November film preview

So yeah, I kinda missed the October film preview which was a shame but I was determined to get back on track and do one for the remaining two months of 2016 (where did the year go?), with Oscar contender season in full swing now, the big hitters are on the way as is possibly the potentially biggest film of the year revenue wise in Rogue One. The weather’s starting to get frightful but the films are so delightful…. wait that’s a jingle more for December right? Well anyway, here are some prominent November films to come! (Going with US release dates by default)

Hacksaw Ridge – released on the 3rd of November

Directed by Mel Gibson

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Vince Vaughn.

Biographical war drama based on the real life and real life story of pacifist/non-conscientious objector, army medic Desmond T Doss who served in the US military during WWII an his exploits, having refused to use weapons at all during his time on duty, eventually saving the lives of dozens of his comrades and receiving the medal of honour from president Harry S Truman.

 

Doctor Strange – release on the 4th of November (US release date, already out in a number of countries)

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Michael Stuhlbarg.

Doctor Strange, an origin film on Steven Strange and how he becomes the sorcerer supreme, being a former world renown surgeon who loses his ability to work after a car accident and goes on a journey of self discovery in the intent of finding a cure and a new way of life, in south east Asia, he comes across a new dimension of possibilities and realms.

 

Arrival – released on the 11th of November

Directed by Denis Villenueve

Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma, Mark O’Brien.

Sci-fi drama depicting the scenario and outcome of people making, well attempting to make contact with alien species who inexplicably arrive on Earth in several mysterious spacecraft and as everyone seeks answers, a linguist, mathematician and US army colonel are brought on board to try and decipher the aliens intentions and make contact with them before potential war breaks out over the aliens presence.

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them – released on the 18th of November

Directed by David Yates

Starring: Eddie Redmayne,  Colin Farrel, Jon Voight, Katherine Waterstone, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller.

Harry Potter spin off set in 1920s New York  in the same Wizarding world, the story follows magician Newt Scamander who sets about on a mission to find and capture magical beasts that are out loose in the city causing chaos, while darker forces are out at play.

 

Nocturnal Animals – released on the 18th of November

Directed by Tom Ford

Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gylenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laure Linney.

Nocturnal Animals is a psychological thriller following Susan Morrow, an art gallery owner who is haunted by her ex husbands’ novel, which she perceives as a veiled threat to her.

 

Manchester by the Sea  – released on the 18th of November

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan

Starring: Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Matthew Broderick.

Drama following Lee Chandler, now taking care of his deceased brothers child while dealing with his ex wife and th community he lives in.

 

Moana – released on the 23rd of November

Directed by Ron Clements and Jon Musker

Starring: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Sherzinger, Alan Tudyk.

Animated film set on the island of Polynesia, we see the life of perky navigator Moana who teams up with the God Maui and sets about on a journey to discover a mysterious fabled island.

Evil Dead (2013) review

Evil Dead is a remake of Sam Raimis’ original Evil Dead, the first film in the series without Bruce Campbell or Sam Raimi. It’s a supernatural horror film, directed by Fede Alvarez, the setting is more or less the same with a group of teenagers venturing to a cabin in the woods and unwittingly uncovering an ancient incantation which unleashes supernatural forces on them all. The film stars Shiloh Fernandez, Jane Levy, Jessica Lucas.

Even for being a remake, a type of film much maligned and almost never well received, Evil Dead was surprisingly good, it doesn’t make itself out to be a film that does something drastically new with the story or take things in a weird direction but it works with what it has and is a pretty well crafted horror film, much like the original Evil Dead. With a great cast, helmed by a great performance from Jane Levy as Mia who is very emotive and expressive, the rest of the cast is also good and really sell the terror that the characters have in various elaborate situations they get caught up in.

Being a modern, updated film, the effects are better and look great, great as in disgusting of course as this is Evil Dead and some scenes are pretty horrific and done well with an impressive use of practical effects and actor dedication as well, Jane Levy really puts in a great shift to do some things. And the plot is faithful to the original as well, with some re-created scenes which are done in a good way and aren’t exactly shot for shot re-made, the new effects work well in showing the new spirits and forces and add a sense of genuine terror to proceedings.

And while the plot isn’t drastically changed or altered, it still works as an engaging and interesting story, which hits its emotional highs and is pretty tense in its other moments with some great shots which emphasize the characters paranoia and them not quite knowing what’s going on, the rule of less is more should always be followed in horror, even more overt supernatural horror like Evil Dead. And interestingly in the case of the film, even when the more is being shown, it’s still scary, menacing and it works, much to the directors credit, Evil Dead is a rare case in being a good remake and it works as a good horror film that does the original film a good homage, not veering off wildly from the original plot and staying faithful, without dull and uninspired.

7/10

. Good use of practical effects

. Has some great performances

. Engaging plot

28 Days Later review

28 Days Later is a horror film, directed by Danny Boyle, set in the UK, after a large amount of the population is infected Rage virus, an incurable illness which turns people into homicidal, raging individuals, set four weeks (or 28 days) after the onset of the virus, the story follows people in London, setting about trying to survive and find a place to survive in.

The film stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Toby Sedgwick, David Schneider and is a film driven by a few performances, Murphy especially in his breakout role, the film isn’t full of huge name actors and that does contribute to the story feeling a bit more visceral and gritty in a way, the lack of A-list actors not taking away from the film at all. The plot is gripping and very much a thrill ride, following Jim (Cillian Murphy) as he wakes up in a hospital and comes to terms with the state of London and the existence of Rage infected people in a very visceral way, coming across some of them and running for his life. Murphy is the blank slate for the audience and the shoes to imagine yourself in and his experience is pretty bleak, you want the guy to survive and empathise with him being so in the dark in the situation (as you the viewer are), so you naturally root for him and feel attached to the character.

In the way the film is shot, Danny Boyle crafts a tense and stripped back take on the traditional zombie film, though the infected in this series don’t eat people and just kill them because they’re so driven to kill because of the virus, that in itself is a nuance for the zombie genre and it’s done well. 28 Days Later is an excellent example of less being more in telling a story, exposition is there as the story goes on, but initially you’re as clueless and as Jim is, not knowing what’s happening now or where everyone is, though you do get an overview of the story at the start. The mystery is still highlighted in the films’ iconic and haunting scenes of an abandoned, decrepit Central London.

Also in simply getting shots like that, Danny Boyle shows the amount of time and effort that was put into the film, effort which is also seen in the infected who are pretty terrifying, distinctly human and not shuffling around like zombies, they sprint like Olympic athletes and are all over unprotected people in seconds, presenting a formidable threat. The film is pretty gory to say the least but not gratuitously, you very much understand and see what the infected do when they get their hands on a non-infected and that fact alone makes them pretty terrifying, with scenes being shot to reflect the infecteds’ sheer rage and manic rush people have to get away from them during an encounter. Scenes with attacks have fast cuts and shaky cam, as if there’s an invisibly bystander witnessing what’s going on, drawing the viewer further into the scene and giving you an over the shoulder view of the action, while we also get to see sweeping wide shots of an empty, inactive London, with the only action being the infected chasing people which makes for a stark contrast.

Their speed plus the well done makeup in the film contribute to their sheer presence being so menacing, seeing non-infected characters out in the open and facing them, you know something’s about to go down and seeing how people react to the infected and try to get away is always gripping and tense.

28 Days is modern horror at its’ best with a clear, menacing threat, a great story and continual foreboding sense of terror and tension maintained throughout the story, while the story itself is interesting and very much an emotional roller coaster.

8/10

. Great performances in the film

. Fantastically shot film, captures the tension in scenes

. Very intense, gripping scenes

The Awakening review

The Awakening is a horror film set in England in 1921, with a grief stricken population following the losses of WWI, a skeptic hoax exposer sets about disproving ghosts are haunting a boarding school but seen comes to realize that things may not be as they seem, the film stars Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton.

A horror film with a pretty old school feel to it, not just because it’s set almost 100 years ago, there’s a very appealing to the yes production value to The Awakening and it’s shot beautifully, showing the pristine lakes and vast interiors of the manor setting in the plot, not to forget the costumes which are well crafted and and help to suspend your disbelief if the story being set in 1921. The visual style also helps in creating some of the scares as things go on as everything feels very ‘real’, especially with this being a period horror film, without digital cameras, the internet and so on, the scares feel a bit more authentic in a sense, with close attention to creaking floorboards, weird looking walls and so on as the mystery of the story unfolds. And Florence (Rebecca Hall) investigates just what is really going on, you want to find out as much as she does and the way things are presented reveals snippets of info to the audience, while keeping them guessing. With some strong performances on the whole in the film, Rebecca Hall especially is fantastic and believable in her how she portrays her characters arc and development from start to finish, fully engrossing her role.

The plot is one that isn’t entirely new with the sceptic turned believer horror trope in a ghost story but it does feel fairly fresh in the way the film presents it and with its visual style and not really relying on jump scares or overtly showing ghosts and ghouls to try and scare the audience but implying something’s just around the corner or behind a character. There’s something inherently scary about ghosts and un-seen things with no explanation that the plot taps into and explores in an interesting way, at the start with the idea of spiritual mediums and them being all scams for one and just the idea that the supernatural may just be real, something characters like Florence has to confront.

And we see exactly that in some scenes in which we can see more than Florence for example, leading to some pretty tense situations, these get played out effectively as the plot builds its tension and spreads out its scares, not lumping everything in the final third or taking half the film for anything to happen. This is a credit to the good structuring of the plot as a whole with some great pacing and great execution of the story, investigation of the central mystery, its unravelling and of course the revelations that come in a conclusion you may not necessarily see coming.

7/10

. Great performance from Rebecca Hall, good performances all around

. Good execution of the story, plot plays out engagingly

. Effective scares, tension building

28 Weeks Later review

Juan Carlos Frenadillo directs the sequel to Danny Boyles gritty 28 Days Later, set in London 6 months after the outbreak of the rage virus as part of the US army helps a portion of London to try and settle and start over but things go awry, the film stars Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle, Idris Elba, Harold Perrineau.

28 Weeks definitely feels like a 28… film and carries over techniques from 28 Days in creating effective tension and an unsettling atmosphere but the tone feels a bit different, things feel more expanded story wise as we focus on a group of characters this time around, all trying to survive in London with the rage virus always looming and admittedly later on things take an action oriented slant with quite a few shoot outs, explosions and mass panic.

But something that’s great about the film is that it starts off with a pretty thrilling scene, reminding us of the world that 28 Days set up with its manic infected who would give Usain Bolt a good run for his money in a 100 m sprint, which is part of why they’re so terrifying of course, that and the fact they they never seem to stop or get tired. 28 Weeks set up is quite good though and somewhat of a logical follow up to the world that gets set up and seeing how the military would deal with the situation was a nice touch, things seem under control and regulated as they would, but you know not everything will go exactly according to plan.

There are some effective scares throughout, though the film does take a while to really get going, opening scene aside, which isn’t a bad thing as we get introduced to characters and get some decent drama and build up to inevitable action. This time around there’s a more militaristic approach to how we see the infected and the situation as a whole and that angle in the story was an interesting one, contrasted with how some civilians living in the safe zone viewed the situation, the performances in the film are solid enough with Rose Byrne and Robert Carlyle in particular standing out, you could view Carlyle as the Cillian Murphy of 28 Weeks and he’s a great sympathetic character to get behind and follow.

And though this is a more expanded, action oriented sequel, the infected are still pretty scary and haven’t changed all that much, we simply see a lot more of them and really get a feel of the outbreaks’ wide reach, the action sequences are quite tense and well done. You never quite know if characters will make it through them and even when you think you do, things happen that the plot in sharp left turns, probably leaving you thinking “did… that just happen?”. A good thing in a film like this as you want to be kept guessing and entertained in what is an overall thrilling and decent lead on from the world set up in 28 Days.

7/10

. Interesting expansion of the world of 28 Days Later

. Effective, tense scenes involving the infected

. Plot is engaging, can be predictable in parts but also has shocking moments.