Category: Reviews

Review – John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Director: Chad Stahelski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Claudia Gerini

John Wick 2

John Wick was a surprise hit. What seemed on paper to be a relatively routine revenge thriller for a star in real need of a career bump somehow became the most unlikely of critical hits, lauded for its strong sense of design and lively fight choreography. With David Leitch having taken his directorial talents to Atomic Blonde, original co-director and former Keanu Reeves stunt double Chad Stahelski takes the reins solo for John Wick: Chapter 2. As a sequel, it is appropriately titled. Without taking us off in any new directions, it gives us more of the same without feeling like it is simply rehashing.

In the world of assassins, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is the boogeyman. To frighten each other, assassins tell stories of John Wick, and as one character points out, if anything these myths and tall tales have been toned down to make them believable. Continue reading

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Review – mother! (2017)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson

Mother

After watching Darren Aronofsky’s mother! you are left with a question: ‘Was that a good film?’ But answering that question requires you to first consider a bigger question: ‘What makes a good film?’ Ever the provocateur, Aronofsky has crafted a film that will frustrate and disgust you, making you equal parts uncomfortable and angry. But if, in order to make their point, it was the filmmaker’s intention to draw these negative reactions from the audience, does successfully doing so make it a good film? mother! is the very epitome of ‘not for everyone,’ and the way you answer that last question goes a long way to determining whether this polarising film is for you or not.

An unnamed married couple live alone in a large house in the middle of a circular meadow in the woods. He (Javier Bardem) is a highly regarded poet who has been struggling to write anything for some time. She (Jennifer Lawrence) has been working to painstakingly restore the grand old house, his old family home which had been destroyed in a fire. Continue reading

Review – The Big Sick (2017)

Director: Michael Showalter

Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano

Big Sick

The romantic comedy is one of the cornerstones of Hollywood cinema. It is comfortable. It is entertaining. It is delightful. But it is rarely insightful. It is rarely revelatory. It is rarely personal. First-time screenwriters and married couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon have drawn on their own incredible story of a most unconventional courtship to create just such a film in The Big Sick.

Low level Chicago stand up comedian and occasional Uber driver Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) meets psychology student Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his shows and they instantly hit it off. Over the next few months their romance blossoms, but Kumail, a Pakistani-America, keeps it secret from his family knowing his parents would never approve of his dating a non-Pakistani girl. Continue reading

Review – Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Jack Lowden, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Glynn-Carney, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, Barry Keoghan, James D’Arcy

Dunkirk

In May of 1940, the British Expeditionary Force, along with the French army, had been driven back to the Northern coast of France by the Nazis. 400,000 British troops were trapped on the beach at Dunkirk, sitting ducks to aerial attacks. While only 26 miles from home, so close you can practically see it, the shallow waters made it impossible for large vessels to get in and collect them. So the British Navy implemented ‘Operation Dynamo,’ requisitioning all available small civilian vessels – fishing boats, yachts and tugs – to cross the channel and retrieve them. The ‘Miracle at Dunkirk’ is a treasured piece of British history. When their boys couldn’t get home, home came to get their boys. Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Dunkirk, takes this tale and transforms it into immersive cinematic spectacle in a way that only he can.

Dunkirk brings us the story from three perspectives: the mole (as in a pier), the sea and the air. Continue reading

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