Review – The Lion King (2019)

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Donald Glover, JD McCrary, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones, Beyonce, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, John Oliver, Alfre Woodard, John Kani, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre, Florence Kasumba

Lion King

How iconic does a film need to be before it becomes untouchable? Evidently, the answer is ‘even more iconic than The Lion King.’ The 1994 classic which is regarded by many as the pinnacle of the early 1990s golden era of Disney animated musicals, which was up until Frozen the highest grossing movie musical of all time, and which spawned a Tony Award winning Broadway hit, is the latest of the Mouse House’s back catalogue to get a do-over. Continue reading

Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)

Director: Jon Watts

Starring: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Samuel L Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Martin Starr

Spiderman FFH

It might seem odd to suggest that a studio that has dominated the global box office for the last decade and has just recently delivered the highest grossing film of all time could find themselves in a make or break situation. But that is kind of what Marvel Studios are looking at. Maintaining their stranglehold on audiences means reinforcing to everyone that Avengers: Endgame is the end of a chapter, not of the book, and as they venture into a new era for the franchise without Iron Man and Captain America, the two characters who have been their icons, Marvel – in conjunction with Sony -have turned to their traditional trump card: Spider-Man. So with Endgame still in cinemas, the Marvel Cinematic Universe marches on with Jon Watt’s Spider-Man: Far from Home, a film which serves as equal parts Endgame coda and introduction to the next stage of Marvel’s quest for world entertainment domination. Continue reading

Review – The Final Quarter (2019)

Director: Ian Darling

Starring: Adam Goodes

Final Quarter

Australia is famously a sports loving nation. We see in sport a microcosm of life. The sporting contest provides a stage on which competitors can demonstrate admirable human virtues: determination, mastery, courage, striving, teamwork and leadership. We see risk and reward, triumph in the face of adversity, falling and getting back up. As a supporter, sport can provide a sense of community, the opportunity to feel like a part of something. But just as the sporting arena can bring out some of our best qualities, it can also reveal the uglier side of our culture. Ian Darling’s The Final Quarter focuses on just such an example. Continue reading

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

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