Arrival, 2016

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

IMDb

Arrival stars Amy Adams as a linguist who must come in contact with extraterrestrial visitors to earth and interpret the reason for their ‘arrival.’ I’m super late to the game on this one, it came out while I was in exams and I just never ended up getting around to it ’till now, but I can’t say I regret it. Arrival was great.

The biggest criticism I had heard of the film going in is that it’s slow, which irks me slightly, yet I completely understand. Almost every shot seems to linger, a technique I’ve criticised before in films such as Hunger Games: Mockingjay. The difference is that there is a rhythm to the cinematography of Arrival; each shot seems exactly as long as it should be, and the camera was quite dynamic so every second gave something to the audience that the previous didn’t. Additionally, the camerawork was quite beautifully done, so it didn’t bother me at all. I do understand, however, that most mainstream movies don’t do this anymore, favouring very quick editing, so a typical moviegoing audience may not be used to it. I think, however, if you know that going in, you’ll be able to appreciate just how well done it was.

The premise was really excellent, definitely something I haven’t quite seen before and the plot was more than satisfying. The thing I actually wish to praise the film the most for is unfortunately a spoiler, so I won’t be explicitly stating it here, but I will say that the story went in a particular direction that I wasn’t expecting, and that I thought was really clever. It was really fantastic and creative storytelling. I also really liked the subtleness of how the film conveyed the world falling apart due to this event.

I’m running late to go see Rogue One, so I’m going to cut this slightly short, but I really liked Arrival, I don’t have any major criticisms, and if you’re a Sci-Fi fan or a fan of good cinema, you’re bound to enjoy it!

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Independence Day: Resurgence, 2016

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Starring:  Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman

IMDb

Independence Day: Resurgence is what dreams are made of. It’s great and terrible for all the same reasons as the original independence day, to varying degrees. It lacks the charm Will Smith brought to the table, which is sorely missed, but I couldn’t help but enjoy the ridiculous scope that the sequel provided.

“It’s landing over the atlantic ocean”

“What part?”

“All of it”

This one is only to be watched as a comedy. It’s the kind of movie that a drinking game should be made for. The sheer number of cliches is staggering and wonderful.

If you struggle to laugh at bad movies, I’d give this one a miss. I, however, can’t wait for Independence Day 3.

Captain America: Civil War, 2016

Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson

IMDb

To be 100% honest, I’ll have to see it again in order to be able to properly judge it. I loved it so much that I don’t quite believe it. This movie is actually fanboying me so hard. Regardless, I will give my opinions. No spoilers.

The movie starts out as a Cap movie, calling back strongly the tone that was present in The Winter Soldier, but quickly evolves into something much bigger. This is essentially Avengers 2.5, with Cap and Iron Man as the main players of the story. The story is very flowing, and you never find yourself questioning what’s going on, one of many things aspects that Batman V Superman failed to achieve, where this one triumphed. What’s more, despite the enormous cast, every character’s motivations are developed, relatable, and rooted in what comes before in the franchise (with the exception of the new players, but more on them later). As a result, it is very easy to care about the fact that all our favourite heroes are fighting. The heart of the movie is definitely down to the two main players though, whose conflicting ideologies and characterisation will have you legitimately struggling to decide who to root for.

The action is perfect, and none of it feels gratuitous. Right on the cusp of an action scene going too long, it will wrap up. Also, unlike previous films, the destruction here doesn’t feel like it’s without consequence. The film’s subject matter allows for casualties, both civilian and superhero, to be at risk and be important, which adds a lot of weight.

One of the biggest criticisms for Age of Ultron I (and many others) had, was the insistence of ‘setting up the universe’. Pointless scenes which serve no other purpose. In Civil War, those scenes are substituted for characters: Spider-Man and Black Panther. Both of them are excellent, which brings me so much joy to say. This is the definitive version of Spider-Man, he’s just perfect. He is undeniably a teenager, and this is a huge part of his character, which I feel we’ve never quite seen before in film. He’s also not just a quick cameo, he’s minor but prominent. Black Panther is a lot more prominent to the story and I while I feel his character was probably the weakest overall, we see enough good stuff from him that I’m excited to see him again in his upcoming solo film.

The movie is also super funny, it had me laughing out loud in all varieties of scenes, especially where Paul Rudd as Ant-Man was involved. There aren’t as many quips/one liners as there usually are in the Avengers films, which is welcome, and the humour is a bit more diverse in nature.

At this stage, the only criticism I can think of is that it’s paced a little strangely and dragged a bit in the middle, but even that can be attributed to the fact that I was watching it at a midnight screening. So I’m going to see it again soon, and I feel you should go see it too. I really loved it.

Batman VS. Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2016

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams

IMDb

I have a lot of thoughts about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I don’t think I can really share them without spoilers (despite the trailers already spoiling everything). So…

(Also, I’m aware that this review doesn’t really flow, but neither does the movie so…. I’m up at 4am writing it, please forgive me)

Since the trailers started dropping, especially the second, I haven’t had high hopes for Batman V Superman. The trailer spoiled the entire plot line, and revealed that it wasn’t all that interesting. The movie followed suit. This is a 3 hour movie, and the first hour involves an outstandingly little amount of Batman “V”ing Superman, but instead a lot of exposition about why Batman wants to “V” Superman, debates as to whether Superman should be “V”d and Superman wanting to “V Batman so hard. In this first hour, I found I had little problem with each individual scene, but it all came out as repetitive, and could have probably been shortened heavily.

When Batman actually does “V” Superman, however, the films strengths shine. The fight choreography, direction and execution were masterful. They looked great and were super fun. There were some pretty impressive visuals too, shots that look right out of a comic book, while still seeming natural in film.

The fight between Batman and Superman lasts 10 minutes. 3 hour movie. What?

Also, despite spending an entire hour setting up why Batman and Superman should fight, it all comes down to: Lex Luthor tells Superman that if he doesn’t fight Batman, he will kill his mother. Honestly, it’s quite insulting. To further put salt in the wound, Batman changes his mind about killing Superman because he finds out that Clark Kent’s mother has the same name as his own mother. If the movie was trying to imply that there was a deeper reasoning that Bruce spared Superman’s life, it failed quite hard.

The movie doesn’t flow well either, it suffers from pacing that can only result from shoehorning in many many universe building scenes, characters and references, which ultimately don’t affect the story of this film at all. Age of Ultron had the same problem, but there it seemed to tie into the story a fair bit more, it just reeks of studio involvement: “we have to set up the DCCU guys, the Justice League is coming!” It also seems to have three opening scenes and three closing scenes, but the studio just couldn’t choose one, so they left all of them in.

Ugh. Ok more things I like, I’m gonna list them: Batfleck, a particular scene with a particular Batmobile, Lex “zuckerberg” Luthor, the idea that all the destruction in Metropolis in ‘Man of Steel’ isn’t without consequence.

More things I didn’t like: The side characters who had no other role than to deliver speeches about how important Superman is, how everyone conveniently loves Superman again by the end of the film, negating the debate from that first hour, the number of fake out dream sequences.

Basically, this movie is a mess. It doesn’t really learn from any of the failures of its predecessor, nor does it aim to tell an interesting story about one man “V”ing another. Potholes galore, and it really doesn’t make a lot of sense, the logic goes everywhere.

Also Superman dies. Anyone think he’s really dead? No? K cool bye.

Jurassic World, 2015

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins

IMDb

So yesterday I saw Jurassic World. If you had asked me about it before I saw the film I would have told you about how I anticipated it to be a ‘so bad it’s good’ movie or how much it looked like a 50s B movie but with CGI. Boy was I mistaken.

I really liked it, I was shocked. The first half an hour was pretty boring, the characters were all pretty flat (Chris Pratt was basically a less funny version of star lord) and the plot was so SO stupid. BUT I was in genuine suspense in so many scenes. I have no idea why I cared if these characters lived or died, I shouldn’t, they were boring. But every scene with the Abdominals Rex kept me on the edge of my seat. Seriously I’m in shock with how much I actually liked this movie. To sum it up quickly, I would say that the final action scene alone was worth the ticket price. I’ve never had a scene provoke such a reaction from me. Jesus Christ the Autonomous Rex was so much more fun than I was expecting.

Good job film makers (Y) you made a stupid stupid awesome movie.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, 2014

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

IMDb

Considering the movie’s been out for almost a month now, i’m a little late to the game in this review, but I have some strong feelings having just come out of the latest Hunger Games movie.

I thought the first movie was kinda lame, it failed to impress me as a film or an adaptation due to a lot of poor directing decisions, but somehow they really turned it around for the second movie and made it really entertaining and gripping, and it hooked me into the story extremely well, despite having a weaker source material.

I never read Mockingjay, so I can’t comment on it as an adaptation too much, but the film suffered hugely due to its being split into two parts. From the beginning its clear that the film was adding parts that never appeared in the book to bulk the runtime, as they had to turn half a movie into a 2 hour experience, which would be fine if the scenes were any good, but they fail to add depth to the characters or provide us with anything really entertaining to watch: it’s all just filler.

Further, the film’s already painstakingly slow pace was not helped by the additional padding by adding extra seconds to every single shot that really doesn’t deserve much attention (e.g. an establishing shot of district 12 as a plane flies over it). This padding isn’t just a nuisance, but it actually ruins scenes that could have been highly effective in the filmmakers’ attempts to get a response from the audience. The scene I have in mind is the one on the staircase approaching the end of the movie (no spoilers). The scene was excellently shot to be highly intensive and suspenseful with the lighting and camerawork. This suspense, however, begins to dissipate after the two minute mark. The scene could have easily lasted 30 seconds and been a tight, intensive, memorable moment, but instead it became more filler.

I don’t want to pretend that the film was awful, or even bad, because it did have some genuinely great moments, and did manage to get me to care for the dilemmas taking place and root for the protagonists. The scene where the rebels attack the dam was fantastic: the soundtrack was effective, the cinematography was beautiful and the action was really entertaining. In scenes like this I saw glimpses of the tightly written and directed action that I loved so much in the second film, and I feel like the whole movie could have been like this, but they just had to turn one book into two movies and as a result ruin both parts as a result. I’ve made my distaste of the abundance of adaptations and sequels clear before, but they honestly can be done well, and that is what’s most important: quality. The money grabbing whore aspect of the producers perspective of this franchise (taking the profits of four films instead of three) has completely ruined the film’s potential to be great, which it really could have been, which makes me sad.

Fucking hollywood.