Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Review Welcome to Marwen (2018)

#WelcomeToMarwen (2018): 6/10

Welcome To Marwen was inspired by the real-life documentary ‘Marwencol’ involving Mark Hogancamp, played in the film by Steve Carell (‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’), a man brutally attacked to within an inch of his life, leading to lasting mental damage. The film is separated into two distinct components, Hogancamp’s real day-to-day life, and the fantasyland created in his own head with the aid of model buildings and dolls on his premises that provide Hogancamp with the escapism he needs to flee his inner struggles and demons at a moment’s notice.

The film’s opening showcases its fantasy animation, which is well executed and grips from the get-go. Zemeckis also finds a neat and creative way to transition between the two worlds, with Silvestri laying down some serious background grandeur for the fantasy action sequences, not unlike the fanfare of Zemeckis’s ‘Back To The Future’, for which there is also a reference during the film’s runtime. Carell’s performance is spot on, he completely gets the role he has been drafted in to play. Despite Hogancamp’s simplistic nature, Carell is genuinely endearing.

Regrettably though, the film will do well to really appeal to the masses largely due to its unhurried plot and unusual subject matter; despite the unequivocal patience shown by Hogancamp’s loyal town acquaintances, it is unlikely the same patience will be shown in theatres. Whilst it maybe doesn’t hit the heights and excitement of films like ‘Back To The Future’ and ‘Forrest Gump’, Welcome To Marwen is still a touching and brave piece.

#FilmReview #MovieReview #Film #Movie #Review #FilmCritic #MovieCritic #WelcomeToMarwenReview #WelcomeToMarwenFilmReview #WelcomeToMarwenMovieReview #RobertZemeckis #CarolineThompson #SteveCarell #FalkHentschel #MattOLeary #NikolaiWitschl #PatrickRoccas #AlexanderLowe #ElizaGonzalez #LeslieZemeckis #MerrittWever #GwendolineChristie #StefanievonPfetten #LeslieMann #NeilJackson #DianeKruger #AlanSilvestri #MarkHogancamp #Marwencol

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Review The Front Runner (2018)

#TheFrontRunner (2018): 6/10

The Front Runner was directed by Jason Reitman (‘Thank You For Smoking’, ‘Juno’), and tells the story of Gary Hart’s presidential campaign in 1988 which took a disastrous turn, all captured in the book from which the film is based, “All The Truth Is Out” by Matt Bai.

The film does take a little time to settle and for the plot to establish exactly what is going on and who is who, but once the film is in full swing it’s a captivating watch. Hugh Jackman is terrific, but then when is he not? His charisma and confidence shine through. J.K. Simmons is once again at his snappy best as campaign manager Bill Dixon, but feels under-utilised. In fact many of the side-characters feel underdeveloped, making it difficult to really feel invested in them and their role within the film. We would’ve liked to have seen more from Vera Farmiga (‘The Conjuring’ film series) also, who takes on the role of Hart’s wife Lee.

The screenplay almost feels like it’s split in half; the first showing Hart and his sensational rise in popularity, gathering momentum, the second almost a polar opposite, as the media frenzy brings the campaign to its knees, not only affecting Hart’s wife and daughter but also his aides and campaign volunteers; the family and lady involved in the affair in particular smothered by the claustrophobic feeling of constant media attention.

The Front Runner is probably not as riveting as Reitman believes it to be, but serves as a thought-provoking and an intriguing foray into the world of American politics, particularly for those that have no prior knowledge of the presidential campaign system nor the history of this remarkable series of events.

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Review Film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)

#BlackMirrorBandersnatch (2018): 5/10

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a special Black Mirror “event”; an interactive film that puts the viewer in the driving seat to decide how the plot will unfold based on a number of choices within the film. We follow a young programmer as he looks to create a new interactive video game based on a fantasy novel.

Of course, an interactive, “choose-your-own-path” type experience has been seen before in many a video game, and even in books such as the ‘Goosebumps’ series, but in this format it opens up so many doors. Should Bandersnatch prove enough of a pull for a large number of viewers then we would certainly expect to see a flurry of interactive films in the short term, particularly from major companies such as Disney. It’s an engaging idea, if done well.

And that’s the main problem for Bandersnatch, which reportedly has 5 different endings and 312 minutes to potentially work through, although you wouldn’t know it. Too many times are you given a choice to make, only for the story to loop back on itself and force you to select a different option. It’s not very engaging at all in the end, in fact, it’s incredibly frustrating.

The film feels like Black Mirror’s usual dark self, but feels incomplete; like we only have a quarter of a typical Black Mirror plot with the rest being filled with interactive options. What starts as fun and engaging finishes on a sour note. It’s certainly a concept with potential, but in the end Bandersnatch falls short, instead feeling like it has more in common with a 90’s adventure video game with a very restricted narrative.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Review Holmes & Watson (2018)

#HolmesAndWatson (2018): 4/10

Will Ferrell (‘Anchorman’) and John C. Reilly (‘Wreck-It Ralph’) join forces once more in this Sherlock Holmes comedy adaptation, written and directed by Etan Cohen, who worked with Ferrell on 2015 comedy ‘Get Hard’; the film being based on a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch.

As British film reviewers, we found the jovial accents put on by both Ferrell and Reilly particularly humorous, although it soon wore thin. And that is the main problem with the film as a whole; it’s the same recycled toilet and sex gags, and slapstick humour we have come to expect from poorly written comedies; the only clever moments of the film coming in the form of 21st century innovations being explained and implemented in an early 20th century environment. Even with an array of talent at Cohen’s disposal, including Ralph Fiennes (the ‘Harry Potter’ films), Rebecca Hall (‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’), and Hugh Laurie (‘House’), they can do nothing to save the film. The plot is slow, mundane and lacks any real conviction, it’s just a series of setups for the next upcoming gag.

The film may have worked well as a sketch on ‘Saturday Night Live’, but with so little material of any real guile or originality, Holmes & Watson coughs and splutters its way to an anticlimactic conclusion. Do though look out for one the strangest cameo appearances of 2018, which may lift spirits for a split second.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Review Aquaman (2018)

#Aquaman (2018): 6/10

Aquaman was directed by James Wan (‘The Conjuring’, ‘Fast & Furious 7’) and stars Jason Momoa (‘Stargate Atlantis’, ‘Game Of Thrones’) as Arthur Curry, Earth’s last hope for peace between the land and the sea, with King Orm (Patrick Wilson) intent on gathering Atlantis forces and destroying the surface world.

The opening of the film introduces us to Arthur’s parents and their chance meeting, which is both touching and action-packed at the same time. It’s a good start to the story. Wan continues to feed us bits of Arthur’s past and training to become a king through a series of flashbacks, which gives us the chance to get straight into the action in the present day. The film certainly looks the part; the action sequences are vibrant; the costumes enchanting; the underwater visuals during scenes in the Kingdom Of Atlantis are a spectacular feast for the eyes, and something we have not seen before in the superhero genre. The underwater dynamic also makes for some interesting battles and fight sequences, which are executed well.

Unfortunately for James Wan and Aquaman though, we have been truly spoilt over the years with some excellent superhero films harnessing fantastic production value, particularly those from Marvel, which any new superhero film will inevitably been compared against. For all Aquaman’s visuals and entertainment, it does rely extremely heavily on its CGI. The film’s script also leaves a lot to be desired, recurrently feeling plain and corny, with a number of jokes that fall flat.

Despite its flaws, there is enough on show in Aquaman to enjoy; with some decent performances from the cast, it can be considered another entertaining entry in the DECU, and certainly an improvement on the disappointing ‘Justice League’.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Review The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

#TheBalladOfBusterScruggs (2018): 6/10

Joel and Ethan Coen (‘Fargo’, ‘Hail, Caesar!’) present a collection of six different Western vignettes, starring a host of top talent, featuring shoot-out’s, bank robbing, and prospecting for gold; the stories reportedly being written by the Coen’s over a 25 year period.

It’s fair to say that the vignettes themselves are a bit of a mixed bag, the first couple will certainly prove a lot more entertaining to many than the last. Tim Blake Nelson (‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’, ‘Leaves Of Grass’) absolutely kills it in the titular role as the jovial Buster Scruggs for example, with a combination of talented singing, quippy dialogue, and unrivalled gunslinging. The Coen’s are guilty of showcasing their best material too early on though, with the following vignette also one of the more entertaining, starring James Franco (‘127 Hours’, ‘The Disaster Artist’) as a bank robber. It’s as you’d expect from the Coen’s, there is plenty of violence and comedy meshed together throughout.

Perhaps the most touching short story is that of the old man prospecting for gold on a plain of land completely untouched by man. Tom Waits (‘Seven Psychopaths’, ‘The Old Man & The Gun’) is superb in the role, as is the heartbreaking plot itself. Overall though, a lot will hinge on whether the material within each vignette really appeals to the viewer, with a couple of the short stories not really hitting their mark. Each story feels decidedly darker than the previous, and whilst the pacing undoubtedly slows as we reach the later pieces, the film is still an intriguing throwback to an era we tend not to see enough of anymore. The Coen Brothers deliver another finely shot, intricately detailed and well written feature with each vignette containing an underlying message.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Review Creed II (2018)

#CreedII (2018): 7/10

Creed II is the eighth film in the ‘Rocky’ franchise and sees relative newcomer Steven Caple Jr. take over the reigns from ‘Creed’ creator Ryan Coogler. We catch up with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) some years later after being crowned Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Dolph Lundgren returns in his iconic Drago role to face up against Rocky one more time, though this time from the sidelines. He and son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) bait Donnie into a title bout by playing on the memory of his late father, something Donnie feels he has to rise up to and face. We do actually witness a short recap of events from ‘Rocky IV’ as Donnie rewatches events himself on his tablet, which helps to familiarise new audiences with the ‘Rocky’ story without alienating the old audiences; a shrewd move from the writers.

Creed II is as much about Rocky making peace with his life choices as it is about Creed. Stallone gets a decent amount of screen time, and is his usual captivating self in the role. Michael B. Jordan puts on a real show, and Tessa Thompson is great once again. The Drago side story is just as intriguing, exploring the fallout after the conclusion of ‘Rocky IV’ from Ivan’s point-of-view.

The boxing sequences once again are well executed and intricately shot. You really feel every punch. Although there are lulls in the action, Caple Jr. gives time for the characters, family dramas and relationships to really develop, packing the finale with a meatier emotional punch. Of course, there are only so many ways of telling a similar story, but Creed II is still an entertaining watch, full of heart, nostalgia for die-hard ‘Rocky’ fans, and just about outshines its predecessor.

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