Maniac – my 2 penn’orth


I was going to write a few thousand words on the show to describe how brilliant it is, but I’m not really in the mood so let me summarise it with this excerpt:

– Maybe this pill does something for me. Make me normal again.
– What are your tics?
– When I get anxious, I um…I end up eating stuff.
– Like junk food?
– Yeah. And dryer sheets. Pencil shavings. Hair from our Brushes.
– What’s normal anyway?

I might write my thoughts if I find the time and the mood for it.

PS. Justin Theroux is incredible.


Warcraft: The Beginning Review

Warcraft tells the story of a clash between humans and orcs that occurs when the orcs invade the former’s world, Azeroth. The focus is on two mains heroes, Lothar and Durotan, their role in the fight, their beliefs and their following.

Travis Fimmel is the man portraying Lothar, and as he gives a very believable and multidimensional performance as the centre character in the film. He shows his dramatic acting chops and also his more humorous side, and he does it very well. Especially considering how everything around him is so CGI focused. Toby Kebbell plays Durotan and through the incredible motion captured used to transform him into an orc, he gives a superb performance, depicting the emotion and drive that his character possesses.

Duncan Jones did a remarkable job with his directing in this huge production. He kept it very true to the style of the games and whilst not going overboard with the nods to the video games, he paid homage to them wisely at the right moments. The scope is massive in the film, yet it stays grounded at all times and never seems to get out of reach with anything. The script is solid and simple and so it should as this is the movie that sets up the story that follows. Hopefully we see that story unfold on the big screen.

The VFX by Industrial Light and Magic, is absolutely stunning and although on one hand it looks non-realistic, on the other, it is spot on and stays true to the source and very much captures the feeling and vibe of Azeroth. The Orcs are very well captured on screen and specifically Guldan; the work by the VFX team is very impressive and really catches the eye.

The Production Design, makeup, costumes are all of top quality as well, with the armor and weapons for the humans looking absolutely stunning (the war room/armory looks amazing).

Warcraft is a film that sets up the world of Warcraft (no pun intended) with drive and purpose and gives the fans the movie that they were waiting for.


The Nice Guys Review

The Nice Guys is set in 1970s LA and it tells the story of a private investigator, portrayed by Ryan Gosling, and an enforcer played by Russell Crowe, who get in each other’s way whilst trying to investigate a mysterious death.

Both Gosling and Crowe, are outstanding in the film and have amazing chemistry together. They are great actors as it is, but it’s the comedic texture of their characters that makes their performance a great one. Nevertheless, the surprise comes from Angourie Rice, who plays the teenage daughter of Gosling, and she is absolutely fantastic, especially when she is used to bring out the inappropriate adult jokes.

The script is extremely smart, hilarious and more importantly original. The comedy is used in a very witty way and in no way utilized just to fill in the cracks left by plot holes as it so often happens. The writing is exceptional, and through a very interesting and intriguing narrative the comedy is allowed to breath and bring the audience to the floor at times with huge bursts of laughter.

It’s a neo-noir film, very reminiscent of other Shane Black movies, but mostly of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It is very much similar to that, and is the type of film, that Black knows how to do very well, with his writing and directing style. The Nice Guys is a very bold project, considering that movies like this aren’t really thriving at the moment and the cast and crew should be applauded for taking on what they knew wasn’t going to be a huge box office success. Yet they have made a timeless movie.

The production design, the music, the editing everything is done to a tee and it makes the whole experience feel like the 70s. It achieves that detective vibe that is so rare nowadays and is a treat to watch and enjoy.

One of the funniest movies of the last few years with lots of character and style.


Captain America: Civil War Review

Captain America: Civil War starts off phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic and just in case you didn’t watch any of the trailers and don’t know what the premise is, all I am going to say is, that some political figures want to put the Avengers into some sort of control, stripping them of their full autonomy, which causes a bit of tension between them.

The person at the centre of everything is as you would expect in a Captain America titled movie, Chris Evans, who is as good as he has been in his tenure as Cap, with the charisma and seriousness that everyone associates with the character. Nevertheless, the man who saves this movie, both with his performance and with the writing that involves his character, is Robert Downey Jr., who really has been carrying this franchise and he continuous to do so in this instalment. He is absolutely exceptional, on a different level to everyone else on the roster.

This movie is split into two halves, the first is really poor, in terms of the story and how it unravels and also the action scenes, which are very badly directed. At times it looks like stunts are added, just for the sake of stunts and there is so much cutting between camera angles and so much use of shaky cam, you can’t really understand what’s going on. On the other hand, the second part of the film, picks up where the Avengers left off, with some stunning action sequences and also a very good narrative in complete contrast to what preceded it.

I can’t get my head around on why the directors Joe and Anthony Russo along with the screenwriters, didn’t try, at any point to ground this movie with a bit more background on the villain and also all of the new characters that make an appearance in the movie. It looked as if they just simply through them in the script and thought that adding a few action scenes would make everyone happy.  Even with that mind set, the stunt-work and camera-work in those intense moments, must be better. There is so much going on, yet with those constant cuts and shaky cams, the viewer cannot take it in and as such no edginess or thrill is built up.

Finally, the Visual Effects and especially the CGI were very disappointing in the movie. We’ve become accustomed to stunning FX, and this is not to say that it’s terrible, most of the time everything looks incredible, but to simply point out that at times, the excessive use of green screens is very easily detectable and not up to par.

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will probably enjoy this, yet it doesn’t hit the heights that everybody hoped it would.


Miles Ahead Review

Miles Ahead is definitely not your regular biography movie. It is a kind of biopic, which tells the story of Miles Davis, through a fictional narrative, that involves a late 70s Davis, at a point where he isn’t very involved with writing music.  This allows Don Cheadle, the director of the movie to give the viewer as great an understanding of Miles Davis as is possible to do through a film.

Don Cheadle portrays Miles fantastically well. Cheadle carries a Jazz-star aura, a musical quality and intensity to his performance that brings the best of the rest of the cast as well. Something he’s capable of doing as an actor and can be said for most of his performances. Alongside him is the incredible Ewan McGregor who plays a journalist from Scotland, and the two together make for the best possible duo. They are funny, serious, entertaining and more importantly enthralling to watch throughout the film.

Don Cheadle in his directorial debut has done an incredible job. He has managed to depict Miles Davis through the years, without doing the common chronological order biopic that we are used to. But rather a more charismatic fictional tale, that is used as a platform, on which aspects of Davis’ life and career can unfold. The music plays a big factor of the movie, as it did in Davis’ life, and it’s so expertly interleaved with the story and the use of flashbacks that massive credit has to go both to Cheadle and musician Robert Glasper.

Miles Ahead is a superb movie, with great performances and great direction. Definitely worth the hard work from Don Cheadle, after all he has been trying to do this for the best part of a decade.


Zootopia Review

Zootopia tells the story of a young bunny who wants to become the first rabbit cop in the history, in a world where anthropomorphic animals are split into two categories, predators and prey, who have now seemingly resolved their issues and live united.

Ginnifer Goodwin voices, excellently if I may say, the lead character, Judy Hopps, the optimistic, big planner, good Samaritan bunny. Jason Bateman plays the voice of a sly fox, called Nick Wilde, who is a bit of a wildcard and sort of lives on the edge in terms of illegal activities. Bateman is good in the role, but I wasn’t convinced he was the best fit for the role, or the way he went about the role was the best. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his performance, since I quite like him as an actor in general. A few other notable performances are Idris Elba and J.K Simmons, who have very distinct voices and styles and especially the former, who is definitely a great voice actor (confirmed after seeing The Jungle Book).

On the story side of things. This movie hits all the right notes, there might be a bit too much exposition and stating the obvious scenes, but I shouldn’t complain too much about that, as the movie is meant for kids as well as adults. However, the narrative unfolds in a very interesting and thought provoking manner. The best aspect of the movie has to be the sort of detective/neo-noir vibe that it gives off. It’s astounding the way its integrated in the story and should make for a few jump scares for the younger generations. Moreover, there are so many things that the film has to say about the world we live in, and so many well written real world parallels, it gets you thinking throughout.

This movie is one of the most thought provoking animations you will ever see. Can’t wait to see it again.


The Jungle Book Review

The Jungle Book is a live-adaptation of the story written by Rudyard Kipling more than a 100 years ago and shouldn’t really need any introduction, yet for those that have been living under a rock for all their life, here it goes. The jungle book tells the story of a young boy, Mowgli, who lives in the jungle and is being raised by wolves who are teaching him, how to be a wolf and not a man.

Neel Sethi, who portrays Mowgli, is basically the only non-CG creature that appears in the movie (at least for the most part, even he can’t escape the claws of CGI in some intense moments). The young actor does an admirable job in the lead of this movie and never looks out of place, especially considering that nothing was shot on location and mostly everything he interacts with doesn’t exist in more than a puppeteering form when shooting the scenes. For those that have watched the original 1967 animation, they will be feel very familiar with the character as the performance by Sethi is “cartoonish” and spot on.

The voice acting in the movie is spectacular, all the casting choices for all the actors taking the lead roles nailed it. Bill Murray as Baloo, is as funny as he has ever been and he really is the soul of the movie. Sir Ben Kingsley as Bagheera is also exceptional, bringing that wisdom to the character. However, my personal favourite has to be Idris Elba as Shere Khan, who gives a scintillating voice acting performance; he is haunting, intimidating and everything you’d want from a terrifying villain.

As mentioned, this movie was completely shot in a studio, never on location. It is almost a hundred percent computer generated images, and still, somehow nothing ever looks fake or unrealistic. The animals look spectacular and the jungle looks more alive than ever. Credit has to go to Jon Favreau, whose direction has really taken this movie to another level. He really gets the what it takes to make a huge blockbuster. He has recreated the jungle book with his own ideas imprinted, changing a few things, but keeping the essence of the story intact and achieving the emotional ups and downs in Mowgli’s journey and the interchanging feelings extremely well with his filmmaking style.

A brilliant movie in its own right, but also as a recreation of a classic Disney animation. Credit to the animators and visual FX people for a spectacular and jaw dropping job.


Demolition Review

Demolition tells the story of an investment banker, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who after a specific occurrence which happens to him, goes on a bit of a rampage in his desperation to connect with something or someone.

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the best actors of his generation. He chooses roles and new projects as good as anyone and especially small indie movies that resonate well with audiences. He is once again outstanding and had this movie been released closer to awards period, he probably would have gotten some Oscar buzz. There’s another outstanding actor in the film and his name is Judah Lewis, a 14-year-old who came out of nowhere, yet his performance is one of a rock star and it should put him firmly on the Hollywood map.

Bryan Sipe is the man responsible for the screenplay of the film and he has got to receive all the plaudits for one of the best written movies in the last couple of years. From start to finish he unravels this not very uncommon narrative, but with a very distinct texture, such charisma and unpredictability it’s hard not to enjoy every moment of it. He finds the smartest ways to tell the story the way he wants without going out of his way to get something in for the sake of it. Aided by very good directing, the story is allowed a flow and edginess whilst not constantly attempting to fill it with pretentious arcs and clichés.

The movie rides a very fine line between comedy and drama. It’s not very often that a movie is so funny but also so intensely dramatic at times. Pardon me for the cliché, but it’s a rollercoaster of emotions, without drowning itself on its emotional dynamism, it thrives on it, as it lets the viewer inside, giving the reasons and explanations behind everything that happens.

An exceptional piece of storytelling with tremendous acting.


Hail, Caesar! Review

Hail, Caesar! is a story about a movie studio fixer, played by Josh Brolin, in Hollywood in the 1950s, the job he does in order to keep the movie stars in line and anything else that needs to happen so that the movies can be completed and the studio can be successful.

Josh Brolin is great as the fixer, never resting, always on the lookout to repair or prevent any trouble that might come the studio’s way. He proves to be a very calm figure for the most part, but when he needs to up the intensity, he does it with ease. It’s a cultured performance and one that will go unnoticed, even though it warrants more respect. George Clooney is outstanding as the big movie star. He carries that star quality, as Clooney does, but also adds the comedic elements extremely well. Alden Ehrenreich is surprisingly the one that steals the show at times as he has the funniest moments in the movie.

Despite the big acting names that appear in the movie, the real stars of the film are the Coen brothers. They instil that peculiar style that they always have in their movies, making sure that there is more to it, than what simply meets the eye. They grasp the opportunity that the 50s setting allows, making fun of so many situations that played big part at that time in Hollywood and probably nowadays as well.

The movie is visually stunning, with excellent cinematography by Roger Deakins. However, one of my favourite aspects of the movie was the music score, by Carter Burwell. It’s absolutely fascinating, especially in a movie like Hail, Caesar! which has so much room for different kinds of music, from an epic theme on the Roman empire and Jesus, soviets and communism, sailor dancing, to film-noir, simply put, everything.

A satire about Hollywood in the 50s, created from the unique minds of the Coen Brothers.


Obi Wan standalone film in the works

Ever since Disney took over the star wars universe, fans have been screaming for all sorts of standalone Star Wars movies to be made. One at the top of the list that seemed to be overlooked despite the big interest, was an Obi Wan movie starring Ewan McGregor. Well it looks like Disney have been listening and they’ve already agreed to it with the Scottish actor.

Disney have shown clear signs of intend and have been quoted as saying “We are happy to be bringing on Ewan McGregor to the Disney family and we hope that we can please the fans with another epic Star Wars film”.

The news come as a bit of a surprise to fans and McGregor himself, who was open to the possibility since the beginning. He checked on his Twitter and Instagram page to let his followers know the news and his enthusiasm in this new exciting project.ewan on star warsWe are looking forward to seeing Master Kenobi on the big screen once again. Until then, may the force be with you.