Kong- Skull Island

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This is a massive monster movie where the monsters are the stars. I have seen Kong before in various adaptations and it hasnt really worked since the 1930’s version. This most recent film is pretty spectacular in the monster sense. There are monsters everywhere and they come in all shapes and sizes.

The story explains how the island of Kong is discovered. It is like the Bermuda triangle where people suddenly go missing. It is a land sheltered by a storm which can suck you in when it feels like it. This happens to two unfortunate pilots who come from different sides of WW2. They continue to fight until a large shadow is cast over them.

The film whizzes off to 1973 where crazy scientists claim that they have found an undiscovered island home to many monsters. An expedition is agreed with the support of the army who have just retreated from the Vietnam War. We also have a photographer and a  tracker who will help on the journey.

They manage to fight there way through the storm, but soon wish they hadn’t as they have reached the scariest place on earth. To state that Kong isn’t happy about them being there would be an understatement. He soon gets his hands on those small helicopters leading to a spectacular and imaginitive fight. The survivors now have to find their way out of this nightmare.

As I mentioned from the top, the monsters are the stars. The fight scenes have been created brillianty. The monsters are pretty scary and some scenes are pretty brutal. The human cast struggle throughout and are a complete side show. Tom Hiddleston as the hero is truly  awful and wooden. This was really miscast and he struggles in this action film. The same can be said for Brie Larson as her character has no real depth. John Goodman is good as the crazy scientist, but again it is not a great part.The star of the film is Jonh C Riley who plays the pilot left on the island from 1944. He struggles having been isolated for all these years and comes across as a little crazy. He has the best background story and some great lines. Samuel Jackson struggles too, but he does have some strength to his character. The slow motion camera scenes are just pure cheese and feel cringeworthy.

Unfortunately the makers of this film spent more time on the monsters than the humans. This makes for great peaks during the Kong scenes, but huge troughs for the humans. The monster scenes are definitely worth a watch and make a poor film into  one worth a watch.

6/10

A Cure For Wellness

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Well what can I say? What a weird film that had very little structure in it’s storyline and very hammy acting. I have enjoyed quite a few of Dehaans performances since Place Beyond the Pines and he is the best part of this film. The rest of the cast are just far too over the top to be credible. This is even before we learn the truth, which is painfully clear quite early on.

Dehaan plays Lockhart a coldblooded businessman who knows how to get results. He is pretty emotionless most likely because of traumatic events in his past. He is a young scrooge type guy who cares about no one. The board of the company task him to bring back a member called Pembrooke  from Switzerland to close a company merger. Unfortunately this member is suffering from ill health and is residing in a hospital in Switzerland for his treatment. 

It is clear when Lockhart arrives that this is not a normal hospital. It is a building from centuries ago linked with a Baron who was in an incestuous relationship with his sister. She was burnt at the stake for her sins and their legend lives long amongst the local community. His aim was to create a pure blood line, which wasn’t uncommon centuries ago. Did he succeed?

As you have probably guessed it isnt a straight forward task to get Pembrooke back to business. Firstly they wont let Lockhart see him due to their strict visiting hours. The plan to come back is scuppered when Lockhart is involved in a major car crash on the way back to his hotel. Fortunately he is not too far from a hospital and guess which one he ends up at? Now with a cast on his leg he is an impatient along with his friend Mr Pembrooke. It is clear that not all is what it seems, there is certainly something in the water. All the patients are blissfully happy as they receive their treatments, play sports and eat a banquet of food.

They are all under the marvelous care of the doctor played by Jason Isaacs. He puts on a german accent for the role as he plays a mad scientist trying to cure everyone. Such a lovely kind man! Most of the patients are old, but for one girl who has not seen beyond the hospital walls. She has been kept very childlike as the doctor treats what ever is wrong with her. She reveals to Lockhart that no one ever leaves the hospital.

Lockhart soon meets up with Pembrooke and plans to get him out, but Pembrooke soon disappears. Lockhart is soon under the water treatment aswell which involves a number of Eels swimming round him as he is submerged. A male nurse wstches as he lays in the water, but is distracted with a game of doctors and nurses involving another nurse. This almost leads to Lockharts demise.

Lockhurt is determined to find answers. We see many horrors along the way as treatment starts to resemble torture. We see blood, bodies, violence and monsters. This is not the tranquil place it first seemed as there is a disgusting underbelly to the hospital led by the mad scientist.

This is just a weird film which resembles a huge mess of a storyline. The performances from the supporting cast are fun, but over the top. The young girl strangely has an English accent, which makes no sense. The history of the hospital and the people in it just sounds ludicrous. You will need a cure for your ownwellness after watching for nearly two and a half hours. Definitely one to miss.


5/10

Hidden Figures

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This is the story of three amazing women who played a major role in Nasa’s space program. They helped the U.S win the race to the moon during the 1960’s and they did it with a great deal of adversity. This was a time when there were very few women working for NASA and yet somehow three black women were able to fight their way to becoming pivotal to the space mission.

If ever anyone wanted someone to look up to then look no further than Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Their intelligence and willpower helped them fight against the prejudices of women and black people. This film tells their story.

Katherine johnson is the focal point to the story. She was born with a major talent for Maths. From a young age she could solve complicated equations to the astonishment of her parents and teachers. Her talent got her a job at NASA working as a computer in a segregated sector of only black women. Segregation was a major part of their lives both in public and at work. There were black only bathrooms, workspaces and canteens. When Katherine was chosen to help with the space mission she was one of only a small number of women and the only black person. She still had to use the coloured toilets which were a great distance from where she worked. This lost her vital time and remember this was a space race so time was vital. Katherine even had a separate coffee pot to everyone else.

She fought for her rights and proved that her brain was superior to most of her co-workers. This gave her the right to be treated at least as an equal. This was the same as her two friends.Dorothy Vaughan was a supervisor and was in charge of the black sector of computers. This was in name only as she was not given the pay of a supervisor or given the role officially. She was alarmed that a new machine would replace her and her team. The machine known as an IBM was able to work out figures at rapid speed making humans redundant  Dorothy was determined that this wouldnt happen and chose to work with IBM rather than fight it. She learnt how to use the machine better than anyone else and encouraged her fellow workers to do the same. Her intelligence and hard work helped her stay at NASA.

The third hidden figure was Mary Jackson. She wanted to become an engineer. She was well qualified to do the job and was encouraged by the engineering team.NASA kept raising the bar so Jackson had to take schooling to reach the criteria. The problem was that she wasn’t allowed to attend the school due to her colour. She had to go through the courts to get her place in school.

This is a brilliant film which I believe should have got more notice. Taraji Henson should have been nominated for an Oscar for her depiction of Katherine. She was able to portray the strength of character with great skill. She handled the comedy perfectly and the distress of being treated so badly. The three characters are completely different and Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae made up a pefect team. They were able to show their different battles to get where they wanted, have fun with the role and project a powerful message of equality to the audience. The supporting cast of Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons played their roles perfectly, often making life hard for the three genius ladies. 

This film was a joy to watch and one of the most enjoyable films of the year. The three women deserve to be seen as important figures in the space program and for fighting for equality, not only as women, but black women as well.

8/10 

Hacksaw Ridge

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This is the true story of Desmond Doss a consciensious objector who enlisted during WW2. His faith did not permit him to bare arms and kill the enemy. He did want to help in a non combatitive role as a medic. He like many Americans was angry with the Japanese when they bombed Pearl Harbour and didn’t want to stand by and do nothing. His family life had been one of violence due to his alcohilic father who beat him, his brother and their mother. The alcoholism brought on by his experience in WW1 where he lost many friends. He did not support his sons going to war, but was helpless to do anything about it. He did not want his sons going through what he went through.

Desmond despite his fathers views joined up to become a medic. His views are not popular with the rest of the brigade and they sure make it tough for him. Eventually Desmonds views push the high ranking soldiers to start court martial proceedings. He does make it to war however and heads to Japan with the rest.

We see long and gory battle scenes on Hacksaw Ridge, which are not for the faint hearted. Mel Gibson as you can imagine doesnt hold back when trying to show the true horror of war. We see grown men who were once cocky and arrogant feel fear for maybe the first time. They are like children as they realise that war is worse than they could ever imagine. Desmond has to go head first into the barrage of gun fire with nothing to protect himself. He has to remain cool as he treats those who are in eccrusciating pain, fear and in in shock from what they have seen and felt.The cast all put in great performances and you can see why Andrew Garfield has been nominated for an Oscar. He is brilliant as Doss as he shows the mans strength against all odds, his anger, love and how he copes with war. Hugo Weaving as his angry father is superb and steals many of the scenes. This is a man ravaged by war at a time when PTSD was unheard of, with alcohol and violence his only coping mechanism. Vince Vaughan who plays Doss’ Sgt pulls away from his usual comedic roles. This is your typical sgts performance seen in many war/soldier films, such as Officer and a Gentlemen and Full Metal Jacket. The difference is that Vaughan is able to bring a soft side to the role as he fears for Doss’ physical and mental well being. The whole cast make this a very special film and a great tribute to the war hero depicted.

Mel Gibson has returned to the main stage and despite all the controversy over the years he has been welcomed back by Oscar. His direction really makes this film one that should be seriously considered in many Oscar categories, but sadly La La Land will dominate.

9/10

Manchester By The Sea

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This is not a happy film by any stretch of the imagination although there are some funny moments. Most of the fun comes from how quiet the main character is, Lee Chandle played by Casey Affleck. You can see from the start that he is a very damaged man and a very angry man. He once lived in Manchester by the sea, but is now a janitor in Boston. There are frequent flashbacks to happy times back home, building up to why Lee is now a shell of a man.Then his brother dies and he has been left as trustee to his brothers estate and guardian of his teenage nephew.

He doesn’t cope very well with looking after the young lad and tries to palm him off on whoever he can. The problem is not the boy, but the place in the title, a place that brings back terrible memories for Lee. Slowly as he deals with his brothers death and his new role as guardian we see the past involving his wife and children who are no longer part of his life. 

We see the young lad coping with his fathers death even though it was inevitable, it is of course hard. We see how he has grown up and how he has become a sportsman, ladies man, belongs to a band and enjoys being out on the sea. We see him put on a brave face and see him crack up. It is hard to talk it through as his uncle is completely numb to life. 

There are some laugh out loud lines to the film surprisingly. This is mainly between Lee and his nephew Pat. The light hearted relief is definitely needed due to the rather depressing subject.

Casey Affleck is perfect as Lee. It is not an easy part to play, a part where sometimes just a movement of the eyes is needed. I liked the way that everything continued on as normal to a degree after Joe’s passing. Life does carry on after death and people carry on their every day lives. There isn’t always a  constant explosion of emotion after death. Lucas Hedgrs plays patrick very well and you see how he struggles with not belonging, seeing his dead father and waiting for his burial. I hope he can continue in his career in this positive note and pick up great roles.

This is a great film which speeds past despite how long it is. The performances from the main cast are brilliant having to tackle difficult subjects.

9/10

La La Land

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When you look at Musicals that have won Oscars and compare them to La La Land then unfortunately the favourite for this years Oscars doesnt come close. If you compare it to Oliver, Gigi, West Side Story and The Sound of Music then you’ll see that La La Land is just a nice film. I wouldn’t even say that it is the best film in this years category. I could even go as far to say that it shouldn’t have been nominated. I am used to being in the minority view though.

I can say that I went into this film really excited, as I love film musical. I left not really knowing whether I enjoyed it or not? I think for the most part not, but the bits I liked, I really liked. I think the biggest draw is the fact that it is different and this type of film hasn’t been done for a long time. If this film had been created in the 50’s then it would have disappeared amongst the many others. Maybe I was expecting too much?

Anyway the story is simple, which is always a good thing. A girl is trying to break into Hollywood film, but keeps being rejected. She works in a coffee house during the day to make ends meet and is close to giving up. We have a Guy who plays Jazz piano and is sick of playing the same old things. He wants to open his own Jazz bar and spread his passion for Jazz. The two meet coincidentally on numerous occasions and start to encourage eachother to realise their dream and fall in love in the mean time. Not an original story by any stretch of the imagination.

There is dancing, song, drama and a mixture of decades including 50’s, 80’s and current which makes a bit of a confusing mixture. I loved the scenes at the end although I didnt like the ending particularly. There isn’t a great number of songs and the dancing although nice does not compare to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. There isn’t a great deal of energy either in the dance routines. I did love the song City of Stars. Emma Stone is great in her part and you can really feel her dispair that her career isn’t going her way. Ryan Gosling was good although his character was weak and the change in him didn’t really add up.

I love the nostalgia and the links to Rebel Without a Cause which is a truly great film. I loved the beautiful scenes and how they brought back the romance of films in the 50’s. The hand touching scene was full of electric although subtle at the same time, which was refreshing to see. Something that many films could take on rather than the numerous sex scenes and nudity we see in film now.

Overall I was underwhelmed, but I would like to see the film again although I am not sure why?. I’m sure this film will blow everyone away at the Oscars which will be a shame for the rest as I think there is a good mixture of films.

 

6/10

Assassins Creed

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I start by telling you that I am not a fan of the video game movie adaptations. I would also like to say that I am a fan of Michael Fassbender and Marione Cotillard. I have never played Assassins Creed and knew very little about the game and it’s storyline.Video games continue to be made into film because there is a wide audience to target and therefore money to be made. The recent figures show that Tombraider has made the most money and currently sits at number one. This is however based on total amount of money grossed, so more recent films have a long time to catch up. Assassins creed has already made it to number 13 based on current sales. Warcraft is the only adaption to make it into the top 200 of all time. Does this really prove anything? not really as quality of film doesn’t always relate to amount of money grossed. Shawshank Redemption is an example of a great film which did poorly at the box office. Suicide Squad which was absolutely slated, but grossed a large amount of money.

The basic storyline is very simple. A boy named Cal sees his father kill his mother. Fast forward 30 years and the boy is now heading towards death via lethal injection as a convicted murderer. He wakes up to find that he isn’t in hell or heaven but a place where he will be taken back many generations to a time when his ancestor was an assassin. He is conected to a machine which allows him to move back in time although his body remains in the present. He is part of a group called Assassins creed. That is my basic understanding of the story before it all gets confusing and boring. You will guess that I am not a fan of this film or it’s genre. I couldn’t quite grasp where all the characters fit in and how they were trying meet their aim of getting rid of violence from the world. It probably didnt help that I drifted off a number of times during the film. 

The films ending opens it up for a sequel, but I think it will be tough attracting the same stars to this film. Maybe this was an introduction allowing for better story lines in another installment? The performances are pretty good and Fassbender does well with the role. He certainly conveys a crazy murderer very well. Gleeson plays his father in later life and does well as a cool and calculated killer. It is not all that it seems as Cals mothers death is not quite as straight forward as it looks.

Im sure there will be many fans, but unfortunately I am not one of them.


5/10

A Monsters Call

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When I first started this film blog I related the films to real life when and where possible. Many of us go to the cinema as a way of escaping, but we also learn a great deal from film, films make us think and come up with opinion. My aim is to go back to this way of blogging.

This film tells the story of a boy named Connor struggling with the fact that his mother has cancer. Along with this he is bullied at school and his relationship with his dad and Grandma are non existent. He only has the support of his mum, who of course is suffering herself. This is an extremely hard hitting film, not only because it is through a young boys eyes, but because we are all affected by cancer.

I looked at the statistics from The Macmillan charity and it is shocking viewing. The number of people with cancer in the uk in 2015 was 2.5 million. This is an increase of 500,000 over 5 years. More people over 65 are contracting cancer, it is estimated that by 2020 4 million people in the uk will have cancer. There is an increase in those surviving up to 5 years as treatment and research improves. Cancer is now a major part of our lives and it looks like it is here to stay.

The film reveals how cancer affects the person suffering and how it affects the family. It is hard to imagine what it is like for a young boy going through this situation. A young boy who already has problems fitting in. He is helped by a tree monster who comes from his and his mothers favourite tree. He comes at 12:07 which is a significant time in the story. The monster arrives at 12:07 and at first appears quite scary putting fear into the young boy. The tree monster comes to life and tells the boy a story with a stong message at its core. The story’s are animated and come from hundreds of years ago when Knights and Witches roamed the land. The boy is hoping that the monster can cure his mum.

In between meetings with the monster the boy is suffering. He has to cope with physical and mental abuse from bullies at school, try to get on with his frosty Grandmother and cope with the fact that his father is in America and rarely visits. This is a lot for a young boy to take on.

The monster soon becomes less scary and Connor begins to hope that the tree will cure his mum. He gets frustrated that the tree poses more questions and riddles rather than answers and solutions. Despite this he looks to 12:07 as a time to escape. There are eventually answers and the monsters role in helping the boy becomes clear.

This is a brilliant film taking on a very difficult subject. Lewis MacDougall who plays Connor is perfect for the role and performs amazingly well. Felicity Jones plays mum and her change physically is scary as she takes on cancer through many medicines. Sigourney Weaver is grandma and plays her pefectly. She too is suffering as she sees her daughter decline. This is not an easy watch, but the monster helps you see this from a childs view and Liam Neesons soothing voice is wonderful. I recommend you take tissues because you may well up as you watch.


8/10

My top 10 of 2016

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10. Anthropoid 

I loved the performances in this from all involved, in a film that is particularly hard hitting. The script and the performances  had to be good because those that died deserved a true and accurate portrayal of what they went through. It is not a happy film, but then you cant expect that.

9.Snowden

My wife wanted to see this one and I wasn’t so sure  In all fairness I had little knowledge of who Snowden was? or what he did? Joseph Gordon Levit’s performance is very good and this becomes more clear when you hear the real Snowden at the end. I love a story where there is a just cause and a battle between doing right and wrong. 

8. Sully

Tom Hanks has been one of my favourite actors for a long time and my love of his films continues. Sully is another true story and Tom Hanks is brilliant in the role. The real Sully was impressed with the way he was played. The film was the perfect length and you really got caught up in the whole debate of whether Sully did the right thing? it seems crazy that he was even questioned.

7. Spotlight

Another true story! I like my films, the way I  like my books, to be factual in some way. Spotlight has a number of great performances, but Mark Ruffalo really gets the chance to show off his acting skill. The number of priests involved in abuse is absolutely astonishing. The emotion from the victims is really palpable which is testament to their performances.

6. Nocturnal Animals

Amy Adams is one of the best actresses around at the moment and continues to perform well in 2016. Nocturnal Animals really puts you on the edge of your seat, even squirm at some points. The start sets the scene as large naked women dance in front of you and the shocks continue after this . You are thrown in to turmoil as you wonder what you would do in Jake Gyllenhaal’s situation. You may judge him as weak? you may sympathise  with him? You may even find yourself fighting on his behalf. I loved this film so much I bought and read the book. 

5.Arrival

Amy Adams shows up once more  and again she is very good. This is not your typical alien invasion film. It is about communication and language not guns and explosions. It is about the present and past and about bringing humans together.

4.Hell or High Water

A modern day western with three massive performances from the main cast. Jeff Bridges is exceptional as he chases down two armed robbers in his slow and methodical way. He is chasing two brothers, one crazy who has no moral fibre and will do whatever it takes, the other is more brain than brawn and is hell bent on supporting his son and making a future for him. This is by far Chris Pines best performances on film.

3.The Revenant

Leonardo Di Caprio rarely puts a foot wrong on screen and should have a cabinet full of Oscars. He whole heartedly deserved this Oscar. It is a great and gutsy film which required learning a different language and eating meat, raw liver, I believe. Di Caprio is very dedicated to his craft. The bear scene really shakes you to the bone. The cinematography is beautiful and the scenes amazing. Tom Hardy is wonderful as always and plays the baddy quite disgustingly.

2.The Big Short

I imagine this wouldnt make many peoples top 10 or even 20, but this is a film I could watch over and over. I love Steve Carrels performance in this. How he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar is beyond me. I am just amazed at how awful the housing market was in the U.S. How did people buy so many houses without being checked? You really feel the conflict in Steve’s chatacter as he realises he is set to gain out of everyone elses misery. Ryan Gosling is hilarious here and Bale is just perfect as he shows very little emotion as he is proved right.

1.Captain Fantastic

I love this film because I have travelled the world and felt great freedom. My wife and I dream of just setting off in a campervan and living freely. This is exactly what Vigo Mortenson and his wife do. They take their family and live out in the wilderness. They teach their children in their tree house and bring them up as extremely intelligent children; but what they have in brains they lack in social skills. They struggle to socialise with the outside world which played out in a very funny scene showing the eldest sons first kiss. We also see the emotions of bereavement when the mother dies. We see anger when the grandfather blames Vigo’s character for his daughters death. We see the realisation that maybe the life that is set up for the children may in theory be healthy, but in reality it lacks human interaction which is paramount in the modern world. This is the best performance from Vigo and the young cast are brilliant. I am counting down the days until this is released on DVD. 

 

Money Monster

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I actually rather enjoyed this film despite it being a bit far fetched. The ending was inevitable although I’m still not sure why they did it? There is a nice twist in the middle and definitely a message to be shared.

The story begins with George Clooney character Lee getting ready for his show Money Monster. A show that gives sound advice on which companies to invest in on the stock market. He is a brash show off with very little in the way of modesty. He is the star, not the stock market and he really doesn’t care what happens to people’s money as long as he can wear expensive suits.

Lee is introducing the show when a gun man enters the stage. A desperate man who has lost everything following the advice of the Money Monster. He has blown 60,000 pounds of his inheritance money and its all Lee’s fault. The events are broadcast live on TV. Lee with the help of his director Patty played by Julia Roberts have to negotiate their way out of this mess. Police are waiting to storm the studio and take the gun man down.

Throughout the show we see how unpopular Lee is, how blagging his way through shows is helpful in this situation, we learn about the gunman and why he is so desperate and begin to unravel why this company collapsed and lost peoples money. It was no glitch in the computer system. Emotions are very high and you really feel the plight of this gun man, particularly when you hear what his girlfriend has to say.

This is an original story line although pretty far fetched and unlikely. Despite the severity of the situation there are still some laughs. I am not a Clooney fan but this egotistical character is perfect for him and he plays it well. Julia Roberts as usual is brilliant as she is stuck on the wrong side of the camera. Jack O’Connell puts on a New York accent for at least the second time playing Kyle the Gunman. It’s a really good performance despite the idea being a tad over the top and unrealistic.

If you can get over the unrealistic nature of this film then you will enjoy it. Don’t try to decipher or question it too much and it won’t disappoint. I think there needed to be more tension surrounding the event as at no point do you really believe that Lee will die or is at risk. Despite this, it was an easy watch with a heart warming message and the bad guy gets it in the end.

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7/10