AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

Following up the $1.5 billion smash hit of Avengers Assemble (2012) was never going to be an easy task. This is the moment all comic book and movie fans had been waiting for, the uniting forces of these iconic superheroes that Marvel had been teasing about since 2008’s Iron Man. It may be the sequel to Avengers Assemble, but really it’s the sequel to all the Marvel films. It’s no secret that Marvel plant easter eggs throughout the film universe and the plots all link together. Age of Ultron is a worthy entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however it does have its flaws.

For once Loki isn’t the villain, which makes way for James Spader’s Ultron created by Tony Stark to prevent cosmic attacks. Ultron is a great villain and a worthy advisory to the Avengers, however his motives for the destruction of mankind felt fast tracked. Literally two seconds after he is created he goes on a rant about how he has to extinct the Avengers and mankind, it didn’t feel like a natural conclusion to the characters reasoning to cause havoc. That being said, James Spader really breathes life into the character with his distinctive voice and with such authority.

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Avengers Assemble was about….assembling the Avengers. This time we see the cracks starting to form within their team which is primarily thanks to Ultron. Themes which are no stranger to science fiction are explored here, about just because we can do something doesn’t make it right in most cases. Tony Stark has to deal with the consequences of building an artificial intelligence which is threatening the world with impending doom.

New entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe come from Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Both great editions to the Avengers, though they prove more of a threat to the Avengers at the beginning of the film. The stronger of the pair is Scarlet Witch, Elizabeth Olsen creates her own version of the character making her complex and allowing her to go on a journey to overcome her rocky upbringing. Aaron Taylor-Johnson does a good job with Quicksilver, but Evan Peters is a more exciting version of the comic book character.

One of Scarlet Witch’s abilities is being able to manipulate minds which allows us to go deeper into the psyche of the Avengers, seeing their past, fears and potential futures. This allows time for character exploration and that is a gift especially in a film with multiple leading roles.

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If there is a standout character in Age of Ultron it has to be Black Widow. It is criminal that she hasn’t been gifted with a solo film, however in this film we go deeper into her character than we’ve ever seen before. There is one moment where she shares something of her past to Bruce Banner, and it is the most heartfelt moment of the film. Scarlett Johansson really fleshes out her character and adds more depth so we can understand her character more. Please can we have a solo Black Widow film so all can be revealed! The first Avengers film was more fun, classic and exciting.

Age of Ultron is still a great superhero film, however the spark from the first film has fizzled away. The excitement of bringing all the heroes on screen for the first time is impossible to compete with, so with that in mind this is a great follow up. However, it felt like Marvel didn’t exactly deliver in what was promised through the marketing of the film. Yes there is impending doom and there is a darker tone, but it still felt like they were holding back and it could have been a lot more dramatic and impactful.

With Captain America: Civil War due out next year and is basically Avengers 2.5, there is still a lot more that Marvel wants to explore with these characters and this universe.

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Why you should be excited for Macbeth (2015)

Two reasons: Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Both tremendously committed and transformative actors that will capture the mental distortion of the two leading characters: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively. We have seen both actors play emotionally and mentally unstable characters, as well as playing a diverse range of characters.

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Most recently Michael Fassbender portrayed slave owner Edwin Epps in 12 Years a Slave (2013) with such conviction. For those who are aware of the character of Macbeth, realise that he declines into madness and delusion, the role requires someone who is able to completely immerse himself into the role. Macbeth and Edwin are both completely different characters, but his role in 12 Years a Slave is a good indication of the fact that Michael Fassbender can go where he needs to go in order to pull off the role of Macbeth.

Marion Cotillard is one of the most exciting actresses of our generation. What role can she not do? The role which comes to mind when questioning her ability to portray Lady Macbeth is in her Oscar winning role of La Vie En Rose (2007). It is such a transformative role where you can see the results of her investment into the role, in order to create an authentic and raw character.

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Getting in is part of the process, but so is getting out,” she says. “I want to go as deep as I can, but in a way that allows me to come back.

Cotillard talks about her struggles with getting out of character, with specific reference to La Vie En Rose, which shows how deep she goes into her roles. This should give audiences good faith that she will completely own the character of Lady Macbeth. The role will require that edge that we saw with her character in Inception (2010), just multiply it by 100 and you have Lady Macbeth.

Kurzel’s jaw-dropping vision makes Macbeth the most significant new Shakespeare film since Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet.

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The director of Macbeth is Justin Kurzel, an Australian filmmaker of the critically acclaimed Snowtown (2011). It’s not my type of film, but I do believe that he has an understanding of the terrifying nature of Macbeth, and so do the critics at Cannes Film Festival where the film premiered. 

The reason why I’m excited about the film is because I studied the play in 6th form, thus studying it in detail and gradually understanding the deeper layers of the play. Truth be told it was quite a while ago so my memory of the play is a bit rusty, but I remember loving learning about the play and found the characters fascinating to explore. What really resonated with me is how it deals with the fact that sometimes people can go too far into their actions and the question arises: Can we really turn back to our former selves? That is one of the many themes explored. The character of Lady Macbeth is so complex and richly detailed, she highlights the fact that there is a line in the pursuit of power. It’s their individuality and their partnership that is exciting to explore.

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As Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are a dream-team pairing, actors who radiate charisma, perhaps more charisma than can be entirely absorbed into the fabric of the film.

I’m writing this prematurely as I don’t know for certain whether I will enjoy this film or not, but there is hope. The reason why I’m excited for this film is because it looks like a stripped back and bold version of the well known play. This looks like a fresh interpretation for a modern day audience, hopefully this film can make Shakespeare relevant and exciting for todays audience.

Why should you be excited for Macbeth? Because it looks awesome!

Macbeth will be released in the UK on 2nd October 2015.

Actors Appreciation Season: BEN AFFLECK

Welcome back to Actors Appreciation Season! I’ve been figuring out which actor I should focus on next, this time I’ll be talking about the one role that caught my attention and that would be Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. Ben Affleck has had his fair share of media scrutiny and has experienced the harshness of film critics, and he has risen above by winning his second Oscar for Best Picture in 2013 for Argo. He also won Best Director in 2013 for Argo at the BAFTA’s, in which he mentioned about being thankful for his new lease of life in his career, his second act.

“This is a second act for me – you’ve given me that and I’m so grateful and proud. I want to dedicate this to anyone that’s trying to get their second act because you can do it,”

After his Oscar win for Best Writing in 1998 for Good Will Hunting (alongside Matt Damon) he has had quite an experience as an actor, starring in box office flops like Gigli and critically panned films like Daredevil (for which audiences haven’t forgotten about when he was cast as Batman in the follow up to Man of Steel) but that all changed once he took hold of his career and started doing work behind the camera with 2007’s Gone Baby Gone. He then directed The Town and his critically acclaimed Argo.

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He still hasn’t given up on acting as he delayed his next directorial effort (Live By Night) so that he could work with David Fincher on 2014’s Gone Girl. This role was perfect for him as he understood what it was like to be perceived and judged by the media as he mentions in the October 2014 edition of Empire Magazine. Ben Affleck totally commits to the role and you go on his characters crazy journey to find out the fate of his missing wife.

Ben Affleck is willing to learn as well. As the established actor and director that he is, Affleck still wants to develop his craft as a director, as he mentions one of the reasons he agreed to play in Gone Girl, “Honestly, I thought, ‘It’ll probably make me a lot of a better director, for next time,’…”* This role for Affleck is layered, it’s not just a role but it is a chance to acknowledge his past and tell audiences that he is serious about his work and his love for filmmaking. Affleck plays a character that doesn’t fit the conventions of a leading man, this gives him a chance to take on different roles and challenge audiences perceptions of him.

Not only with his character, Nick Dunne, but with the whole film itself there are developments and discoveries that will shock audiences. Gone Girl starts as a missing person drama type thriller, but evolves into a film you didn’t know you were watching.

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Let’s not kid ourselves, Gone Girl is Rosamund Pike’s film as she totally owns it. However, Ben Affleck is a great co-star that has a great on screen chemistry with Pike and they both deliver an interesting dynamic as the dysfunctional married couple (I’ve said too much already). Watch the film to see their incredible performances and see Ben Affleck like you’ve never seen him before. His performance in the film is very convincing, you believe this character and there is a genuine nature to Affleck’s approach to the role.

It’s hard to describe in full how Affleck’s performance pays off without giving away any spoilers, but I will say that Affleck brilliantly showcases different sides of the character through his acting style. Also as the audience, it could be argued that you feel like a spectator and Nick allows you to go on the journey with him so that he’s not isolated by the situations that come upon him through the course of the film.


*EMPIRE Magazine. October 2014. Page 67.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Currently I’m writing my follow up to my ‘Actors Appreciation Season’, but for now I thought I’d grace this post with a film review I wrote for American Pride Magazine. They have been really supportive of my writing and are generous enough to take my reviews and post them on their website. When they asked me to review a film I loved, The Return of the King was an obvious choice. It is literally my favourite film ever.


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy has managed to captivate audiences all around the world for the past decade, it was a huge commercial and critical success. The concluding chapter in the trilogy The Return of the King earned over $1 billion worldwide and won 11 Oscars including Best Picture.

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Everything from the first two films has built to this moment, it’s the final showdown and finally we see the conclusion to this epic saga. As audiences we’ve had the chance to go on a journey with these characters, thus seeing them develop and fleshed out. For example, we see the ring taking a deeper hold on Frodo with the help of Gollum. Frodo’s friendship with Sam is tested in this film, this perfect friendship starts to see some cracks as the corruption of the ring and Gollum’s evil intentions intensify. Frodo and Sam’s friendship is the core of the film, as their mission can only be complete with their support and universal goal to destroy evil.

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Aragon is gradually accepting his true destiny as he seeks out additional forces for the final battle of Middle Earth. There is still a reluctance, but he realises the time has come to come into his own and help win the battle for mankind. It seems like a natural profession of the character because you see the journey of dealing with his heritage and trying to run away from it in the previous films, but in this film you see him use it to his advantage. This is very much Aragon’s film as it’s about the fate of the ring.

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One of the strongest characters is Eowyn, she is a great representation of strength and bravery. Defying the norms of gender stereotypes and warfare, she doesn’t let her love for Rohan prevent her from trying to fight in one of the biggest battles of Middle Earth. Her connection with Merry as well, who also intends to fight, is special because by spurring him on to fight for those he loves, she also is given the confidence and reassurance that this is what she must do. Eowyn is an incredibly inspirational female character that becomes a vital part of the film.

Peter Jackson manages to successfully breathe life into these characters and add depth and substance to them, allowing the audience to truly care for them and stay with them over the course of the film. His care for narrative is evident as well as he effortlessly weaves the multiple story lines together to make one cohesive film, with the help of the amazing Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh. It truly is on an epic scale, emotionally and physically as we see one of the biggest battles at Minas Tirith, Saurons last attempt to destroy the world of Men.

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Howard Shore is a genius when it comes to composing music for Middle Earth, The Oscar winning soundtrack is a perfect send off for the trilogy. The music is beautiful on so many levels, it can be sinister and yet ethereal and so many other things. The soundtrack is like a character itself, a tool to allow the audience to feel certain emotions and understand the mood of the film.

The Return of the King is an exciting, emotional, epic fantasy film soaked in depth and universal themes that have resonated with audiences across the word after all this time. The trilogy itself is a huge success story, as incredible as the third film is you need to watch the first two first because it’s like one long 12 hour epic. It’s more than a film, it’s an experience