Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Film Review - A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place is written, directed and stars John Krasinki and his real life wife Emily Blunt as a couple living with their children in a post Alien Invasion Earth where any kind of sound will be picked up by them and you pretty much end up dead.

A Quiet Place is simply terrific one of 2018’s best film wise and first off I have to talk about the idea itself because it is a genius concept for a horror/sci-fi film where the very sounds we make and take for granted every day can also become the ways in which we die and in this world even the sounds of a children’s toy can kill us and though the birth rate would most likely plummet in this world the scene of Blunt’s character giving birth while being hunted is genuinely terrifying.

And that leads me to my next point the horror scares yes most of them are jump scares but Krasinki does them so well that they have the desired effect of giving you the willies and also because the direction and editing are used to slowly build the tension and wind up the screws when the Alien creatures do come (and their design is really cool) the fear and the scares are rightfully earned.

This leads me to my third point and that is the craftsmanship, Krasinski’s direction and the overall editing and sound design are fantastic if this movie does not sweep the Sound Oscars next year then something has gone very wrong as the overall Sound Design and Editing does a lot of work to immerse you into this horrible world while the editing finds this perfect balance of taking scenes slow and then ramping up the tension when needed.

And also Krasinki’s direction is terrific and thankfully this movie only goes for 90 minutes how refreshing to have a movie that only goes for that length as so many films feel they have to be these 2.5 hour epic pictures and they don’t have to be just 90 to 100 minutes can be enough and lastly he gives a great performance.

As for the other performances well once again Ms Blunt shows what a great and sometimes underrated actress she can be as she does so much with only her facial expressions and body language and during the birth in the bathtub scene you can see the genuine fear in her face as she tries to give birth while also keep quiet so she doesn’t get killed but the show stealer here is Millicent Simmonds as Regan a hard of hearing young girl whose world is silence itself she delivers this terrific performance that has to be seen for itself.

And so that was my review of A Quiet Place one of the years best films for sure and absolutely worth watching, 4 out of 5.

Film Review - The Leisure Seeker (2018)

The Leisure Seeker stars Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren as John and Ella an elderly couple who are slowly dying of both dementia and a blood disease but rather than wait around to die they decide to take a road trip in their Winnebago called The Leisure Seeker so they can both have one last adventure before the end comes.

I quite liked the Leisure Seeker for 1 main reason the first one of course being that wonderful duo of actors I have loved both of them for a long time Sutherland in particular has been a big favorite of mine since I saw him on the Simpsons as the head of the Jebediah Springfield History Museum and of course he was President Snow in the Hunger Games movies and seeing him play a dying old man just made me think “No he’s my Leader he can’t be sick” and it got to me a little bit after seeing the movie.

As for Ms Mirren she is quite good here as well as the mental reinforcement of her forgetful husband even though she herself is dying and the two of them together have great chemistry which makes every scene with them worth watching though Mirren’s American accent was at times distracting and I just thought at times “Let me hear that grand old Dame and her beautiful natural accent” and some of the scenes in the films 2016 setting were very interesting to say the least plus there is some very nice Florida photography in the third act.

If I have one complaint its that I wish the illnesses the two leads had was properly explained better at the beginning of the film so we had a better understanding of why they decided to go on that final journey together but apart from that I don’t have much else to complain about.

And so that was the Leisure Seeker a quite good little film with 2 great actors delivering fine work, 3 out of 5.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Film Review - Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (2018)

Mamma Mia Here we Go Again is the sequel to 2008’s Mamma Mia and Amanda Seyfried returns as Sophie who has her difficulties with her partner Sky (Dominic Cooper) and decides to finish her mothers hotel in Greece which has her fathers (Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Pierce Brosnan) come back as well as her grandmother played by Cher come and see the grand reopening while Lily James plays her mother Donna in flashbacks.

Mamma Mia 2 is good fun and that comes down to the great soundtrack on display here there is plenty of singing and dancing (thankfully Pierce Brosnan does little to no singing here) combining both songs from the Broadway Show and plenty of those classic ABBA songs that will have you tapping your feet in the seat and in some cases wanting to sing along.

As for the performances well their fine Ms Seyfried does very well here and its always nice to see Andy Garcia even if he has turned into Terry Benedict from Oceans Eleven in a movie plus Brosnan, Firth and Skarsgard plus Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner and Jeremy Irvine are great likenesses for their younger selves.

But the show stealer here is Lily James who is captivating as the young Donna this free spirit wanting to live deep and suck all the marrow out of life in this paradise part of the world we know as Greece where anything seems possible and her love, passion and charm shine so brightly here that it is easy to see why these 3 men fell in love with her the way that they did Ms James is easily one of the best young actresses of her generation and she shows why here.

And so that was Mamma Mia 2 and its nice harmless fun that made me smile and want to sing ABBA songs and Lily James is very very good here, 3 out of 5.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Film Review - Midnight Oil 1984 (2018)

Midnight Oil 1984 is a documentary about the band Midnight Oil in 1984 and the launch of their album Red Plains on the Sunset and meanwhile its front man Peter Garrett decides to run for the Nuclear Disarmament Party in the General Election that year in Australia.

Midnight Oil 1984 is a very good documentary for these 2 reasons:

- Firstly the archival footage presented here is remarkable over 20,000 feet of 16mm film was recorded during that period and to see all of it presented in this way is terrific with the old concert clips, the sweat pouring off Peter’s head, the energy on the stage, the crowds getting into it and even seeing some of the news conferences and interviews and show clips was fantastic for a historical type person like myself.

- And secondly its great to hear that music be it songs like Power and the Passion, Beds are Burnings, Short Memory among others it makes you want to tap your feet along to it and in some cases sing along and it also made me think about art vs politics and whether the two trains should meet and this was a case where the art and the politics do mesh together very very well and that yes at times art can be political but if its done well then there should be no problems at all.

But I do have a criticism about this documentary and that is as good as the vintage footage is there is a bad habit of cutting back to contemporary interviews with the band members and those that worked with them at that time and it pulled me out of the experience of watching the doco especially when other documentaries like Senna and Waking Sleeping Beauty got around this very easily by just having the interviews be voice over on the older footage.

And I wish that approach had been taken here as it would’ve worked a lot better and allowed you to be truly immersed in the 1984 footage without having to be taken out of it just to watch an interview clip from 30 odd years later.

And so that was Midnight Oil 1984 a very good documentary that save for the interview clips did a great job telling its story and toe tapping along to their songs, 3 out of 5.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Film Review - Ant Man and the Wasp (2018)

Ant Man and the Wasp is the 20th Marvel Studios production and the first film to come after April’s Avengers: Infinity War but this movie takes place before that film and after 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest for his actions during that film meanwhile Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) may have found a way to retrieve their mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm but others like Ghost (Hannah John Kamen) want the Quantum technology for themselves.

Ant Man and the Wasp works best when it focuses on the personal story of Scott, Hope and Hank trying to bring Janet home as that story was the most interesting to me as it felt focused, had a clear sense of direction and worked with returning director Peyton Reed’s skill in directing actors and comedy moments as Paul Rudd in particular is a real delight in this movie getting many of the films best comedic moments as he plays it mostly straight and takes it in stride whereas the rest of the humour worked okay but mostly just felt like the film pressing stop so it can play a comedy routine.

As for the effects well now that Marvel Studios is willing to spend more than 50 cents in every dollar on its special effects we get a much better look at the Quantum Realm this time and it looks really good on a big cinema screen and there are some great miniaturization and giant man effects this time and Reed does these scenes okay but it really isn’t his strength and as great as it was to see the Quantum Realm it feels like he’s doing those scenes because he has to so it can be used next year as rumoured in Avengers 4.

But where this film really falls over is its villains and after Josh Brolin was so very very good as Almighty Thanos in Infinity War Marvel Studios once again drops the ball with its villains and while Ms Kamen does a good job as Ghost she just felt like a bad person that had to be there because these movies need a bad person to fight the heroes and every time she came on screen I just kept thinking “Piss Off Ghost” from Thor: Ragnarok last year.

And once again Walton Goggins is left with an under developed villain to work with and it really bothers me as he was great in the Hateful Eight in 2016 and since then he’s been wasted both here and in Tomb Raider and if he had been the main villain and the corporate intrigue had been better developed instead of giving a lot of that time to Ghost then this movie might have worked better I feel.

And so that was Ant Man and the Wasp and its okay but its not one of Marvel Studios best movies and really only exists to fill that Civil War-Infinity War gap and introduce the Quantum Realm to the audience for Avengers 4 but it has some good effects and humour from Paul Rudd and a great mid credits scene so it is worth seeing, 2 out of 5.

Film Review - Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is the sequel to 2015’s Sicario but only writer Taylor Sheridan and Actors Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro return for this second film and the story this time sees the US wanting to start a Drug War in Mexico so Brolin and Del Toro team up to make that happen but something goes wrong and the 2 go their separate ways.

Sicario 2 is sadly not a very good sequel in fact it’s a bit of a mess but before I go into that I want to go into what I did like and that is its action set pieces as they were well filmed and had lots of tasty blood in them and almost every action film these days doesn’t have a lot of blood in it because well that gets you an R rating instead of a PG-13 rating and that’s bad because a PG-13 rating means the biggest audience possible but here there was plenty of blood on display that made me very happy.

For to quote Bram Stoker’s Dracula “The Blood is the Life.”

That out of the way this sequel does not work for one clear reason: Its storytelling in the first film the character played by Emily Blunt was our eyes and ears into this dark and murky world of drugs and violence whereas here Brolin and Del Toro go their separate ways for most of the movie and their stories lack a focus and a through line to keep them together and it feels like you are watching 2 separate movies mashed together into the one and after a while I got pretty bored of both of them and just wanted the movie to be over.

And so that was Sicario: Day of the Soldado and its really in the running for the worst movie of 2018 for me as despite its bloody violence its storytelling is a mess and I just got bored of it all and wanted it to be over but as Thanos would say it’s a small price to pay for good sequels like Incredibles 2, 1 out of 5.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Film Review - Game Night (2018)

Game Night stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams as Max and Annie a married couple who host a regular game night with their friends (Larmorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury and Billy Magnussen soon to be seen in the live action Aladdin) but when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) shows up wanting to change proceedings he finds himself kidnapped and the race is on to find him and solve the mystery with the clues he’s left in his wake.

Game Night is great fun and it succeeds both as a comedy and as an action caper in the style of the Grand Theft Auto games in fact some of the camera angles during some of the car chase scenes reminded me of when I play GTA Five and I’m in a high speed chase with the cops and the caper side is a lot of fun with plentiful clues and twists and turns a plenty that had me smiling in a big way.

And as for the comedy side it is very funny and I laughed quite a bit and thankfully we are spared the endless scenes of the actors sitting and/or standing around improvising and golf clapping each other instead we get plenty of fun gag moments that are great fun to watch Mr Bateman and Ms McAdams have a great biplay chemistry going on together and McAdams in particular is delightful stealing many of the best comedy moments that had me laughing properly every time she did one of them.

The other standout here is Kyle Chandler and like Ms McAdams has been an underrated actor for some years now but here he gets a nice meaty role to sink his teeth into and he does not disappoint and as for the action set pieces they are nicely directed and good fun to watch as you don’t know what to really expect from them.

And so that was Game Night probably the best comedy I’ve seen in a good long while and it works both as a caper and as a comedy, I highly recommend this one, 3 and a half out of 5.