Monday 28 August 2017

War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017) - Movie Review

Of all the sci-fi tentpole films that have reached our screens in the last few years, including the myriad of comic book-related fare, no singular series has given more credibility to the genre as a whole like the Planet Of The Apes prequels have managed. Hell, just the fact that we have not one but two prequels from this series that are not a complete embarrassment to the license is proof enough that these are some special-ass movies. Through a combination of legitimately ground-breaking special effects work and some truly inspired scripting, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes have a very special place in the film industry as it stands today. If we ever grow a sense that the Oscars actually matter in any real way, and decide to end the stigma concerning ‘genre films’ and how they mostly get relegated to the special effects categories in terms of nominations, you’d be hard-pressed to find two better pieces of evidence than those.
Since the cyclical nature of cinema releases means that quite a few of 2014’s releases are getting follow-ups this year, I’m definitely curious to see if this film is able to live up to the series standard thus far. What I was not expecting, even from these filmmakers, was a result that manages to outdo the previous installments. How is that even possible? Well, let’s take a look.

Sunday 27 August 2017

Atomic Blonde (2017) - Movie Review

Over the past couple years, mainly off the back of the now-legendary Mad Max: Fury Road, Charlize Theron has become the female action icon that, honestly, we need right now. I know that this might sound a bit reactionary after the pleasant success of Wonder Woman, and especially in light of certain… comments that have been made about it recently, but we don’t really have a lot of bankable female action heroes right now. Not to say that they just don’t exist (hell, I’ve been singing Scarlett Johansson’s praises for a while now) but I specify “bankable” because money talks and we’re still in this weird position of hesitance in letting these actors get their fair share. So, in light of another widely-popular action reinvention in the form of the John Wick movies, Theron tapped Wick co-director David Leitch to give her a fighting chance. Does that chance pay off?

Saturday 26 August 2017

The Big Sick (2017) - Movie Review

At the time of writing this review, I am at the tail-end of a bout with gastroenteritis; yes, a month and a half in and my body is still finding new ways to keep me out of commission. As my brain is still running on half-full in-between worrying about how intact my lunch is going to stay, I hope you’ll understand if I just skip the pleasantries and get right into the movie already. Hopefully, the film I’m looking at today does a better job of making ghastly medical issues seem funny than I just did.

Monday 21 August 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) - Movie Review

Over the last several months, I’ve probably shown every conceivable pre-conception that a person can have for a movie. Whether it’s down to my own weird tastes or just how surprising this year’s releases have turned out, I’ve gone into the cinema with some odd ideas about what it’ll be like. Well, today’s film will likely represent my absolute worst expectations for a film: I want this film to be bad. Now, as much as I’ve talked about the therapeutic power of cinema, I don’t actively like watching bad movies; I rarely if ever want films to be bad, and it’s even rarer that I would want a film to suck to prove a “point”. Basically, after the clusterfuck that went down in the wake of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which I still maintain is a genuinely good movie despite some definite flaws, learning that the guys behind what is properly the worst film I’ve ever sat through would be behind the next Spider-Man reboot seriously pissed me off. It even got to the point where, and I wish I was joking, I made this claim on Reddit last year:

Just so we’re clear, this is how badly I not only didn’t want to see those numbnuts get rewarded for their lack of effort, but how badly I wanted some hubris to kick in after the honestly OTT reactions ASM2 got. But as I’ve already established, I’m a bit of a fanboy for comic book movies and I’m usually a lot kinder to them than I probably should be; I may not be happy to be proven wrong in this instance but I definitely get that the possibility of it happening here is pretty high. Anyway, enough waffle, let’s see where my cold-hearted cynicism gets me as we look at the latest iteration of the New York Webslinger.

Saturday 19 August 2017

A Monster Calls (2017) - Movie Review

With how many times the average person comes across it in a standard day, we tend to underappreciate the strength of storytelling. With the right words and imagery, something as mundane as what a person had for breakfast can tell some poignant things about the human condition. Or, at least, I’m assuming that’s the case; quite frankly, I can’t think of another reason why people seem to be so intent on sharing every single meal they ever have on social media.
But even that easy target, how people use social media, itself is a form of storytelling. Sometimes, it’s just to provide snapshots of a person’s life that might a few disparate thoughts into place and help things make a bit more sense. Other times, it’s to completely detach from the real world for a time, absorbing one’s self in the fantastical and frequently loopy details of fiction. But there are times when we tell each other stories, and even tell ourselves certain stories, because the reality that they represent is a little too confronting to take on without some form of filter. That particular situation will be the subject of today’s film; as someone who prides cinema as a highly effective method of storytelling, I’ll admit that I’m quite curious about how this will turn out.

Friday 18 August 2017

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017) - Movie Review

Back in 2013 when I first started out on this kick of watching any new film I could get my hands on, I for some reason decided to watch a little film called Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Aside from being yet another kids film that doesn’t have much value for adult audiences, it is also one of the biggest examples of White People Problems I’ve yet encountered in a modern release. Yeah, bit rich coming from someone who is white himself, but the air of privilege and minor inconvenience that so permeated the entire film can’t really be summed in any other way. That film was meant to be the final instalment in a trilogy, and since none of the other films fit my purview, I considered that series closed up for business and something I wouldn’t have to bother myself with again.
Then the trailers and posters for today’s film started surfacing and I went all Michael Corleone from Godfather III: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in”. The sooner I get this over and done with, the sooner I can pull myself back out again, so let’s take a look at this latest installment and see how, somehow, it’s even worse than what came before it.

Monday 14 August 2017

The House (2017) - Movie Review

I don’t really have anything to preface this. Combining disappointment with apathy doesn’t make for the best material, especially in response to something, but as I’ll get into, that’s about the extent of this film’s level of engagement. Time to board the “Will Ferrell, what are you even doing anymore?” train once again: This is The House.

Sunday 13 August 2017

The Circle (2017) - Movie Review

Technology is an amazing thing. With a single click and a few keyboard taps, you can communicate with people on the other side of the world. Decades ago, we made jokes about how everyone thought virtual reality was the big new thing; now, I can just walk into my local game shop and pick up a headset for myself. Medicine, computing and just human invention in general have taken massive leaps and bounds and it’s only getting bigger with time.
However, technology is also a very scary and potentially lethal thing. With enough know-how, that same person on the other side of the world can bring a SWAT team to your house just because you did better than them in Team Deathmatch. Decades ago, we made jokes about how the government is trying to monitor every little action we do; now, thanks to social media, we’re all pretty much giving up our every movement for public consumption willingly. Medical advancements continue to be challenged, destroying a person’s life is as simple as having the right computer program, and human ingenuity continues to reflect how flawed humans still are. With all this in mind, how does today’s techno-thriller do at discussing such issues?

Thursday 10 August 2017

Cars 3 (2017) - Movie Review

For as illustrious and ground-breaking as Pixar’s legacy has been, the Cars franchise will likely always serve as the black sheep of the company paddock. Brought into existence by Pixar head honcho John Lasseter, Cars operates far more as a toy-centric marketing vehicle (heh) than as strict narrative. The first film is just okay; plenty annoying and rather plainly written compared to its contemporaries, but it’s at least serviceable for kids.
The sequel, however, is a bit more complicated. I say that because it is both leagues better and leagues worse than the original. Better, in that its Michael Caine-starring spy plot is visually inventive and quite engaging; worse, because it took the most annoying supporting character from the original (Tow “I will never forgive these people for this shit” Mater) and made him the lead, boosting the Southern hick annoyance levels tremendously in the process. Still, for as inconsistent as it is, I still like it just a little bit more overall.
So, a little over a decade since the original careened into cinemas, we have a threequel to deal with. Normally, I’d be rather worried about where this is going but, as I’ll get into, this film is in pretty safe hands.

Monday 7 August 2017

Baby Driver (2017) - Movie Review (+ Q&A with Director/Writer Edgar Wright)

I briefly got into this when I went over Ant-Man, but it bears repeating: Edgar Wright is made of stone-cold awesome. Making his name with a penchant for cross-breeding genres like a cinematic alchemist, from the zombie-horror/romantic-comedy Shaun Of The Dead to the social sci-fi/martial arts action/restyled Arthurian legend of The World’s End, Wright is easily one of my all-time favourite filmmakers. In fact, I almost feel bad for first mentioning him on this blog during Ant-Man, given the rather dubious circumstances in which he left the project; knowing how good this guy is, the last thing you should hear is him being dropped over “creative differences”. 
Nevertheless, the man is back with a vengeance with a film that has somehow managed to outdo Get Out in terms of explosive hype; the trailers for it over here boasted a full 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, something that has since changed because nothing is perfect, and barely any films even get to that point during the press lead-up. Since this is another occasion where, even if I never picked up this critical gig, I’d still be compelled to watch his latest effort. So, how good is it?

Sunday 6 August 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) - Movie Review

Of all the cash cows for critics of bad films, no franchise can compete with the lumbering juggernaut that is Michael Bay’s Transformers series. From the rampant idiocy on display throughout to the frequent moments of sexist, racist and otherwise crappy behaviour in the characters, right down to his widely-lampooned visual overload style of direction, Bay has been a walking target for at least a decade by this point. And finally, after showing sympathy for the guy’s more recent efforts as director and even producer, I have an excuse to get involved in this whole mess myself.
To date, I have seen all the previous Transformers flicks in the cinema, and I can hardly recall a series with so many immediately and hilariously terrible moments as Bay’s ode to the adolescent boy in us all. And apparently, judging by initial press reactions, this seems to be the worst entry yet. How in the hell is that possible? Let’s dive right in and discover the extremely depressing answer.

Friday 4 August 2017

A Quiet Passion (2017) - Movie Review

Well, this is awkward. As some of my more frequent readers may have noticed, I’ve been a bit out of commission for a while now, far longer than even my biggest slumps to date. This is a result of easily the most bizarre month I’ve ever had, being sick with one thing or another with severe overlap between them, to the point where I’m actually typing out this introduction from a hospital bed. Needless to say, I’m pretty bummed right now. Seeing as how trying to get back into my usual routine with a bad film didn’t work out so well last time, let’s see if I can change that with some proper cinematic soul food. Seriously, just thinking about this film is already putting me in better spirits and, by the end of this review, I hope you’ll understand why.