Sunday 31 March 2019

Destroyer (2019) - Movie Review

"(Famous actor) as you've never seen them before", goes the tacky marketing push for films like this. Not to say that this mode can’t be done well, as it has for Charlize Theron in Monster or Steve Carell in Foxcatcher or even Tilda Swinton in Suspiria. It’s just that there’s something slightly patronising about the idea that special make-up is a bigger selling point than the actor on their own merits. It’s especially weird in situations like this, as the transformative aspect of this film isn’t even as intensive as Monster or Foxcatcher.

There’s no point in this film where the audience simply forgets who they’re looking at; the make-up isn’t that good. But more to the point, the idea that this is Nicole Kidman turning a new leaf? After seeing her perform one of the greatest verbal emasculations in the history of cinema back with Secret In Their Eyes, this is the kind of shit I’ve been eagerly awaiting her to revisit. And thankfully, she doesn’t disappoint.

Saturday 30 March 2019

Swimming With Men (2019) - Movie Review

Growing up is difficult. Growing old, even more so. The mindset that aging can put people in can make for great works of cinema, but unfortunately, this film isn’t one of them. Based on the 2010 documentary Men Who Swim (making this the third film I’ve covered this year that’s based on a pre-existing piece of cinema, after Fighting With My Family and Hotel Mumbai), this film has its material cut out for it with a story about a group of older men who form a synchronised swimming team and compete on the international level in Milan. However, both as a dramatisation of actual events and as a piece of drama on its own, this fails to do much more than swim in circles.

Friday 22 March 2019

Hotel Mumbai (2019) - Movie Review

This is a difficult film to talk about. Productions like this that dramatise real-life tragedies have that aspect baked into them from the get-go, but this has inadvertently gained another layer of unpleasantness in light of the recent mosque massacre in Christchurch. Watching a film where Muslims are endangered by terrorists could very easily fall into the realms of exploitation, as most thrillers with action elements tend do to by their very nature, and considering recent events, that’s not a sensation we particularly need right now. Thankfully, in the hands of director/co-writer/co-editor Anthony Maras, an Aussie on his feature-length debut, what we get is a highly visceral but still tactful recreation of the 2008 attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

Monday 18 March 2019

The LEGO Movie 2 (2019) - Movie Review

After a quite fantastic solo spin-off (and a rather disappointing secondary spin-off), the LEGO movie franchise is back to its main series. Knowing how much fire the first film caught on release, and is still catching on and off five years later, expectations are quite high that this is going to not only match up to what audiences loved about the original, but also a reassurance that the fumble that was Ninjago was just a one-off incident. I once again find myself in a position where I’m not entirely sure what to expect from this film, much like how I went into the first movie. Also once again, having seen the movie, this feels like exactly what this film should be, both on its own and as a continuation to what has become one of the greatest films of the 2010’s.

Saturday 16 March 2019

Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2019) - Movie Review

With the destruction of Mechagodzilla City, and the original Godzilla dormant but still alive, Haruo and the remains of humanity once again find themselves against the forces of the monsters. While the Bilusaludos try to gain the upper hand, the Exifs have begun amassing followers. They are preparing for the arrival of a being ever greater than Godzilla, one with the power to destroy not only all monsters, but all living things and the entire planet along with them. A being that the Exifs call Ghidorah.

Wednesday 13 March 2019

The Guilty (2019) - Movie Review

This is one of those ideas that, on paper, feels like the worst possible fit for a visual medium. It’s the story of a Copenhagen policeman who is on desk duty and manning the phone line. For the entirety of the film’s run time, we never leave his side; the majority of the other characters and pretty much all of the narrative is given to us through dialogue, with only background noises during the phone calls giving us a ‘picture’ of what’s going on. This isn’t the first time this has been attempted, but when your contemporaries include The Call with Halle Berry, the capacity for mediocrity is quite high. And yet, even with the lack of visual detail, this works really damn well. Namely, because it highlights what else goes into the cinematic process besides the visuals.

Monday 11 March 2019

Captain Marvel (2019) - Movie Review

With Avengers: Endgame right around the corner, this prequel to the franchise that changed superhero cinema as we know it has a lot riding on it. It has to not only deliver as yet another Marvel flick, but it also has to sell the idea that this superhero, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, is the progenitor to everything we’ve seen in the MCU thus far and deliver one final setup before Endgame officially closes this chapter for good. Knowing how recent movies have turned out in regards to build-up vs. pay-off, with both Marvel and DC struggling in their own ways over the last handful of years, this really could go either way. Which is why I’m pleased to report that this film does pretty much everything it needed to succeed, starting with the casting.

Saturday 9 March 2019

A Dog's Way Home (2019) - Movie Review

Remember what I was saying at the beginning of the year about how 2018 was the year of getting our shit together? Well, we’re barely into March and I’m already seeing signs that that progression isn’t lasting. I mean, nothing says "we’ve learnt nothing" more than taking one of the more misguided releases of 2017, A Dog’s Breakfast Purpose, and deciding that it needed not one but two follow-ups this year. Both adapted from the writer of the original source material at that, with the sequel to Purpose coming out later this year, and a separate adaptation in cinemas right now. Knowing my now-prominent axe to grind when it comes to talking animal movies, and my position that Purpose is awful in its own special way, I can’t say I’m expecting a lot out of this one. Thankfully, this film didn’t go below my expectations; if anything, this turned out better than it had any right to.

Thursday 7 March 2019

King Of Thieves (2019) - Movie Review

In some of my other reviews, I’ve bemoaned what feels like the status quo in regards to the treatment of older actors. The notion that, in order to get anything of worth out of folks like Robert De Niro or Morgan Freeman, they have to be stripped of their dignity and paraded around in stories where their age is part of the joke. Now, I get the underlying reason why people like De Niro accept those kind of roles (they want to put money away for their kids, so they’re not exactly picky with their scripts), but at the same time, essentially selling out doesn’t mean that one has to throw away any and all standards in the process.

Monday 4 March 2019

Greta (2019) - Movie Review

When crafting a story, there is always that feeling that there is more that can be done with the premise. No story is capable of exploring every single facet that it brushes against, and when dealing with something as intensive as cinema, the smaller details require as much preparation as humanly possible.

I’ve covered a few movies in the past that felt like they were trying to make statements on anything and everything connected to its core idea, but movies feeling cluttered doesn’t get a gut rejection from me as a critic. All I really ask is that, if something is going to be brought up on-screen, it should at least be given enough weight that it makes sense why it is being highlighted. For a good example of this, there’s last year’s Suspiria, which not only dealt with a whole slew of different ideas but managed to give all of them room to breathe so it all made sense. For a bad example of this, we have today’s ChloĆ« Grace-Moretz feature.

Sunday 3 March 2019

Flying The Nest (2019) - Movie Review

Just as spring always follows winter, of bloody course there’s always at least one bad talking animal movie out in cinemas. As much as I feel like I’m grinding this dead horse into a fine powder with how much I talk about it on here, the fact that this is what audiences have come to expect is precisely why I’m still here railing against it. I approach family films the same way I approach any other genre, with the same want for something worthwhile to write about. But alas, not only is this film beyond worthless, the best thing I can say about it is that it occasionally reminds me of animated media that isn’t as bad as this.

Saturday 2 March 2019

Stan & Ollie (2019) - Movie Review

Time to take a trip back to the days of black-and-white cinema with a look at one of vaudeville’s most beloved acts: Laurel & Hardy. Vaudeville comedy has had such a tremendous impact not just on comedy but the cinematic medium as a whole that it is quite possible to understate just how important this movement was for the art form. From Charlie Chaplin to the Three Stooges to Abbott & Costello, this field of pantomime performance set a bedrock for pretty much every comedic work that would follow. As such, creating a biopic in tribute to one of these acts requires not only a willingness to respect the greats but also an objective admission of why they are the greats to begin with. And in all of the important ways, this manages to do just that.