6 Shorts in 7 weeks…and the rest of 2021

I made a premature and extremely short-lived return to writing on
this site early this year. I intended to keep it going, but I had to let one of
the plates I was spinning fall and the site took the hit.

Making film’s has been a dream I had always assumed isn’t something “normal” people can do. Watching films as a kid I was never told that is something I could be a part of. Perhaps it’s because I spent a lot of weekends watching Kill Bill and I’d have guessed they meant take up using a katana.

The pandemic ruined plans I had to go on a trip around America, but it led
to me enrolling on a filmmaking course at the MetFilm School in Ealing instead. This year and after five months of lessons and exercises, plus meeting some extremely talented people, I wrote and directed my own short film. I also got to work on 5 of my classmates projects in a range of roles and the process has been.. just amazing. The thrill of being on a set and making things happen is a high I will be chasing for the rest of my life.

That’s where I’ve been, and now I’m back on the review and blog grind. I do
genuinely enjoy doing this so I am keen to get back to it, but this time I want
to open it up to other people. I started writing because it was something I’d
always wondered about. Maybe I’m a rare exception, but if there are other
people out there reading this, or even people you know, who have a similar
interest or curiosity, please reach out and contact us and post on this site.

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I am not a professional. It’s all
coming from a guy who watches films, plays video games and watches TV on top of his day job and just has an irrational passion for these things. It’s been a great outlet though and if anyone else wants to just write and not stress about the hassle of keeping the website in check, I will do that bit

I’m also planning to get a podcast going that nobody will listen to, but
that might take a while to figure out.

Having spent 6 months making films, I’m excited to get back to watching them… starting with James Bond, who is finally back after the delayed release of No Time To Die. That’s the next post, so once you’ve recommended the site to someone, go on to read that!

Godzilla Vs Kong – Review

Exactly what I expected.

Sometimes a films title is just a title. It doesn’t play into the plot much, or it is just a phrase someone says at some point. Whiplash is just the name of a piece of music in a film about a jazz drummer really. It doesn’t tell you anything else from the title. Godzilla V Kong is the complete opposite. The title is exactly what you get, and its exactly what I wanted from a film featuring these two cinema icons.

In a season of Oscar films with deep meaningful plots and themes, this film comes along to cleanse the palate and remind you that sometimes movies are just dumb fun. There is a plot, of course, and its as outrageous as you would expect. I enjoy that the writers have decided “Screw it, people are here to watch monsters, this stuff doesn’t have to be that coherent”. The evolution of these films from the first Godzilla film has been very satisfying. That film was interesting but it didn’t have enough of the big lizard. That is not a worry here.

That said, it takes it’s time to get really into it. After an initially fun opening, we spend a good half hour jumping around establishing what the humans are doing. I can’t say any of it is bad, all the actors are good in their roles, there is just a bit too much of it. Rebecca Hall, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry and Alexander Skarsgard all throw themselves into the ridiculousness. There are plot holes and characters take unbelievable revelations in their stride like it is nothing, but it is all just set up. Pushing us along to the titular event we are here to see.

Once we get to Godzilla & Kong facing off, it’s all just visually great fun. The two have distinct ways of fighting. I went in expecting Godzilla to be more front and centre but by the end I was wishing I could have my own pet Kong. His connection with the deaf young girl is endearing even if it comes out of nowhere. There is no such relationship with Godzilla, but the big lizard is the antagonist for half of the film until a certain point. No spoilers, but its exactly how you expect these movies to go.

There is not a lot to say about this film. I could rip it apart for idiotic plot holes, generic dialogue and dumb moments, but that just isn’t what this film is for. There is enough plot to get us to the two big guys fighting it out for supremacy. That is what the title, the posters, and the trailers promised. And it’s exactly what you get with consistently spectacular cinematic moments. Just don’t go in expecting anything else.

Good: Godzilla & Kong fight. I don’t know what more you could want from this film.

Bad: Character development? An interesting story? Oscar worthy dialogue? This has none of those things.

TL;DR – Does exactly what you expect and that is honestly the best thing you can hope for in a movie called “Godzilla Vs Kong”.

Nomadland – Review

Frances McDormand is exceptional in a story about living in a van.

Nomadland is, at the time of writing, the favourite for the best picture award at the Oscars in a few weeks time. Beyond that, it’s directed by Chloe Zhao who the marvel fans amongst you might know as the director who was given The Eternals which comes out later this year. Don’t come to this film expecting something like a marvel spectacle. Nomadland is something very different to your standard blockbuster.

Nomadland follows Fern, played by the always magnificent Frances McDormand, a woman who has committed to life as a nomadic traveller living in her van. This has come about after the death of her husband and essentially the closure of her town after the industry that kept it going shut down. Her performance is incredible, feeling incredibly real. That same genuine feeling I felt watching Minari a few weeks ago was back here.

As you are watching Nomadland, it feels like it’s blurring the lines between a fictional story and a documentary. The people Fern meets along the way feel incredibly genuine. The key reason for that, most of the other people in this film aren’t actually actors. They’re what’s been called “Non-actors”. These are people who are essentially playing a slightly altered version of themselves. Drawing from their own experiences to bring their own real life trials and tribulations to Fern’s fictional story.

That all brings a real sense of authenticity to Nomadland. I don’t know if I’ve seen another film do it quite like this that wasn’t a documentary. It feels like the character of Fern has been dropped into this world of mostly elderly Americans who are living this nomadic lifestyle and Frances McDormand has just lived the life for the year the film covers. Of course, that isn’t how it happened, it is written and the events are scripted. Every character is at least a little different from the real person.

This film tells more of it’s story using visual story telling and well placed music than it does with character dialogue. When people are talking it has a purpose, or they just make small talk. There isn’t the kind of forced conversations you feel happen in a lot of films where every emotion and explanation has to be said out loud by someone. You feel the weight of loss, the consistency of grief and the joy of remembering.

The score is one of the best this year. It sounded how I felt Fern was living. Still for a moment, then on the move. The character never wants to stop in one place for too long, and by the end I understood why. This, perhaps more than any of the other Oscar nominated films this year, is a moving film. Maybe the year we’ve all had contributed to this, but this film made me think about how we deal with loss and how we can move on but keep the one’s we’ve lost in our minds. But I can easily see someone else getting a different, maybe more positive message about your enjoying life your way.

Chloe Zhao’s approach to this film shows all the hallmarks of a great filmmaker. The unorthodox approach to the casting pays dividends with the authentic feel. It boasts an excellent score that’s memorable and fits the main character. The cinematography lets the breath taking scenery do the talking, at times looking like a windows background in it’s picture perfect nature. Nomadland is a personal story told in an intimate way that hits home. It’s a very “Oscary” movie in that it’s not going to get your blood pumping with adrenaline, but it might just make you think.

Good: Great performance by Frances McDormand, and I really liked how it made me think about certain things towards the end of the film.

Bad: The meandering plotless style may turn people off even though it fits the “Nomad” tag.

TL;DR – Nomadland is one of the more thought provoking films I’ve seen for a while, and moves up to my No.2 for best picture. (Chicago 7 remains top dog for me).

One Night In Miami – Review

Pardon me… are you Aaron Burr, Sir?

Based on a night that might have really happened, One Night in Miami follows the events that happened in a hotel room following Muhammed Ali’s world championship title win in 1964. Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Malcom X spent the evening together, and that premise is enough on it’s own to intrigue me.

I don’t think know how historically accurate this film is, but the setting serves as a perfect backdrop for the conversations about these prominent figures in Black history and their impact on the world. I’d only heard of one of the 4 main actors, that one being Leslie Odom Jr, a star of Hamilton, which was probably the best thing I watched during Lockdown. I really should write about Hamilton.

The movie picks up before that title fight, and introduces us to the main characters in their elements, giving each actor a chance to establish themselves with the audience before they are thrown together. Up to then it’s a bit by the numbers and uninteresting, nothing really grabbing me. The boxing scenes aren’t particularly stunning, but it’s not what this film is about.

Malcom X is played by Kinglsey Ben-Adir, who peaky blinders fans might recognise, but he was a newcomer to me. He certainly looks the part, and brings the sense of purpose and focus I imagine embodied a man like Malcom X. He is the driver of the conversation, which would have been little more than a drunken night out without his presence. At first he struck me as that guy who gets all political on a night out, but quickly you understand there is more to this for him. It’s not just about a boxing victory celebration.

Cassius Clay is such an iconic figure, it’s a huge testament to actor Eli Goree that I only ever saw Ali. He becomes the young version of the man who would go on to conquer the boxing world seamlessly. I wanted more from him, but the plot just didn’t require it and despite being such a larger than life character, he blends into the room when it’s other’s time to shine. That collaborative effort is shared between all the actors.

I wouldn’t normally dedicate a paragraph to each of the main actors in a film, but this one deserves it. Aldis Hodge brings a confident, sure of himself power to NFL star and actor Jim Brown. He is the least “active” of the quartet, but in his moments he provides some well placed levity and some thoughtful moments with characters that support the other three well.

There was a moment in the film when I nodded and went “It’s his film now”. Leslie Odom Jr is an incredibly talented human, he is the best part of Hamilton and that’s praise of the highest order. His portrayal of Sam Cooke is an excellent piece of casting as the characters love for music is easily brought to life in little moments early on in the film. Then he explodes with charisma and is magnetic on screen during the most memorable moments of this film.

It perhaps lends to Odom Jr’s talents that the film plays out like a stage play. There are long one shot takes and the majority of the movie takes place in one hotel room. That theatre feel carries over into the passionate speeches the characters exchange as they battle for their own way of fighting the same fight.

There is no debating the importance of the cause they are fighting. The hardest moments of this film for me came after the credits reflecting on it. Black people’s struggles are appallingly still prevalent today. The fact this film’s message is still something we need to discuss is horrendous, but we do and therefore we need to keep having the tough conversations.

One Night in Miami isn’t a perfect film, but its provocative and entertaining one. The performances elevate it, and Leslie Odom Jr deserves all the praise he is getting for this one. It’s not a film I think everyone will enjoy, but one I did a lot.

Good: Magnetic performance’s and an intriguing premise make this one worth spending the time watching.

Bad: Slow pace at the start and stage play like back and forth is maybe not for everyone.

TL;DR – The story of One Night in Miami that Leslie Odom Jr earned an Oscar Nomination.

Sound of Metal – Review

A Film based on a drummer? Sign me up.

I continued my Oscar Movie Marathon with Sound of Metal. Considering the last film about a drummer i watched was Whiplash, which is probably my favourite film of the last decade, I went into this one rather excited to see another film with music at it’s heart. What I got was not what I expected.

Sound of Metal follows Ruben (Riz Ahmed), a drummer in a heavy metal duo. Together with Lou (Olivia Cooke), his other half both in the music act and in a romantic sense, they are plugging away at being a success in the music industry. Ruben begins losing his hearing, and we follow his journey as he deals with his new reality.

No spoilers as usual, but the film is not a musical in any way. Ruben’s passion and main outlet is his drumming, but that isn’t the focus. Instead you are taken on an eye opening ride into what it’s like to lose a sense like hearing. Ruben’s a deeply flawed character in a lot of ways, and losing his hearing threatens to strip away everything he knows and push him back to a past of addiction.

The couple have both clearly had troubled lives and this isn’t told via exposition or a conversation, it’s all visual. You see the scars on Lou’s arms, the suicidal thoughts tattooed on Rubens chest. It’s never the focus, but it’s there. You get the impression this couple are keeping each other stable and would be lost if separated. It’s all set up very efficiently and we get into the journey Ruben goes on.

Riz Ahmed is in every moment of this film, it is put on his shoulders and he carries it with his passionate and committed performance. You feel the anguish and frustration he feels, and you see the ignorance of someone who lives entirely for one thing. He has a sole focus and one that he is convinced will work, and is too stubborn to ever admit he is wrong.

The film shows the extremes of how I imagine I would feel if my hearing was to go. The frustration at not being able to do something you’ve taken for granted for your whole life. The difficulty adapting to the new sound of the world. It’s all laid out in this film and Riz Ahmed’s performance elevates it.

His performance is matched in this film by the sound design. I often a film’s use of silence powerful, and this does that expertly. I watched with headphones on, and I suggest you do too, as it really added to the experience. A good sound system will do the same, but the way the film flicks between the sound of the scene and the sounds Ruben can hear is unlike anything I have watched before. It’s the closest you can feel in a film to being in a characters head.

This is unlike most films you will watch this year. It’s a dive into what life is like for the deaf community, and still manages to keep an emotional hook that got me more than I expected at the end. It rides on the shoulders of a fantastic performance and unique sound design which all come together into a very good film.

That combination of all these elements is down to a wonderful directorial debut by Darius Marder who can feel a little unlucky to not have an Oscar nomination for directing. Sound of Metal has come out of nowhere to be one of my favourite films of the year.

Good: A heavy hitting look into the life of someone losing their hearing, wrapped in an emotional story told with real passion and care.

Bad: It’s quiet a lot of the time which is a bit unusual…. honestly there is not much I have to say negatively about this film.

TL;DR – Sound of Metal is a film that highlights the trials the deaf community has, and importantly how people adapt and overcome them. That message is worked into an emotional story and delivered in a very well made film.

Minari – Review

Korean Cinema keeps on delivering.

Minari is one of those rare films that i went into having absolutely no idea what it was about. I knew it was in a mix of English and Korean, but that’s it. That being said, Minari was nominated for Best Picture among other things, and that meant my expectations were a little higher than normally for a film I had no idea about.

Minari is a slow, ponderous film. Neither of those terms are a negative, they’re more of a warning. This isn’t a tense thriller or a laugh a minute comedy, although it has moments of tension and levity. Minari invites you in to be a fly on the wall in this young Korean family as they move from California to Arkansas.

Essentially the plot of this film is basic, it’s a family struggling to adapt to their new lives for a variety of reasons. There is a mundane feel to things, much like real life, punctuated by moments of more exciting moments. These moments are strange for me to watch as they feel so real. You believe you are just watching a kid and his grandmother bickering back and forth. It’s bizarre to watch as there isn’t anything that gets your pulse racing, but it’s really quite engrossing.

The film is a nice, interesting story, but it’s elevated to the Best Picture levels by the performances of it’s lead actors. Steven Yuen and Yeri Han play the young couple and they do a phenomenal job of bring the characters to life. Their ability to convey emotions and thoughts without saying a word is displayed in a couple of great emotional moments. Steven Yuen deserves him nomination and at this point the fact Yeri Han isn’t nominated for Lead actress seems outrageous.

Alongside Yeri Han, and this time actually getting the nomination is Youn Yuh-Jung, who plays the grandmother. She brings a different energy to the film, which then flips at a certain point and she is fantastic either side of that moment. Her relationship with the young boy is the heart of a film all about family dynamic’s and the connection between the members of the family.

Minari is a film I appreciated more than enjoyed. It never really hooked me, but the entire time I felt like I was watching real people in real situations and that’s something special in itself. I don’t think it’ll win best picture, but I understand why it’s nominated because the overall package is more than the sum of it’s parts. The incredible performances take the humdrum story and turn it into very well crafted piece of cinema that critics will love.

Good: The performers deliver in a big way, and the brilliant score matches the tone of the film at every turn.

Bad: Slow pace may turn off some, and it’s felt very much like an actor’s film. It will perhaps feel a little to “real” for some audience members to be engaged with.

TL;DR : Minari is lifted to lofty heights by some truly incredible performances.

Uncut Gems (2019) Review

I don’t think there’s any doubt that Adam Sandler hasn’t been hitting it out the park with his recent comedic movies. With Uncut Gems, he is returning to dramatic acting and leaving behind trying to make people laugh and trying to make them feel something very different. 

Throughout Uncut Gems, you’re following him from terrible decision to silly mistake to awful choice. Adam Sandler is transformed into this character of Howard, a Jewellery store owner who has a gambling problem who is always trying to find the next big score. At first, I was expecting to be rooting for this character, to be cheering him on towards the finale, but really, you’re just cringing and feeling anxious about every wrong choice he makes.

There is a line in this film, delivered by Frozen star Idina Menzel, where she refers to Sandler’s character as the most annoying person she’s ever met. That’s honestly a very accurate description of him. He is uncomfortable to watch, and you are with him for near enough every scene in the film. The characters around him are important and effect the events of the story, but it’s very much about this aggravating man that you just wish would make the right choice yet never seems to.

Uncut Gems is unusual in that watching it is not fun, or even particularly entertaining. It’s an experience that puts you in an uncomfortable state for over two hours witnessing the events unfold. The film assaults your sense’s, you follow characters through busy sets with them throwing dialogue at each other at light speed. You aren’t given time to rest and just as you think one uncomfortable scene has passed, Sandler’s character has fallen into another one for you to witness.

I can see a way in which you might empathise with Howard in this, as things fall apart around him. As much as I thought I should be liking the main character, he is just such an uncomfortable and ugly character to spend time with. I was looking for a reason to empathise with him, but he’d keep giving me reasons to find him annoying. As things unfolded, I found myself giving up trying to root for him.

The film does a phenomenal job of making things feel claustrophobic and anxiety inducing. The whole film is shot in a way that makes everything feel very intimate. Tight angles and close ups are used throughout to really add to that feeling of being trapped with this character’s issues. Even the environments, particularly the jewellers he runs, are grubby and nasty places. At one point you’re at an auction, where things are run smoothly, and everything is neatly arranged which contrasts brilliantly with the mess that is his store & his life.

Uncut Gems was an interesting experience for me. I can’t really pinpoint what I think might improve the film. It achieves exactly what it was aiming for, I just didn’t really like the experience. The weird part there is that I think that is the idea. You’re supposed to watch this film and feel uncomfortable. It’s supposed to raise your anxiety levels. By the time it’s over, you just want to leave the world you’ve been inhabiting and never go back. Credit has to go to director siblings Benny & Josh Safdie for absolutely nailing their target.

Good: It forces you to feel anxious, concerned, confused and angry at the events unfolding, while you just wish he’d do the right thing at some point in the film. It makes you feel like you need a shower afterwards because you feel dirty.

Bad: It’s the least rewatchable movie since Foxcatcher.

TL:DR – Uncut Gems is a great showcase for Adam Sandler’s talent as a dramatic actor. If you’re looking for something to stress you out and spike your anxiety, this is the film for you.

 

The Social Network (2010) Review

People have been telling me to watch The Social Network for years and I finally got round to it this week. Knowing a little about the back story, I was not really sure how this would go. It turns out Facebook had a more tumultuous past than I imagined. Would I “Like” it? 

Jesse Eisenberg is always a bit odd when I see him in films, he is only ever worked as the guy in Zombieland, everywhere else he just never fits for me. That’s no longer the case now, as he is perfectly cast as Mark Zuckerberg, especially this version of him. I expected the film to spin things more positively towards him, but this is a sad story about a person so far in their own world they have not made any meaningful connections with other people. He is successful but has nothing outside of a bank balance to show for it.

From the first scene, I could tell who the star of the movie was, and it isn’t Eisenberg, it is the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. The first scene in a busy bar with Zuckerberg talking to Erica sets the pace for the entire film. There is a lot of information given to you, but in the form of a conversation that’s seemingly about something else. You expect the scene to be about these two people’s relationship, which it does convey to a point, but its real job is to set up the character of Zuckerberg as a self-centred arsehole.

From that point the movie clips along delivering the story by jumping between board room meetings, College dorms, Facebook HQ and at one point an English boat race. Every line of dialogue in the film feels important and furthers the plot. It’s a rare thing to have a script where the dialogue is so sharp and purposeful. Having only seen the film this one time, I imagine with multiple viewings you will pick up little lines here and there that add to the experience.

From a technical standpoint, this movie is pretty much perfect. When all the components come together like they do in this film, they almost disappear. The score adds a lot throughout the film, without sticking in your head and distracting you. Every shot is framed to give you easy recognition of which situation you are watching as it jumps between environments and times. David Fincher makes sure the elements are all blended perfectly and that nothing is left to chance. Fincher was probably as meticulous during this production as Zuckerberg is shown to be in the film itself with his coding.

A stunning technical achievement, telling a story about something we all know of, brilliantly acted, what else could you want? The thing missing from this for me is quite odd. The elements are all there, but for some reason the film just didn’t captivate me. I was taking in all this information; I was enjoying all of the dialogue. Towards the end of the film, I found that there was nothing to evoke the emotional response in me that I look for in my very favourite films.

The Social Network is fantastic. It’s a brilliant showcase in all the technical elements of a film. It gives as much information as a documentary, although how much is accurate is irrelevant for the films purpose. Whilst it’s giving you all those nuggets of information, there is a war or words going on in the board rooms, there is the beginnings of a court room drama, there is a best friend feeling betrayed, there is a man so focused on building a social network, he forgets to have a social life.

Good: A fantastic screenplay delivers the sharpest, most focused dialogue you will find. All packaged in a phenomenally crafted box and delivered to you with pace.

Bad: This is an excellent piece of cinema but didn’t evoke the emotion to be one of my very favourite films.

TL:DR : The Social Network has one of the best screenplays of the 21st century, and it’s expertly translated onto the screen, something you should definitely take the time to watch. 

 

Greed Review

All I knew about this film was Steve Coogan was playing a rich twat, and it had a load of comedic actors I enjoy like Miles Jupp and David Mitchell. I wasn’t sure what the story is, and to be honest I’m still not entirely sure having just seen the film.

Greed follows (sort of) the rise of businessman Richard McCreadie. Yep, that name is every bit as on the nose as you think. It also gives you a lot of serious commentary on working conditions in the factory’s that make a lot of your favourite high stores clothing. It also has an element of family drama in there alongside that, with a side helping of refugee crisis discussion. A lot to juggle for a film that also features a Lion, a court hearing, and plenty of Fucks and Cunts played for comedic effect.

It takes an incredibly skilled team of film makers to combine so many things into a coherent film, and unfortunately with this everyone involved bit off a bit more than they can chew. The story jumps from sub plot to side story without every focussing on one core story. The does build to a particularly unbelievable crescendo, but it feels out of place, like much of the film does. The tone shifts from comedy to drama to romance with no clear through line and there are moments when you’re wondering how the film got to the scene you’re watching.

On the positive side, Steve Coogan is hilarious as an overconfident billionaire McCreadie. He’s great fun in every scene and he’s just flexing his comedic muscles with his timing and the script actually gives him some fantastic lines. There are lines in Greed that my mates and I will be quoting for years to come. Coogan is consistent throughout the film, and I wish they’d have committed to a comedic film and let him really enjoy himself, possibly giving more to David Mitchell to do as the journalist writing his biography.

The other elements of the film aren’t necessarily bad on their own, they just don’t fit together. Take the refugee thread, and it feels like there is a lot more to explore and to say when you pull on it, but the film just doesn’t have the time to get to it. The same goes for the underpaid workers in Sri Lanka, another thread that the film threatens to pull on and unfurl, but it never quite gets there. The film skates across the surface of these issues with its comedic blades on, but never breaks the ice and dives into the really meaty subject’s underneath.

Greed is not a film heavily relying on special effects, but there are a few shots of shops that McCreadie owns that are photoshop edits of real-world places, and they look horrendous. I was shocked to be looking at them and noticing it so much. There are also a few really strange pauses in the film, as in the screen literally freezes forms second before transitioning into the next scene. It’s stuff that may well go unnoticed for many, but they really made me feel like this film hasn’t been made with the attention to detail you’d expect.

I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this film at all, as it genuinely made me laugh at times and the stats at the end cement how important some of the topics raised are. Greed just doesn’t combine those elements into something quite the way it was attempting to and that leaves it feeling like a disjointed, confused film. It’s got some really funny moments that’ll get you, but not quite the impact it aims for.

Good: Steve Coogan is great, the comedic moments hit quite frequently.

Bad: The multiple strings to this story, whilst important, never quite fit into the narrative making it a bit jarring when we go to those places.

4/10 – Greed’s eyes bigger than its belly.

 

Just Mercy Review

Based on a true story, Just Mercy tells the story of a man who is wrongfully on death row, and how one young lawyer strives to do everything he could to reverse the conviction and let justice prevail. Starring Michael B Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson, the film had all the potential to be a really great movie. The only question is could director Destin Daniel Cretton get the most out of this story.

Well they certainly managed to get really good performances out of the entire cast. Michael B Jordan as lawyer Bradley Stevenson and Jamie Foxx as Walter McMillian are the undoubted stars of the show. Brie Larson, much like her characters role in the film, is a great support throughout but you’re never in any doubt this is Michael B Jordan’s vehicle. The film gives him a lot to do, but it’s at times a case of just a lot of acting rather than it being something really special. Not to say he isn’t good in the role, just I don’t think it’s the Oscar bait role it might seem like.

Jamie Foxx serves up a fantastic performance in his role as convict McMillian. You get a feel for the character pretty much in seconds of meeting him, and you buy that this man wouldn’t do the things he is accused of. Throughout the film he comes across as a genuinely good man and that helps with the impact of events later in the story. Those events in the latter stages of the film are really engaging and as someone not familiar at all with the source material I was hooked on the courtroom drama. The last 30 minutes are the best part of the film and you’ll be on the edge of your seat wondering which way things are going to go down.

The issue I had was that it takes forever to get to the good stuff. For a solid hour and half the film is painstakingly introducing plot points and characters. It does so with very little pace as it focuses on explaining every element of the story. It’s a difficult thing to do in this type of film with so much in the story to tell, but it just felt like a major drag for a good 90 minutes and I was checking my watch multiple times between trying to keep myself from falling asleep.

I wanted to be invested in the story early on, but it just felt a little bit too heavy and wordy. I think the film makers wanted to be very faithful to the true story and didn’t want to miss any of the information, and in that sense Just Mercy achieves its goal. Such is the nature of the facts though, some of it just didn’t feel very compelling. There is certainly drama there, but for me we didn’t get to the root of it quick enough and that took a lot away from the film for me. 

This felt like a story that could’ve been spread across an entire eight-hour season of a show, where we could’ve really dived into every detail. The film is a crawl of information that takes a while to get onto its feet, but once it’s on its feet it runs away with you and ends with a tremendous punch. The social commentary and morals on show are scarily relevant today for a story from the early 90’s. Just Mercy is an important film, perhaps more than it is an entertaining one. During the screening I found myself a little bored early on but coming out of the cinema I felt a bit uplifted and hopeful, and it wasn’t just because I was heading to get Buffalo wings. 

Good: Great performances in a powerful story with a really good third act.

Bad: The first part of the film is a drag, and that makes it feel like a long time to get to the good stuff.

7/10 – Jamie Foxx is HUGE