Category: Reviews

Review – War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Director: Matt Reeves

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Karin Konoval, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite

War for the Planet of the Apes

There is a solid case to be made that the rebooted Planet of the Apes series is the best blockbuster franchise of the 21st century. Other franchises might enjoy higher profiles and bigger box office (Dark Knight trilogy, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Harry Potter series), but in terms of consistent high quality, with their combination of incredible technical achievement and effective storytelling, these Apes movies are hard to look past. After the Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the third instalment, Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes, fittingly rounds out this most under-appreciated of blockbuster trilogies.

Two years after the events of Dawn, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the ape community are living in hiding in the woods. While he has defeated Koba, the rebellious ape who threatened to tear their community apart, Caesar has been left fighting the war with the humans that Koba started. Continue reading

Review – Baby Driver (2017)

Director: Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jamie Foxx

Baby Driver

While the beloved ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End has cemented writer-director Edgar Wright’s reputation in the British film industry, his footing across the Atlantic has been slightly less solid. His first American film, Scott Pilgrim vs the World struggled to find its market despite being a lot of fun, and then there was the saga of Ant-Man which ultimately saw him walk away from the Marvel project. However Wright’s latest film, the genre bending action, heist, music video Baby Driver, could just be the film to establish him as a Hollywood director.

Nobody drives like Baby (Ansel Elgort). He’s fast. He’s creative. Baby drives to music. In fact, he lives his whole life to music. Continue reading

Review – Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Director: John Watts

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, John Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Zendaya, Laura Harrier, Donald Glover, Tony Revolori, Jennifer Connelly 

Spider-Man Homecoming

For almost a decade now Marvel has been the dominant player in the superhero movie market. Bet thanks to a pre-existing licensing agreement with Sony, they have done so without the use of their most iconic character, Spider-Man. While Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man films were instrumental in launching Hollywood’s present fascination with superhero movies, Sony’s more recent efforts have paled in comparison to what Marvel has been achieving and left many fans wondering ‘what if.’ However, a recent license sharing agreement between Disney and Sony has seen everyone’s favourite web-slinger enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe fold, and after a scene-stealing appearance in Captain America: Civil War, we now get his first solo outing, the appropriately titled Spider-Man: Homecoming. From the opening moments of the film, in which an orchestral version of the classic Spider-Man cartoon theme song plays over the Marvel Studios title card, there is a palpable sense of glee at having their trump card back in their hand. Continue reading

Review – Rough Night (2017)

Director: Lucia Aniello

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Kate McKinnon, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer

Rough NightLucia Aniello’s Rough Night takes a comedy sub-genre that is usually male dominated, the massive party/night out that goes terribly wrong, and flips the genders. The thing is though, that aside from a few notable exemptions the majority of films in this particular sub-genre are terrible. So, true to form, Rough Night is too. Borrowing its central premise – a party derailed by the accidental death of a stripper – from Peter Berg’s 1998 film Very Bad Things, Rough Night is a derivative mashing together of The Hangover, Bridesmaids and Weekend at Bernie’s.

A group of old college friends whose lives have taken them in different directions are reunited after almost a decade for a bachelorette weekend blowout in Miami. The bride to be, Jess (Scarlett Johansson), is in the midst of running for state senate in South Carolina, so isn’t exactly in the mood for a party weekend, but her possessive best friend, now school teacher, Alice (Jillian Bell) is insistent. Continue reading

Review – I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

Director: Raoul Peck

Starring: James Baldwin, Samuel L. Jackson

I Am Not Your Negro

In 1979, author, intellectual and activist James Baldwin wrote a thirty page treatment for a book to be called ‘Remember this House.’ It was going to be his personal account, describing his experience of the murders of his three friends and fellow civil rights champions, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. However Baldwin ultimately couldn’t bring himself to write the book and he passed away in 1987 having never returned to it. Using Baldwin’s own words, Raoul Peck’s Oscar nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro sets about trying to bring this unrealised work to life.

While Baldwin is the film’s principal character, I Am Not Your Negro is not a biography. Peck does not concern himself with delivering names, dates, milestones and achievements. If you come into this film without a great knowledge of who Baldwin was and what he did (and as a thirty-something Australian I confess to being far from an expert), you are not going to come out of the film with all of those questions answered. But you will come out with the desire to learn more, because what the film does emphatically show you of Baldwin was that he was a towering mind, a great thinker and powerful debater. Continue reading

Review – The Little Hours (2017)

Director: Jeff Baena

Starring: Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Kate Micucci, Dave Franco, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Fred Armison, Nick Offerman

Little Hours

Incongruity has always been one of comedy’s key tools and things don’t get much more incongruous than an American sex farce set in a 14th century Italian convent. Say hello to Jeff Baena’s The Little Hours.

A loose adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th century work The Decameron, The Little Hours tells the story of three young nuns – Alessandra (Brie), Generva (Micucci) and Fernanda (Plaza) – living in a convent in provincial Italy in 1347. Under the watchful eye of Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) and Sister Marea (Molly Shannon) the sisters go about their daily duties washing clothes, caring for the livestock, making handicrafts for sale at the market, and studying the scriptures. On a trip to the market, Father Tommasso comes across Massetto (Dave Franco), a young servant who has fled his former home having been caught in an affair with his master’s wife. Continue reading

Review – We Don’t Need a Map (2017)

Director: Warwick Thornton

Starring: Warwick Thornton

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In 2010, riding high on the success of his debut feature Samson & Delilah, Aboriginal filmmaker Warwick Thornton found himself in hot water when he suggested that the Southern Cross was fast becoming Australia’s equivalent to the swastika. His new documentary, We Don’t Need a Map, which opened this year’s Sydney Film Festival, is his effort to explain those remarks by delving into the historical meaning of the Southern Cross. We Don’t Need a Map is one of four films funded by NITV (National Indigenous Television) as part of the ‘Moment in History’ initiative to mark fifty years since the 1967 referendum which saw Aboriginal people officially recognised as part of Australia’s population. Continue reading