Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Disaster Artist (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written December 7th, 2017*

"In Los Angeles, everyone want to be star"

The Room is a flash of demented, once in a lifetime genius created by one of the most fascinating people to ever grace the planet. A film based around the production of the film and the friendship between its creator and co-star was a hard thing to pull off, yet, somehow, James Franco pulled it off. Delivering one of the funniest and most heartfelt films of the year.

Let's get the strongest and most anticipated part out the way. James Franco. He completely loses himself in the role of the enigma that is Tommy Wiseau, a bizarre man with a mysterious background full of contradictory stories. 

Franco nails Wiseau's unique accent and mannerisms while managing to be both hilarious and a little sad and heartbreaking. If Franco doesn't at least get an Oscar nomination for his role, I will be outraged. Dave Franco also does a great job as Greg Sestero, an actor who gets sucked into Wiseau's Planet and becomes more and more disillusioned by his behaviour.


Franco does an excellent job as a director too. Setting up the complicated relationship between Wiseau and Greg Sestero. Greg being an aspiring actor in San Francisco who becomes fascinated by Tommy after seeing how fearless he is in an acting class. They quickly become friends and move to Los Angeles on Tommy's seemingly never ending supply of money. After having trouble finding acting jobs, they decide to fund their own film 'The Room' 

Greg and Tommy's relationship is easily the core of The Disaster Artist. Two people brought together by the dream of becoming an actor. It really is an ode to creativity and friendship. Sure, The Room was a disaster, but they tried hard to create a piece of art that people would enjoy, so in a way, they succeeded. 

Their road to making the film is not an easy one though, as Tommy's behaviour becomes more and more outrageous, controlling and a little bit unstable. He's clearly a very damaged and not right in the head person, making his a relationship with Greg seem more like something from Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master than your usual comedy.


While this is based on a true story, this is most definitely a comedy at heart, which it exceeds at incredible and might just be one of my favourite comedies of recent years. No question the best comedy of 2017 at the very least. Even among the drama and genuine poignancy on display, I laughed so much. Pretty much every word that came out of Franco's mouth was pure gold. Him as Wiseau is just an endlessly watchable creation.


The Disaster Artist is much more than just a film about the making of the best worst film of all time. It's a tribute to the creative process and following your dreams, being proud of what you've created, no matter what people think. The best comedy of 2017 with a ton of heart and possibly the best performance of James Franco's career.

10/10 Dans (First time watch)

The Disaster Artist is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

Follow us:
Twitter: @FigmentReviews and @ArronRoke91
Instagram: @thesurprisingadventuresofdanb and @ArronRoke
YouTube: Figment Reviews 
Letterboxd: Dan and Arron

Facebook

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Battle of the Sexes (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written November 28th, 2017*

"Game on"

I'm always surprised by sports dramas. I personally find sports a painful chore to watch, repetitive and boring, but I understand there's plenty of interesting people behind these sports with stories to tell. Battle of the Sexes was a surprise in the best possible way. I'd only recently watched Little Miss Sunshine for the first time (Which I LOVED), so I was interested to see what that team would do with a sports comedy drama.

Battle of the Sexes tells the story of the famous tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs, although it's about more than just a tennis match. It's about a landmark moment in history of pushing forward with equality for women in sport and just in general. Despite the '70s setting. It's still very much relevant today.

Emma Stone and Steve Carell shine in their roles. Carell plays such an insanely fun to watch and larger than life character as Bobby Riggs. A self proclaimed misogynist and pig on camera, but he brings a lot of depth to the role, showing him more than just a sexist asshole, but someone who is pretty damaged and just wants to be in the spotlight again.


Stone is also excellent as King, a woman fighting for equality and trying her hardest to train for this landmark match while balancing her messy private life. King really is the heart and soul of the film, her story is one that is immensely entertaining and easy to root for. I was surprised at how nearly unrecognisable Stone was in the role. It wouldn't shock me if she bagged at least another Oscar nomination out of this.

It might go through the motions a bit as a sports drama. There's the training montage, moment of doubt etc, but I can overlook that when I was so compelled by what I was seeing. Everything just clicked for me. Including some extremely funny moments, usually at the expense of Carell's stealing the show.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how little tennis there was in the film. It's mostly all about character, while the only real extended play of the tennis is the titular Battle of the Sexes at the end. That's when I really love sports film, when the sport takes a backseat and they focus on character and being a two hour film, the two leads were able to be fully explored and made us care for them, despite the inevitable outcome. 


Battle of the Sexes is one of my favourite sports films in a long time. A character focused showcase of Emma Stone and Steve Carell's acting with just enough heart and humour without being overbearing and overly sentimental. Please support films like this.

9/10 Dans (First time watch)

Battle of the Sexes is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

Follow us:
Twitter: @FigmentReviews and @ArronRoke91
Instagram: @thesurprisingadventuresofdanb and @ArronRoke
YouTube: Figment Reviews 
Letterboxd: Dan and Arron

Facebook

Suburbicon (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written November 28th, 2017*

"Suburban life"

Suburbicon is an odd film of two halves, some of it is very good when it wants to be, while the rest of a big mess of muddled ideas that rarely come together to make a great film. It's a weird mix of a crime mystery, black comedy and a drama about race. It's certainly interesting to watch and held my attention, but I just couldn't help but feel a little more work on it could have made for a truly good film.

It feels like a Coen Brothers film (It was written by them), but George Clooney is no substitute for them as a director. He has a decent visual eye to make a nice looking film, but when it comes to balancing a film of many ideas, none of it comes together massively well. He does have an attention for detail in terms of the satirical period setting of the fictional suburban haven of 'Suburbicon'. 

I really liked some of the ideas here. A perfect suburban family in the 1950's are put on the radar of two loan sharks for the mob after Gardner (Matt Damon) gets in trouble and things spiral out of control for him. In the background of all this, a black family move into Suburbicon and the entire town is in an uproar.


If that sounds out of nowhere, that's because it is. These two stories never meet up or connect with each other. It's bizarre. There was potential here for a satirical drama about a family moving into an all white, racist and backwards haven for white people, which could have been an entire film in itself. Instead it's a few random shots shoved in the background of this crime mystery. It was so weird.

I will at least say that the crime mystery at the forefront of Suburbicon is actually pretty decent. Matt Damon was such a strange character that you slowly learn to find out is a psychopath. It helped I had no idea where this was going, making for a fun ride with some surprises. Like most Coen Brothers films, it does get violent and grizzly out of nowhere towards the end. There's some really funny moments of pitch black comedy too.

Oscar Isaac steals the show in his brief scenes as a claims investigator. I was surprised to see him feature so heavily in the trailers, as his appearance amounts to nothing more that a couple of scenes. Julianne Moore was also fantastic in her duel roles, basically walking straight from her role in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. I just wish there were a few more memorable characters thrown in. The two villains were largely forgettable and not very interesting.


Suburbicon is a mess of ideas that amount to an entertaining and watchable film that's not sure what it wants to be. I feel there's a genuinely great film here after a few more edits.

6/10 Dans (First time watch)

Suburbicon is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

Follow us:
Twitter: @FigmentReviews and @ArronRoke91
Instagram: @thesurprisingadventuresofdanb and @ArronRoke
YouTube: Figment Reviews 
Letterboxd: Dan and Arron

Facebook

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) - Film Review


Review:

*Originally written November 26th, 2017*

"I was wrong"

If I have anything to be proud of, it's my ability to admit when I'm wrong. I've seen Bram Stoker's Dracula a few times now and I hated it with each watch. I'd even considered it one of my most hated films of all time. Then I rewatched it today, and I loved it? I'm not sure what happened, but everything clicked for me. This a gorgeous looking, terrifying and creative Gothic horror. 

Honestly, the set-production and visual effects are awesome. LOVED everything with the shadows, the way blood sprayed, the lighting, it looked awesome. I don't know what I smoking the other times I watched this. I'm sure I'll grow to love it more with each watch though.

If there's one problem, it's easily the casting of Keanu Reeves. Reeves is a guy who can act well when he wants to, especially within the realm of action films. Here, he is completely out of his depth. Delivering some of the worst line deliveries I've seen and sporting an outrageous accent. I love Reeves, but he's severely miscast here.


Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins fare much better here. Oldman is terrifying as Dracula, helped by some really disturbing makeup and design (His hair still looks like a pair of boobies or Will Ferrell in Zoolander though). Hopkins delivers a surprisingly fun performance filled with charm and a dry sense of humour. A far cry from whatever that Hugh Jackman film was (Must revisit that at some point). 


Bram Stoker's Dracula is just proof that some films need to be revisited frequently until you finally love it. A gorgeous Gothic horror that I cannot wait to revisit and/or hopefully see in a cinema one day. Looks like there's hope for 2001 and a few other classics I hated yet.


8/10 Dans (Rewatch)

Bram Stoker's Dracula is out now on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

Follow us:
Twitter: @FigmentReviews and @ArronRoke91
Instagram: @thesurprisingadventuresofdanb and @ArronRoke
YouTube: Figment Reviews 
Letterboxd: Dan and Arron

Facebook


Monday, 20 November 2017

Justice League (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written November 20th, 2017*

"Assemble"

My expectations for Justice League were never that high to begin with. The road for the DCEU has been rocky at best with a few bright spots like Wonder Woman, but then lows like Suicide Squad (It gets worse with every watch). It's a shame that all of DC's heroes have come together in such a messy fashion in a film that's as boringly simple as it is incoherent at times. If that makes sense.

It seems Snyder has not learned from his criticisms of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Tonally, the film is all over the place. Murky, ugly coloured cinematography then some quips shoved in place to try and balance it. It has no idea what it wants to be. I can only imagine the worst quips come from the talentless hack Joss Whedon, a man who seems to only know how to write in quips. Seriously, Avengers: Age of Ultron is basically Big Bang Theory: The Movie.

At the very least, Justice League does have some very funny moments, mostly at the expense of The Flash, who is played with a sort of awkward charm and sense of childlike wonderment from Ezra Miller. There's the odd lame line that doesn't work, which adds to the tonal mess of the film.


Most of the Justice League do get their moments to shine. Gal Gadot is still excellent as Wonder Woman, bring the humanity to the team. Affleck is still solid is Batman, but they sadly go a different direction with him that they established in BVS. I like Affleck as Batman, but I wish they kept the brutality they led with. The worst off from the team by far is Cyborg, such a bland and ugly character, made worse by such poor CGI. Jason Moama's Aquaman was a pleasant surprise, a functioning alcoholic rock-star who was actually quite bad-ass. 

For such an expensive film, it is outrageous how poor a lot of the special effects are. Nothing feels real or genuine. The designs are poor and the green screens are trash. Every time The Flash uses his powers are some of the worst looking things I've seen all year. The action has moments of fun throughout. Lots of that Snyder slow-motion, so much of it. It's stylish, if a little hollow.

A lot of this film feels hollow. The stakes are low and the villain is poor, a common problem of superhero films and it just lacks any real surprises in general. Everything goes exactly how you'd expect it to go. The Justice League is formed, the bad guy is defeated and everything is okay in the end. It's boring and I'm just pretty sick of it. I won't spoil it, but even Superman's return was exactly how I expected it. At least they solve that "Lois is the key line" from BVS.

Danny Elfman's score is completely forgettable. To the point not a single track stood out. There's some use of familiar themes from previous Batman and Superman films, but nothing new left anything close to a lasting impression. I wish Junkie XL or Hans Zimmer did some work on this. 


Justice League really could have used some work and been made longer, which is not a thing I usually say. Every single side character is wasted. I'm not entirely sure why J.K. Simmons Commissioner Gordon was even in this film. The same problem with Amy Adams or Amber Heard, no one was given enough screen time justify even being in the film. I can only bet there's an "Ultimate" or extended edition of this film coming out on Blu-ray, it really could have done with more.


If Wonder Woman was a step in the right direction for the DCEU, then Justice League is a step back. A bland, generic blockbuster that's watchable and has its moments, but lacks anything close to original or unique. A real disappointment.

5/10 Dans

Justice League is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

Follow us:
Twitter: @FigmentReviews and @ArronRoke91
Instagram: @thesurprisingadventuresofdanb and @ArronRoke
YouTube: Figment Reviews 
Letterboxd: Dan and Arron

Facebook

Friday, 10 November 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) - Film Review


Review:

*Originally written November 9th, 2017*

"Choo-Choo"

I've never seen a previous adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express or anything with Hercule Poirot outside of spoof, but this seemed as good a start to this material as you could get. It's not massively new or inventive. It's just an incredible entertaining murder mystery that makes the most of its cast and setting.

Kenneth Branagh does a fantastic job in front and behind the camera. His role as Hercule Poirot is pure pantomime and camp, which worked perfectly with the film. He's funny, smart and endlessly glorious to watch. His moustache is something of majesty. A piece of facial hair every man in the world should grow.

The story at the centre is immensely engaging. It really helped going into this blind. I had no idea who the killer was or why it happened, so it made the reveals that much more effective and surprising. It's rare twists come out and they don't feel forced. It doesn't itself too seriously, the ending is pretty mental, but with fun tone this was going for, it all worked in its favour. 


It's hard to split the run time and fully develop thirteen characters, which is something the film struggled with. That said, everyone gets a chance to shine and have fun with the roles. Willem Dafoe is always wonderful, and I was reminded a little of Tim Roth in The Hateful Eight. It was also nice to see Daisy Ridley outside of the Star Wars series. Johnny Depp was a disgusting and horrible character, so it made it that much more satisfying as he was the victim. Peep Show's Olivia Coleman was a little underused, but it's cool to see her as part of a huge ensemble cast in a film like this. Everyone does fine, if a little under served, but it really is Kenneth Branagh's show. 

Even as a director his work is solid. Orient Express is a fast and flashy film with a lot of style. It's a gorgeous looking film that manages to be creative with its enclosed location of a single train for the most part. Loved the overhead angles and long takes of stuff like Poirot investigating a train carriage. There is some poor CGI and green screen here and there, it's not much, but it is very noticeable.


Murder on the Orient Express won't reinvent cinema or anything, but it's still an extremely fun and entertaining murder mystery with a great cast and a standout Kenneth Branagh sporting a glorious piece of a facial hair.

8/10 Dans

Murder on the Orient Express is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:


Follow us:
Twitter: @FigmentReviews and @ArronRoke91
Instagram: @thesurprisingadventuresofdanb and @ArronRoke
YouTube: Figment Reviews 
Letterboxd: Dan and Arron

Facebook

Monday, 6 November 2017

A Bad Moms Christmas (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written November 6th, 2017*

"Family Christmas"

I don't remember a lot about the original Bad Moms, but I remember it being at least a little better than this. A Bad Moms Christmas walks such a fine line of mediocrity it's oddly interesting. I was amazed at just how little of this Christmas film was memorable. I only saw it a few hours ago and I'm failing to recall what really happened.

It was disappointing to see the three leads spend so little time together. Instead focusing on their own mums (I'm English) who all appear just in time in for Christmas. In all fairness, the new mums introduced for the sequel were the highlight, especially the mother of Mila Kunis's mother played by a sociopathic  Christine Baranski. 



I wanted to see more of what I liked about the first one. From what I remember it was more about how being a mum takes away from the fun of life. Here it's just an obsession about making Christmas good for your kids. Aside from the montage of the mums getting drunk at a mall, there's very little of these characters taking control of their life. It's played very safe, and it's very disappointing. I was just reminded on the outrageous amount of montages used in this. Seriously, there's about 3 too many.

I guess my main problem was just the lack of actual jokes for the most part. I'm honestly not recalling a single time Mila Kunis even tries to attempt comedy in this. It even goes the route of unearned sentimentality towards the end in order to try and earn its place as a Christmas classic. None of it works. I was on the side of these characters pushing their mothers out their lives for good by the end, but no, of course they couldn't have that. So it's a suitably bland and generic happy ending that sets up a potential sequel/spin-off.


I sound like I hated this, but in all honesty, it is very watchable. It just walks its line of mediocrity and never dips into anything atrocious, but never great. There are a couple of genuinely funny moments, but nowhere near enough to call this a recommended comedy. One of the easiest 5/10's I've given this year.

5/10 Dans

A Bad Moms Christmas is out now in cinemas in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

Follow us:
Twitter: @FigmentReviews and @ArronRoke91
Instagram: @thesurprisingadventuresofdanb and @ArronRoke
YouTube: Figment Reviews 
Letterboxd: Dan and Arron

Facebook

The Disaster Artist (2017) - Film Review

Review: *Originally written December 7th, 2017* "In Los Angeles, everyone want to be star" The Room is a flash of demented...