Jurassic Park (1993)- PG

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Back in November I went to see my most beloved film in the Royal Albert Hall. I figured reviewing a film I know inside and out would be a good way to dip my toes back into the blogging world.

I first watched this film when I was 8 years old and it very quickly became my comfort movie. If I was unwell, if I couldn’t sleep; there it was like an old friend. I loved this film so much I completed my dissertation around the film and its theme of control.

The Good
It’s hard not to talk about it without bias, but as a blockbuster movie it checks all the boxes. It has pace, bratty children you kind of hope get eaten before the final act and some lines that as soon as they’re uttered, you know they’ll be set out as iconic quotes.
Even now, most of the CGI looks good and I will forever love Nedry’s demise along with the now famous ‘clever girl’

The music is quintessentially John Williams and a piece that complements the action. While the main theme is incredible, it is the section as they arrive to the island that sticks in my mind and floats my heart.

Getting Richard Attenborough out of retirement to play Richard Hammond was a stroke of genius. He has such an eccentricity about him that I can’t help but feel for him as his world collapses. The character that appears on the screen is world’s away from Michael Crichton’s incarnation in his 1991 novel.

Another smart move was to adapt the character of Alan Grant into a a-typical Spielberg leading man; a man who struggles to bond with children, but is resolved by the closing credits. See Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, War of the Worlds and even E.T for others within his body of work.

The Bad
As I’ve grown, I’ve become increasingly irritated by the ‘kitchen’ scene. I just think its a little too…. implausible. I know, I know… it’s a movie about cloned dinosaurs but it’s just a little too comical now to see those terrifying monsters man handling the door like some two man panto horse. I do still enjoy Lex’s ‘cunning’ attempt at confusing the raptor by trapping herself inside the kitchen cupboard. However, it’s not as calculated as I once thought; she looks too scared to be the bad ass I had pinned her as.

I’m also a little saddened by the omission of the last act of the book. There is a complete sub story about the raptors that reads like a directors dream. Okay, snippets make there way into Lost World, but it would have fit perfectly here.

The Ugly
The birds at the end of the movie are not condors! Up until last month, I watched this poignant cut from Alan Grant’s outward gaze to a flock of birds thinking it was a reference to Hammond’s outburst at the dinner scene. It made sense, I loved it.
Alas, I was wrong and it’s just a bunch of pelicans with no relevance to the rest of the movie. I guess that says more about me than the movie though.

Cast- 7
Cinematography- 8
Plot- 6 (missed too many bits from the book)
Pace- 9
Music- 8
Enjoyability- 10

 

The Jungle Book- PG

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Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he’s ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) comes looking for revenge. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.

No bad, no ugly… Just Good
Where to start? What a beautiful, charming and incredibly detailed film. It’s well paced and doesn’t skimp on the darkness of the original source material.

The voices are all well picked, but special mention must be given to the talented Bill Murray and Idris Elba. There couldn’t have been any better voices for Balloo and Khan respectively.

Neel Sethi is incredible as Mowgli. The sole human actor against a backdrop of CGI, Sethi is able to engage you to the point you forget he’s acting against nothing. It would be wise for the Oscars to offer a nomination to this incredible talent, solely on his performance alone. He’s of the same age as the Harry Potter clan, showing the same talent of a theatrically trained adult; there should be no question about the nod. There is an added bonus that it could pave a way to resolving the diversity problem.

The music, despite what some reviews, really works. Christopher Walken breaking out into song as King Loui is delightful, Bill Murray’s Bare Neccessities is intregrated into the film seemlessly. I would advise anyone watching the film to check out ‘Trust in Me’ by Scarlett Johansson, but be patient as it appears in the closing credits.

The film is fully of so many amazing moments; from the jungle’s relationship with the elephants to the harrowing yet eventually uplifting journey Mowgli goes on The Jungle Book will be begging for many return viewings.

Cast- 9
Cinematography- 9
Plot-8
Pace-8
Music-9
Enjoyability- 9

Slow West- 15 

  

I am not a fan of Westerns. There are very few that I have liked. It’s not the genre’s fault; they focus on a violent and negative time.

What I find surprising about Slow West is how full of hope it actually is. It’s artistic and clever script flows through the beautiful but decayed landscape.

It’s a simple plot that fairs well, albeit a little predictable. The film is not a chore to watch like some Westerns, but it’s not a film I would watch repeatedly.

Cast- 8
Cinematography- 9
Plot-7
Pace-7
Music-8
Enjoyability- 7

Wedding Ringer- 15

The Wedding Ringer is a plot by numbers film. Parts of Meet the Parents and There’s Something About Mary with splashes of I Love You Man and Sex Drive.
Just like with all the others, the best bits appear to be in the trailer. Kayley Cucoo-Sweeting isn’t right as the beauty bitch who gets the geek. Go figure! Perhaps she’s too ‘Penny’ or she’s too much of a convincing bitch, but I hate every moment she’s on screen. It was a role made for Cameron Diaz, ten years ago.
The film is inoffensive, but it’s also not very funny. It has heart, but it doesn’t have guts to fully commit to some of the setups.
In a similar way to the Internship, this film could have done with cutting down on the swearing, removing all the genital flashes (although points for showing more of a penis than 50 Shades) and bringing the rating down to a 12a.
I left liking the two male leads a little more than I have in the past, but also realising unless it has Rob Schnider in the lead I need to give the frat boy films a miss.

Cast- 7
Cinematography- 6
Plot-7
Pace-7
Music-9
Enjoy ability- 6

Fifty Shades of Grey- 18

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This appears to be a true Han, Solo movie. I had a number of offers to watch it with people. However, having sat uncomfortably through Basic Instinct for my Film Studies degree I knew this wasn’t something I could do.
I wasn’t alone in this thought either. About half the reasonably sized audience where flying solo for the early morning screening. I ashamedly broke the rules and did not sit in my assigned seat. Blushes a plenty when a cute guy rocks up alone claiming it as his own. At least 10 additional individuals crawled in after the lights went out and a handful of under aged girls firmly clutching 3D glasses from the film they were claiming to see arrived during the final trailer: something I addressed firmly with the manager and warned them to expect more. The problem with a sensation that causes a stir- EVERYONE wants to see it.
I don’t really need to tell you about the plot. The entire human race are currently in one of few camps about this movie and my ‘review’ will not sway you:
1. You’ve read the book, you’ve followed the production from its conception and probably saw it before I did.
2. You’re a sheep. You’ve heard the buzz and want to know what the fuss is about. Whether that be that you are curious, skeptical or downright hipster. (Hi, this is me. Ironically, I was seeing it more because I DIDN’T want to see a film about a sheep)
3. You know it has sex in it/ you think you’ll get sex by seeing it
4. No way, no how am I seeing that movie.

Now, what I will say is: four people walked out never to return. I admire these people for holding their hands up and going ‘nope, not for me,’ and I’m still not quite sure why I wasn’t with them.

I stayed until the end, more out of a overwhelming need to pull Ana from the screen and protect her. I feel a little at odds with myself because I don’t want to belittle anything people might like and enjoy, but I just didn’t feel the promotion of the sort of relationship that appears on screen as ‘romance’ is healthy or good. I also accept that both literature and film are open to interpretation and I will gladly agree to disagree.

The scene it was building up to just wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it fell flat and heavy and I’m frustrated that it’s not a self contained film. It is an abrupt end and I heard a number of people around me mumble ‘is that it?’ as there was a large pause between the final scene and the credit scroll. I know it will put the fans at ease that there’s a sequel on its way, but for those of us who are not- it isolates.

I’ll give it something though- it’s a nice antidote for feeling alone on Valentine’s.

Cast- 8
Cinematography- 8
Plot- 3
Pace- 3
Music- 5
Enjoyability- 1

The Interview- 15

As I didn’t get a wristband for the Baftas, it’s only fitting that I spent the evening watching a film that would never even be considered for a nomination.
That’s not to say it’s a bad film. Sometimes you need a film like this. A stoner movie that offends and entertains in equal measure, but most importantly asks you to shut off your brain for two hours. It won’t hold up to repeated viewings, but it’s certainly worth a watch.
There’s a few blink and you’ll miss them cameos, and Seth Rogan and James Franco are as marmite as always ( I loath Franco and love Rogan). While it plays for laughs, some of the lines miss the mark and are cringe worthy. It’s hard not to see them as both playing themselves and I’m pretty certain Franco was stoned for the entire filming.
It’s so silly and ridiculous that you would be forgive for thinking the ban of the film was some delightful publicity stunt. However, those easily offended need not watch.
It is slow to begin with and it certainly takes forever to get to the main plot of the film. Apparently it was very important to establish Franco’s character and his relationship with Rogan. There are some fun parts in this, but it feels heavy and just a little pointless. Once we’re on the mission, however, the laughs come thick and fast.
Now, for most of you I would recommend waiting for it to find its way to Netflix- it’s already on the U.S. Edition, so I can’t imagine the UK one will be far behind. But if you’re looking for a laugh, and you’ve already seen Kingsman, it’s worth checking it out.

Cast- 6
Cinematography- 8
Pace- 7
Plot-6
Music-6
Enjoy ability-8

Selma- 12a

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It’s hard to criticise a film that is about someone’s life, even harder when that someone is as prestigious as Martin Luther King. While the film is a fair portrayal, it’s not nearly as good as it should have been.

The shame of the whole thing is that every white actor in a main role is a household name. Even the ones you don’t know the name of, you’ll swear you’ve seen in something else before. However, other than the underused Oprah Whinfrey and Cuba Gooding Jnr I could only place one or two others from the black cast. I couldn’t see this film as a storytelling biopic, but more of an illustration of how far Hollywood still has to go.

That said, the cast make a sound effort with the script. Tom Wilkinson is never a chore to have on the screen and David Oyelowo makes a fine transformation as Martin Luther King- seen best when he’s giving a powerful speech. However, a lot of the remaining cast are under used and under developed.

It’s rather interesting that this film chooses to focus not on the iconic bus boycott that led to King’s famous I have a dream speech, but instead on the protest to gain all black people the right to vote. No flashbacks to his early life; it smartly assumes if you’ve put your bum on a seat- you know who this man is. It’s such a shame then, that the film seems heavy with dead weight plot and in a desperate need of a good editing session.

Malcolm X is almost vilified and glosses over the contact he has with King. While I like the connections and the commentary of how polar opposite they were at times, they did not truly reflect Malcolm’s evolution after Hajj. It’s a shame because I would have liked to have seen a truer, deeper look into that relationship.

The film certainly will interest anyone studying the civil rights movement, but there is no feeling of inspiration, motivation or even achievement that you perhaps would get if looking at King’s Pre-dream era.

Cast- 7
Cinematography- 6
Plot- 6
Pace- 5
Music- 3
Enjoy ability- 4

Jupiter Ascending- 12a

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I actually don’t know where to start with this movie. Firstly, I try not to rehash the plot in my reviews. However, it’s hard not to when it’s the films main failing.
Secondly, I hate to trash a movie as I doubt very much that I could do a better job. But trash it I must, because I almost walked out in the last twenty minutes.
The good
Well the cast is good. Leads Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum are beautiful and the chemistry is there. It wins bonus points for assembling some amazing British talent to flesh out the cast. Sean Bean and his northern tones are a nice addition, but is merely an extended cameo.
I must confess, I wanted Eddie Redmaye to be awful. I wanted him to be on the Razzie list this year. Not because I don’t like the man, I just like that balance- ‘Oscar noms aren’t perfect’. I was also curious if he’d handle it with as much grace as Sandra Bullock did for her Blind Side/ All About Steve book-end awards. Redmayne still might to be fair; it’s a far cry from Theory of Everything and he doesn’t seem to be enjoying the role nearly as much as he should. However, I liked the restrained, gravely pitch of his speech.
There are some beautiful set pieces but they are underused, The costumes are stunning but are the biggest indication that the plot has no grounding.

The bad
The editing is shocking. The first conversation between Tatum and Kunis have them sitting in different poses between camera angles. The 3d conversion is poor and may leave viewers with a headache.
I spent the first third of the movie wanting to get into space, and then the rest of it wanting to be in the screen next door watching Shaun the Sheep the Movie with screaming kids.
The action scenes are fast and blury to the point of nausea and there are way too many slow mo’s, even from the creators of the most iconic slow mo going.

The Ugly
The plot. Oh the plot. Reincarnation, family feud and just a sprinkling of incest. There’s too many characters being crammed into the story and no one is really developed.
There feels like there have been key scenes edited out which will make the plot a little smoother, which is a shame because this should have and could have been a smart film.

Oh… And watch out for the moment where you want Mila to belt out ‘yipee kiyay….’ You know the rest.

Cast- 8
Cinematography- 6
Music- 7
Plot- 2
Pace- 3
Enjoyability- 4

Kingsman: Secret Service 15

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There’s something about a well cut suit. There’s definitely something about charming Brits running around having a lot of fun in them.

In an age where our spy movies are gritty and edged with realism, Kingsman rises to be our cure. With the creators from Kick Ass firmly behind the camera, this two hour ‘Jack Bauer goes to Hogwarts’ is able to poke fun at the genre while being fresh and … Ok, so I can’t say it’s the most original story, but you’re too busy laughing at Sam L Jackson to actually care.

Colin Firth and Mark Strong give excellent performances as veteran Kingsmen, providing a nice balance of wit and charm. Michael Cain is a delight as always.

Special mention must be given to the ‘Bond/Bourne/Bower’ of the film; Taron Edgerton as Eggsy. How this man has not made a name for himself before now if beyond me, his timing is perfect and you really find yourself rooting for him.

The budget of the effects have clearly gone on Sofia Boutella’s CGI prosthetics as some of the other set pieces feel a little lacking, but the overt farce of it all makes it permissible.

It follows the conventions of an action movie and never allows the pace to lull. The film isn’t for everyone and the violence does really call for this film being an 18 (seriously, I don’t know what the point of the BBFC is right now), but I am certainly looking forward to seeing it again.

Cast- 9
Cinematography- 7
Plot- 8
Pace- 7
Music- 9
Enjoyability- 10

Whiplash- 15

whiplash-bloodThere was no doubt that I was seeing this movie. I didn’t want to, but it had an Oscar nomination and I like to have the full set. At the time of writing this, I only have Selma left to see out of the best picture catagory and 12 others (outside of shorts and foreign language. That is not to say I’m avoiding them, it’s just difficult and I have priorities)

I digress. This is a hipster anti Dead Poet’s Society film. It’s cruel, it’s unrelenting. You see the *twist* coming a mile away and wonder why Miles Teller’s Andrew is gutten for more in that final act. That said, It’s hilarious, J. K Simmons is a genius as sadistic Terrence Fletcher, hell bent in the belief that everyone needs to be pushed to breaking point to reach greatness.

The romantic storyline between Teller’s Andrew and Mellisa Benoist’s Nicole is a little underdeveloped to the point of pointlessness (Ok yes, Andrew puts music/drumming first. Sleeping next to his drum kit and playing to the point he’s bleeding do that just fine), but I guess it says it all when the only character name I don’t need to look up is her’s.

I’m happy to see Paul Reiser of ‘My Two Dads’ and ‘Aliens’ play the role of Andrew’s father. While he plays a vital role toward the end of the film, he is still underused. It comes across as two different films. I would have like to have either seen Andrew completely cut off from everyone, or a little bit more of a development of those close characters; after all, I don’t believe a father as caring as Reisser’s Jim would ever let the problems get so far.
The biggest let down for me was that I’d convinced myself from the trailer that Sam Caflin was playing a part in this movie. Alas, no Finnick to cheer me on my way.

The music was good. However, shouldn’t I be saying the music was great, fantasic, superb. I love my jazz, but the story took it away from me. Jazz, to me, is about expression and soul. Neither of which I saw represented in this film.

Now, I did what I NEVER do with this movie. I read a number of reviews first. I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to see this movie. They all raved about it, stellar performances (I’ll give you J.K, but check out 21 and Over for a better performance from Teller.), great story, worthy of repeat viewing. I think I’m missing something (more that Caflin). I did not leave feeling like I’d learnt a lesson (Other than I need to curb my OCD of completing collections. Which reminds me, I need to buy a kinder egg on my way home), I think it’s ruined jazz for me and it certainly didn’t put the arts in a good light.

Cast- 6
Cinematography- 7
Plot- 6
Pace- 7
Music- 5
Enjoyability- 6

Ex Machina 15

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*Insert witty, yet totally cliched, Blade Runner pun here*. Yet I haven’t. To do that will undersell this chilling mind-f of a film.

Part suspense, part out-right horror, Ex Machina is actually a film for everyone. It’s doesn’t have quite the feel or the pace of a mainstream blockbuster, but it certainly has enough elements to keep people entertain. It is quite possibly scarier than some run of the mill, connect the dots, horrors out on the market these days. Mainly because it’s premise is rooted in Science Near Future rather than fiction.

Invited to spend the weekend at Nathan’s retreat, programmer Caleb (Domnhal Gleeson) signs a non-disclosure document before being introduced to beautiful and flirty A.I, Ava. Nothing is what it seems, even until the closing scenes, you do not know who to trust. Caleb and Ava appear to be playing a part in Nathan’s rat maze, but only because no one is ever truly showing a full hand.

Caleb, for the most part, is the protagonist and proxy for viewers. Only on very rare occasions are the audience privy to information he doesn’t know. Domnhall once again, proving that he is a versatile actor, takes center stage. There’s a haunting scene where he has convinced himself that even he is an A.I and it is believable that he has fallen for the breathtaking Ava. He can do comedy, romance and now sci-fi. Here’s to Star Wars giving us the action man I know he’d be perfect as (I’d love to see him play the villain).

Oscar Issac provides a psychopathic charm to his performance; you never fully trust him, but you always think that you’re being conditioned that way and you will look for redeeming features. Alicia Vikander’s Ava is a work of art and her performance is exceptional. Coming to the closing scenes, it is hard to believe she is anything but human.

The set design and visuals are flawless, claustrophobic and downright beautiful. Just like Nathan, they lull you into a false sense of security before sending your heart into overdrive.

Cast- 10
Cinematography- 9
Plot- 8
Pace- 6
Sound/Music- 7
Enjoyability- 7

Wild- 15 (potential spoilers)

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An allegory for the grief process, this film will hit home to anyone who has lost someone close to them.
The narrative is edited like a jigsaw to allow the audience feel as lost as Reese Witherspoon’s Cheryl. What inspired her to go on this crazy journey that so many abandon? Typical biopic feels are here; loss, betrayal and most importantly overcoming challenges on the way.

A movie about walking?! I’ll admit, I wasn’t 100% sold from the trailer and multiple visits to Middle Earth have taught me not to trust a film that has walking central to the narrative. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It had enough humour in the opening scene to throw me off guard.

I found the flashbacks to Laura Dern’s demise a little too close to the knuckle for me. Having lost my own mother almost 9 years ago, I found a little too much of myself in the character. Ok, so I certainly didn’t go down the path of heroin and sex, but we all become a little self destructive and in need of self discovery when you loose a parent so young. Dern was so perfectly flawed that I did want a little more screen time with her. However, isn’t that the point; Don’t we all want a little more time with our mothers?

Witherspoon pulls this character off brilliantly, shaking off all the preppy happy people of the past. She fully deserves the Oscar nomination. However, with such contenders as Julianne Moore and Rosamund Pike at the 2015 proceedings, I simply don’t think it’s her year. If she keeps picking these roles though, one could be in her sights very soon.

The film ends with you feeling satisfied that all wounds are healed. A little too much of a Hollywood ending, but at least it conveys that most important message; there is hope.

Cast- 9
Cinematography- 8
Plot- 8
Pace- 8
Music/Sound- 7
Enjoyability- 8