Reviews

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.

7.5/10

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.

8/10

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.

8.5/10

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.

8.5/10

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.

8/10

10 Cloverfield Lane Review

10 Cloverfield Lane, tells the story of a young woman, portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is taken to an underground shelter without her knowledge, after being in a car accident. She doesn’t know what exactly has happened and is trying to figure everything out while the whole situation is completely unknown to her.

One of the best aspects of the movie, is that it creates palpable characters that react in believable ways to a very irregular situation. There is not a single moment in the movie that the viewer feels that the actions of the character are outside the realm of possibility, no moment that occurs just for the purposes of moving the narrative forward. Director Dan Trachtenberg makes sure of that and despite this being his first feature movie, makes sure that his actors hit the nail on the head with their performances.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives one of her best performances to date as she manages to create a very tangible character and considering there are a lot of tough scenes, she does all the right things, playing with the correct emotions and actions. Then there is the small matter of John Goodman, who is absolutely marvellous in the movie. He works so expertly with a strong sense of mysticism and a character that is seemingly interchanging mental state.

Dan Trachtenberg does an absolute fantastic job at the helm of the movie. Bearing in mind this is his directorial debut, there is no getting around the great way he directs the movie. He uses the story’s strongest points to create a very intense setting and using great sound mixing he chooses his moments well, to take a relatively quiet movie into a loud and frantic world, that surprises the viewer. The third act is breathtaking and represents exactly that facet of the film. It’s so quick in changing what preceded it, after it’s over you don’t know what hit you.

A very good, suspenseful thriller, stunningly captured on film.

8/10

Trumbo Review

Trumbo tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter in Hollywood during the 40s through to the 70s. Known for his distinguished work in widely known and awarded movies and also the trouble he found himself into, due to his political beliefs.

Bryan Cranston is simply magic, as the central figure in the movie. He expertly portrays Trumbo, with the necessary charisma and attitude, attributing him the genius he deserves but also his mistakes and imperfections. The rest of the cast do a solid job, in keeping up with Cranston and filling in the cracks, but it’s not about them in any way, he is rightfully the focal point of the story.

It’s hard to depict people that existed, more so when they are famous actors that have been and are considered film icons, with classic movies that we still watch to this day. The movie does a good job in portraying those characters with the outmost accuracy possible and gives them the sort of gravitas they would hold at that point in the movie industry and society in general.

The script should have been amazing considering, it’s a movie about the legendary scriptwriter Dalton Trumbo, but it’s actually one of the not so strong aspects of the movie. The dialogue isn’t as sharp as it should be and at times the words that come out seem to be out of place. It does however, pay tribute to a man that was so important to the industry not only with his work but also with his actions and on that note, it doesn’t claim a flawless character, rather the opposite.

Trumbo showcases the work of an incredible man and the weaknesses of society and human nature, as seen in so many movies these past few months.

7.5/10

 

 

Steve Jobs Review

Steve jobs is by no means a biography. It tells the evolution of Jobs as a person and less so as a computing innovator. It goes through only a few hours of his life at three different product launches that he was major part of, trying to paint a portrait of the man himself.

Michael Fassbender is captivating as the leading actor, with an excellent performance that provides great insight of the personality and way of thinking of Jobs. A tough task considering the very complicated and multi-dimensional person that he was. The cast is comprised of very good actors that give equally good performances, but Fassbender is the standout one, delivering that extra layer to his character that grounds the movie and allows the audience to get a better grasp.

Despite all the talk of great acting, that’s not where the real star of the film lies. The star of the movie is Aaron Sorkin. A man praised for his writing and considered by many to be one of the best scriptwriters around. That is no coincidence, he shows again with Steve Jobs why he is so widely respected with absorbing dialogue that overshadows the cracks and weaknesses of the overall story. The way the story of the movie unfolds, doesn’t allow much room for development of the characters through the narrative. It’s the smart and gripping dialogue that manages to provide the necessary evolution for Jobs, as we see him evolve before our eyes, through the way he carries himself with the people closer to him.

Danny Boyle directs the movie, with a clear idea of what he wanted to depict. The focus isn’t on making Steve Jobs look like a saint or a genius of his time. The magic of this film is showing the flaws and mistakes of the main character, no matter how successful he was, however without completely bypassing the great accomplishments that accompanied those.

Fascinating story with great dialogue that manages to take away the surrounding world.

7.5/10

Spotlight Review

The film tells the story of a group of investigative journalists that operate in a team called “Spotlight”, for newspaper Boston Globe and the work they do to uncover a disturbing scandal in the city of Boston, which led to shedding light on similar situations all over the world.

The ensemble cast is fantastic, each and every one of them, from Michael Keaton to Rachel McAdams, everyone delivers a great performance that truly captures their characters. Everybody had clearly researched the actual person they were portraying and it really shows. Mark Ruffalo was the most absorbing one by far, it’s crystal clear that he spent hours with the real Mike Rezendes and tried to embody him, echoing the way he talked and moved.

The script is brilliant and allows the movie to unravel before the viewer’s eyes stripped of any great over dramatization of events just so that we could scream Oscar at the end of the movie or to create enthralling suspense. It doesn’t try to manipulate the viewer with over the top scenes, overkill fear, or emotional music, even though the music is absolutely gripping by Howard Shore. The main target is to tell the truth.

Tom McCarthy nails it with the direction of the film, he doesn’t try to make the movie to attract a big audience but rather chooses to focus on telling the story (I don’t know how close to the actual facts) with a sense of realism and believability. Any suspense is created from the development of the narrative and the information brought to the audiences’ attention through the characters.

Exceptional storytelling that doesn’t rely on facades to engage the onlooker, but rather on laying the disturbing facts in front of our eyes.

8.5/10

Creed Review

Creed tells the story of Adonis Johnson, son of legendary boxer, old rival and friend of Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed. This time not written by Stallone, instead Ryan Coogler takes over the reign as writer/director.

Michael B. Jordan is in the lead of the movie, playing the troubled Adonis who has his mind set on becoming a professional boxer. Jordan not only bulked up physically to take on the role, he also gives a great performance that along with the fantastic writing, allows the viewer to really delve into Adonis’ mind set. Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as Rocky Balboa and even though he doesn’t get involved in the ring, he has other things on his mind and different kind of fights to tackle. Sly delivers one of his best performances ever, in the role that made him in the 70’s he comes to knock it out of the park some 39 years after the first Rocky came out. He knows Rocky inside out and the character has developed so much in front of our eyes, it’s an absolute joy to watch him once again.

Ryan Coogler has a new vision for the series. He brings in a new leading character to the scene and also some fresh ideas to a worn out genre. The directing is superb throughout the whole movie but it’s in the boxing scenes that it really excels. Boxing is as good as it’s ever been and probably more believable and more suspenseful. There is an extraordinarily shot boxing match which is done in a single take without cuts and is simply stunning.

The writing for the movie is perfect. The development of the main characters walks a fine line between clichés and originality and although many of the themes we have already seen before, they are very well carried out. The dialogue, especially between Adonis and Rocky is great and when it got emotional, I couldn’t help it but feel the lump in the throat myself.

Lastly Ludwig Goransson has written some of the best music of the year, in film. I would go as far as say it’s a masterpiece of a music score. It’s mindboggling to me, as to why it wasn’t at least nominated for an Oscar, and I know it reuses some of the old music but it’s ridiculous nominating Star Wars which has even more reused tracks, instead of this.

A rollercoaster of emotions for any fan and a great addition to the series, which can only be compared to the original Rocky in terms of quality.

8.5/10