Thursday, July 20, 2017

Film Review - Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk is the new film by Christopher Nolan and tells the true story of the evacuation of Allied Soliders off Dunkirk Beach in the early days of World War 2 but with each hour the enemy closes in time is fast running out to get them home.

This was my most anticipated film of the year by far mainly because of the true story of Dunkirk itself in which ordinary members of the British public heeded the call of their country and to me that was a great and powerful story waiting to be told and Christopher Nolan has proven himself as a big scope filmmaker capable of delivering dark emotional roller coaster films but could he weave that Dark Knight magic once again or faulter as he did with Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar.

Happily this is a stunning return to form for Nolan as this is a terrific, sharply focused, exciting and emotional ride of a film even though I saw it on a regular sized screen this film BEGS begs I tell ya to be seen on the largest screen you can find as the visuals here are stunning by Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema are beautiful the wind of the bay, the oceans, the dark skies, the clouds above it all looks so real to the viewer so real even that when I was going around the bay of the town I visited to see the film I thought of the visuals of this film.

Meanwhile the sound design and action sequences are also fantastic, bullet shots and plane engines have a real ferocity to them that is rarely heard in action filmmaking but Nolan and his sound team do it in such a way that feels real and intense and several times I felt like I needed to cover my ears and look away as if I was one of those soldiers and also Nolan’s direction is simply outstanding here with a real focus that seems to have been missing from him since the Dark Knight in 2008 and while there are 3 distinct stories here none of them become a tangled mess that’s hard to follow plus his eye for scope never wavers.

But where to end simply the performances and everyone here is terrific to watch Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Fionn Whitehead and Cillian Murphy among others all deliver great work Murphy in particular has a great little side plot and Hardy is always fun to watch even if he is once again wearing a mask and making me think of Bane jokes as he’s flying in his plane shooting down enemy aircraft.

I can’t praise Dunkirk enough for its terrific storytelling, its sharply focused direction, wonderful sound design and action as well as great music and performances this is a film that must be seen more than once and I can’t wait to do so again as it ties with Split as my favorite film of the year so far, 5 out of 5.

Friday, July 14, 2017

New Radio Ep

This is another 3 film School Holiday episode with:

- Spider-Man Homecoming
- Despicable Me 3
- Cars 3

As always you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/abclocalradio_sa/friday-flicks-july-14-final

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Film Review - Baby Driver (2017)

Baby Driver is the new film by Edgar Wright and stars Ansel Elgort as Baby a young getaway driver who suffers from Tinnitus and plays music to drown out the ringing after working for a local mob boss (Kevin Spacey) he vows to go straight and take his new girlfriend Deborah (Lily James) with him.

I was so keen for this movie mainly due to it being Wright’s new film as I love and adore the 3 Cornetto films he made so anything he made I was always up for but could this pour on the petrol for another winner or would it burnout in the way I felt his Scott Pilgrim film did.

Happily it was the former as I really enjoyed this movie and I have to start at the top with Edgar Wright himself and his direction as it is fantastic and this movie very much reminded me of a film Tony Scott would’ve made in the early 90s when he made Days of Thunder, Revenge, The Last Boy Scout and True Romance and his direction, editing, staging, use of music and sound and chase scenes were all outstanding and it is very much the mark of a man who has studied films all his life and has grown in confidence to set his own style and not treat his audience like mugs.

The supporting cast are also terrific here, Spacey makes for an effective villain and chews up Wright’s fast paced style like a pro, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx and Eiza Gonzalez are also very good as the other hitmen Baby works for and Lily James from Cinderella makes for a very likeable love interest combining both the dreamer role in La La Land with the Patricia Arquette character from True Romance.

Where this movie does fall over a little sad to say is with Elgort himself don’t get me wrong he’s fine but again like with Scott Pilgrim it just made me miss Simon Pegg all the more and also I began to think that perhaps Pegg was the secret ingredient to the success of the Cornetto series and that without him as his leading man there is a big hole left at the centre that capable actors can try and fill but perhaps not fill it enough.

And so that was Baby Driver which despite Elgort is a really fun film, 3 and a half out of 5.

Film Review - Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Transformers the Last Knight is the fifth film in the series and is once again directed by Michael Bay and concerns the tale of the 12 Knights who guarded a sacred talisman that could help rebuild Cybertron but Optimus (Peter Cullen) and Megatron (Frank Welker) may once again find themselves on opposite sides.

I was not looking forward to this movie mainly because of the endlessness of this franchise and Bay’s involvement in it each of the films he has made have been long, loud, mind numbing, dizzy, head ache inducing and just no good fun at all but alas like the gigantic sucker I can sometimes be I’ll see a good preview for it and off I go and here it was hearing Welker so I went one please.

And actually it wasn’t all that bad for 3 reasons and I’ll start off by combining 2 of them into one and that is hearing both Cullen and Welker playing their iconic roles again did bring me some joy and also made me want to imitate their voices every time they were on screen though sadly they don’t get anywhere near the screen time that they should have gotten and the continuous waste of especially Cullen feels criminal given that he’s the main character on all of the advertising materials.

The third reason was Sir Anthony Hopkins who plays an English lord and hams it up to such a degree that you again just can’t help but smile at one point he barks at some people to shut up and I fully expected him to go fffffffffffff like he did in Silence of the Lambs if ever an actor has mastered the art of phoning it in, hamming it up for a big paycheque most likely for a nice new Ivory Backscratcher it is this man and he is a master of it.

Sadly however the film is a dizzying mess to sit through and I have to start with Bay’s direction as it is really bad every single shot, edit and cut is all over the place even to the point of the smegging aspect ratio changing from 1.85:1 to 2.35:1 it is of Starscream level incompetence and Megatron always knew to put him in his place with a nicely aimed shot from his Riot Cannon and frankly I wish he would use it to boot Bay from this series as it has gone on long enough.

As for the storyline well it is a mess regarding the Knights of King Arthur and WW2 and post Dark of the Moon and I just gave up trying to follow it and really enjoyed Sir Anthony Hopkins be a grade A Ham and Mark Wahlberg run out of breath every single line and Cullen and Welker go at it like they did in the original series and animated movie.

And so that was Transformers the Last Knight a dizzying experience that made me feel a little light headed but it is time now to end Bay’s involvement and reboot this series especially with 2 fantastic video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron begging for film adaptations as those were fantastic and would make fantastic films if done well, 2 out of 5.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Film Review - Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man Homecoming is the first Spider-Man co production between Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios and sees Peter Parker (Tom Holland) continue trying to be both Spider-Man at night and Peter the high school student during the day but when a mysterious man with wings known as the Vulture (Michael Keaton) starts stealing high tech weapons for his criminal schemes it’s up to Spidey to stop him though Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) would rather he stay close to the ground.

This new Spider-Man film is actually pretty good fun its well made by director Jon Watts and moves along at a nice pace despite its 2hr and 15min runtime firstly Holland simply embodies the role at this point and while I really liked Andrew Garfield he did not have the support Holland has had to really shine in the role and every time he’s on screen you really get behind him.

I also liked seeing Jon Favreau again as Happy Hogan and Downey shines in the small screen time he has plus what the film does really well is create a picture of modern day New York in terms of Peter’s high school life it really feels like this is what a New York City high school would look like today and though Zendaya doesn’t get a lot of screen time she does have some good lines.

As for the villains (my main pet peeve of this entire genre) this is where the film does start to fall over for while they were okay but it’s really only due to Keaton that the Vulture really sticks out as on the page he comes across as a bit of a dullard.

And Spider-Man unlike the Avengers actually does have a good Rogues Gallery to draw from but alas Marvel Studios has struck again and their villain problem makes even this look dull and forgettable at times and I know I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating it until I turn blue in the face but they simply cannot afford to let this happen to Thanos in the upcoming Infinity Stones films because if it does it could have devastating consequences for the entire MCU.

The other big problem is that despite being well made and good fun which it is there’s really little new here if you have seen any of the previous Spider-Man or Iron Man films as the themes of Peter balancing both identities, great power meaning great responsibility and whether it’s the suit that makes the man and vice versa play out here and it’s certainly not bad but just feels like been there seen that for the most part.

And so that was Spider-Man Homecoming a fun and well made Marvel Studios film but also very much a been there seen that kind of film, 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

New Radio Ep

Well folks here is my new Radio episode where I review the following:

Wonder Woman

John Wick Chapter 2

The Mummy

As always you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/abclocalradio_sa/simon-movies-june-22-final

Friday, June 23, 2017

Film Review - Cars 3 (2017)

Cars 3 is the newest Pixar film and the third in the Cars series and sees Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) start to come up against a new generation of high tech racers one of which is Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) because of this there is a lot of talk of him retiring or being retired but Lightning is not yet ready to bow out of the race just yet.

Cars 3 is an okay film but also a very middling Pixar film and while again it has professional animation and good voice work the story here feels very maudlin and sombre most of the time and in many ways is reminiscent of Rocky 3 where Rocky lost the eye of the tiger and had to get it back and while that is a strong undercurrent here it feels very under developed wanting to make way for new characters like Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) who is not well written though her payoff becomes rewarding.

But there was another thing for me that came to mind while I was watching the film and that is how Lightning McQueens arc for the most part in a strange way mirrors the trajectory of Pixar as a Studio they were great champions that set new standards in their fields, they pushed themselves with each new entry but have now started to lose their way and though sparks of that former greatness still exist that's all they seem to be sparks that fizzle out quickly.

Now I really hope that Coco due later this year can do what Inside Out did in 2015 and still prove to audiences that the light still burns brightly in that famous Pixar lamp but with this, Finding Dory and the Good Dinosaur all of which came after Inside Out not really doing much for me personally as well as some others I have doubts as to whether it can deliver but Pixar always has a level of hope.

Lastly the short Lou plays before the film and I always like to see the newest Pixar short as it allows them to experiment a little like Night and Day from 2010 and last year's Piper but here it feels again maudlin and sombre and as a result I wasn't as into this as it felt very average.

And so that was Cars 3 a not very good Pixar entry that only continues to show the studio has hit the skids though hopefully Coco can win the day, 2 out of 5.