Category: Reviews

Review – Ocean’s Eight (2018)

Director: Gary Ross

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Richard Armitage, James Corden

Oceans Eight

In the final moments before her crew sets out to execute their heist in the reboot-sequel Ocean’s Eight, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) tells them: “You’re not doing this for me. You’re not doing this for you. Somewhere out there is an eight year old girl dreaming of being a criminal. You’re doing it for her.” This is the self-aware dialogue of a film which knows it has a greater purpose. Ocean’s Eight, like the gender-flipping strategy in general, is about allowing female viewers to break free of Hollywood’s limiting portrayals of women as passive objects and identify with the type of active character historically reserved for men. Could there be anything more emblematic of a female character with agency, with control of their own destiny, than a criminal? Continue reading

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Review – Paddington 2 (2017)

Director: Paul King

Starring: Ben Wishaw; Hugh Grant; Hugh Bonneville; Sally Hawkins; Madeleine Harris; Samuel Joslin; Julie Walters; Jim Broadbent; Brendan Gleeson; Peter Capaldi; Marie-France Alvarez; Sanjeev Bhaskar; Ben Miller; Jessica Hynes; Robbie Gee; Imelda Staunton

Paddington 2

Films can make you feel a lot of things, but it is rare that one can make you feel pure, unbridled joy. With its sincerity and sweetness, Paul King’s Paddington 2, sequel to 2014’s successful adaptation of the beloved Michael Bond character, is just such a film.

Paddington Brown (Ben Wishaw) wants to buy an extra special birthday present for his beloved Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) who is about to turn one hundred, to say thank you for all that she has done for him. In Mr Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) old curiosity shop he finds just the thing, a pop-up book of the sights of London. The only problem is that it is a one of a kind antique, and much more expensive than a humble bear can afford. Knowing it is the perfect gift, Paddington sets out to find himself a job. However, when the shop is broken into and the book stolen, Paddington finds himself falsely blamed and thrown into prison. Continue reading

Review – Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Director: Ron Howard

Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Joonas Suotamo, Donald Glover, Paul Bettany, Phoebe Waller Bridge, Thandie Newton

Solo

One of the things which made the original Star Wars trilogy the site of such intense fandom is that it created the sense of a universe that was bigger than just what we were seeing in the story. Through the details of different planets and aliens that we glimpsed it provided incredible scope for the imagination to run wild. It is this potential that Disney is trying to tap into with their Star Wars ‘anthology films’ – those films which are not classified as episodes of the central saga. Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story is the second on these anthology films, after 2016’s Rogue One.

While fighting with the Imperial infantry on Mimban, young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his new, wookie friend Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) fall in with a group of smugglers led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson). Continue reading

Review – Deadpool 2 (2018)

Director: David Leitch

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, Morena Baccarin, Eddie Marsan, TJ Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Briana Hildebrand, Shioli Kutsuna

Deadpool 2

It seems a strange, almost perverse thing to say of a film so coarse and violent, but the incredible success of Tim Miller’s Deadpool, which turned a comparatively modest US$58m budget into a US$783m worldwide gross, was one of the film industry’s feel good stories of 2016. It was both vindication for Ryan Reynolds who had worked tirelessly for the chance to redeem the character after its butchering in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and reward for 20th Century Fox’s willingness to take a chance on a superhero movie whose R-rating automatically ruled out a key demographic for superhero movies. A sequel, however, presents an entirely new challenge. Could a second film capture that same sense of freshness and difference, or would it just end up mimicking itself? Fortunately, Deadpool 2 not only lives up to the original, it arguably exceeds it on many fronts. Continue reading

Review – Isle of Dogs (2018)

Director: Wes Anderson

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Kunichi Nomura, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Akira Ito, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe, Fisher Stevens, Liev Schreiber, Courtney B. Vance.

Isle of Dogs

In recent years, Wes Anderson has seemingly surpassed Tim Burton as cinema’s most popular and recognisable visual stylist. With every new film he only becomes more and more Wes Anderson. His latest offering, Isle of Dogs, is possibly his most imaginative film yet and sees him returning to the painstaking medium of stop-motion animation for the first time since Fantastic Mr. Fox.

While the title of the film may sound like ‘I love dogs,’ it takes us to a world which sadly does not. In the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki, 20 years in the future, an outbreak of snout fever and dog flu has seen Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), the latest head of the cat-loving Kobayashi dynasty, banish all of the city’s dogs to Trash Island. In this exile colony sick and angry dogs search for food among the garbage, forming gangs and alliances in order to survive. Continue reading

Review – The Death of Stalin (2018)

Director: Armando Iannucci

Starring: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Palin, Jason Isaacs, Andrea Riseborough, Rupert Friend, Adrian McLoughlin, Olga Kurylenko, Dermot Crowley, Paul Whitehouse, Paul Chahidi, Paddy Considine

Death of Stalin

It has been said that comedy is tragedy plus time. With The Death of Stalin, Armando Iannucci, the creator of Veep and The Thick of It, really puts that idea to the test by bringing his brand of acerbic political satire to the darkness of Stalin’s Soviet Union. 

In the years after the Great Terror, the Soviet citizenry and politicians alike live in a constant state of fear of their leader, Josef Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin). But on the evening of 28th February, 1953, the dictator suffers a stroke and collapses alone in his office. The guards outside the door hear him fall but are too terrified to risk interrupting. When his body is discovered the next morning the Council of Ministers convene, but the fear and paranoia remains so strong that none are willing to be the first to acknowledge he has died lest it be interpreted as wishful thinking, nor make any decisive plans lest it be seen as opportunism. Continue reading

Review – Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Benedict Wong, Karen Gillan, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Peter Dinklage, Idris Elba

Avengers

With the incredible success of Black Panther, which is the year’s top grossing film by some margin and Marvel’s third highest grossing film ever, 2018 was already a winner for Marvel Studios before they had even played their trump card. Avengers: Infinity Wars is, by most any measure, one of the biggest movies in history. The film that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building to for a decade now, it is a crossover epic 18 films in the making, and promises to be the blockbuster movie event of the year.

When Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who has been missing from Earth since Avengers: Age of Ultron, comes crashing down into Doctor Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) Sanctum Sanctorum he brings with him an ominous warning. The titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) is gathering the infinity stones. These six gems forged in the big bang each control an elemental power and if he gets his hand on all six, and he already has three, he will become all powerful. His ultimate goal? Genocide on an unimaginable scale. Continue reading