Girls Trip Review

Girls trip looked pretty funny from the trailers, but not one I was expecting to see. However, I have banned myself from saying no to any movie, so I ended up going to see this chick flick that’s targeted very obviously at women. I was the only male in the cinema, and I saw trailers for films I had no idea existed. I basically spent two hours having a girls night at the cinema.

Considering director Malcolm D. Lee has Scary Movie 5 on his resume, I was expecting a lot of over the top, dumb humour. There is some of that here, but it doesn’t feel as jarring and frankly unfunny as the Scary Movie franchise did. The over the top moments actually worked for me, and made me laugh out loud at points.

Once the movie gets going you quickly realise that this film is reliant on the chemistry between the 4 main girls. Thankfully Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish bounce off each other well and are actually believable as a group of old friends.

Each member of the group may well remind women of one of their actual friends, and as a guy I think i may have missed some of the subtle jokes between women. The humour did work 99% of the time for me, so don’t worry if you’re a guy who is going to be dragged to this by your partner, you will still have a lot of laughs. There is also Mike Coulter from Luke Cage, and he is so incredibly manly most men will feel considerably more feminine than usual. One of the best things about Girls Trip is how the laughs are spread around the group, with the crazy moments equally spread to avoid making one of the characters the “wacky” one.

I don’t see a lot of chick flicks, but the few I have tend to try to shoot for a bigger, more serious point in the film that is supposed to make you think about a deeper meaning. It has never been successful in any film for me, and always feel too preachy and cheesy to take seriously. Girls Trip is no different, and there is a speech made by one of the characters and to me personally, it felt like it lasted roughly 7 hours. I appreciate the filmmakers trying to make things a little deeper overall, just im yet to see it work.

Verdict

I have to be honest, I had no intention of seeing Girls Trip and my expectations were pretty low, but I was pleasantly surprised and had a lot of laughs. From a guy’s point of view, there are definitely worse films you could be dragged to. For girls, I think this film will really make you laugh, as long as you can handle the crude moments (Grapefruit, that’s all i will say).

8/10 – I feel a lot more feminine now…

War for the Planet of the Apes Review

War for the Planet of the Apes is the finale of the prequel trilogy that has been named incorrectly. First we had Rise of the Planet of the Apes,  then came Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. So technically it rose before it started. This final chapter is named war, because it’s about Apes escaping from a prison. There’s some explosions as well so I guess War is the most accurate title so far. 

None of that actually matters of course, the title of a film doesn’t affect the quality of a film, only the box office, just ask “John Carter”, which is a good film nobody saw because it sounds like a film about an accountant. It even did worse than “The Accountant” in the US, which is a film based on an Accountant (who is also a badass, some say it’s based on me, I cannot confirm or deny these reports).

War had the unenviable task of following up on the fantastic second film Dawn, and whilst it never reaches the heights of its predecessor, it delivers a fitting end to this story and the journey we have seen these apes go on.

Andy Serkis reprises his role as King of the Apes Caesar, and once again he is fantastic in the role. The man has become one of the most consistently excellent performers in the movie industry regardless of whether he’s doing motion capture or otherwise. He is the driving force behind this movie and his dynamic with Woody Harrelson provide the crux of the movie.

As I mentioned earlier, “War” is a slightly misleading title as although the film does have some solid action scenes, the focus of the film is much more personal and surprised me that they went for this angle. Without spoiling too much, a major part of the film is set in a prison camp situation and the film is more “Great Escape” than “Saving Private Ryan”.

The action scenes we do get are shot clearly, and you never lose track of what’s happening. there was nothing quite up to the level of the Tank panning shot from Dawn, but the camerawork throughout the hectic battles is solid, and the use of wide shots let you get a real sense of scale towards the end of the film.

Like i hinted at earlier, Woody Harrelson provides an excellent antagonist, and his character seems like a bit of a one-dimensional guy at first but his motivations are revealed and i personally found myself understanding his point of view. Considering he is technically representing the Human Race in this film, its strange that the guy fighting for us is the one we see as the villain. This is a testament to the work done over the 3 movies to get us to relate to the apes in this trilogy.

Verdict

War for the Planet of the Apes never reaches the incredibly heights of Dawn, but I think that would be an unrealistic expectation. What we have here is a good end to a magnificent trilogy of films, that can stand toe to toe some of the greatest movie trilogies we have ever had. If only they named them correctly. Even a monkey could have done a better job.

8/10 – Fitting end to fantastic trilogy. 

Spiderman Homecoming Review

Marvel and Sony collaborate to bring Spiderman to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in his own movie after the cameo he had in Civil War last year. Considering he is my all time favourite Marvel character my excitement for this film was through the roof. The trailers looked a little Ironman heavy, but the glimpse of Tom Holland we had in Civil War gave me so much hope.

Hope that was in good hands, as Spiderman Homecoming gave me everything i wanted from a Spiderman film. Tom Holland is so perfect as 15 year old Peter Parker, and he carries the film effortlessly with Robert Downey Jnr’s Tony Stark/Iron Man being featured very little in comparison to what the trailers implied. This is very much a Spiderman movie and not Iron Man 4.

Tom Hollands school friends are an interesting bunch of characters with Zendaya’s Michelle and Jacob Batalon’s Ned being the most entertaining of the group. I felt there was a genuine friendship growing between those 3 in particular, and hopefully it can continue in any sequel we see as the dynamic is different to anything we have seen in the Spiderman world before.

The entire cast is pretty impressive in Homecoming, and none more so than the antagonist for this film Michael Keaton. In what is easily the most memorable Marvel villain since Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Keaton brings an intensity to the role of the Vulture unlike what we have seen in Marvel villains to date. He is probably the first genuinely interesting villain from  a psychological perspective as the film sets up his motivations straight away, and you understand what he sees his role as in this world and why he is doing what he is doing.

The combination of the best Spiderman put to film to date and a rare great marvel villain blend in perfectly with the marvel movie fun tone we are used to. This films tongue in cheek, self aware humour make it one of the funniest films around, with the comedy blended very well into the movie to where it all feels like a natural progression throughout the film which is a credit to director Jon Watts who handles the young cast terrifically, guiding them through the transitions from light-hearted fun to dramatic and tense scenes.

The one area I felt Homecoming could improve is the action. Whilst it does have a terrific scene on a boat, the majority of the fighting is pretty cut heavy, chopping from angle to angle in a style that didn’t quite work for me. It isn’t transformers level bad by any means, but it could use a little cleaning up and maybe pulling back the camera a touch so we can see everything happening with less cuts.

Verdict

Spiderman Homecoming is one of my favourite MCU movies ever, I love the characterisation of the webslinger they have gone with and Tom Holland is so engaging in this role I could watch him quipping and swinging around for hours on end. The slightly choppy action hurt my score a little, but Spiderman Homecoming is still a great film.

9/10 – THEY PLAY THE TUNE AT THE START.

 

 

 

Baby Driver Review

Baby Driver is the latest film from critic and fan adored director/writer Edgar Wright. I am a big fan of Shaun of the Dead and I like all his other films from Hot Fuzz to Scott Pilgrim, so going into this I was optimistic about seeing an entertaining movie. 

Baby Driver delivers in a big way, with the excellent writing and interesting characters we’ve come to expect from Edgar Wright all there in their full glory. Ansel Elgort is terrific and he is matches by every member of the main cast. Jamie Fox, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Kevin Spacey, Eliza Gonzalez and Lily James all deserve a shout out because they are all great and this is again in part down to the excellent writing of Edgar Wright.

Every character feels like a real part of this world, and that they all have lives before this film that could all have their own movie about. Not saying this should become a franchise, quite the opposite, but you really do feel every actor knows exactly what their characters motivations are and what their agenda is. It is normal to have 3 or 4 of these characters in a film but to have so many excellent characters, all well-balanced and yet never overshadowing the main protagonist is a mark of a truly great film.

Music is almost a character in itself in Baby Driver. There is a near constant soundtrack playing, but it keeps up with the fast pace of the movie with regular changes between songs and it is used to really enhance the main character’s personality. One of my favourite effects in any film is when the gunshots, punches and impacts of an action scene is choreographed to the beat of the music and Baby Driver has this subtly laced throughout the entire film. It just adds to the fun of all the fast driving and action on-screen and I personally love the effect it has.

As enjoyable as the action and car chase scenes are, the dialog between the characters is just as entertaining and that is a rarity in film. As someone who likes thinking of stories and writing dialog, I really have to admire the way we are given so much information throughout the film yet it never hits you as exposition. All the explaining and back story is given to you through the natural conversations that the characters have and it never feels forced. It is something so simple it is easy to take for granted but the more I thought about Baby Driver the more this fact hit me.

I am struggling to find a real negative in this film. There is always an argument that Edgar Wright’s films are style over substance, but I normally disagree with that, and certainly don’t feel that here.

Verdict

Baby Driver is a terrifically entertaining film and I can’t imagine that anyone would not enjoy it. Edgar Wright has brought together a lot of the best parts of film and put them together in a thoroughly entertaining package. In a summer full of superheroes, pirates and robots, Baby Driver has raced ahead of them all in what is likely to be the best film of the summer.

10/10 – Baby, Baby, Baby Oooooh

Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman is finally here and on top of the pressure of being the first female lead superhero film, it also comes into a DC universe that has divided everyone’s opinion. So far i liked Man of Steel but BvS and Suicide Squad both disappointed. Could Wonder Woman save the day? 

Anyone’s concerns about Gal Gadot’s acting ability in the titular role can be put to rest. She shows she’s more than just a pretty face, and on top of her physicality in the role she proves she has what it takes to lead a superhero franchise. The chemistry between Diana and Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) is the driving force through Wonder Woman and if Pine and Gadot didn’t work together the film would have fallen apart.

The two take centre stage and with the smattering of quirky and fun characters around them make for an entertaining cast of characters to follow on this adventure. Ewen Bremner as crazy Scotsman Charlie stands out in the small group of soldiers and Robin Wright as Amazon Warrior Antiope is the best of the Amazons. Beware if you have been watching House of Cards as i have then seeing First Lady Claire Underwood dressed like an Amazon is a tad weird at first.

To get halfway into a superhero movie review without mentioning the fight scenes is a testament to the quality of the characters we follow in this film. That connection makes the action scenes even more impactful and in my opinion Wonder Woman has the best fighting in any DC movie. The use of slow motion is brilliant, where normal films use slow mo at the point a punch actually impacts with an enemy, director Patty Jenkins slows down the action just before and creates a moment where you can see everything that is happening, and about to happen, before the action accelerates to normal speed. It is a great effect and one i hope to see more of, particularly in the DC movies. There may not be a lot of action in Wonder Woman but when it hits, it hits hard.

One downside to Wonder Woman it is that i felt it started a little slowly, but once it gets going the tempo is consistent and keeps you in the story. The biggest downer on the film is one a lot of Marvel films suffer from (Oh no i compared marvel and DC) in that the villain was pretty poor. The final battle is exciting to watch but i think after 10 years of MCU, 18 years of Xmen and several years of DC we are a bit over saturated with the kind of final battles we get in these films and its only when something is extremely creative like Ant-man or Dr.Strange that the final battles are particularly memorable.

Verdict

Wonder Woman is the best film so far in the DC Cinematic world, and whilst some would argue that isn’t hard, it’s probably the best DC film since a certain Mr Nolan gave us the Dark Knight. The action is awesome and the character of Diana is someone they can build the DC universe around and by following the template they’ve got in this film the future of the DC universe looks brighter than it ever has.

8/10 – Wonder why they didn’t try this sooner

 

 

Colossal Review

I sat down for this movie having seen one trailer. From that trailer I had the impression it would be a comedy monster movie and something a little different. Therefore sitting down to watch Colossal I had no expectations and a very vague idea of what the movie was going to be which is quite refreshing for me.

Boasting Anne Hathaway in the lead role and Jason Sudeikis and Dan Stevens playing support the small cast has plenty of talent and it’s often in smaller films like this that performers can really show off their talents. Colossal is no exception, with Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis giving really stellar performances. Both commit to their roles and disappear into the characters and I did find them both to be interesting and engaging characters.

Hathaway is the real heart of the film and without her performance the film would almost completely fall apart. Sudeikis gives the best pure acting performance I have seen him do, and I hope to see him more in serious roles as this was a great indication he can really bring it when needed. His character walks a line between caring, intimidating, funny, and creepy which is handled very well.

Dan Stevens’ character is a little one-dimensional and predictable but he is fine in the role, and the same goes for the other two supporting actors who feature in the film as Sudeikis’ characters friends. We really focus on where the two lead characters have ended up in their lives and some of the best parts of the film are when we are delving into these characters. If this was a straight up Dramedy it would work very well as I found myself wanting more from them.

The other side of this film is the giant monster parts of the film, which I have to say i did enjoy. The design is reminiscent of a giant version of Groot, but the unique twist with our main character being in control of the monster really was refreshing and i enjoyed seeing that play out. The reasons this connection exists are rather glossed over, and the explanation we do get didn’t really satisfy me but then it was a giant monster so it is easy to forgive the lack of a feasible explanation.

All the elements I have mentioned so far point to this being a good if not great film. However I felt there was a real disconnect between either side of this particular coin. I really enjoyed the monster side, and I really enjoyed the dramedy side, but the links between them just didn’t hit for me. There are periods in the film where the monster attacks are completely forgotten for a few beats and our characters continue down other roads until circling back to the giant monster idea.

Verdict

I can’t say Colossal does anything bad, in fact it does a lot very well. Anne Hathaway is exceptional and really holds the film together when it could derail, and her performance along with Sudeikis’ is almost worth the ticket price alone. I think this film will hit different ways for everyone, and perhaps the merging of Giant Monster movie and Dark Comedy Drama will blend more comfortably for you. Unfortunately for me the disjointed feeling came in as soon as we see the Monster and it never really shifted, therefore tainting the full movie for me. Colossal has the feeling of something special, but it gets lost in the shake up of two films.

6/10 – Just falls the right side of ok for me, but it could have been much more. 

La La Land Review

Director Damien Chazelle follows up my favourite film of 2014 Whiplash with La La Land. Considering how much I loved the directors previous effort, and the addition of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone I was very excited to see this movie. La La Land is a love letter to old Hollywood musicals, and it is simply fantastic. 

Inspired by the likes of Grease and Singing In The Rain, this movie brings the magic of those movies into the modern day. It has been a long long time since i can remember having this much fun with an original musical and a huge part of that is director Damien Chazelle. The transitions into and out of musical numbers is seamlessly done, and I never found any of the songs jarring like they often can be in musicals. The lighting, something you rarely notice in films, is used brilliantly at times like a stage play and it really does enhance the music.

Now he has made 2 of the best films in recent times he will likely be courted for some bigger budget projects, but i personally hope he continues to produce these remarkable original movies. He does a magnificent job here, and I would be shocked if Chazelle isn’t nominated for Best director, and would not be surprised at all if he takes the prize (although i am yet to see every contender yet).

Astaire and Rogers, meet Gosling and Stone

I often wonder what it would’ve been like to witness Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers at the time they was around. Luckily in the modern day we have Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. The two have mesmerising chemistry, and the way they play off each other completely hooks you in their romance.

Emma Stone shows again she is an unbelievably talented actress, and I had no idea she could sing and dance so well. She plays a young actress struggling in the tough world of Hollywood, and completely sells the role in one of the most rounded performances of the year. She’s funny and bright when needed, and then spins on a dime and makes you care when things don’t go exactly how they was supposed to.

As for the lead man, Ryan Gosling is brilliant. This man is too good looking and talented. He’s funny, he can act, sing, play all kinds of musical instruments and he can dance. So much talent in all these areas means we have to assume he is absolutely terrible in bed, as no man can have everything. Jokes aside, he matches Emma Stone stride for stride in this film and both of them deserve some awards recognition on top of what they already have.

Verdict

Damien Chazelle had a tough act to follow in Whiplash, but somehow he has not only matched it with La La Land, he has surpassed it. This is one of the best films in recent times and unless you have an unhealthy hate of musicals and films, this is a delightful film for everyone.

10/10 – La La Land is one of my favourite films.