Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written August 7th, 2015*

"Cruising"


Ditching the cartoony fun that Brad Bird bought to the franchise with Ghost Protocol for a more darker and sinister take, Rogue Nation is another excellent edition to the long running series. It's amazing that the Mission Impossible films have gone on since 1996 and have only had one dud (M.I.2) out the lot.

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt once again with outstanding charisma and dedication to the role. While the stunts don't come to the height that Ghost Protocol brought, there are still an amazing array of scenes to be in awe at. People were worried that they spoiled the plane set-piece with the trailer, and in all honesty, they didn't. The scene is still spectacular and jaw-dropping, especially when you know that it is actually Tom Cruise hanging on the side of a plane for real. There seems to be some strong prejudice against Cruise because of his behaviour and personal beliefs, but I say do what you want when you constantly deliver such incredibly fun films with 100% effort put in.


The story is much darker this time around. It's a pretty personal story for the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) team as they try and take down a society of agents who do what they do, but evil. While it lacks the end of the world stakes of the previous film, I personally preferred this darker story and it found it to be the most compelling film of the whole franchise.

This is also the first time in the series that the members of the team are all returning members from previous films. The comic relief Simon Pegg returns as Benji in a much more expanded role and steals all the scenes he is in, there was a strange but funny scene of product placement where he is playing Halo 5 on Xbox One at the CIA rather than working. Jeremy Renner came back with a much smaller role and didn't really do much. Ving Rhames was excellent as series veteran Luther. 

The only two new cast members are Rebecca Ferguson and Alec Baldwin. Ferguson was awesome, where has this women been? She handled action fantastically and had great chemistry with Cruise, her character was even interesting on top of this. Baldwin was forgettable as the new head of IMF, although he did have the strangest and most wonderful line in the whole film "Hunt is the living manifestation of destiny", I don't know what it meant, but it was just a beautiful moment.


On the villain side of things, Sean Harris was very sinister and chilling as Solomon, this series isn't very well known for its villains, but they did a pretty good job here. I just felt they could have developed him a bit more and gave us better motivation for his actions.


Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is another slice of insanely entertaining spy action with great set-pieces, a game performance from Cruise and the best story the series has had yet.

8/10 Dans

Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Monday, 16 October 2017

Cars 3 (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 16th, 2017*

"Kachow! Kill me." 

I remember being kind of excited for Cars 3 when that initial teaser trailer was released, then they released the full trailer and it was more or less exactly what I was expecting the film to be. I'm just really not a fan of the Cars franchise (2 is one of the worst animated films I've ever seen), that said, Cars 3 is by far the best in the franchise, while still being aggressively mediocre.

I appreciate what they tried to do. An older Lightning McQueen finally accepting he's just not that good a racer anymore. It's a plot more suited to an adult existential drama. What does a Car do when he can't race anymore? It's not really a question that's explored any further or done that well. This is no animated Rocky Balboa that's for sure.

My criticism of this is a hard one to explain. This is first and foremost a kids film made to sell toys to young and impressionable children. So any expectation of something more would be ludicrous, but then I remember the rest of Pixar's excellent output and realise, actually, year, these kids films can be meaningful and sweet while being a piece of the Disney machine of consumerism. 

I'd be fine with these films if I felt something towards these characters or even found them funny. Maybe I'm just getting old, but I just found this a chore to sit through. So much so that not even the insanely good animation could make these entertaining. Honestly, Pixar's animators are topping themselves every year. I just wish this series would have had better writers. 


It's hard to say if we'll ever get a Cars 4. I know Cars 3 really under performed, but I imagine it made more than enough in merchandise sales to continue the series. I'll watch it, but it needs a serious overhaul. Lightning McQueen can't be the focus of the next film. His story is done now. He'll need to be reduced to a minor character while it makes way for a new racer. 

I don't even want to begin to talk about the bizarre and insane world Cars exists even and the questions that's raised. It's been talked about to death. It''s just.... fucked.


Whatever, that's Car 3, it.. it was what it was. The best film in Pixar's worst franchise. It's got stellar animation and effects, but it's extremely rusty on plot and character. This really feels like nothing but an obligation rather than a film made to entertain children and adults alike.

5/10 Dans

Cars 3 does not currently have a release date in the UK for its 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD
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Doctor Strange (2016) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 27th, 2016*

"Life is Strange"

While it suffers from the usual strains of a superhero origin story, Doctor Strange somehow manages to be unique, original and the weirdest thing to come from the MCU yet. 

While the story was fairly formulaic for the first act, I was sort of lost for most of the film. A lot of dialogue is characters spouting exposition that meant nothing to me. They talk about magic, spells, evil spirits and lots of mentions of mirror dimensions or something. It also lacks the weight of Civil War, which isn't Strange's fault, seeing as that was the build up of 8 years worth of films before it, but it just made Civil War have more of an impact.

While this lack of knowing what was happening should have diminished my entertainment, I was blown away by the visuals happening on screen. I never in a million years would have expected this to be as visually stunning as it was. It has some the weirdest and most unique visual style of any comic-book I've ever seen. While Guardians of the Galaxy was a zany risk for Marvel, Doctor Strange blows it out of the water.

While Benedict Cumberbatch was great in the lead (Once I put his American accent aside), his character is fairly similar to a lot of things we've seen before it. An arrogant, smug and somewhat obnoxious doctor who is brilliant at his job. He's sort of a mix of Tony Stark and Doctor House. He was great, and I look forward to seeing more of him in the MCU.


Where Marvel failed once again was in its villain. This is the biggest insult to me from Doctor Strange. Wasting Mads Mikkelsen. I have just finished watching all 3 seasons of Hannibal, and the man is a god. He's sadly wasted here in another throwaway and forgettable villain. Mads does the best he can with the little material he's given, but he deserves so much more than this.


So yeah, Doctor Strange is a lot better than I expected. I never really had any expectations for this, and while it fails on the villain front and its muddled storytelling, I was captivated by its creative, psychedelic and downright beautiful visuals.

7/10 Dans

Doctor Strange is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 14th, 2017*

"Prison fight"

Not what I expected at all. I was a big fan of S. Craig Zahler's previous film Bone Tomahawk, but there's just something about prison films that really put me off. While I tend to almost always enjoy them. The thought about spending two hours within the confined space of a prison just bores me. Then there's the issue of Vince Vaughn, an actor I tend to usually hate. Except in Dodgeball, Dodgeball is a masterpiece. If you haven't seen Dodgeball, see Dodgeball.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 finds Vince Vaughn playing against type as an ex-alcoholic, ex-boxer who is fired from his job and begins working as a drug runner. A job goes wrong and he finds himself in prison, but is forced to kill someone in the prison after his ex boss kidnaps his pregnant wife and will have a Korean abortionist mutilate his baby in the womb. I did not make that up. I expect no less from the man who made Bone Tomahawk. 


I'd heard Brawl was a violent film, but this is some of the most grizzly and disgusting stuff I've seen all year. For a two hour film, there is not actually that much violence, but when it finally happens, my god it is effective. Lots of use of really graphic and practical effects which look disgusting. I never thought I'd see a mans face look like that after being dragged across concrete. Zahler directs the action with weight and precision in a way that sort of reminded me of the Raid films. Everything was in camera and brutal, it was pure exploitation film making from another era. I could easily see this as a film from the '90s. 

I've mentioned I don't like Vince Vaughn, but this is by far the best I've ever seen him. The first time his character isn't just a complete douche-bag. He completely loses himself in the role as Bradley Thomas, a man who is a walking tank of destruction, and while he has his moments of explosive violence and rage, he still manages to give a subdued performance that was far from one note. There's even some genuinely effective moments of emotion towards the end as Bradley seems to accept his fate and the consequences of what he has to do.

It was kind of impossible not to root for Bradley, despite being a violent drug runner, he's got a moral compass and is actually quite likeable. His plight through the increasingly horrible prison system is relentless too, that poor guy never gets a break. There's a magnificent scene at the beginning where he tears apart a car with his bare hands. It was a wonder to behold and it was around that point I think I knew I was going to love this. 

My biggest complaint with Bone Tomahawk was that it was a bit too long and dragged at times, but I never had that problem with Brawl. It's a fairly slow-paced film, but I was into it for near enough every second. We spend enough time with Bradley and his wife in the first act to invest you in the stakes of all the stuff in prison. And while being a prison film, it never spends to long in one place as Bradley has to work his way up to the maximum security wing of the prison in Cell Block 99 run by a really fun Don Johnson.


I don't really have that many problems with Brawl in all honesty. I won't spoil it, but the final shot of the film is ruined by one of the fakest looking prosthetic heads I've ever seen, which kinda left the film on a tiny sour note, but that was a 1 second shot in an over 2 hour film, so I can't hold that against it too much.


Brawl in Cell Block 99 is one of my biggest surprises of the year. A brutally violent, extremely entertaining and just plain demented films of the year that also features the best performance of Vince Vaughn's career. I cannot wait to see S. Craig Zahler's next film.

9/10 Dans

Brawl in Cell Block 99 hits cinemas on the UK from October 20th
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Friday, 13 October 2017

The Babysitter (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 13th, 2017*

"A good Netflix Original Film?!"

This was not a film I had any interest in seeing. Netflix films are usually garbage and McG is a director even worse than his name, so this turned out to be an unspectacular, albeit fun horror-comedy for the most part. Which is far more than expected.

It plays on the sexy babysitter trope by having the sitter as the villain. And Samara Weaving does a great job as the insanely hot title character and is quite possibly the most likeable murderous cult head I've seen on screen. Judah Lewis also does a solid job as the kid forced to go head to head with his babysitter after staying awake and witnessing her cult ritual with her friends.

Being only 85 minutes really worked in the films favour. It's sort of structured like a video game. The kid works his way about the teenagers one by one, killing them in surprisingly grizzly, funny and creative ways. It felt a bit like a Tucker and Dale vs Evil. It was a nice reverse to see the victim rack up a higher body count than the villains, but it's weird to see this 12 year old kid not be phased by any of the deaths he caused. I know it's not that sound of film, but it was still a little off.


I really wasn't a fan of some of the direction. There's some lame and stylised on screen writing that wasn't needed. It also really does look like a DTV film, which is a shame. It's clearly low-budget, but it's not hard to make a film not look like an ABC TV pilot. Especially with Netflix's funds.


It's not great, it's not bad, but The Babysitter is merely serviceable entertainment with a solid lead performance from Samara Weaving. Which is far more than you can expect from Netflix Original Films at this point. A pleasant surprise I was expecting to give one star.

6/10 Dans

The Babysitter is streaming now on Netflix UK
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Spectre (2015) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 31st, 2015*

"Some great Bondage"

After the insane standard that Skyfall set back in 2012, it was suspected that Spectre would never live up to its hype, but my god, Spectre was just 100% gravy, I loved every minute and I'm even torn between what I loved more, this Casino Royale or Skyfall.

Sam Mendes returns to the directors chair in a story that bring Bond head to head with a mysteries organisation called 'S.P.E.C.T.R.E.' that has links to his past and is run by mastermind Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz).

In many ways it feels like Spectre is a finale to Daniel Craig's run as Bond, it ties up and brings all his films full circle, even Quantum of Solace, although the film tries its hardest no to bring that up to much. It turns out that all on Craig's previous villains were part of Spectre. I saw some reviews saying it felt cheap and unearned, but I felt it worked.


Mendes once again delivers several excellent and memorable set-pieces. Opening with a gorgeous tracking shot in Mexico for Day of the Dead that is filmed to look like one long take, it was beautiful and certainly got Spectre off to an amazing start. The rest of the action scenes are great too, we get a brutal close-quarters fight between Bond and henchman Mr. Hinx on a train that reminded me of From Russia with Love and a fantastic car chase through the streets of Rome.

What helps Spectre a lot is its return to a slightly more lighter tone, while still maintaining its dark seriousness. Since Casino relaunched the series, people have complained about its tone. Casino started dark and brutal, showing how Bond become Bond, Quantum just derailed everything, Skyfall was a step closer to the Bond we know and Spectre feels like the first fully fledged Bond film in a long time. It relies heavily on the formula that makes Bond iconic, but still feels extremely fresh.

We still have the locations, the girls and the over the top villain who is played marvellously by an always amazing Christoph Waltz, he does his usual and lovable Waltz thing, but that makes him no less great and memorable. Dave Boutista was awesome too, bring a henchman that feels like a classic with his quite demeanour and menacing size, he even gets a gorgeous kill that involves eye gouging, which was extremely brutal, even by Bond's recent standard of violence.

Craig is as good as ever as James Bond, he really seems to have the role tied down now, brimming with the charm and charisma that is needed for the role, while still doing some really audacious and bone-breaking physical work.


Lea Seydoux was really great as the Bond girl, she felt like the most human of Craig's women since Casino Royale's Vesper, she had solid chemistry with Craig and felt fairly genuine that they would fall in love by the end, even leaving an open ending for them that could hopefully be resolved tragically at the beginning of the next film. I won't even mention Monica Belluci, as her role felt like a glorified cameo that barely rounded up to five minutes of screen-time, which was weird as she was heavily featured in the advertisement and posters leading up to the release. 

Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Naomi Harris all return as Bond's MI6 team. They were all great and each had there own moments to shine, the finale even felt like the recent Mission Impossible films where they all had a role to play and something to do.


If Spectre is Craig's last outing as Bond, then this was a damn satisfying way to do it, with a story that brings things full circle and completes the story while leaving the door open to more instalments. Filled with everything that makes Bond great, Spectre might just be the best of Craig's films and maybe even the best of the whole series. I just hope someone can fill the huge gap Mendes will leave now that he has said he won't be returning to direct the series anymore.

9/10 Dans

Spectre is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Defiance (2008) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 12th, 2017*

"Fuck Zwick"

While a solid war film, Zwick's clunky sentimentality and script gets in the way of what could have been a great war film. Daniel Craig is great as the lead, once you get past his accent. There is also some decent and visceral action, it's a shame it's ruined by some strange creative choices. There's a set-piece where the Jewish rebels have to steal medicine for their camp and it's done in this really strange slow-motion that made me think my disc might have been scratched. It was so out of place.

I did like the morality side of things. These rebels were portrayed in a very grey area, which is a risky move in a film about Jewish people fighting back in World War 2. They could have gone completely one sided, but it definitely helped the film by having these murky morals.


This script had some really cringey and bad lines too. At one point Daniel Craig's love interest tells him "You saved me", to which he responded "No. You saved me". Brutal. There's some more lines like that spread throughout, not that I remember much of it. 

Also, featured the obligatory "Lead actor is in an explosion, gets up and sees the chaos around him while the noise is droned out by ringing". Lame.  


I have a feeling revisiting Blood Diamond and The Last Samurai as an adult might be a bad idea at some point. Zwick is not a very good director. Defiance is still far from his godawful low point of a Jack Reacher sequel though.

6/10 Dans

Defiance is out now on Blu-ray and DVD
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written December 17th, 2015*

"A New Hope"

Someone give J.J. Abrams a blowjob right now. He has earned it. The Force Awakens brought my childhood right back to me. I loved every second of it. After the misguided prequels (Which I do like, but they are heavily flawed), Disney got Star Wars away from that mad man George Lucas and gave us a film that relied on nostalgia, but still paved way for a new generation of Kids to fall in love with Star Wars the same way I did.

Taking place 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker is in hiding after failing to train a new group of Jedi, while a new version of Vader's army called The New Order led by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are trying to finish what he started. Two new leads Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Fin (John Boyega) are swept into this story to help find Luke and fight the New Order.

What worried me most about this was the how the new cast would compare to the iconic original, and within the first few scenes I knew I had nothing to worry about at all. John Boyega was great, he was funny and he handled action well, but Daisy Ridley really stole the show out of the newbies. She was a strong, likeable and well developed character. I really liked where they went with the character too, she is the real star of the film and franchise now by the looks of it. Oscar Isaac (An actor I love now) was a charisma magnet in his role, he disappears for most of the film, but is great with all his screen time. All those new characters blended with the existing cast extremely well.


The original cast feel right at home here too. Harrison Ford eases back into his role as Han Solo and his chemistry with Chewbacca is better than it has ever been. Carrie Fisher was fine as Leia once again, she was sadly not given much to do. I'm not even sure what I can say about Luke Skywalker without branching into spoiler territory, so I'm gonna leave it at that.

The new villain of the piece Kylo Ren was damn fantastic too. He was menacing, violent and handled some dramatic scenes as well which I did not expect at all. People were confused about his light-saber from the trailers, but the new design is used effectively in the finale.

J.J. Abrams crafted this world with such care and respect for the material that it just induced nostalgia and made me feel like a child again. There was a great mix of practical and CGI effects, although some of the CGI characters did look a little out of place at times. There were some really beautiful shots throughout too, while a couple were in the trailer, there was still a lot to be surprised about. Even just the look of some of the sets and set-pieces blew me away. Like the New Order's weapon, it looked gorgeous when it was being fired, loved the bright and vivid colours.

The tone is handled extremely well. It captures that sense of awe and wonder from the original trilogy, the humour was genuinely funny at times too, there was the odd "easy" and crowd-pleasing joke, but that didn't bother me. I was fairly shocked by the opening scene, it was probably the darkest and most violent scene from the whole franchise. The tone quickly changes to a more lighthearted adventure, but when it needs to, it gets dark and effectively emotional. 


Speaking of emotional, The Force Awakens hits emotional heights more than any other film I've watched this year. From John Williams iconic score, I felt I was right back as a child. I'm not gonna lie either and I'm not gonna spoil it, but a scene towards the end brought a genuine tear out my eye. When the scene started you knew exactly where it was going, but you just didn't want it to happen, and when it did it was heartbreaking.


Star Wars - The Force Awakens was everything and more I could have possibly wanted from a return to the Star Wars universe. Emotional, nostalgic, beautifully shot and featured a great new cast which included a new rising star from Daisy Ridley. My film of the year. I just wish it was 2017 already so I can see Episode VIII.

10/10 Dans

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Chappie (2015) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written December 31st, 2015*

"Happy Chappie"

Neill Blomkamp exploded onto the film scene with the incredible District 9 in 2009 and he followed it up with the much less well received Elysium a couple of years ago. Most people were hoping that he would reach the heights he did with District 9 with Chappie, while he didn't, Chappie was still one of the most underrated and unfairly reviewed films of this year. 

Dev Patel plays a scientist who made robots that replaced the human police force in Johannesburg, but he wants to create the first sentient robot with a conciseness. To the dismay of his superiors he steals a damaged unit and puts a chip in it that makes him aware. The robot is then stolen by a group of gangsters who name him 'Chappie' and want to use him for heists to raise money for a kingpin they are in debt to.

The character of Chappie is utterly charming, most people seemed to find him annoying, but I cared about him from the get go. He starts of acting like a baby, but quickly grows to learn morality and to handle himself. It was fascinating to see a robot that is scared of the world. It really helped that Blomkamp once again creates CGI that mixes into the real world perfectly and feels real. Sharlto Copley's familiar voice as Chappie also helped make for a likeable character.


Where Chappie falters for me is the lack of exploration of the morality of making sentient life out of a robot. The questions are asked, but not explored at all really. If you want a deeper look at these questions, you're probably better off watching Ex Machina.

While it is not particularly deep, Blomkamp once again makes an insanely entertaining action film. His visual style and use of slow-motion is once again top-notch and is gorgeous. I loved the design of everything, even the custom painted weapons the characters use. It's also extremely violent at times, even grizzly. Which might seem at odds with the film's tone, it feels like Robocop meets Short Circuit, but it works. 

Hugh Jackman's (or Huge Jacked Man's) villain is quite weak. I get the character's frustration as he tries to push for his over the top warlike robots to be put in the field, but the motivation for doing some of the stuff was really messy and there was such a strange scene where he pulls a gun on Patel in the office and it was just brushed off as a "prank" with no consequences. Jackman's performance certainly wasn't bad, his character was just badly developed.

First time actors 'Ninja' and Yo-Landi Visser fare much better. Their characters (Especially Yo's) are very likeable and Chappie's adoptive parents who raise him to different ideals. Ninja just wants to use him for crime and make money, while Yo wants him to follow his dreams and be creative. Their relationship was the heart of Chappie and it was very effective, making for a bittersweet and quite touching ending. 


Sci-fi legend Sigourney Weaver also has a small role that really amounts to nothing more than a cameo. No idea why she even gets her name on the poster. I guess her small role in this also had some involvement on the green light of Blomkamp's 'Alien 5', so I guess it was worth it.


Chappie is a charming, action packed and violent sci-fi film and one of the most underrated films of the year. Cannot wait to see Blomkamp's Alien 5 (Which is sadly on hold while Ridley Scott does his next Prometheus film). I have faith it will be more in line of this and District 9 and probably better than Alien 3 and Resurrection.

8/10 Dans

Chappie is out now on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Friday, 6 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - Film Review



Review:

*Originally written October 6th, 2017*

"More than Human"

The original Blade Runner is a film that took me far too long and multiple viewings in order to appreciate it. It's a classic that is beloved by many, so obviously the prospect of a 35 year later follow up is one that will obviously be met with cautious and intrigue. Ridley Scott not directing would once be a strike against it, but based on his recent filmography (The Martian aside), I am so glad Scott was nowhere near the directors chair here. His replacement in Denis Villeneuve is an inspired choice, as he's responsible for some of the best films of recent years, including, Sicario, Prisoners and Arrival. Needless to say, he's made a modern classic and one of the greatest sequels of all-time. One that may even surpass the original. Which seems like an outrageous thing to say, but my god, the man has talent.

2049 takes place 35 years after the events of the original and finds a new Blade Runner 'Agent K' (Ryan Gosling) involved in a mystery that leads him to Deckard (Harrison Ford). That's all I really want to say about the plot. There were so many surprises to be found here. So much stuff was kept out of the marketing material, it was so rare for a film to surprise its audience from its incredible opening scene alone. I will not spoil anything, but while 2049 stands on its own as a separate film, the original is integral to the plot of this one.

Ryan Gosling continues his incredible career path in one of finest performances yet as Agent K, playing him as cold and heartless, but also providing him with a heart due to the relationship with his AI girlfriend Joi (Ana De Armas). It's a similar side of Gosling we've seen before in Drive and Only God Forgives, where he conveys a lot of emotion without really saying much. I was also very pleased to see they didn't just update Deckard for a modern audience. K is very much his own character with a compelling story and character arc. 



It was insanely refreshing to see a mainstream film with this kind of budget that was completely focused on character and story. While there is a couple of set-pieces and action scenes, this is mostly a very talky thriller that uses its budget to create incredible sets and special effects that served the narrative. 2049 has a compelling narrative that packs a genuinely emotional punch when it wants to. It's so, so rare that a film this expensive spends it budget it things that actually matter to the experience, rather than mindless, never ending scenes of explosions and gunfights.

Even at a bordering 3 hour run time, I was never bored once. In fact, I can't wait to see it again. My biggest regret was the two minutes I left the theatre for in order to take a piss (Must stop drinking Coke Zero Vanilla). It's slow-paced, but so wonderfully worth it. I imagine mainstream audiences finding this hard to get through. I'm interested to see the what the general public consensus is and how this does at the box-office overall. My biggest problem with blockbuster films these days is their bloated length. So I'm so happy to see such a long film make every frame worth it.

Speaking of every frame, Roger Deakins really is the man. He is working overtime here in order to create one of the most beautiful films of all time. Every frame is a goddamn painting, he really is gunning for his Oscar and I hope he gets it. I can't imagine a more gorgeous film coming out in 2017. Hans Zimmer's score is also fantastic, perfectly complementing the gorgeous world on display here. It's not your typical Zimmer either. In fact, I didn't even recognise it, which is a good thing. Zimmer is a composer who has really started to repeat on himself lately, so it was sweet to see him mix things up a little bit.

As a sequel, 2049 still feels like a massively original film. Expanding on the world the original set up while being unique to itself. There is so many minor cool things here that Villeneuve throws in. It feels like the original Blade Runner too, that smoky neon look of a polluted futuristic city is left intact. Although there is a lot of incredible CGI that blends into the film perfectly, there is a massive amount of built sets that only look perfect. This is all some of the best stuff I've ever seen put on screen. I know I sound hyperbolic, but trust Dan.

The original Blade Runner covered a lot of ground and philosophy on what it means to be a human and 2049 further expands on that. Putting Agent K and an older Deckard on a massively engrossing journey that really does that emotional. Harrison Ford also does a wonderful job as a more weary and older Deckard. This isn't a lazy, phoned in Ford performance, he is on top form here reliving an older character from his glory days. In some ways it reminded me of Sylvester Stallone's role as Rocky in Creed. 



While I loved every second Blade Runner 2049, I'm not saying it's a perfect film. There are definitely things I missed on a first viewing and multiple viewing will definitely enrich this experience, but there are some minor things that's can't be saved by re-watches. I think you all know where I'm going with this... Jared Leto, in the "Villain" role. I was actually pleasantly surprised by Leto in this. Not because his performance is good, it's the opposite, but because he is barely in it. His screen time amounts to around 2 scenes. Less Leto is always good Leto. I still can't help but wonder how the late David Bowie could have done in this role though. I'd argue 2049 didn't really need a clear villain though, the character journeys on their own without an antagonist works. I can't help but feel I wouldn't be saying this if Jared Leto wasn't in this though. 

As we come up to the end of 2017, which has been an incredible year for cinema, my number one spot for film of the year is beginning to look blurry. It's going to be a hard year for my top 10. I feel I've given a lot of 10/10 scores this year, but I'd argue they've all been earned. 2017 has been the best year for cinema in the entirety of my existence. I like to say "Cinema is Dead" a lot, but with films like this, my faith is restored in this industry. This is the sort of visionary film making that makes me want to work in the film industry one day.

Blade Runner 2049 is a near perfect sequel. A masterpiece that more than lives up to its predecessor and maybe even proceeds it. A gorgeous, engrossing and emotional sci-fi epic that will go down in history as one of the best sequels ever alongside Terminator 2, The Godfather Part 2 etc.

10/10 Dans

Blade Runner 2049 is in cinemas now in the UK
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Thursday, 5 October 2017

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 5th, 2017*

An assault on the senses? Yes. Provocative? Certainly. Gory? You bet. I'm not entirely sure why I didn't like Cannibal Holocaust as much as I did, it definitely got a reaction out of me, which is more commendable than films I like, but that reaction was more one of disgust and hatred towards what I saw. I love animals, so seeing them die in front of me, for real, for the sake of an audiences entertainment just rubbed me the wrong way. Helped no further by the graphic and disturbing way these animals were killed. I can't think of anything worse than having to watch that turtle scene again. I nearly threw up. 

Then there's also the issue of the treatment of women in this film. Maybe it's the point, but it was not interesting to watch constant graphic rapes and torture of women for no real point. There was one horrible scene early on where a women is raped with a bit of wood, then has a rock shoved in her vagina, then has her head caved in. It's not pleasant.


It's a criticism I hate using as it can rarely be further explained or expanded upon, but I was mostly bored during Cannibal Holocaust. It's a film I've had hyped to me for years and I thought, hey ho, whatever, I'll finally go for it this October. Like I said, it really earns its stars and stripes in graphic content, it's just not a lot else did anything for me. At no point during this would I say I was "enjoying" it. Which is fine, you don't need to enjoy a film for it to be good. That sounds like a weird thing to say, but do you find 12 Years a Slave or Schindler's List "enjoyable"? Exactly.

I can see why this film has inspired a lot from it. I imagine it was sort of The Blair Witch Project of its time. The fact some people thought this was real and the crew were actually killed, meaning the director nearly faced trial is awesome. I was amazed to see this also made $200 million. No matter what I thought of the film, that's still remarkably impressive. Even with inflation, a film like this would never make anywhere near that much money today.

I appreciate the themes of civilisation vs the uncivilised and who truly is the "civilised" ones. It's not nice to see that times really haven't changed in 37 years. Privileged white people are still destroying the homes of foreigners for their own benefit. So hey, at least there's some resonate social commentary here. I also liked some of the found-footage aspects, which is pretty original for its time, or at least this is the earliest example I've seen.




I won't say I hated Cannibal Holocaust, but I definitely didn't like it. I see why people do. It just didn't do a lot for me. While I am repulsed by the actions the filmmakers took in making this film, I do have to commend them for going as far as they did, as sick as it made me.

4/10 Dans

Cannibal Holocaust is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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The Emoji Movie (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 3rd, 2017*

Cinema is Dead.

2/10 Dans

The Emoji Movie hits 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD on December 4th in the UK
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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Interview with the Vampire (1994) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 4th, 2017*

"Suck me dry, Tom Cruise"

I rarely enjoy vampire films, and I'm not entirely sure why. I just find them generally boring for some reason. Even loved ones like Bram Stoker's Dracula, there's just something about that period setting that makes it a chore to get through.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Interview With the Vampire. Brad Pitt was great, as was a really young Kirsten Dunst. While Tom Cruise was easily the highlight as the villain. It's a shame he disappears for such a long stretch of the film. All the stuff between him and Pitt were my favourite parts. It was also a weird surprise to see Christian Slater in a film that wasn't straight-to-DVD.


It looks awesome. There's just something about '90s films that feel a lot better. The sets are all built and not CGI, the costumes look great and I love the smokey look of everything. I can't fault the atmosphere.

My main fault is really just how much things come to halt in the second half. The stuff in Paris is far less interesting than in New Orleans, although Antonio Banderas is clearly having fun with his campy role. 

I need to see more good vampire films like this. Enough so the word "Vampire" doesn't instantly put me off a film.

7/10 Dans

Interview with the Vampire is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Curse of Chucky (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written October 3rd, 2017*

"Wanna play?"

Horror franchises that are nearly 30 years old and on its seventh entry have no right to be this fresh or fun. It's amazing how durable the Child's Play franchise has been. I know people hate Seed of Chucky, but I even enjoy that one. People were more warm to Curse of Chucky, which was admittedly a step in the right direction tonally, but I found it a bit of a slog. So I am so happy that Cult of Chucky, a straight-to-DVD sequel no less, is just a blast and the strongest the series has been since 1988.

Not only does it pick up loose story threads from the original Child's Play trilogy, but it connects most of the films together and paves the way for even more films in the franchise, while still feeling fresh and inventive. It's a goddamn surprise and a miracle. 

Bringing back the original actor of Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) was a smart move and it was interesting to see how much impact the rampages of Chucky has had on his mental state over the past 30 years. The film opens with him on a date where he reveals he's been associated to nearly 40 murders over his childhood. It's a unique take and not the kind of continuity I'd expect from this series. After the post-credits scene of Curse of Chucky, we also learn Andy has kept Chucky's head alive and is constantly torturing it. 


It also works as a direct sequel to Curse too. Final Girl of Curse is reduced to a mental institution where she seems to have been convinced she was responsible for all of Chucky's killings and is in therapy in the worst mental institute in America. Things quickly go south as a Good Guy doll is brought in a source of therapy for the patients. You can guess the body count quickly rises after this. 

I appreciated the slow-burn approach Cult of Chucky takes. Things move pretty slowly at the beginning before going full chaotic in the final act as everyone comes together at the mental hospital. This might also be the most gory of the Child's Play films too. While there is some poor CGI for some of it, there is a strong reliance on disgusting and practical gore. A couple of head-stomps put Drive to shame. 

Chucky himself is still the same lovable scamp I remember and adore. Brad Dourif brings that playful psychotic joy to the killer doll. I really like it when the killer in a slasher film is playful and talkative, bathing in their sadistic tendencies while they mock their victims. They also do a few new things with Chucky which made for some genuinely hilarious scenes. I won't spoil what they do with him, but it builds on the Child's Play mythology and sets the path for potentially great future.


My only real disappoints are it does feel a bit long, even at only 90 minutes and I might have missed something, but I really miss Chucky and Tiffany's child from Seed of Chucky. Has it been mentioned where he/she is in the previous film? I don't remember, but I'd like to see him return to the series in the future. Also, see after the credits for the return of another character from the original Child's Play trilogy.


Cult of Chucky is a riot. A return to form for Chucky, a gleefully violent, funny and entertaining slasher film. Looking forward to where the series goes next, because Cult plants some Seeds for some interesting places.

7/10 Dans 

Cult of Chucky hits Blu-ray and DVD on October 23rd in the UK
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Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) - Film Review

Review: *Originally written August 7th, 2015* "Cruising" Ditching the cartoony fun that Brad Bird bought to the franchise...