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Film Reviews

Glass Onion Non Spoiler Review: The Best Movie of 2022?

Knives Out was one of the best movies of the last 5 years. It is one of the most entertaining and rewatchable movies I have seen in a long time and will undoubtedly be considered a classic in 10 years. So… the question becomes how do you top this and more importantly is it even possible? Can Rian Johnson improve upon one of the most loved and successful movies of the last 5 years? Truthfully, yes… Read on for more.

(Since this movie is very easy to spoil and I understand how easy it is to ruin it, I will keep it very broad and simple.)

Before I watched this, I was trying to work out what Rian Johnson could do to keep the audience guessing and surprised. As a filmmaker, it is embarrassing for me to admit that I had no ideas. Despite this, Rian creates a new and compelling that story that will keep you glued to the screen from the beginning. It goes in directions I didn’t expect at all and plays upon the traditional narrative perfectly. Rian Johnson knows exactly what the audience is expecting and manipulates it from beginning to end.

One of the best parts about the first Knives Out is the characters. They each feel completely different to the other and are addicting to watch. I truly believe Knives Out A Glass Onion has better characters. Each one is a very clever and refreshing take on the modern celebrity.  But what’s even more important is that they feel like real people. They have multiple layers that are revealed as the movie progresses and while they have flaws, you understand where they are coming from.

On top of this, they are cast perfectly. Everyone in this movie brings these characters to life. With a different cast, this movie is nowhere near as gripping and entertaining. I think lately films just load up on huge casts only to get ticket sales. But with Knives Out 2, it feels like each actor was chosen for the character and not for their level of fame. Cough Cough Amsterdam cough.

Before I move on, I have to talk about Daniel Craig. This character that him and Rian Johnson have created is one of the best movie detectives I have ever seen. He is this weird mix of being an idiot while also a genius that I love. It is a unique and refreshing character that I could truly watch an entire season of. Also, he is just very funny. No matter how simple the line is, he manages to always deliver it perfectly.

While I loved this movie, there was definitely a slump. About halfway through, I just found myself a little bit bored. I think in moments it treats the audience a little stupid and takes too long explaining things. It isn’t terrible it’s more just feels like the run time could be cut down by about 10-15minutes. Also, I think some of the humour doesn’t really work. It occasionally just feels forced and never seemed to get many laughs in the cinema.

One of the most important parts of a murder mystery is the twist. Now in the first Knives Out, the reveal never felt surprising or satisfying to me. In the sequel, I kind of feel the same way. But I think that’s on purpose. There are so many other twists and turns in this movie that the killer or killers doesn’t seem important. Instead, I think Rian Johnson wanted to focus on creating twists as the movie progresses instead of in the last few moments.

Should you watch Knives Out A Glass Onion?

Definitely. This movie is a very entertaining and enjoyable watch that will keep you guessing from the beginning. While the cinema run is over, watch it as soon as it’s out on Netflix so it doesn’t get spoiled for you.

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Film Reviews

Black Panther Wakanda Forever (Non-Spoiler Review)

I think I must be one of the few people in the world who didn’t love the first Black Panther. While the first two thirds were great, that last act was so terrible that I cannot rate the movie highly. But after seeing the trailer for Black Panther Wakanda Forever, I was excited for the sequel. It looked like a completely new direction for this series and the MCU entirely. But does it live up to the hype of the first movie? Read on for more.

Black Panther 2 is unlike any other Marvel film (the closest one I would compare it to is Winter Soldier simply for the pacing). It is a carefully crafted movie that takes it’s time with each character. While it does have some moments where it drags, the story doesn’t feel like we are trying to get from Point A to Point B but instead delves into some heavy concepts. In particular, the exploration of grief and vengeance creates one of the most emotionally layered and complex Marvel Movies. It effectively feels like such a breath of fresh air in the recent slate of formulaic films.

What adds to this excellent writing is a beautiful looking film. Each shot is vibrant and bursting with colours. The costumes, lighting and set design keep your eyes glued to the screen and add a depth to these incredible worlds. On top of this, the VFX look realistic. With the recent Marvel films looking like garbage, Black Panther 2 once again stands out. Only 2 shots in this movie look a little rough and that is completely respectable considering the scale of these set pieces.

The action in Black Panther Wakanda Forever never feels like the focus of the film. It is simply a backdrop for the story. Nevertheless, the few actions set pieces in this movie are very entertaining. Ryan Coogler weaves in his signature style to create fast paced and high stakes fight scenes. Each punch feels like it hurts and for once we see some people get stabbed.

What I loved most about this movie was the performances. Maybe it is because they are drawing from Chadwick Boseman’s passing but every actor is bringing 120%. In particular, Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett. How they portray their grief for T’CHalla’s death is some of the most outright heartbreaking acting the MCU has ever seen. I also loved the introduction of Tenoch Huerta as Naymour and Dominique Thorne as Ironheart. As usual, they have cast actors who are perfect for these roles, and you instantly want to see more of.

The final act of this movie had me on the edge of my seat. Not because of the suspense or stakes but simply because I thought they would botch the ending like every other Marvel film. But honestly, they didn’t. Ryan Coogler wraps up this spectacular film with an amazing action set piece and a touching conclusion for Chadwick Boseman.  

Should you see Black Panther Wakanda Forever?

Definitely go see this in cinemas. It is an epic story that deserves to be seen on a big screen. And if you loved the first film, this one is even better.

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Film Reviews

Marvel’s first step in the right direction – Werewolf by Night Non-Spoiler Review

Over the past three years, Marvel’s track record has not been the best. Out of the last five movies only one stood out for me. While the shows are entertaining, they are formulaic. More and more, I am hearing people bag on this universe even though they once loved it – something that is completely justified. In all honesty, Marvel is just losing its way. It has started to focus on quantity not quality.

But one week ago, I heard about a new movie coming out that would be a 50-minute Halloween special. Instantly, I was intrigued. The idea of Marvel doing something new and refreshing in their slate of films sounded incredible.  That film was none other than Michael Giachino’s Werewolf by Night.

Harriet Sansom Harris as Verussa in Marvel Studios’ WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

If you do not know what this film is about, I will quickly break it down (the marketing for this was rubbish so I’m assuming most of you don’t). Werewolf by Night is a 50-minute horror film set in the MCU directed by composer Michael Giachino. It is about a group of monster hunters who gather to hunt a creature to compete for an ancient relic.

The tone of this movie is incredible. Michael has balanced this campy and fun horror vibe with a little touch of the Marvel formula. While at times it could have dived more into the horror side, I loved the allusion to 50s’ horror movies. The black and white grainy film was an amazing choice and enhanced this call back. Even the slight moments of gore fit this movie perfectly and had me wincing.

One of the core reasons this movie works is the set design and style. Each location in Werewolf by Night is truly haunting. The maze especially is by far the best location Marvel has ever created. It feels like a cheap and tacky horror ride that you are on with the characters. As a result, the whole film is such a stark contrast to the MCU. There is no CGI planets or a greyed out New York. Instead, we are brought back to a classic real-life set.

Even the fight scenes in this film feel new and refreshing. Zoe White (DOP) uses light in this movie to make each fight scene look beautiful. The flashes of bright light keep the audience engaged and glued to the screen. And it doesn’t stop there. The rest of this movie looked gorgeous. Despite some dodgy VFX, Werewolf by Night reminded me how powerful black and white truly is.

The performances in this movie are excellent. Gael Garcia Bernal brings a whole new layer to this type of character I haven’t seen. He is so calming and casual in his role which is a perfect contrast as his character develops. Laura Donnelly was great, but I think her character needed a little more screen time. She didn’t have enough scenes to flesh her backstory and as a result it felt a little flat. On the other hand, Harriet Sanson was amazing. I love when an actor fully commits to being over the top and outlandish and that’s exactly what she did.

Should you watch Werewolf by Night

Yes absolutely. Wait until night, grab some popcorn and watch this film. It is a very fun and entertaining movie that I think is very important for the MCU.

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Film Reviews

Is Don’t Worry Darling that bad? (No Spoiler Review )

After years of drama, gossip and rumours Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling is finally here. Before the film was even released, it had been trashed for the performances and plot. This can instantly destroy a movie. Audiences go into the cinema jaded by reviews or potentially don’t even see it. So is Don’t Worry Darling as horrible as everyone says? Is Harry Styles’ performance that atrocious?

Don’t Worry Darling is one of the most beautiful looking films of the year. The cinematographer – Mathew Libatique – creates this pristine and elegant world. Every shot has the perfect light that accentuates this idyllic 1950s’ town. While the constant lens’ flares aren’t for me, I am 100% here for the world that he and Olivia Wilde have created.

Beautiful cinematography needs to be coupled with a well-constructed and tight plot. With a run time of 2 hours and 3 minutes, the audience must be kept engaged from the get-go. Unfortunately, I was not. I just found myself kind of bored in this movie. Scenes drag on for way for too long and once you figure out what’s coming, it just feels kind of bland. I know Olivia tried to include some moments to keep you hooked but they just weren’t enough. Ultimately, the beats of this story feel repetitive and dragged out.

What really failed for me in this movie was the horror. I understand it’s meant to be more psychological than physical, but it felt very flat. I cannot even recall some of the sequences because of how forgettable and repetitive it was. It didn’t feel like any new horror was brought to the table but instead just repeating what has been done in cinema for the last 30 years.

Florence Pugh certifies herself as an incredible actress. She is so talented at being scared that if all she did for the next 10 years was horror I wouldn’t mind. On top of this, Florence delivers some dodgy lines excellently. I truly believe she puts this film on her back and carries it to the finish line.

Now the backlash on Harry Styles’ performance is warranted – it’s not great. He isn’t even that bad it’s just that there are so many other talented actors out there who would have smashed this role. It always feels like he is trying to give an Oscar worthy performance by screaming and yelling a lot when it isn’t warranted and doesn’t make sense. In a movie this high budget and high concept, Harry doesn’t belong.

Everyone else is good. Chris Pine replicates this type of Andrew Tate man in a way that I haven’t seen in a film yet (no spoilers). Olivia Wilde shows off her comic abilities and adds this light-hearted touch to the film. Gemma Chan and Nick Kroll were amazing but just not in it enough. With all of Nick’s talents, he should have been in this film much more.

Before I go into spoilers, I want to highlight the soundtrack. John Powell has created a new and refreshing horror movie sound. Every time it played it made me genuinely remember to write about how good the music was. He has blended breathing, humming and music together to create a chilling horror theme that feels very different to everything being made right now.

!!!!SPOILERS!!! (RANT)

The twist in this movie is one of the most predictable and bland pieces of writing I have seen. 15 minutes into this film I had guessed what it was and spent the rest of the film praying it wasn’t that. The problem with Don’t Worry Darling is that the writer and director think they have this Sixth Sense level twist on their hands and spend the whole movie building up to it. But it isn’t. Instead, the audience should have been shown earlier what is going on and the rest of the film should have been her working it out and attempting to escape. Imagine if this film had a similar plot to the Truman Show but really focused on how horrifying and scary this situation is. There could have been stronger ties to abusive relationships and control instead of this washy garbage. There is just so much wasted potential for this high concept idea that really could have been something special.

Should you see it in cinemas?

No, this is definitely a streaming movie. While all the pieces are there, it ultimately just falls flat due to a predictable script. If Harry Styles wasn’t in this film, it would be on Amazon Prime right now.

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Film Reviews

Is Nope Jordan Peele’s Best film? (Non-Spoiler Review)

After two box office hits, Jordan Peele is finally back. He is one of the few directors in Hollywood whose name brings a certain level of respect. Like Robert Eggers or Ari Aster, you are already going to see his film before you know what it’s about. Nevertheless, there are two things you expect from a Peele film – 1. A tense and gripping horror and 2. A strong and clever social commentary. With so few films under his belt, it is truly an accomplishment he has already achieved this reputation. But does Nope follow this path? Does it live up to the hype of two previous smash hits?

From the beginning to the end of this film, I was hooked. There was never a dull moment. In a 2hr and 15-minute run time this is an incredible accomplishment and a perfect representation of how good a writer and director Jordan Peele is. Butnot everything worked. Nope has some parts I absolutely loved and moments that just didn’t work for me.

Predictable

I was never shocked with this film. Sure, there was some slight twists, but nothing really surprised me. I think this is a real shame considering how many incredible and clever twists there were in Get Out and Us. Maybe it’s due to trailers showing way too much (I avoided them as much as I could) but I knew where the story was going before I even saw it.

As a result, this affected the ending of the film for me. Obviously, I won’t spoil it but it just wasn’t satisfying. I didn’t feel the entire story was completed and it just left me wanting another twist in the plot or to see more from these characters.

Horror

Jordan Peele is a master at creating tense horror sequences. In every movie he has made, he has a couple of scenes that make you want to look as far away as possible. Nope is no different. It’s so refreshing to have the UFO as this horrible force of nature because as an audience, we are so used to looking down or around us. Instead, Peele introduces this concept of being afraid of what’s coming from above that hasn’t really been touched upon since the 80s.

There are also some other sequences that I honestly found even scarier (no spoilers). They feel so seamless and blend into the story perfectly. Unlike most horrors, it never feels like Peele went “hey we need another horror scene here.” Also, how Jordan and his cinematographer – Hoyte van Hoytema – move the camera is beautiful. They know exactly what to do to make sure you are permanently “shitting it.”

The Comedy

At no point in this movie did I laugh out loud. That wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t feel like Peele had written in some purposeful jokes. These actors are all completely capable of being funny it’s just the movie doesn’t really commit to these comedic scenes very well. Sure, they might be worthy of a slight chuckle but when it’s Jordan Peele writing – one of the funniest comedians in Hollywood- you want to see some lines that make you laugh out loud.

Acting

Daniel Kaluuya was excellent in this film. I really believed this character and all the choices he made completely fit his backstory. How Daniel mumbles and is so socially awkward he can’t even talk to others perfectly fits a man who has known farming and nothing more. For Keke Palmer, I really had to settle into her performance, but once I did, I loved it. I like how she starts off as this over top character and as the film moves forward, she becomes more grounded and realistic. Now Steven Yeun I also liked, I just don’t think he was given as much screen time as the others. But when he was on screen, he completely solid this capitalistic money-grubbing man. Apart from Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott (both were solid but didn’t stand out) that is basically the whole cast.

Sound design

I don’t ever really talk about sound design because most movies are samey but holy fuck the sound in Nope is incredible. Johnnie Burn does an amazing job at making you understand exactly when the UFO is about to arrive. In an interview, he mentions how the barrel in Jaws shows you when the shark is coming. For Nope, they used wind whistling to represent the alien. Simple choices like this add a whole new level of suspense. It completely immerses you in the situation and makes you that much more terrified.

Minor Spoilers

Something new

Ultimately, Nope doesn’t seek to offers answers but instead make you ask questions. Like Kubrick’s style of filmmaking, Peele wants you to question the world around you. Whether this be the themes of the entertainment industry, animal abuse or capitalism, I think Jordan has a specific goal of making the audience challenge their views. While these messages are buried deep deep below the surface, I love that he is not beating the audiences’ head about what the film is truly about. It’s subtle and it’s smart. On top of this, he brings a completely new structure to this film that worked. It was a simple signposting, but it kept me engaged and focused.

Should you see this movie?

Nope is a great movie with tense horror and well written heartfelt moments that kept me hooked from the beginning. While specific elements didn’t work for me – like the comedy and predictability of the plot – it is still worthy of your time. You must see it in cinemas for its incredible sound design and beautiful cinematography. Definitely go see this film.

(It’s not his best movie…)

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Film Reviews

A Complete Surprise: Thirteen Lives Review

Thirteen Lives is a survival drama based on the true story of the rescue divers that saved thirteen Thai boys’ lives. Directed by Ron Howard, the film stars Colin Farrell, Vigo Mortensen and Joel Edgerton. It is a movie that came out of nowhere. Maybe it’s because of Amazon’s horrible marketing strategy or because the documentary had already been released, but this film had absolutely no traction behind it. Despite this, it completely shocked me. Thirteen Lives was not what I expected in any way, let me explain.

Tense

I honestly cannot tell you if it is because this is based on a true story, but this movie is one of the most tense and nerve-racking cinematic (streaming) experiences I have had in a while. Every time that Colin and Viggo entered those caves I felt like I was right there with them. Even though I knew what was coming, it didn’t take away from how horrifying this film is. It doesn’t feel like a standard survival movie. Instead, it feels like I am watching a horror movie and that is an amazing thing.

Ron Howard and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom have crafted this film perfectly. Directing underwater sequences would be so challenging and they both did it for weeks on end. This practical work is so effective in making the audience feel as claustrophobic and tired as the divers were. Having a cinematographer who specialises in underwater photography is an excellent choice and one of the core reasons these sequences work. But perhaps what is most important is that it never feels like a Hollywood movie. Every underwater scene feels authentic and such a stark contrast to the CGI garbage that is being pumped out lately.

The Script

I think the script is going to divide a lot of film lovers. For me, it works perfectly. Thirteen Lives sticks to the events of the story and nothing more. It doesn’t dive into back story, character arcs or even the Thai boys. In a BTS interview, Ron Howard specifically says he wanted to be as “journalistic as possible.” I love this decision. We get to completely focus on this story and not get side-tracked with some forced backstory of our main characters.  It feels so procedural and realistic that it adds even more suspense to this already thrilling story.

Thirteen Lives has an incredible core theme. The film is about community. In particular, the Thai community. This golden thread of sacrificing yourself for others is weaved in so subtly you could almost miss it. Ron Howard does an excellent job of showing that when people come together great things happen. The divers, families, villagers all give up what is important to them for the greater good.

Acting

Everyone in this film is bringing their A game. There is not one person in Thirteen Lives who did not completely sell me on the stakes and danger of this mission. Obviously, Colin Farrell and Vigo Mortensen are excellent. I loved the chemistry between these two, it felt like they had known each other for years. Furthermore, Joel Edgerton comes in at just the right time. He is so talented at being afraid and scared that it added a whole new layer of pressure to the task at hand. These three actors don’t have much to work with and yet I completely understand them as people. I knew their motivations and fears as soon as they stepped on screen.

I also want to shoutout the actors playing the Thai boys. I think they did an excellent job of capturing how afraid and drained these kids would have been. Every time they were on screen, I completely believed their performance and consequently had this constant fear for their lives.

One Issue

There is only one problem with this film, and it bugged me as soon as it started – it wasn’t released in cinemas. Usually, I don’t give a fuck about where a movie comes out but when it is a film like this, it feels disrespectful to not see it on a big screen. It just would have been so much more captivating with proper speakers and a huge IMAX screen. I know it’s where cinema is moving but a movie like this will always make me want to see it in a cinema.

SHOULD YOU SEE IT?

Abso – fucking – lutely. Thirteen Lives is an excellent and well-crafted movie that kept me gripped from the moment it started. While the run time may seem long, it never drags or feels like the 147 minutes it is. Definitely go watch this film on Amazon Prime.

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Film Reviews

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER REVIEW

Thor Love and Thunder is finally here. Now I’m not going to bother with the whole spiel about who directed this and the cast and the plot and the blah blah blah. We all know who Thor is and we all know who made this film. At this point, Taika Waititi feels like he owns Hollywood. He is in every film; can choose any project he wants and seems to have complete creative control over his movies. Now I love his other films. Jojo Rabbit, Boy and Hunt for the Wilder People are incredible, but I was never that obsessed with Thor Ragnarök. Going into Thor 4, I was hoping he would prove me wrong. Unfortunately, he didn’t. Let me explain…

Too Wacky

Taika Waititi has been building up how crazy and silly this movie is for years. In every interview, he goes on about being surprised what Marvel let him do – after seeing it, it’s certainly not a flex. There is certainly some weird shit, but it honestly never felt true to the story or character. It just seemed like Taika wanted to go as crazy as possible just to be different. Its like he was so focused on being weird and wacky, he forgot to write an interesting story and compelling characters.

The fundamental problem with this is the number of fucking jokes. I’m all for a strict comedy and I love Taika’s humour but in this it felt so draining. Even in dramatic moments, he seems intent on making everyone be as stupid and idiotic as possible. I cannot remember a single scene that just lets the characters feel real and authentic. This is so disappointing because Taika is one of the best directors and writers when it comes to dramatic moments. In all his films, he has these scenes that really punch you in the heart. But for Thor, I cannot think of a single one…

Acting

There is some big fucking names in this film, and everyone is doing something completely different. Chris Hemsworth is as good as ever. His comedic timing is excellent and is as sexy as ever. However, he doesn’t seem to push the character in the right direction (This probably isn’t his fault). In this film, it feels like Thor has taken a step backwards instead of forwards. He has returned to that same destructive idiot we see in the first film. I think it would have been much more engaging to focus on a Thor who was really depressed, had PTSD and had given up fighting. They touch on it a bit but don’t dive into it as much as I would have liked.

Christian Bale holy fuck man. He is taking 50 shots and making 40 of them. Bale absolutely goes for it in this film, and I am here for it. He has some really heartbreaking and dramatic moments that only work through his performance. On the other side, Christian can be so terrifying when he chooses to be. It’s so refreshing to see an MCU villain that actually feels scary and has a purpose in their movie. I have a theory that he took some inspiration from working with Heath on Batman. Both characters take up so much of the screen and make it their film. Essentially, they bring something new to the villain stereotype that we haven’t seen before.

Pictured: Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher

Natalie Portman…  I hate shitting on actors I know are talented but what the fuck happened here. Natalie Portman is an amazing actress who has some deep range. Unfortunately, comedy is not included. She is so talented at dramatic acting but whenever she tries to be funny in this film it is hard to watch. I have a slight tingle that a lot of these lines were forced improv and you can see how forced and unnatural it is for her. Other then that, her fight scenes are amazing and she really sells being a Thor.

Action (minor spoiler)

There is a lot of action scenes in this film and all of them are pretty forgettable. Sure, Taikia has a striking 80s style he injects into Thor but the choreography or set pieces never really stuck out to me. Except for one scene…

The fight on the Moon planet. What a fuckin fight scene. Choosing to make it black and white was a perfect decision. The way the light from the hammers shines in the bleak darkness and how contrasted and stylised this world is (Chefs Kiss) is so refreshing. Marvel always gets a lot of shit for its bland colour palette, and I think Taika knew that. By taking away all colour, it is actually more effective then just dumping a bunch of it in like the rest of this film.

The MCU

I know I talk about the MCU a lot and that is for one key reason – it’s the biggest thing in the world. The MCU is pumping out so many shows and movies its even hard for me to keep up. And I truly believe this affects Thor a lot. If Thor love and Thunder came out 5 years ago, I would be praising this film and so would critics. But there is so much superhero content that is all equally good that films now have to be a 10/10 movie to stand out.  Remember Shang Chi, Eternals and Black Widow? I don’t at all. Not necessarily because they are bad but because there is so much of this being pumped out. I remember the Batman. That is because it’s a crime film first and a superhero movie second. Thor just feels like another superhero movie with some wacky moments and a lot of jokes.

Should you watch Thor Love and Thunder in cinemas?

Yes absolutely.  This film is still a very entertaining and engaging movie but as Scorsese says, it is just a theme park ride. There is no memorable scenes or heartbreaking moments. Honestly, if the story was a bit more complex and layered, this film could be so much more. There is to much focus on getting from point a to b and not on exploring these once interesting characters.

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Film Reviews

An Honest review of Elvis

After what feels like 5 years, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is finally here. Ever since Tom Hanks got COVID I feel like I have been hearing about this movie once a week. Probably because it was filmed in Australia, but the hype train to this movie felt enormous. Something that is usually quite dangerous for an audience’s expectations. But its finally here and boy is it something. It’s one of those movies I think will really unite audiences because what works works and what doesn’t really does not…

What is structure?

Walking out of the packed cinema, everyone around me had the same core criticism of Elvis – a weird structure and pacing. The opening of this film is some of the most bat shit crazy effects and transitions I have ever seen. Baz gives zero fucks about what everyone else is doing and as usual goes with his gut. In the first 10 minutes, there’s animation, split screens, psychedelics, and a lot of spinning transitions. While this is not for me personally, I did appreciate it. It felt like a refreshing way to open a movie and it didn’t take me long to settle in. And then, it disappears for the rest of the film…

If Elvis maintained this breakneck speed and crazy style, I would have appreciated it much more. Instead, we move into this slow and dragging pace that makes you look at your clock and go “FUCK ME THERES 2 HOURS LEFT?” It’s not that it’s that bad it’s just when you have such a fast-paced opening, you kind of have to keep a little bit of the momentum going. I could not count how many people were checking their phones or going to the toilet after an hour of this. I think it comes down to one key reason.

The writing of Elvis is unique. A scene in this film kind of goes like this – Tom Hanks narrates something big in Elvis’s career happening and then we cut to the consequence of this rather than showing it. But what really damages this is that all these scenes drag on for a very very long time. And while I do appreciate Baz not just showing us all the famous and well-known aspects of Elvis’s life, this structure gets repetitive and brings the story to a halt.  For example, that whole sequence of the Christmas show went for a staggering amount of time. While I know it’s a big part of his career, it just doesn’t fit this movies pacing. I just think that if Baz maintained that fast pace and cut some scenes down, this movie would be a lot more engaging.

Austin fucking Butler

It’s no secret that Austin Butler smashes this performance of Elvis. The voice, the moves, the mannerisms – everything is spot on. To me, it just shows a level of hard work and passion that is so appealing to see on screen and hear about in interviews. Having an actor truly love the role is so addictive and makes the character so believable. On top of this, it never felt like Austin was overdoing it. He never pushed anything to far or begged for the audience’s attention. It just felt like an honest and passionate portrayal of a man that Austin and Baz clearly care about so deeply.

Tom Hanks…

I don’t think its Tom Hank’s fault that his performance in this doesn’t work. Instead, I think it comes down to two key reasons. Firstly, his name. Tom Hanks is just at the level of fame where as soon as he is on screen, it is a challenge for us to suspend of disbelief. Sure, when he plays an American it is easy for the audience to accept his character but let me ask you this. In the last 10 years, are you ever actually watching him and not just thinking that you are watching Tom Hanks on screen? I truly believe he is just so famous and so often typecast that convincing us of these oddball characters has become near impossible.

The second reason is the accent. I think Tom is doing a Dutch/ American accent, but I could not tell. I never settled into it or felt that it was natural for one moment. Its not necessarily terrible it just feels so forced and out of place. 

Australian Actors

The Australian actors in this are incredible. Everyone in this smashes their accent and never made me question it once. As usual, Richard Roxburgh and David Wenham are amazing. They both play characters that feel out of their comfort zone and yet it still feel so natural and effortless. Kodi Smit – McPhee just takes over the screen whenever he is on it. He is on track to being one of Hollywood’s best actors in the next 5 years.

The Ending (Spoilers)

Man, that ending… Few film endings leave you constantly pondering it and replaying that final scene in your head for days. Elvis did just that to me. The film wraps up very quickly and does this beautiful cut to the real Elvis. What is so incredible is that it doesn’t try too hard to wrap things up in a bow or give a positive spin on the Kings life. Instead, it shows his final days for what they truly were. Bleak and miserable. We see his passion for performing but also the darker side of his life so clearly in those final few moments. It leave the audience with this bittersweet taste in their tongue, seeing how easily such an evil man ruined a true artist. Perfect editing, directing, and acting.

Should you watch Elvis?

I do think its worth seeing in the cinema. Just prepare yourself for a rollercoaster… Apart from the slow second act and Tom hanks’, I did enjoy this movie and would recommend.

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Jurassic world dominion is not as bad as you think (review)

I honestly had no intention of seeing Jurassic World Dominion. The Jurassic Park franchise is just one of those things I don’t really care about (like a lot of people with Star Wars). The first movie is great but after that, there all pretty much the same aren’t they? On top of this, the film is getting eaten alive by critics (no pun intended). Every reviewer I watch is slandering the film for the same shit. Nevertheless, on a cold Monday night, I filled up my water bottle with a special orange juice (probably impacted the review) and saw Jurassic World. And honestly, its not as bad as everyone is saying.  

I do not understand what critics are expecting going into this film. Citizen Kane with dinosaurs (no stealing this idea)? Jurassic World Dominion is exactly what I expected for a modern blockbuster about dinosaurs living in our world. An overly convoluted plot, good action, dumb one liners, average acting and some pretty rough jokes. It is not a good movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable. There are some parts I really did enjoy and a lot I didn’t. Let me explain.

Action versus Plot

The action and set pieces in this movie is underrated. There are some sequences in this film that are really good. They were creative, thrilling and used the dinosaurs in an interesting way.  The motorbike chase with the raptors was exactly what I wanted from this movie. Even that whole criminal underbelly was so visually interesting. It felt like every corner was filled with something new to look at and reminded me of the Moss Cantina in Star Wars. Also, the sequence where Bryce Dallas Howard is escaping from the big dinosaurs is great (they should’ve held on this moment for longer.)

The problem is that it is surrounded by one of the most bland and overcomplicated plots I have seen in a while. I would start zoning out whenever these exposition dumps came up because they just don’t need to be there. A MOVIE ABOUT DINOSAURS DOES NOT NEED A COMPLICATED PLOT!! Hollywood has this obsession with having to justify everything for audiences. People come to these movies for action and dinosaurs. The plot should be super super simple and entirely focus on these two elements (John Wick is a good example).

Inconsistent Actors

Chris Pratt in this film is very disappointing. Maybe it’s the writing or his political beliefs or god knows what but he just isn’t the Pratt we used to see. He has no jokes, charisma or charm that audiences loved from him in Guardians of the Galaxy, Parks and Rec or even the first Jurassic World.  I know he is capable of it so it just doesn’t make sense why his performance and character is so bland and one dimensional.

On the other hand, Jeff Goldblum is fucking incredible. Every line he delivers in this is just funny. Its like no matter what he says it made the audience laugh. He has this delivery that feels so natural and I think its because he improvises most of his lines to suit himself. What’s weird is that he is only utilised in the last act of this film. The whole movie should’ve been written around him! Goldblum should’ve been like Nick Fury – recruiting everyone to try and save the dinosaurs.

Everyone else is solid. Bryce Dallas Howard and Laura Dern are amazing at acting scared and always interesting to watch. The villain of this film is bit of a disappointment. Campbell Scott’s performance is unique and I get that he was going for this bumbling CEO out of his depth but he should have some shade of evil to him. I really liked Dewanda Wise. She felt like an 80s action star just taking over the film with this appealing self-assuredness.

 VFX / Puppets

JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION

The VFX in this movie are incredible. I never once questioned if the dinosaurs were real until the film was over. I think audiences just expect that these days and don’t appreciate how hard that truly is to do. Every dinosaur, every backdrop, every single thing was consistently amazing. Most modern blockbusters have some very dodgy CGI at times (Marvel movies especially) but Jurassic World’s budget was used excellently.

I loved the use of puppets in this movie. While it was clear they were puppets, it is still so entertaining to watch. Seeing how they make them look realistic is mind blowing and more movies should be using as much puppetry as possible. Even if it does look obvious on a digital camera.

Should you see Jurassic World Dominion?

Honestly, unless you love this franchise you could wait until it comes onto streaming. I do think it is worth seeing for the action and Jeff Goldblum alone but there are huge chunks that could put you to sleep. Maybe just bring some special juice and you will be fine.

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Why Netflix’s newest film Spiderhead doesn’t work? (Minor Spoilers)

After Top Gun’s huge opening around the world, director Joseph Kosinski returns with Spiderhead. The sci fi / thriller stars Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller and was released by Netflix yesterday. Alongside all of the film nerds out there, I was very excited for this, for one key reason – Joseph Kosinski and Miles Teller teaming up again. Unfortunately, Spiderhead is not even on the same playing field as Top Gun. Let me explain.

Pick a Genre

Spiderhead has a couple core problems that I believe if they were fixed, would make this movie very very good. The first one being the weird tone that is trying to be balanced. Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are amazing comedic writers (Deadpool, Zombieland). In this film, they seem intent on inserting jokes as much as possible. Moments of high drama and tension are ruined by weird lines that don’t fit and poor music choices. I truly believe that if Spiderhead kept a simple dramatic / thriller tone it would completely change this film. Lately, every Hollywood movie has this need to be “funny” and “witty” where it doesn’t even work. Creating genre pieces is good and should be done more.  

Chris Hemsworth is good in this. He is solid but not amazing and it is absolutely not his fault. He is playing a standard charismatic / manipulative antagonist. The problem is that I was never afraid of his character. He never felt like a villain and there is so much room for him to be a terrifying two-faced force of evil. Instead, they give us Chris Hemsworth just playing Thor for 2 hours. YAY…. Once again, the writers seem intent on making him funny and charming. Just imagine if in the first 30 minutes he was all fun and games and then slowly we see cracks of this evil and crazy man.

Predictability

As with Top Gun Maverick, Spiderhead is extremely predictable. With Top Gun it doesn’t matter because the action carries it but with Spiderhead, it has nothing keeping me glued to the screen.  There is some twists in this film and while I didn’t necessarily guess all of them, I didn’t care. They happen but don’t really affect the outcome of the movie. More weirder and creepier shit needs to be going on in this film. There is nothing in Spiderhead that is keeping me guessing or intrigued.

Even the shooting and colour grading of this film is generic. It has this boring look where I feel there is so much creative space to explore. The whole complex was even mundane. Kosinski constantly just cuts to these overhead shots of the facility with some pop music on top that gets very tiring very quickly. Maybe it was the studio, but I don’t understand why a simple script like this one does not have a bold and engaging style to it. Missed opportunity.

FRAZIER’S PITCH (Spoilers)

Now its time for a new segment called Frazier’s pitch. I will explain how I wish this film was done. I don’t want to sound like arsehole because I know nothing about filmmaking. This is just what I wish I saw.

First things first, Spiderhead should’ve been a strict sci fi / thriller. As a result, we could have focused more on the program and characters and less on shitty jokes. The whole Spiderhead program should have also had more suspicious activity going on so that the audience is always guessing. Essentially, more creepier clues that Jeff and Rachel slowly uncover. For example, belongings from previous patients, body parts etc etc. The reveals about Jeff and Rachel’s past should have been done earlier on as well because it had this big build up and was very underwhelming. In addition, the whole B6 drug and program needs more of a backstory. But what is most important is the tone and style. If Spiderhead had a unique look and feel to it I guarantee you critics would be raving about it. Instead of feeling like Michael Bay’s the Island, it could have been like Ex Machina. Yes exactly, a big difference.

Should you watch Spiderhead?

I very rarely say this because I enjoy most movies, but you can probably miss this one. It is so bland and formulaic that I don’t think a modern audience will leave being grateful they watched it.