September film preview

Well there goes summer eh! I know, far too soon…. but as the year winds down and we get into film awards season with summer hot on its heels, September is about to roll on in with a few interesting films on the way, here are a few to keep an eye out for. (US release dates by default).

 

Morgan – released on the 2nd of September

Directed by Luke Scott

Starring: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Michelle Yeoh, Paul Giamatti.

Morgan is a Sci-fi thriller about a humanoid created and raised in a laboratory who goes rogue, as her creators and the government try to capture and stop her.

 

 

Sully – released on the 9th of September

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Autumn Reeser.

Biographical drama and re-telling of the true story of US airways flight 1549 that was landed in the Hudson river by pilot Chelsey Sullenburger just minutes after take off after engine failure.

 

Snowden – released on the 16th of September

Directed by Oliver Stone

Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Scott Eastwood, Melissa Leo, Timothy Olyphant, Rhys Ifans.

Biographical drama following the controversial whistle blower Edward Snowden who leaked information from the NSA in 2013, we see his life and upbringing.

 

Blair Witch – released on the 16th of September

Directed by Adam Wingard

Starring: James Allen McCune, Valorie Curry, Callie Hernandez,

Blair Witch makes it return with Blair Witch, following the events of the Blair Witch Project, a group of college students venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland after the disappearance of James Donahues’ sister 20 years previously which was connected to the legend of the Blair Witch,

 

The Magnificent Seven – released on the 23rd of September

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Starring: Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-Hyun Lee, Manuel Garcia Rulfo.

The classic Western The Magnificent Seven gets a modern re-boot with this incarnation, following seven mercenaries/outlaws that band together to fight against oppression against the town of Rose Krick.

 

Deepwater Horizon – released on the 30th of September

Directed by Peter Berg

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brien, Kate Hudson.

Biographical disaster drama based on the true events of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosio nadn oil spill in the gulf of Mexico.

Batman Begins review

Batman Begins is the start of Nolans’ acclaimed Batman trilogy and the only film in the series to have Batman in the title, random bit of trivia there and it’s about the story of Bruce Wayne and his journey to realizing himself as the Batman, we see the trauma he went through as a child witnessing his parents murder. And we see how he grew up as a bit of a special child with his fortune and solitude, eventually growing into a young and curious man, taking a journey of self discovery, training in martial arts and survival under Ra’as Ghul, as gets closer to creating the Batman persona.

The film stars an all star cast, including the brilliant Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, Liam Neeson, Michael Kane, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe and Morgan Freeman, with Bale in arguably his breakout role as Bruce Wayne, he’s a perfect fit in the role and envelopes the character with as much enthusiasm, charisma and integrity as you’d imagine Bruce Wayne to have. While Liam Neeson is equally brilliant as Ra’as, the immortal, cryptic leader of the league of assassins, who often has an alterior motive and questionable means to get things done, though he’s not strictly an evil character and is one of Batmans’ best villains. Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) also plays a big part in the story and plans to submerge Gotham into chaos with his fear Toxin, Murphy is great in the role and brings that level of controlled psychopathy that Scarecrow inhabit, while the other charactersare all well cast and great fits, especially Christian Bale as Batman. The plot is great and is very well paced, whizzing by as you watch it because it’s so engaging and entertaining, a testament to its’ great writing and Nolans’ excellent direction as Nolan tends to make engrossing dramas that are intertwined with other genres, from sci-fi to pyschological thrillers, focusing intently on characters, their ambitions, motivations and Begins is no exception

Batman Begins marks the start of the ‘gritty re-boot’ in superhero films, in the sense that films can be dark with brooding heroes and be hugely successful, though Batman Begins is dark, it’s not unrelentingly bleak and its’ highpoints are positive, it’s great to see Batman fighting to save Gotham and the exciting musical score accompanies fight sequences perfectly.

With Bruce donning the cape because Gotham is in a bad way, riddled with crime and without a symbol of justice or a hero that people could look up to. Batman Begins is a great film because it also hits its emotional highs and lows well which is a good thing for any action film, but especially for a comic book film, you sympathise for Bruce when he’s at his lowest, seeing his parents murder, doubting himself as an adequate symbol of justice for Gotham and cheer when he’s at his best, saving the day and being Batman in full flow. The characterization in the film is done very well and importantly, it really feels like a comic book film from the costumes, the street thugs reacting to Bruce when he’s finally Batman, to the great score for the film, everything is heightened to a degree and Gotham itself feels other worldly while still intentionally resembling New York, with its steaming alleyways and urban sprawl and looking visually great all the while.

All in all, Christopher Nolan crafted a believable and enjoyable introduction to his Batman and it’s a fantastic place to start, the characters are great, enthusiastic and well constructed, the action is also great, high tempo and great to watch and the story is still one of the best in any Batman film to date.

8/10

. Great performances throughout, especially from Bale and Neeson

. Brilliant score, matches the film well and adds atmosphere, tone

. Very well paced story, engaging throughout

Top 5 best films of 2016 so far

So we’re already 8 months into 2016 (where did the time go?) and we’ve seen a bit of a mix of movies, not a tonne of great ones in my opinion if I’m being honest but a few stand outs nonetheless so I thought I’d rank my favourites so far.

  1. Captain America: Civil War – 8.5/10

No major surprise here for me with my number one choice, Marvels formula continues to work its magic and after years of hype and build up, it payed off in an excellent way with arguably the best film in the MCU, even with having to manage a tonne of characters and a packed story, giving all of the characters something to do – which often involves fighting each other, in some phenomenal action sequences no less. And though the villain is a tad un-necessary some may say, the outcome is still impactful. There’s loss, weight to the events in the film and a feel of lasting effect as well to the previous films in the MCU that allows Civil War to be the more mature yet entertaining and fun thrill ride it is, with added new characters for good measure with the great Black Panther and an awesome cameo from Spiderman, bravo Marvel, bravo.

 

2. Deadpool – 7.5/10

Marvels other early in the year film was for all intents and purposes a smash hit, the long, long awaited faithful adaptation of the Merc with a mouth on the big screen was and is beloved and rightfully so, simply taking a character onto the big screen and having them be as they are, with great writing and humour and Ryan Reynolds taking on the role he was seemingly born to play. Aside from the comedy, the action’s also pretty great and the acting in general is solid, a very fun and entertaining flick.

 

3. Zootopia – 7.5/10

Disney nails it yet again with an entertaining, engaging and creative concept for an animated film that works on a lot of levels, a surprisingly deep story that keeps you interested throughout, it has some brilliant voice acting and great plays on mixed stereotypes of animals and how they would behave as anthropomorphic animals in a functional society. It’s a great family film but it also has things for the adults to get with its well played humour and surprisingly deep subtext while also being light and cute enough for the kids.

 

3. 10 Cloverfield Lane  – 7/10

10 Cloverfield Lane was just a bit of a surprise, a film announced out of nowhere that no one saw coming but a pleasant surprise it was, a taut and tense thriller with a chilling premise and plot that grips you and keeps you engaged for its duration, it has some great acting and pacing to keep you enthralled and guessing. Goodman brings a strong performance and play well alongside Mary Winstead who’s awesome in the weary, survivor girl type role.

 

4. The Nice Guys – 7/10

(I’ve seen this, will get a review out shortly!) Shane Blacks’ signature style oozes out in The Nice Guys in a flashy and entertaining buddy cop mystery comedy that works surprisingly well, with Gosling and Crowe making a great pairing, the humour comes thick and fast and overall hits the right notes while the plot keeps you engaged, it’s one of the more creative premises for a 2016 film and it paid off.

 

5.  Suicide Squad – 7/10

Yes… it’s actually in my top 5 and as you know it’s one of the most divisive films of the year but by jove is it not fun, a very well cast film, it’s a genuine thrill ride and Ayers imagining of the squad feels modern and grittier and it works, with some cool cameos thrown in there as well, it could have used more Joker but for what you get, it’s an entertaining romp. Admittedly the villain is a bit weak and cliché and aspects of the film feel as scattered as Harley Quinns’ train of thought but the positives outweigh the negatives for me overall to make it a film I look back on fondly.

Aliens review

Aliens is the 2nd outing in the Aliens franchise, released seven years after Alien, directed by James Cameron, the planet that housed the Aliens has been colonized but contact with a team based on it is lost and a team of marines is sent to investigate, the film stars Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Bill Paxton.

The xenomorph returns in Aliens, an out and out action film set on the homeworld of the Alien with an expansion of the world of Alien, more aliens and the return of action hero Ripley (Sigourney Weaver),  who is brought back into the action as part of a military team sent to investigate the base. Aliens is very much a blockbuster but it has the rare reputation of being a good action blockbuster, James Cameron took the premise of Alien and ran with it, making a creative expansion on the first film, the sequel feels distinctly different and still works as an action thriller.

While still having heavy features and elements of the horror genre with the xenomorphs still being terrifying and the humans having to go up against them, though with an advantage this time around of a lot of weapons to choose from, the side characters are a bit one dimensional but work for the story as a whole as they have enough personality there for you to care about them as the story goes on. Sigourney Weaver again gives a good performance in the film and brings believable fear and intensity to the role as Ripley, a pretty awesome overall character, she’s great in action scenes and is a believable as a character who’s again a bit out of her depth but grows in confidence as the plot goes on. while Private Hudson (Bill Paxton) and Corporal Dwayne Hicks (Michael Biehn) are memorable, fun characters. Biehn in particular relishes in the role, making another hit 80s action film collaboration with director James Cameron.

Aliens is also important for being a modern sci-fi action staple in terms of its tropes with its characters, a team of meathead space marines going on a mission and the action that ensues as a result of that and people have seen the film as inspiration for a lot of sci-fi video games since like Halo, Gears Of War for example, which just lends to how influential the film has been.

The pacing for the plot is also pretty good, even with the film clocking in at 137 minutes, it’s engaging throughout and only gets more tense as things go on and as we see more and more xenomorphs, one alone was terrifying enough as we know but as it turns out, several xenomorphs doesn’t necessarily remove the tension or make things less scary. Aliens is a great action film with a well structured plot, a fun set of characters and the return of both Ripley and the xenomorph in a different, interesting way.

8/10

. Takes a vastly different direction from Alien and still works

. Has some well worked tense scenes

. Has some good performances

We need to talk about the DCEU

So I just saw Suicide Squad the other day as you can tell with my recent review and wait… no, no, no, no, no, no, no (mama mia mama mia), 27% on Rotten tomatoes, really? Did I see the same film as the majority of film critics, do people really think it was that bad? I mean seriously, it’s nowhere near as bad as the worst films of the year, Gods of Egypt et al and come on, 27% is pretty freaking low. I’m making this post to raise a point, the DC live action films get a bad wrap generally speaking bar Christopher Nolans’ hallowed trilogies but the recent entries in the DCEU are all critically tanking and you have to wonder why.

A plethora of reasons you may add, Zack Snyder, not staying true to characters comic book roots, lens flare, dark, gritty and boring characters etc but even with all of the above, what’s really lead to Suicide Squad having a 27% on Rotten tomatoes, Batman V Superman having also having 27% and Man of Steel having a 55%, sure these films are divisive and maybe not all that great. But to come out and say they’re all without question that bad is one – clearly an exaggeration and two – probably a process influenced by pre-conceived thoughts, what I’m saying, is that I think DC films are being judged on two scales, as they are as individual films and because of DC films reputations.

Honestly it’s just not the same for Marvel and Marvel has to be a part of this conversation, whose films are all generally liked, even the stinkers like Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and The Incredible Hulk (08) which I think Suicide Squad is better and easily more enjoyable than, in fact Thor: The Dark World is the weakest film in the MCU by far and it still has 66%, which is ridiculous. Yes Marvel does tend to make better quality films and they’ve perfected a formula for entertaining flicks that are blockbuster successes but they’re not flawless and the MCU definitely isn’t. So either DC and Marvel are being judged on different scales or DC simply makes films the majority of people hate – which I think is blatantly untrue, critics maybe but audiences at large? No.

Moreover, there seems to be an ever growing divide between the critics and the fans, the fans tend t like the DC films more while the critics vote in the opposite direction, there is a slight divide with Marvel fans and critics but they tend to skew towards the same view in most cases, so why does DC tend to be the outlier? Their films have high production values, great casts and all the right things to be successes but they seem to fail every time and hell, even though I’ll admit they haven’t been knocking it out of the park, I just feel like everything they make is overly criticised and savaged by people in almost an internet mob mentality. To put it out as simply as can be, if Marvel and DC both made a very similar film thematically, structurally and tonally and released them around the same time, the Marvel film just would get higher ratings and you know it would – and that’s a problem, the Marvel film may be better sure but so could the DC film. We saw this, this year even with BVS and Civil War, though Civil War had several films to come off of in an established universe and BVS just had Man of Steel and a tonne to set up, so it is what it is.

But when it really comes down to it, reputation and prejudice absolutely play a part in reviews for critics at large I feel and that influences how critics review, in an ideal world we’d all review films objectively with no influences on our thoughts but that’s not really possible and I think critics are letting a bit of Marvel favouritism show and it’s not great news for comic book films or reviewing as a whole. People can defend their views by saving X film was this, this and this but the thing they probably won’t admit is that they go into these DC films already expecting the worst and disliking the properties based on past films reputations, it’s a shame that DC’s having to fight an up hill battle with people already doubting them before they’ve seen their new stuff but I think that’s the way things are.

Are people, critics and general movie goers judging DC films a bit more because of their reputation? Yes probably, Does DC need to twice as hard to get even half as good ratings as Marvel films? Absolutely, is it fair? No, but I think it needs to be pointed out because it’s just gotten a tad ridiculous, the fanboy-ish love and hate over DC and Marvel films needs to be eased down and we need some perspective and rational thinking. Not every new DC or Marvel film is the worst thing ever or the best thing ever, things can be okay and that’s…. okay, I’m sure DC will make that gem of a film in due course but until then, can we get some more reasonable thinking and not toss out extremely skewed views like free candy? Maybe not, but hey that’s my opinion, agree, disagree? Feel free to let me know.