Monday, November 28, 2016

Film Review - The Founder (2016)

The Founder is based off of the true story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) a Milkshake Machine salesman who is going nowhere until he gets an order for 8 multi mixer machines to a group in California so he heads out there and comes across McDonalds which is run by 2 brothers and he becomes so impressed with their restaurant that he vows to help them franchise it.

They used to say in Star Trek Deep Space Nine that a Founder is wise in all things but unfortunately for this movie the Founder it is simply okay nothing bad nothing horrible but just another meh movie from a year where that has been the norm unfortunately.

Positives wise Keaton is great owning every scene he's in and giving the at times very long and dragged out storyline a huge shot in the arm plus all the scenes of the various hamburgers and fries being cooked is classic food porn where you sit there in the cinema feeling hungry (and yes I did have Macca's for lunch the day I saw this I just couldn't resist the urge to do so) but this year has also had some true story films like Sully and Eddie the Eagle which are great true stories that don't quite translate well to films you want to watch over and over again.

Another negative is the very sad waste of Laura Dern who pretty much ends up playing the role of the concerned wife who fears losing everything, this also has been a very bad pattern in films this year seeing great actresses capable of so much being handed nothing roles that drama students could play sometimes and I really really hope this changes soon as it's becoming very tiresome.

And so that was the Founder which is okay mainly thanks to Keaton but I could safely skip this one it's not worth watching I'm afraid, 1.5 out of 5.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Film Review - Fantastic Beasts (2016)

Fantastic Beasts is the new Harry Potter spinoff written by JK Rowling and directed by David Yates who did the last few Potter films and the story here concerns Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who comes to America from England with a special suitcase filled with Magical Creatures but when some of them escape through a chance encounter Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) goes to investigate but his investigation may uncover much more.

I hated this movie, I hated sitting through it for these reasons:

- Firstly the story here written by Rowling herself no less is all over the place, at times it feels like it's trying to do its own thing but at the same time if you have any knowledge of the Harry Potter series and I have some but I'm not an uber fan of it then it also began to feel very predictable as you could put together the clues of where all of these elements are eventually going to end up as well as predicting what's going to happen in this new series of stories.

- Secondly most of the characters I just found to be utterly boring and I didn't really care about most of them, I did like Newt and was very interested in following him and his story but so often the focus shifts away from him to these other characters like a pair of Sisters who use magic and a Muggle that gets caught up in the events of the story and I didn't really care about them all that much I wanted to see more of Newt.

- And lastly Yates's direction here is awful, it became clear to me when thinking about the film after I saw it that his focus was clearly divided between this and Tarzan which he also made earlier this year and frankly he should've abandoned Tarzan for another filmmaker and put his full focus onto this film as his Potter films were actually pretty good and again the whole thing plays out with a CGI thingamajig in the climax and so much of the film looks dark and murky and at times the action is hard to follow as it gets very blurry at times.

And so that was Fantastic Beasts and I was not that impressed with this one but if you're a Potterhead frankly what I say will be pointless as you'll want to see it for yourself and I will not stand in your way one little bit, 1 out of 5.

Film Review - Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge is directed by Mel Gibson and tells the true story of Private Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who joins the Army during the Second World War with the desire of becoming a Combat Medic but he simply refuses to pick up a rifle and earns the ire of his commanding officers (Sam Worthington and Vince Vaughn) but he is cleared of those charges and goes to Hacksaw Ridge which if taken can let the Allies advance to Okinawa and potentially end the war.

Hacksaw Ridge is beautifully put together and coming out of it I found it hard not to feel moved by what is a wonderful true story put to the screen beautifully by Gibson and his directing work here is simply the finest I have seen all year, the War footage presented here is simply stunning but also very full on (I even saw a couple of Mad Max nods in 1 or 2 scenes) and his ability to get great performances from actors who have been very hit and miss over the years is also great.

And speaking of those performances first and foremost is Garfield who's redemption is long overdue for the appalling way he was treated during his time as Spider-Man and I really liked him in that role but he did not have any support from the studio or Marc Webb or the writers and when it all fell down the blame was unfairly put on him but here he carries the film effortlessly and Gibson is more than willing to let him off the leash, Teresa Palmer, Worthington, Vaughn, Luke Bracey, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths and Richard Roxbrough are also very good here and both Garfield and Palmer have very nice chemistry.

And so that was Hacksaw Ridge not one of my favourite films of the year but I haven't blamed anyone at all who said that it is as it is a very fine effort that I highly recommend, 4 and a half out of 5.

Film Review - Arrival (2016)

Arrival is directed by Denis Villenuve and stars Amy Adams as Louise, a linguist who is recruited by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to help decipher a mysterious spacecraft that has landed in 12 areas around the world but humanity may not take kindly to these visitors who some might see as unwelcome.

I was very mixed on this movie but on a purely filmmaking level I thought that it was very handsomely put together Villenuve did a very good job with his direction, the visuals, cinematography and editing were all very nice and Amy Adams was terrific in this movie and pretty much steals the show from Whitaker and Jeremy Renner who were both okay in their roles but Adams was far superior and it is certainly nice to see her back in a good role again as it's been a fair while.

But the films story I have to say didn't really do much for me and I don't want to go too heavily into that point as it will show some pretty big spoilers but myself having been a big fan of Star Trek Deep Space Nine and having seen that series from beginning to end I felt that a lot of the story points, plot reveals and character twists felt very similar to what happens in that series and as a result I began to think that it got a bit predictable especially towards the end.

And so that was Arrival which was handsomely made and Adams is great but as a DS9 fan its story didn't do an awful lot for me, 2 and a half out of 5.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Film Review - Light Between Oceans (2016)

The Light Between Oceans is based off of the novel and stars Michael Fassbender as Tom a light house keeper who falls in love with Isabel (Alicia Vikander) but the two have trouble conceiving a child but one day they see a baby on a boat come to their Lighthouse Island so they decide to keep it but that decision could well come back to haunt them.

This movie was simply awful to sit through so much so that it will probably be on my overall least favourites of the year list because it just became so damned tedious and laborious to sit through as the film went on now granted there are some terrific performances here as you would expect from director Derek Cianfrance, Fassbender is his normal reliable solid self, Vikander has a very welcome return to form after her disappointing work in Jason Bourne and the two of them have very believable acting chemistry and I also enjoyed seeing Norman Gunston, Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson in small roles.

But the longer this movie went on the more it became tedious and lumbering as scene after scene after scene just became nothing more than world class acting talent sitting in rooms weeping over letters and after a while this REALLY got on my nerves and I just kept sitting in my seat waiting for the damned film to end and boy was I happy when it ended.

And so that was the Light Between Oceans one of my least fav films of the year, 1 out of 5.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Film Review - The Accountant (2016)

The Accountant is directed by Gavin O'Connor who made Warrior in 2011 and stars Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff an Accountant who lives with high functioning Autism and cooks the book for some of the most sinister people on the planet but one day he is asked to look at a robotics company who might be leaking cash but this is no ordinary Accountant as he also has a particular set of skills.

When I learned about Ben's character being Autistic in this movie I have to be honest and say that I did not want to see this movie mainly because I have never really seen people with Autism done justice on film I mean you had Mercury Rising with Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin which was a silly thriller and also of course you had Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man and that for me has sort of become the primary image most people might have when it comes to Autistic people in that his character has it so severely that he requires around the clock care.

But at that same time I did think to myself "Simon this is a dark action thriller which you love to go and see and Ben Affleck has yet to steer you wrong" especially since Gone Baby Gone in 2007 which was his debut as a director so could this trend continue.

Yes it certainly could as I really really enjoyed this movie not only for its great action but also its very generous amounts of heart but before I delve more into those points I want to talk about O'Connor's direction which is very good here, his use of editing and sound is very good, his direction is very solid and his ability to get performances out of his very reliable cast is good as well, John Lithgow, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, Jeffery Tambor and JK Simmonds are very good here and put in solid reliable work.

But this is straight up Ben Affleck's film and he delivers simply fantastic work here, if you have seen Autism up close then many of the small little touches his character has (the unorthodox measures he does to relax each night, the way he blows his hands, the very ordered and structured way he has his life) will sound spot on here and they most certainly are, he also has this very black and straight laced sense of humour that will not work for some but for me had me laughing quite a bit and also the way he tries to talk to Kendrick's character is very sweet because you can see that he's trying to reach out and talk to her like a normal person but he cannot and at times he gets very frustrated when things don't go quite right.

And also Ben's character's father deserves some praise here, the way he handles his son's condition as well as how he tries to teach Mr Wolff how to handle it himself is not done in an overprotective way or a patronising way or a way that makes him feel demeaning or useless or a burden to his family he gives him all the skills and tools he'll need to lead a normal life and to defend himself when necessary.

I give everyone a lot of praise for that here and Ben's action scenes are amazing because the way he takes people down is pretty scary I would not want this guy coming after me because I would be dead 2 times over before my corpse hit the floor and the sound design used in those scenes definitely had me jumping in my seat once or twice.

The Accountant is the kind of genre film we don't really see much anymore, an action film that takes its time to tell a story and really try to have some sort of heart as well as violent action and on that front I give it my highest recommendation, 4 and a half out of 5.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Film Review - Dr Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange is the newest Marvel Studios production and concerns Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) a New York Neurosurgeon who loses his gift in a car accident that severely damages his hands, despondent he travels to Kathmandu in India to seek the wisdom of the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) but this journey will involve learning a new set of skills and facing down dangerous enemies.

I was a little hesitant heading into this movie primarily because I was very unimpressed with large chunks of Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I felt that it was too timid, too risk averse and all too willing to throw in not that funny one liners into films like Captain America Civil War which were meant to have a more serious tone but Marvel's recent Comic Con show showed me that perhaps Producer Supreme Kevin Feige and Co were now willing to become a little bolder and more risky given where the MCU is now heading.

And this gamble is one that has handsomely paid off as I really really enjoyed this movie for these reasons:

- Firstly the Visual Effects here are Stunning, simply Stunning if this movie does not win the Best Visual Effects Academy Award then something will be seriously wrong as there are scenes here that just make your jaw drop and it made me think that this is what CGI is meant to do, put things on film we can't do with practical effects and it demands for this movie to be seen on the biggest cinema screen you can find and this has already had me drooling of what the Infinity Gauntlet is going to look like in action.

- Secondly Cumberbatch anchors this entire film really well and watching him here reminded me a lot of Robert Downey Jr in the first Iron Man film in terms of seeing an actor completely owning the character they're playing on screen and it makes me very excited to see him in further MCU films, Swinton is okay here while Chwietel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams were okay as well.

- Lastly I also loved the tone this movie set here, it does have humour in it but it never feels like it intrudes on the film as a whole and I was pleasantly reminded of one of my fav shows Dragon Ball and the mystical tone both that show and this film was on show a little bit here.

Unfortunately what really holds this film back is Mads Mikkelsenn playing Generic Marvel Villain number 562 and there's a real irony to this in that Marvel Studios has built this enormous cinematic universe and gone to great lengths and spent lots of time and money to carefully plan out each film and each phase and drawn upon decades of history from the comics and in return have been very very handsomely rewarded with box office success and a loyalty most franchises could only dream of having.

And yet something as basic and as fundamental as having a strong adversary for their heroes seems to elude them, Loki has been the one real exception and that was mainly due to Tom Hiddleston being a great choice for that role but all the others including the evil monk guy (Sorry I forgot his so very forgettable characters name) have been deathly dull and film killing in each way but this is so very much Cumberbatch's film that I didn't mind all that much THIS time around but Josh Brolin's Thanos is the one Mr Feige and Co MUST and I repeat MUST!!! get right because if they don't Infinity War is dead on arrival.

And so that was Dr Strange and this is a film well worth seeing on the biggest cinema screen you can find and stay for the mid credits scene as it is a VERY exciting tease and look I'll be honest and say that I have had my criticisms of the MCU and of Mr Feige but this movie has made me a fan again and Phase 3 is off to a very nice start, 4 out of 5.