped for Valerian for a while with it’s campy style and balls to the wall visuals.

Directed by French Director Luc Besson, director of “Leon”, “The Transporter” franchise and most importantly “The Fifth Element”, the movie oozes eccentricities everywhere. Luc grew up on the French comic Valérian et Laureline as a kid, and from the very first scenes of the movie you can see that he’s lovingly brought this 60s sci-fi comic book to life.

Since Luc was filming on a green screen for the majority of the film you can see he really owned the fact that his imagination was the only limitation. The world he’s adapted is amazing, and every moment spent in it presents a new little mystery or an awesome idea. It’s a world I instantly wanted to revisit the moment the film was over.

So he’s checked off one of the two boxes this movie needed to fly, the visual extravaganza and excitement. The second half, which required more deft of hand nuance were the characters, and it’s at this point where they fall flat.

Valerian played by Dane DeHaan comes across as an 18 year old with the huskiest voice I’ve ever heard, and his partner, Laureline played by Cara Delevine plays his Fiancee/girlfriend sidekick. Beyond all the action is them trying to sort out their personal lives together and whether they’ll get married.

I haven’t read the source material yet, but it’s my understanding that in the comics the pair were already married, and a draw card is that they’re a regular couple, navigating their life together while also exploring strange worlds and solving crimes and mysteries. This is an awesome combo, and I think pulling this off would have made it a unique film that delivers action for the boys and character drama for the girls making it a perfect date night film.

Instead it feels more like a romance written by a primary school kid who hasn’t quite figured out what a girl is yet. Loving banter doesn’t appear to by Luc’s strong suit as the pair come across as juvenile Han Solo’s.

Apparently they’re meant to play two strongly different archetypes. Valerian the eye on the prize soldier who doesn’t shirk his duty, and Laureline, who thinks more with her heart and plays by her own rules.

But the pair are both psychopaths, which isn’t wholly unusual for action heroes, gunning down anyone in their way. But just after killing an alien king after expressly noting that doing so would cause an international crisis Valerian tells Laureline that he sticks to the rules. This jarring line sounded more like a joke, as if he hadn’t been around for the last two hours of his own movie.

This was perhaps the biggest hangup for Matt, our resident professional with an opinion as well. “I found it bizarre that in a universe full of wonderfully varied species, and spectacular technology, the thing that made the least sense was almost everything the human characters did or said. ”

There are a bunch of lazy plot developments that are ham handedly chucked in, undeveloped possibly due to being cut to make way for Rihanna’s spectacular pole dance routine.

Avatar, seaside edition.

I want this movie to fly, it has so many cool concepts it left me pinging with creative energy. But these are going to be tough sells for a general audience, and many people will be left a bit pissed off at the writing. The villain is fun and interesting and probes into our failures as a race, once again being a tough sell. One that Wonder Woman couldn’t bring itself to face, opting instead for a dumb boss fight.

I love the idea of a cocky young married couple exploring the universe together. It’s not a dynamic I think I’ve ever seen in a movie before. Usually the characters need to be single to have any fun.

I really hope I see them again though, with a couple slight adjustments. Peace.

Cara Delevinge stars in Luc Besson’s ” Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”. Photo credit: Vikram Gounassegarin © 2016 VALERIAN SAS Ð TF1 FILMS PRODUCTION

Dunkirk, Dat Sound Though

I’m not sure what sold Dunkirk better, the theatre or the team Christopher Nolan gathered to put together some breathtaking pieces of cinematography and sound design.

Matt Rust, our inhouse professional with an opinion and I got to see Dunkirk on the massive IMAX screen normally reserved for 3D films. This time I was pleasantly surprised that we weren’t given some smudged glasses on the way into the theater. We got sweet spots near the back and in the middle. This is as good as it could get. IMAX, this was your chance to really impress me.

Then in the opening scenes of Dunkirk bullets break the calm of the coastal village scene. The sound felt like it punched a hole through me. “Holy shit,” I think to myself. “I need to pee again.”

The movie instantly draws you in, and the 4:3 aspect ratio fills the entire wall in front of us. Occasionally it goes back to regular widescreen which was weirdly jarring.

I wasn’t quite sold on Dunkirk due to the fact that the movie is about the horrors of war, but it had to do it on a low age rating. Meaning no blood. No blood in war, what sort of war is this? Are they fighting with pillows?

Nolan manages it though. Intertwining amazing sound design and a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer which is 90% slow build keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times.

He takes his fetish for time and pushes it into the premise of Dunkirk. It follows three groups. Soldiers desperate to escape the German advance pushing the French and English into the ocean are followed over the course of a week. Then there is the civilian storyline, of a man and his two sons crossing the channel to help with the evacuation. They’re followed over the course of a day. Then finally there is the air force, represented over the course of one hour.

I felt that the film didn’t necessarily put enough hype on the civilian side of things. They’re the real heroes. In an war ugly war marked by soldiers taking control, and civilians betraying neighbours, this was a point in time where civilians helped save half a million people, by putting their own lives on the line. During the miracle of Dunkirk 226 British ships were sunk. Many of them civilian day-tripper boats.

Matt had trouble telling all the dirty white teenagers apart. “My only problem with it is that I found it a little hard to tell some of the soldiers apart, which made it extra difficult to follow when they were jumping all over the timeline.”

I asked him if he had anything positive to say about the film. “Like, everything else?”

So I guess everything else was totally amazing. Actually, I don’t need to guess, I know.

The trailer didn’t sell me on the film so I decided not to include it in this review.

 

Eiza González, the true bad ass in Baby Driver

While people might spend time complaining that Lily James, ostensibly the love interest in Baby Driver, spends most of her time dicking around doing nothing in particular, people tend to overlook Eiza González. With a couple titles under her belt in Mexico, she came into the greater public consciousness when she took up a leading role in Dusk Till Dawn, making her a bit of a sex symbol alongside chizel faced D. J. Cotrona.

Anyway, coming back to Lily James. She mainly stood around waiting for a call from Ansel Adams. But Eiza was out there, egging on her psycho boyfriend, and generally being more of a creepy romantic lover than any chick has had the chance to be in a while.

So here’s to Eiza! Have some background ready stills from the film. Enjoy.

If you wanted to see my actual review for Baby Driver, you can read it here.

Okja Is a Wack as Fuck Movie

Apart from people who mark “vegan” as their favourite movie genre, I’m not sure who this film is for. On one hand It’s dropping F-bombs willy nilly and showing pretty disturbing shots of animal abuse, on the other it’s about a 13 year old chasing around a giant genetically modified pig in a simplistic plot filled with shrieking caricatures of capitalist scum and vegan anarchists. Is this supposed to be a nuanced critique of the way society treats everything like commodities or a desperate attempt at guilting me into stopping my meat eating ways? Cause it’s definitely not the former.

The first section of the film is awesome, taking place in a Korean wilderness it takes on a live action studio Ghibli vibe. It takes its time and has a casual pacing. After the pig, Okja is ripped away from its owner, Little Korean Kid (I can’t remember her name and I can’t be bothered Googling it), the movie takes off at a gallop.

Unfortunately, this fun pacing which feels so refreshing and engaging at first is quickly halted by Paul Dano who proceeds to muddy the story down with his vegan anarchist crew. By muddy down I mean, spend ages talking about his group’s entire backstory and future plans as well as current plans. It’s ok though because the bad guys get their own turn to sit around shooting the shit for a ridiculous amount of time as well.

It’s after the introduction of all these players that the magic of the movie is lost and it just feels dull.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with long dialogue and quirky characters. There were even moments during these monologues that I laughed. The writers are clever, but they’re also long winded and could have done with an editor to tighten things up. Evidently there wasn’t much on the cutting room floor because it’s hard enough filling out 2 hours with “Vegan good, Corporation bad” as it is.

My opinion might be totally wrong though, searches for “veganism” have spiked since Okja’s release and people on Twitter are loving the shit out of what is perhaps the preachiest movie of the year. But I hated it.

Little Korean Kid was cool though, total little bad ass.