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

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Review – Green Book (2018)

Director: Peter Farrelly

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Dimiter D. Marinov, Mike Hatton, Sebastian Maniscalco

Green Book

When Julia Roberts announced Green Book as the Best Picture winner at this year’s Academy Awards there was a collective groan from film Twitter quickly followed by the clattering keyboards of a thousand opinion pieces and editorials. Some saw the victory of this rather old fashioned drama as evidence that the Academy’s recent efforts to expand and diversify its membership had not yet succeeded in shifting the balance of power within the organisation. Some saw it as evidence of an anti-Netflix sentiment manipulating the preferential voting system to push against Roma. Whatever the theory, the opinion shared by most had Green Book as an underwhelming winner, with some going so far as to call it the worst best picture winner in history, or at least the worst since Crash.  Continue reading

Review – Roma (2018)

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Nancy Garcia Garcia, Veronica Garcia, Andy Cortes, Fernando Grediaga

Roma

The idea that filmmaking, despite being an inherently collaborative pursuit, could be considered an outlet for the personal artistic expression of the filmmaker has been fundamental to its acceptance as a legitimate art form. Those directors whose work shows a personal stylistic signature or set of themes are revered as auteurs and those works that are strongly autobiographical are given a privileged place in their oeuvres. Usually, though, these autobiographical films come toward the start of a filmmaker’s career. In the case of Roma, however, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron returns to a more personal, intimate place, having already established himself as a filmmaker, combining popular and critical success with the likes of Gravity, Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Continue reading

Review – Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Director: Rob Marshall

Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Wishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Julie Walters, Colin Firth

Mary Poppins Returns

Emily Blunt has spent the last few years of her career continually challenging audience perceptions of her as an actress, impressing in thrillers (Sicario), action films (Edge of Tomorrow), musicals (Into the Woods) and horror movies (A Quiet Place) on the way to becoming one of the most versatile actors going around. Arguably her greatest challenge yet, Mary Poppins Returns sees her step into one of the most iconic roles in the history of cinema, a role indelibly linked in the mind of audiences with its original star. But in doing so with great distinction, Blunt demonstrates that she might just be practically perfect in every way. Continue reading

Review – The Favourite (2018)

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring: Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colmam, Nicholas Hoult, James Smith, Mark Gatiss, Joe Alwyn

favourite

While far from a household name, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is somewhat of a critical darling, thanks to wildly original, confrontingly absurdist visions like Dogtooth, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Dear. The Favourite, a crackling, dark comedy which challenges our expectations of the costume drama, is Lanthimos’ third English language film and is his most accessible and straight up entertaining film thus far, marking his opportunity to cross over into more mainstream recognition.

Having been lost by her father, along with their estate and, therefore, her title, in a game of cards, Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives at the palace of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) to ask her cousin Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), the Duchess of Marlborough, for employment as a servant. The Queen, petulant, infantile and seemingly more interested in her seventeen pet rabbits than in affairs of state, seems hopelessly unfit to rule, so as her closest friend and valued advisor Sarah effectively runs the kingdom. Continue reading

Review – Aquaman (2018)

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison

Aquaman

Having largely stuck with the big guns up to this point – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, even Suicide Squad made a point of including DC’s most iconic villain, the Joker – Warner Brothers’ DC Extended Universe ventures out into the relative unknown for the first time with James Wan’s Aquaman. To those outside the comicbook community, Aquaman has always seemed a bit weird. His superhero skillset – breathing underwater, swimming really fast, talking to sea creatures – would seem to have a narrow applicability. But having been introduced in Justice League, Arthur Curry is given the chance to front his own blockbuster, and try and show the world what Aquaman is all about. Continue reading

Review – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoe Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine

SpiderMan SpiderVerse

While the last decade has been the era of the superhero movie, there has remained a clear distinction between the live action and animated entries in the genre. Live action superhero movies have become the biggest show in town, genuine four-quadrant blockbusters designed to appeal to an audience much larger than just comicbook fans. The animated superhero movie, on the other hand, has maintained more of a niche status, tending to be released straight to video and remaining the property of the devoted comicbook audience. Sony Pictures’ latest attempt at rebooting their Spider-Man franchise, the aesthetically original and undeniably cinematic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is the first animated superhero movie to really challenge that distinction. Continue reading