Category: Reviews

Review – Toy Story 4 (2019)

Director: Josh Cooley

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tony Hale, Annie Potts, Christina Hendricks, Tim Allen, Madeleine McGraw, Keanu Reeves, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Joan Cusack

Toy story 4

Over the last 25 years Pixar have produced numerous original and imaginative films which have helped establish them as the world’s premier animation studio. But there is no doubt that Toy Story is their flagship franchise. The Toy Story trilogy are beloved in a way that only a handful of film franchises can genuinely claim to be. This is why the surprise announcement that we were going to receive a fourth film was greeted with equal parts excitement and hesitancy. With the series having been so perfectly closed out with 2010’s Toy Story 3, what was there left to say? Why were we reopening this story? Were the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars franchise and the live action remakes of their animated classics not enough to satiate Disney’s thirst for profit? It seemed unnecessary and rife with potential to tarnish something which was, in many people’s eyes, perfect. How many really good have there been with a ‘4’ at the end of the title? But by now we should know that Pixar can be trusted. Continue reading

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Review – Long Shot (2019)

Director: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, June Diane Raphael, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Ravi Patel, Bob Odenkirk, Andy Serkis

Long Shot

While politics makes people feel a lot of things these days, romantic doesn’t tend to be one of them. Where 25 years ago a film like The American President with Michael Douglas and Annette Benning could use the romanticism of the very idea of the Presidency and the White House to build a love story, in the decades since we are more accustomed to seeing the White House as a setting for action thrillers. And with politics seemingly growing more divided by the day, Jonathan Levine’s romantic comedy and political parody, Long Shot, would seem to be exactly that. But with its strange combination of crass humour and high ideals, it actually kind of works. Continue reading

Review – Top End Wedding (2019)

Director: Wayne Blair

Starring: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson, Shari Sebbens, Elaine Crombie, Dalara Williams, Ursula Yovich

Top End Wedding 1

After decades of being excluded or pushed to the periphery of Australian cinema, it is fair to say that in the last decade Indigenous filmmakers have been responsible for much of the most interesting Australian screen product. In addition to the emergence of a golden generation of indigenous filmmakers, an important element of this rise in prominence is what Therese Davis described as the conscious ‘mainstreaming’ of indigenous cinema. Over the last decade, Indigenous screen storytelling has moved away from hard-hitting social realism to embrace genre as a means of exploring Indigenous themes and narratives. We have seen successful musicals (The Sapphires and Bran Nue Dae), westerns (Sweet Country) and crime dramas (Mystery Road and Goldstone), but Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding might be the first indigenous romantic comedy. Continue reading

Review – Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Director: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffallo, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Gwyneth Paltrow

Endgame

“Part of the journey is the end,” says Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) into a recording for his wife as he floats through space in a powerless ship with food and water supplies depleted and oxygen not far behind. While Avengers: Endgame by no means marks the closing of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Disney is not walking away from that cash cow any time soon – there is a sense in which  it marks the end of something. Endgame is not a movie. This cinematic event is the culmination of the boldest experiment in big screen, long-form narrative the cinema has ever seen. That claim may sound hyperbolic, but we are talking about twenty-two interwoven films released over an eleven year period. Episodes in an ongoing narrative featuring upwards of ninety recurring characters, which have grossed a combined US$20.9 billion dollars and counting. As such, any attempt to critique Endgame in isolation, as a singular text, is almost as pointless as it is futile. The success or failure of this film is determined entirely by its ability to pay off that eleven year journey that invested fans have been on. In that regard, Anthony and Joe Russo’s film is an unqualified success. Continue reading

Review – Shazam! (2019)

Director: David F. Sandberg

Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Djimon Hounsou

Shazam 1

The deeper we get into this era of superhero movies, the more studios have to move away from the household names. Despite having been one of the most popular comic book heroes of the 1940s, Shazam is not a name that means anything to most moviegoers today (and let’s not even get into the confusing fact that for much of the character’s existence he was known as Captain Marvel). But that anonymity might change. David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! finds its own space in a crowded marketplace with is comedic, joyful tone, liberated by Warner Brothers and DC’s shift towards prioritising the distinctness of individual films over a consistent tone across their storytelling universe.  Continue reading

Review – The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)

Director: Mike Mitchell

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Jadon Sand, Brooklynn Prince, Maya Rudolph, Will Ferrell

Lego Movie 2Very few films have managed to capture the magic of imagination and creativity the way Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s The Lego Movie did. Wonderfully inventive in style and story, it defied any fears of it being a cynical exercise in product placement to surprise audiences and critics alike. After a couple of inferior spinoffs – The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie – the franchise returns to its core narrative for The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. But even with Lord and Miller returning as writers and producers, something of the spark of the original is unfortunately missing.

Everything is no longer awesome. In the five years since everyman Emmet (Chris Pratt) liberated Bricksburg from the tyrannical Lord Business (Will Ferrell), a series of attacks from alien Duplo monsters have seen it reduced to a Fury Road-style wasteland. Continue reading

Review – Captain Marvel (2019)

Directors: Anna Boden & Ryan Fletcher

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Akira Akbar, Gemma Chan, Rune Temte, Algenis Perez Soto, Djimon Honsou

Captain Marvel

Since the advent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe well and truly heralded in the era of the superhero movie, Marvel Studios have consistently shown themselves to be a step ahead of the competition. However, with the blockbuster success of Warner Brothers’ Wonder Woman in 2017 we saw, for the first time, Marvel Studios having missed a trick. While the MCU’s heroes had come from a variety of eras and planets and demonstrated a range of different powers and personalities, there was one key way in which they all remained the same: they were all male. While Hope Van Dyne had made it into the title of Ant-Man and the Wasp she remained clear second fiddle in the narrative, and characters like the Black Widow and Gomorah have been integral parts of the MCU without ever getting top billing. So it is with the 21st film in the franchise that Marvel gives us their first female led film, Captain Marvel.  Continue reading