3 Standout Blockbusters Of 2017

2017 has so far led me to become a blockbuster cynic who can only enjoy art house films, however there have been a few blockbusters that may save me from that fate. I truly believe that a great film can be delivered in the form of a high budget product because at the end of the day as long as the story and characters are engaging then that’s all that matters. Blockbusters can have depth or they are designed to switch off your brain and just enjoy them for what they are.

Here are three blockbusters that stood out for me this year for various reasons:

The Film X-Men Origins Should Have Been

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Now I’m going to say something controversial: I actually enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). It’s a fun, standard blockbuster. However unfortunately it is highly regarded as an embarrassment of the X-Men franchise; so that’s why I say Logan is the film that I’m sure people feel best portrayed Wolverine. So we’ve had the false start, the better but still not perfect Wolverine (2013) so in 2017 we see Hugh Jackman let go and embrace the character of Wolverine completely.

When I heard that Logan was going to be stripped back, showing “Old Man Logan” and that it was going to intentionally stand apart from the typical comic book film, I was excited. Finally a comic book film was going to take a risk and show how much can be achieved within the genre.

Logan was a solid effort which not only proved that a superhero film can have depth and be complex, but it also was a credible film in its own right. It was refreshing. That’s why I’m including Logan in this blog post about how it was a standout blockbuster, yet there was something in me from raving about it. This is not a criticism, but it by being very purposeful in being something else it almost felt calculated. Not to mention that the film could have shaved some time off because towards the end the heavy tone started to take a toll.

Overall, I still respect that director James Mangold and leading start Hugh Jackman stood out and were bold and took a risk with this film. I can’t fault them on that and that’s why I like the film. Hopefully it’ll inspire other comic book films to show the scope that you can cover within that “genre”. It certainly has worked as Logan has grossed over $612 worldwide and has received a 93% Rotten Tomato rating, what a great way to see Hugh Jackman wave goodbye to a role of a lifetime.

Fast and Furious 8

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I didn’t even come up with a witty subheading, that’s how easy going and fun Fast and Furious 8 is. I’ve always been cynical of the Fast and Furious franchise for being hollow and brainless (and this is coming from the guy who enjoyed the Michael Bay directed Transformers films), so I stayed away from the film series with no plan to watch them. However, after viewing the eighth instalment with a friend I was happy to be proven wrong. It was fun, brash, crazy, exciting and even though the characters weren’t exactly fleshed out they were formed in a way that allowed us as an audience to care for them and invest in them.

Up until that point no blockbuster this year allowed me to completely let go and suspend my disbelief to enjoy the ride. Does the franchise deserve to gross over $1 billion worldwide? maybe not. That being said, the reason why fans have responded to these films are because these films are the essence of what a blockbuster should be: crazy action and a true form of escapism. I have to give credit to Vin Diesel to producing a film series that has connected with audiences all across the world, not taking things too seriously and just having fun with these characters and crazy adventures.

Winning Wonder Woman

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76 years later after the world was introduced to Wonder Woman and she FINALLY has graced the big screen with her first solo film. After stealing the show from last years Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), fans were eager to see her lead her own film and it’s safe to say DC have a winner film on their hands. Already the film is breaking box office records and holds a 93% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Wonder Woman has grossed over $100 million at the US box office which was the biggest weekend opener for a female director (Patty Jenkins), hopefully this will be a step in the right direction for equality of female representation in film and behind the camera.

Without a doubt Wonder Woman is not only the best blockbuster of 2017 but one of the best superhero films in over 5 years. It was refreshing to see a standalone superhero film which allowed the leading character carry the film solo and completely smash it in the process, I think the last time there was a true standalone superhero film was probably The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Gal Gadot is beyond perfect as Diana, showcasing her amazing acting talent portraying Diana’s incredible character arc with conviction and depth. Diana stands for love, justice and peace and I loved key moments where she didn’t take things lying down but stood up for what she believed in and didn’t think twice about helping others. The action scenes were slick, empowering and epic.

Fast and Furious 8 may be the blockbuster where you switch your brain off and have fun, but Wonder Woman is a blockbuster with heart, depth, emotion AND epic fight sequences and is a true spectacle. It is possible to make a blockbuster with thrills audiences but is also thought provoking and empowering for all. I’m enjoying this moment seeing a superhero film with just one superhero at front and centre before Justice League and co. take over (I am looking forward to Justice League but it’s a sad thought not knowing when the next standalone superhero film will be released).

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The exciting thing to note is that we still have the second half of 2017 to go in order to see what kind of blockbusters will be released. Even if it becomes a rubbish year for blockbusters overall (I doubt it) then at least 2017 gave us Wonder Woman.  

4 Biggest Blockbuster Disappointments Of 2017

 

We’re approaching the halfway mark through the year so I thought it would be appropriate to review the blockbusters that have been released in 2017, sadly it hasn’t been a great year. 2017 isn’t over yet so we still have some potential saving graces in the form of Wonder Woman, Justice League, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok etc. however I have to say that certain blockbusters that I have seen have not lived up to the hype.

If you want to look at 2017 UK film releases then you would include the multiple award winning films which have been my favourite films of the year, such as: La La Land, Moonlight, Lion, Jackie, Manchester By The Sea, Hidden Figures etc. and thank goodness for these beautiful films as I am starting to lose hope for big budgeted releases. I hope by the end of the year I am proven wrong and can say that great storytelling can be seen in all type of films.

Boring and the Beast

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Let’s start off with one of the most underwhelming and highly overrated release: Beauty and the Beast. Firstly let me state that I am supportive of Disney giving their animated classics the live action treatment (as discussed in my previous post)however with the release of Beauty and the Beast; originality and creativity died and instead it assured Disney to play it safe with their upcoming live action releases. I was excited for the film before its release and I was rooting for Emma Watson as I thought she’d be perfect as Belle, however because the live action took no chances there was no room for mystery and excitement of what was to come in the film.

Interestingly enough the film has become a huge success, which sadly gives Disney permission to keep on playing it safe. The film has revived positive reviews (71% from Rotten Tomatoes) and the film has grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide making it the 10th highest grossing films of all time. Obviously the film has resonated with audiences, so I will respect those who loved the film however I can’t understand how this film has entered the top 10 of the most successful films of all time. I think I’ll stick to the original 1991 animation.

The NOT So Awesome Mix-Tape

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I loved Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and so did everyone else as the film became a fan favourite and raked in $773 million worldwide. It was unapologetic in how it delivered on the fun and it was an antidote to the ‘serious superhero film’. The sequel had a lot to live up to following the surprise smash hit first film.

After an exhaustive marketing campaign for the sequel the hype and excitement to see the film wore off, but I still wanted to see the film and I really wanted to enjoy it…yet it failed to deliver on the fun and thrills. It went down the cliche route that sequels tend to go down, take what was funny in the first film and crank it up to the highest volume. The comedy was too obvious and stupid at times. I liked Groot in the first film but did I really need to see a baby Groot figure out how to play music against the backdrop of a potentially cool action sequence? and the story was pretty underwhelming. That being said, there were some good some small moments between Gamora and Nebula as well as Yondu and Rocket, these moments allowed for some character development and appreciation. Also I think that Ayesha the Golden Priestess was underused and could have been the main villain.

Of course the film has become a huge success and has grossed over $799 million worldwide (and counting) as well as receiving positive reviews (81% from Rotten Toamtoes)so again there has been a disconnect from what audiences have felt and how I have responded to the film. However despite the fact the sequel wasn’t my favourite Marvel film I am excited for the third film and it will be interesting to see the characters in the upcoming Avengers films, so I haven’t given up on the Guardians of the Galaxy just yet.

Alien: The Pretend Sequel To Prometheus

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I will hold my hands up and say I am not a die hard Alien fan, however I have seen Alien (1979), Aliens (1986) and Prometheus (2012) so I am familiar with the franchise. With Covenant promising to return to the horror element I was interested to see how this film would continue on with what was set out from Prometheus and how it would adopt a grittier and darker style from the previous Alien films. That was the problem, Ridley Scott has openly admitted that Covenant was addressing what die hard Alien fans disliked about Prometheus, basically because there was no huge weird alien lurking round a spaceship. When I watched Prometheus I hadn’t seen any Alien film and that was the time when marketing was saying how the film was not meant to be a direct prequel but a standalone film in the same universe, so I thought I was safe in watching it without feeling left out. Then all of a sudden it WAS part of the Alien franchise, meaning Covenant had to make some major changed to please Alien fans.

Covenant was released 5 years after Prometheus because they were trying to figure out whether to make a direct sequel to Prometheus or give in and be openly part of the Alien world. I was really looking forward to see Dr. Elizabeth Shaw meet the Engineers and find out questions that were posed in Prometheus, the tone of Prometheus was slick and futuristic but no without it’s shocking moments. All I got was some 5 minute YouTube video featuring Shaw and David and limp references to the “failed Prometheus trip”. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I didn’t love Covenant, because it tried to jump full throttle ahead of what was started in Prometheus and tried to connect this film to the Alien universe. However, I enjoyed some moments and Katherine Waterston was the best part about Covenant, and with THAT ending I’m definitely interested to see what Ridley Scott has planned for future instalments.

Kong: The Unnecessary Remake

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For me the ultimate King Kong film is the 2005 remake directed by Oscar winning director Peter Jackson. I remember seeing that film in the cinemas when I was 12 and being blown away, scared and emotionally invested in what was happening in the film. I had to except that a new King Kong was inevitable as it’s not restricted to the 1933 classic nor the 2005 remake but it is a cultural pop icon meaning each generation will revisit the character. That being said I still didn’t see the point of a new Kong film, but that’s just my personal opinion.

I have to give credit to the 2017 film as it was doing its own thing and it wasn’t a remake of any Kong film, that at least allows itself to be set apart and judged on its own merit. The other factor which excited me was how it was set against the backdrop of 1970’s Vietnam war meaning it would be a colourful and vibrant take on the classic monster character. Not to mention a great cast consisting of Oscar winner Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston John C. Reilley etc. However what also retracted me from being full on excited for the film was how it was intended to be part of yet another cinematic universe.

Despite my reservations I have to say I was willing to go in with an open mind and enjoy the film, sadly I was right in not believing in the film. The script was so weak and it was painful seeing brilliant actors deliver superficial and unimagined lines, the story wasn’t engaging and the characters weren’t exactly three dimensional. Yes it’s not a type of film where it requires deep exploration of character however even if it’s up to a popcorn film level standard there has to be some reason to invest and care for any character, sadly I could not have cared less about the fate of the characters. I was most disappointed in Brie Larson as it was such a superficial role that it didn’t live up to the whole ‘having a three dimensional female character in a blockbuster film’, of course it was sad to see them all play uninspired characters.

Again, a blockbuster I didn’t like made money and critics had good things to say about the film; grossing $565 million worldwide and received a 77% rating 77% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

The only thing I took away from the 2017 version was to watch the Oscar winning 2005 version.

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Hopefully with the release of the already positively reviewed Wonder Woman and future releases in the form of Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi we can reflect upon the year and say there were some standout blockbusters in 2017.

For the next blog post I’ll be writing about the few blockbusters that have actually caught my interest, there’ll be a few surprises in there for you of which blockbusters I loved this year.

Let’s Talk About The Ending Of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ (2016)

*SPOILER ALERT*

 

Nocturnal Animals (2016) is a really interesting film directed by Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated director Tom Ford; it tells the tale of Susan (Amy Adams) receiving a book from ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) which accounts dark and violent themes which makes Susan re-evaluate her life and relationships.

It’s not a perfect film but there’s a lot I admire and respect about it. I loved seeing Amy Adams in this kind of role; she wasn’t playing a likeable character or a character finding redemption but who is living in the shadows of her regrettable actions. Another thing I admired (and had to watch again to fully understand) was how Edward’s book mirrored his relationship with Susan.

Whilst not being perfect, Nocturnal Animals still captivated me by the elegant visuals and music and the hopefulness of seeing resolve and a satisfying conclusion. However the film ends abruptly and you feel like you’ve been lured in by the film only to be dropped suddenly with no warning. At first I was frustrated which evolved into perceiving the ending as a genius move; it shows the power of the film to have an audience feel so invested and immersed in the experience.

Remove The Armour

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Sometimes the best moments are found in the most subtle moments. Over the course of the film Susan has been depicted as unhappy and full of regret, yet she is a successful art gallery owner and she feels some guilt of not feeling happy about her success. She has become a different person from the Susan that we were introduced to in the flashbacks telling the story of the early years of her relationship with Edward. One could argue that in order to mask the hurt and unhappiness from her actions in life she puts on a front looking like she has it all together.

Then there’s a great moment where she removes her lipstick, and a brief smile follows. That simple action was like she was removing the armour that she has been wearing ever since the colossal downfall of her marriage with Edward. It could be argued that she’s hoping to find happiness again by removing her wedding ring and hoping that by reconnecting with him the wrongs of her past can be rectified.

It’s a powerful shot, a dark room with only Susan’s reflection in the mirror to show. Amy Adams can do so much with no words, it’s all in the facial expressions and the lingering shots that convey how she is thinking the evening will go. Will she recapture who she was before and will she learn from her mistakes if she gets a second chance?

The Wait

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This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: seeing Edward in present day meet up with Susan. After everything that has happened what would they say to each other? The anticipation was high and personally I was intrigued to see how they would act around each other.

Susan rocks up to the most fancy restaurant and is seated at her table, she looks to the door excited to see Edward walk through the door and reconnect. This scene is laid out to be an expected conversational scene, potentially reflecting an earlier scene when they met up for the first time in a restaurant. There’s even a moment where we hear the waitress welcome a gentlemen whilst focusing on Susan’s face, we even hear footsteps only to be let down by finding out it wasn’t Edward. Both the audience and Susan had their hopes built up only to be let down.

Alas, hope fades and reality kicks in as time passes and Edward is nowhere to be seen. From the melted ice in her drink to the fading of her smile to the striking of her bare finger where she removed her wedding ring, Susan detects that this meet up isn’t going to plan.

There Are No Words

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The music by Abel Korzeniowski only amplifies the mood of this scene, starting with some beautiful elegant music which escalates into a more intense sound conveying the rising emotions and tragedy that follows. The heightened sound calms down into the simple sounds of the piano keys, until there is music no more whilst the camera fixates on the heartbroken face of Susan.

The film score perfectly conveys all the emotions that Susan is feeling as no words are spoken. The reason why the music is so elegant and beautiful at the beginning is because there is still hope and an uncertainty of what is to follow, this develops into a more intense sound because there is a worry that there won’t be any resolve for the scene. It’s that scary moment because there may not be a chance of reconciliation, but we can’t give up hope just yet. Then the simple piano key sounds matched with Susan’s distraught face only equates into one thing: She will have to live with the mistakes she has made for the rest of her life. It’s a incredible simple yet powerful moment where the penny has dropped for Susan and she knows there is no turning back and that there’s nothing she can do to make Edward forgive her.

Because there are no spoken words we see Amy Adams give an acting masterclass of saying so much through no dialogue. From her eye glances to her many facial expressions conveying hope, sadness, regret, uncertainty etc. As an audience member you are fixated on her face as you want to try and understand everything that Susan is feeling in that moment. Amy Adams does this perfectly and with the music to support her it all equals to an emotionally powerful and delicate scene.

Bold

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I loved the bold ending of showing Susan to have no redemption in her character arc. You watch the whole film seeing how Susan is living a life of deep regret which prevents her from finding peace and happiness even though on paper she has her life together. I love Amy Adams, she is one of the best actors around and I loved how she played a character who wasn’t meant to be likeable. Amy Adams played a character who not only makes mistakes but will never have the chance to make things right or tragically may not find happiness because our actions have consequences. It’s bold just leaving Susan alone in that restaurant letting everything sink in.

What did you think of the ending? Did you appreciate what Tom Ford was going for or would you like to have had more of a concrete ending. Feel free to comment and share your opinions.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Film Review

3/5 stars

Unless you’ve also been trapped in Beast’s castle then you’ll know that Disney are hard at work by revisiting their animated classics in live action format. This can be traced back to the billion dollar grossing Alice in Wonderland (2010) which was followed by Maleficent in 2014. Not crediting Cinderella (2015) completely to Disney’s now traditional approach to revisiting its animated classics, however since then we’ve seen Disney take less risks with remaking its animations.

Ever since the beginning of 2015 when Emma Watson was cast as Belle in the live action Beauty and the Beast, the hype has been high and audiences have been eagerly awaiting Disney’s new interpretation of it’s 1991 classic. For years I’ve been looking forward to this film, but months before once all of the promotional material was being released I had this sense that it wouldn’t be the grand and extravagant remake I was hoping for…sadly I was right.

TALE AS OLD AS TIME

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Starting with the positives I thought the film looked the part. Visually it was eye catching and I thought they captured the look and vibe of the original quite well. The characters of Lumière, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip etc. were all effortlessly integrated with the live action characters (something I felt that The Jungle Book – 2016 failed to do with its CGI animals and live action characters) and I thought those characters were fun to watch and it wasn’t a huge let down from the animated versions of these characters.

With $462 million worldwide (against a $160 million budget) at the Box Office (so far) and with a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, fans are clearly loving this film (for some reason). It is a tale that is as old as time (1991 feels like a century ago to most people) and since the animation’s release it has always been a part of people’s childhoods and it has grown up with people still retaining it’s relevant and popular appeal. My worry is that now Disney see that being unoriginal and not taking chances works, they’ll rehash it’s upcoming live action adaptations. I guess from a business point of view fair enough but where are the visionaries that want to do something exciting and new meaning that it can stand side by side with the originals and now replace them.

GASTON THE MOVIE: FEAUTRING BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

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If I had to single one performance out as the most committed and most convincing it was Luke Evans as Gaston. He played the arrogant bachelor to perfection, down to his singing and characterisation it was flawless. Out of all the cast I felt Luke Evans was the only one who gave 100% and the scenes with him in were more exciting than others…and that’s saying something when you’re meant to be watching the film for the leading performances of Belle and Beast.

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Speaking of the cast; Emma Watson is a great actress (she was amazing in Perks of being a Wallflower -2012 and The Bling Ring – 2013) and on paper she IS Belle. However, there were moments (especially the first half or so) where her performance felt half hearted. I know she’s singing about how everyone are peasants and she’s superior to everyone but even the animated Belle seemed more kind to the locals and in general the animated Belle was more fun to watch. It was rise and fall with Emma’s performance; the iconic ballroom scene and when she goes back to her provincial town to rescue her father were the highlights of her performance. She wasn’t bad but I expected more from her (no offence but after watching her performance as Belle I’m happy she dropped out of La La Land – 2016 for Oscar winner Emma Stone to replace her). I would say Dan Stevens as the Beast was slightly better with his performance, but I would argue that the animation team who worked on his look did an amazing job of effortlessly blending his character with the live action characters. Overall, not exactly the most exciting leading couple that have graced our screens.

TAKE CHANCES

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I will be that person that says that the animation is far more superior than the 2017 live action remake. The original is more atmospheric, dramatic, emotional, heartwarming and grand in everything from its characters to the look of the film. In 1992 Beauty and the Beast became the first animation to be nominated an Oscar for Best Picture, I seriously doubt this new version will have anywhere near that same impact today. This is why it should have done differently so that it honours the original but offers something new to today’s audience. Scenes like when Belle runs on the hill and sings, Beast offering Belle the library, even the iconic ballroom dance scene etc. were adapted half heartedly and it almost felt like they were just there because the audience were expecting them to feature in the film. The animation did all of those scenes and more with a sense of grandeur and wonder. The danger rehashing everything from the animation is the audience knows what to expect so there’s no sense of mystery and wonder.

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I understand that director Bill Condon was unapologetic about honouring the 1991 animation with only the addition of a few new songs (which added nothing new to the film) and Emma Watson’s few tweaks (which were hardly revolutionary to the character) however I would have loved it if Disney took a risk and brought something new to the table. The reason why Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Maleficent (2014) worked so well, in my opinion, was because they took a new approach to a tale that in embedded in our brains from childhood. I have no issues with remakes, only if they offer something unique and something that is worth watching again in a different format. I would have loved to see Guillermo del Toro’s version as he definitely would have bright a refreshing take of a tale so universally known and loved. Sadly he departed from the project a few years ago making way for Bill Condon to direct his unoriginal remake.

I’ve heard about a live action update for several years and I thought the decision to approach the remake in a more traditional manner was more down to the the success of Cinderella (2015) however I read that Bill Condon decided to take less chances after the success of Frozen (2013):

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“Before I arrived, they were rethinking Beauty and the Beast more radically, more like Snow White and the Huntsman. There was a lot of conversation about the War of the Austrian Succession that didn’t interest me. But then after Frozen opened, the studio saw that there was this big international audience for an old-school-musical approach. But initially they said, “We’re interested in a musical to a degree, but only half full of songs.” My interest was taking that film and doing it in this new medium — live action — as a full-on musical movie. So I backed out for a minute, and they came back and said, “No, no, no, we get it, let’s pursue it that way.” 

Even without Guillermo del Toro we could have seen a more radical and exciting version of Beauty and the Beast, because the story is far bigger than Disney itself so why not try something new?

I’ve expressed my fears for what impact the success of this film may have, however overall I would say it’s a enjoyable film which is easy and fun to watch. But it’s worrying that 26 years later Disney we’re basically seeing Disney revisit their greatest hits in the most unoriginal way possible. My advice is watch this film so you can tick it off your list, it’s not a total waste of your time, but please watch the original animation as it’s far more impactful than the 2017 version.

I See The Light Of TANGLED (2010)

I See The Light has to be one of the most stunning Disney songs and is the part of the most breathtaking scene in the film. The song was nominated for an Oscar in 2011 (I love Toy Story 3 – 2010 but in my opinion I See The Light is superior to We Belong Together) and is the jewel of the film. Thankfully there are plenty of heartwarming, light, dramatic moments in the film and instead of doing a formal film review, I would like to single out three scenes that represent what a quality film Tangled is.

When Will My Life Begin?

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The opening song in this scene is a great way to kickstart what I would consider to be the best soundtrack to a Disney animation. Rapunzel is introduced to us as her teenage self, and she basically gives us a run down of her day to day activities in the most fun way possible. Whilst on the surface it seems like a nice montage, there’s a lot you can actually unpack.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room; yes, many may question Rapunel’s spirited nature despite her oppressive circumstance. However, this is a Disney film and some could argue if that’s the only life she’s only ever known then I guess she is the walking example of ignorance is bliss (to be fair she has a nice set up).

As soon as you hear the first strums of the guitar strings, you’re instantly put in a good mood. I love the pop vibe that the soundtrack has, filled with hit worthy songs. I love the humour in this scene and that is credit to Pascal (my favourite sidekick, levelled with Maximus) as he doesn’t need to speak because his face says it all. There are moments in the song where Rapunzel uses him to be a puppet for ventriloquy purposes; from him holding a candle triple the size of him to my favourite part…him being in a dress. This shows the unique friendship between the two because Pascal is willing to do anything for Rapunzel. The montage is so quick that it’s only when you actually stop to think about those small moments that it makes you smile and laugh.

As mentioned previously, this scene does give the whole being “locked up in a tower” thing quite the glossy makeover. However Disney acknowledges the truth of her situation by representing her as someone who knows there is more in life. Despite the fact that Rapunzel has made the best out of her indoor situation she still longs for the outside world and her only dream is to see the lights that appear on her birthday. There’s something missing from her life and though she doesn’t know the details as to why, she has a basic understanding that there is something better for her out in the world.

I’ve Got A Dream

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This is such a hilarious scene; Rapunzel and her innocence captivates the group of thugs and eventually she unearths the soft core in all of them. My favourite moment of this scene is when Rapunzel silences the whole pub by summarising her dream of seeing the lanterns and appealing to them by exclaiming, “Find your humanity!” She shows courage and is not afraid to let anyone stop her from fulfilling her dreams.

What seemed to be a rough establishment actually transforms into an almost therapy-like session. Through song and dance, and through sharing everyone’s dreams, the scene counteracts the brutal outward appearances. I love the juxtapositions in this scene. We see a big rough guy singing about his love of being a pianist, others singing about their love of ceramic unicorns and baking. It’s a total subversion of the stereotypes of masculinity but overall the scene is a lot of fun.

In turn, I love how Rapunzel isn’t fazed by her surroundings and saw something in the thugs that others didn’t see. There’s a funny moment where Flynn’s confused facial expression on his face perfectly conveys his confusion as to why this rough crowd is singing about their hobbies all of a sudden. He’s basically mirroring the audience, and that’s what makes this scene genius, it turns expectations of their heads and shows how we can’t judge things from their outward appearance.

I See The Light

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This scene showcases the captivating power that animation has and in my opinion displays Disney as the forefront of animation. Watch it and you’ll understand why I’ve selected this scene to showcase why I believe Tangled is truly one of best Disney films.

There is such an innocence and heartwarming feeling. The fact that Flynn and Rapunzel are naturally falling in love with each other after spending quality time together beforehand makes it feels organic and natural. This scene, in a way, is also the emotional climax of the film in a way. Rapunzel asks Flyn what will happen if this dream she’s had her entire life doesn’t live up to her expectations, to which Flynn reassures her it will be. It is the most sincere moment of this scene:

“…and what if it is? What do I do then?”

Flynn: “Well that’s the good part I guess, you get to go and find a new dream.”

Cue the most mesmerising scene is animation with the glowing lanterns creating a warm and atmospheric feeling, not to mention the beautiful song that is being sung by the two leads. The film has been leading up to this moment and it means a lot to see Rapunzel being lost in the moment and achieving her dream.

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You may have guessed it but I would have to say Tangled is my favourite Disney film. I honestly could have written a lot more to further back up my claim but the best way to convince you is to watch the film itself. Of course films like The Lion King (1994), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and The Little Mermaid (1989) etc. are iconic and classics but Tangled incorporates classic Disney conventions whilst being modern and exciting (after all I did mention that it would be my Desert Island Movie in my previous post).

It would be criminal of me to leave out mentions of other brilliant moments from Tangled, so here they are in a nutshell:

Honorable Mentions

  • I am a despicable human being/BEST DAY EVERRR!
  • “Mother Knows Best” scene.
  • Rapunzel and Pascal interrogate Flynn.
  • Maximus and Flynn have to settle their differences for a day to make Rapunzel’s birthday one to remember.
  • “Rapunzel Know’s Best” scene.
  • THE WHOLE FILM!

Let’s Talk About ‘Passengers’ (2016)

2/5 Stars

 

*SPOILER FILLED POST*

 

 

Two months after its release and I’m still hurt by what I witnessed on screen. Passengers (2016) was meant to equate to an exciting film starring hugely successful actors who on paper are perfect for each other on screen. Not to mention the exciting concept of an original space adventure directed by Oscar nominee Morten Tyldum.

Sadly Passengers was a huge let down and has left me baffled as to why Chris Pratt and Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence would sign on to a film with a horrendous script.

I Can’t Look At Chris Pratt The Same Way Again

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Chris Pratt has smashed through Hollywood with Box Office hits such as Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Jurassic World (2015). He’s an actor that can also do comedy (TV’s Parks and Recreation) and Drama (Her, Zero Dark Thirty and Moneyball), we’ll excuse Bride Wars (2009) and The Five-Year Engagement (2012) from our minds. So of course he was going to be a box office draw for Passengers…so we thought.

In Passengers we are introduced to his character Jim as a likeable everyday guy who unfortunately finds himself in a sticky situation (being awoken 90 years earlier due to a malfunction with his hibernation pod). Then time passes by and yes he’s still lonely and contemplates doing something unspeakable…waking up Jennifer Lawrence’s character Aurora just because he’s bored and is sure she’s his soulmate after staring at her in a hibernation pod one time. It’s that point in the movie that you think, “ok, he’s lonely and desperate so don’t blame him for thinking it but of course he won’t do something so unimaginably creepy and insane…” and then it’s that moment when you realise a film released in 2016 would follow through with this stupid narrative.

Throughout the whole film I lost a huge amount of respect for Jim and now can’t look at Chris Pratt as the all round good American hero.

Seriously J-Law? 

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Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong…kind of. Her character Aurora was the only saving grace of a deeply flawed film…kind of. I’m struggling to understand why Jennifer Lawrence would sign onto this ridiculous film…the pay check must have made it easier.  Aurora is falling in love with a stalkerish creep which makes the whole “love story” hard to watch yet the moment where she discovers the truth behind their budding romance is the best part of the film.

Jennifer Lawrence has not a look of anger or horror but complete shock. It’s a powerful moment in the film which J-Law plays with conviction. Fast forward to when Jim can’t take a hint and speaks to Aurora over a tannoy to which she screams back her anger and frustration with his character. At this point in the film I’m thinking, “ok, I’m glad they’re acknowledging what a despicable human being Jim is.” Oh how I was wrong. That being said Jennifer Lawrence had the strongest performance in the film especially during the scenes where she is disgusted by Jim’s actions.

Again, Seriously J-Law? 

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Long story short Jim has to potentially sacrifice himself to stop the spaceship from blowing up. I’m thinking that he gets what he deserves but by this point Aurora is devastated and shouts, “If you die I DIE!”. Has she not seen the film and what Jim did to her?

So Jim survives (oh dear) however the film (again) has a chance to redeem itself. Jim figures out that the medical pod can act as a hibernation pod and offers the last one to Aurora. I’m thinking that Jim has found a way to redeem himself and all is forgiven. However Aurora stupidly turns his offer down and lives out her 90 years or so left on a spaceship with a guy who literally took her life, hopes, dreams and ambitions away from her. Jim is back in my bad books again.

I Hate You But I Love You

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Despite the many…MANY flaws with this film…I strangely enjoyed it because it made me laugh due to its ludicrous nature. As mentioned previously it was an unintentional comedy which looked the part of a space adventure. The whole flying in spacesuits scenes were really cool to be fair.

It also annoys me how the film lied to the audience in its marketing. It’s one thing trying to hide the spoilers and leave an element of mystery but it’s another lying and portraying it as a love story for all the ages.  The tag line should have been: Creepy Engineer goes all Sleeping Beauty of Aurora. Enjoy.

Strangely enough Passengers has become a moderate success at the Box Office (not with the critics). Forbes states that…“With $255m and counting worldwide, it is the biggest live-action “not based on anything” Hollywood release of 2016.” The article was written a few weeks ago and Passengers has now gone on to gross over $290 million worldwide. This film is still laughable and I’m shocked that this film was allowed to be made.

 

My Movie Life

Recently I was reading the March 2017 issue of TOTAL FILM magazine and came across a feature which interested me. Director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko – 2001) did a feature entitled ‘My Movie Life’ in which he gave a list of movie titles he would watch in various circumstances. As I was reading the feature I thought it would be fun to do the same so here are a selection of movies that I’ve selected for these varied topics.

MY DESERT ISLAND MOVIE

Tangled (2010)

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Picking a movie for this section is hard because you have to think of a film that will have a lasting impact. Tangled is a movie which I can watch over and over again. It’s a vibrant, fun and colourful movie with a strong leading character and a welcomed modern twist on a fairytale classic. I will declare Tangled as my favourite Disney movie and will even go as far as to say Tangled has one of the best soundtracks for a Disney animation (even better than Frozen – 2013).

THE MOVIE THAT MAKES ME CRY

Never Let Me Go (2010)

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In all honestly I haven’t physically cried at this movie (the last movie I actually cried at was the 2005 movie King Kong when I was 12, no joke) but Never Let Me Go is the most thought provoking and emotionally raw movie I have ever seen. It’s a very effortless and understated movie which is also very poignant and emotionally captivating. This is a movie with a powerful ending due to its subtlety and leaves you with a lot to ponder over. You won’t be sorry to have watched it.

THE LAST MOVE I WATCHED ON A PLANE

Date Night (2010)

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Tina Fey plus Steve Carrell equals an enjoyable watch. Don’t judge me as it was 3am in the morning (I think) and it was on a long flight back home from Africa so I wanted to watch something fun and light hearted. I had watched movies like Midnight Special (2016), Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)...ahem…Daddy’s Home (2015)...but Date Night is the last movie I have watched on a plane.

THE MOVIE I WISHED I DIRECTED

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

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Not that I could ever reach the towering heights of Oscar winner Peter Jackson’s brilliance but of course directing my favourite movie ever would be amazing. Directing a movie with huge spectacle rooted in depth is something a lot of filmmakers could learn from (maybe Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson could teach the world that lesson).

MY FAVOURITE MOVIE THAT MESSED WITH MY HEAD

Gone Girl (2014)

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There’s not enough words to do justice of the major plot twist that Gillian Flynn writes for both novel and movie version of Gone Girl. The moment which really grabbed me was halfway through the book/movie when Amy says…

*SPOILER*

“I’m so glad now that I’m dead.”

I literally gasped and was so shocked. I’m pretty clueless in general but even this plot twist caught me off guard. From that point onwards the plot escalates and Amy is fully let out of her cage.

Even though I knew what would happen in the movie it didn’t lose its impact as Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike perfect encapsulates the character of Amazing Amy. The movie is brilliantly crazy in a perfectly calculated way. You’ll finish the movie trying to process everything that has happen, it definitely leaves an impact.

THE MOVIE I LOVE THAT NOBODY TALKS ABOUT 

Sing Street (2016)

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Easily one of the best movies last year! I was surprised how much I enjoyed it when I watched it at the cinema but my love for the movie has only grown stronger. There’s such an authenticity in all respects that is endearing and engaging. It also helps that it has an incredible soundtrack with songs that won’t leave you.

It is an indie movie that premiered at Sundance 2016 and sadly not many people (hardly anyone) knows about this movie from the people I talk to. There’s something fun about feeling like you’ve found a hidden gem but at the same time it’s criminal that not more people know about Sing Street. It was nominated a Golden Globe after all.

 

It’s fun trying to fit different films in various categories, it’s worth a try to do what I just did for this blog post yourself.

Arrival (2016) Film Review

 

3 STARS

Arrival has received universal critical acclaim and has grossed $130 million worldwide at the box office against a $47 million budget. Arrival also received 2 Golden Globe nominations including a nomination for Amy Adams in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama category. One would assume that Arrival is a great film that everyone should see, I hate to say it but I was not blown away by this supposedly fresh and unique take on the sci-fi genre. I’m conflicted because there were aspects I appreciated and I think I know what they were aiming for, however it never really clicked with me.

WHAT I LOVED

AMY ADAMS

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Amy Adams was the standout. The 5 time Oscar nominated actress can do no wrong and deserves her Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Arrival. Amy Adams has to be one of my favourite actresses because she gives powerful and diverse performances in films such as Enchanted (2007), Doubt (2008), American Hustle (2013) and Big Eyes (2014). She isn’t afraid to tackle any genre as she takes on a role and gives it her all.

This time she strips it back and there’s power in the stillness of her performance; we meet her character Louise at a moment in her life where she is numb from the hardships that life has dealt her and when the aliens arrive she has to find her purpose again. Amy Adams is captivating because you’re constantly watching trying to decipher what her character is feeling and processing as she’s dealing with the current state of events as well as dealing with the repercussions of her past.

DIRECTION

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The only other film I’ve seen from Denis Villeneuve is the Emily Blunt fronted Sicario (2015) which I loved. There are similarities in terms of his direction; he doesn’t rush the pace or tone of the film and he lets moments just be. It may be slow for some but for me it’s Denis allowing the audience to be in the moment and take in every little thing in. As I was watching Arrival I could detect the sense of direction from Denis, however towards the end it never really took off and the pay off was quite anti-climactic (which I’ll expand upon later on) but on the whole I loved his directing style.

SUBVERTING GENRE

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The one thing Arrival has going for it is that it isn’t a flashy and loud sci-fi blockbuster extravaganza; it’s very stripped back and quiet. Going back to the points about Denis’ directing style and Amy Adam’s performance there is a stillness which is refreshing and the film does it’s best to try to be thought provoking and giving little bits away to keep the audience watching.

 

WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE

ALIENS (not the film)

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What were up with those aliens? The design of the aliens were so bland and unoriginal. The whole concept of the aliens were wasted and I was disappointed thinking that Arrival would offer something we haven’t seen before and yet it was very generic in design.

THE MESSAGE

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The overall message as well didn’t really connect as much as I wanted it to. I understood what the film was going for and there’s a moment where Amy Adams asks Jeremy Renner’s character Ian whether if he knew what life would deal him would he still go for it. Without giving too much away I understood what the film was trying to convey to the audience but found it pointless and a wasted opportunity be told through a sci-fi film; there was no need for aliens to come down and serve the purpose they served. I remember the film finishing and just thinking what on earth have I just watched? Because even though I understood the overall message of the film there were still some unanswered questions.

 

CONCLUSION

From the director who brought us Sicario (2015), featuring a great cast consisting of Amy Adams (American Hustle, Her, Enchanted, The Muppets) and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, Avengers Assemble, American Hustle, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and the fact Arrival had rave reviews I was left feeling very disappointed and didn’t feel the film delivered on what was being promised to the audiences. There are some positives to be taken away from the film viewing (as discussed previously) however ultimately it isn’t a sci-fi that is going to become a modern day classic. Dare I say that I’d rather watch Interstellar (2014) than Arrival.

Allied (2016) Film Review

Hello readers of Collision Film.

Sorry that it’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post but I have some exciting news. I have started writing for Creators.co which is a publishing platform for any enthusiastic and passionate writer, and their goal is to help writers build their brand and to find their audience. So I have been doing my research and finding out more about this platform. Last week I posted my first film review and want to share it with you all at Collision Film.

Here is the link to my review at Creators.co. (click on Creators.Co to be taken to my film review)

But I would like to share it with you on Collision Film as well so here is my film review of Allied (2016):

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4 STARS

Allied is a film that I have been looking forward to watch all year; it features two leads who happen to be some of my favourite actors. Back to the Future (1985) master Robert Zemeckis allies Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt to make a romantic epic that grips you and keeps you emotionally invested.

The film tells the tale of intelligence officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard) falling in love during their mission in Casablanca. The film chronicles their love story through the time following and audiences will see how their relationship fares given their occupations of being spies. The chemistry between Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard is convincing and a joy to watch; we get to see them during the course of their relationship and yet discover them as individual characters.

Allied covers quite a lot in the narrative; the first act where they meet on their mission is almost like a mini film. Smartly paced, with a sense of mystery and anticipation of how their mission will fare, the film doesn’t try to hard as it feels effortless. Marion Cotillard exudes mystery and class as seasoned resistance fighter who has been in the game long enough to know how to work people. Brad Pitt’s character has a different approach as a man with a quite yet firm exterior, yet he manages to work well with Marianne Beausejour forming a bond that will help them get through their mission.

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After their time in Casablanca is really where the story heats up. Adapting to life in London can they truly be trusted? Because we’ve spent enough time with them during the early days of their relationship we are emotionally invested in these characters and how they can coexist together when their occupations have taught them to do otherwise. There is never a dull moment in this film because it keeps you guessing and keeps you interested to see where the story goes. There are times in the film where we’re not sure whether to trust these characters or whether to root for them; I love how Allied plays with people’s emotions and keeps the audiences interest.

There is so much to admire in the film; from the locations to the costumes. There is such an elegant feel to Allied and you can’t help but think of classics such as Casablanca (1942) of which the film references in the early stages of the film. Whilst the film is heavily stylised there is a natural feel to the film which is largely due to the lead actors performances. You’ll walk into this film thinking it’s one thing but this film is more three dimensional than you may think.

If you love Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt then definitely watch Allied. Robert Zemeckis switches it up again as we have seen him go from 80’s favourite Back to the Future (1985), to Oscar winning Forrest Gump (1994) even to The Polar Express (2004). This is definitely a film that will leave you needing a moment to compose yourself after the film has ended.

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The Light Between Oceans (2016) Film Review

4/5 Stars

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander: two reasons why you need to see this film. I think they are incredible actors and they deliver committed performances. The Light Between Oceans tells the tale of a lighthouse keeper (Fassbender) and his wife (Vikander) who rescue a baby adrift off the coast of Western Australia. This is a film that has an engaging narrative and character development which will surprise audiences along the way.

The Light Between Oceans was an emotional roller coaster because it took you places you weren’t expecting or anticipating; I was an emotional wreck and I haven’t had an experience like that in a long time. I was invested in these characters and by the time they learn the true parentage of their adopted daughter you feel their pain and the moral dilemma they face.

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Bringing it back to the leading actors of the film; they were stunning. Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender portraying Tom Sherbourne, a emotionally closed off war hero who opens himself up to heartfelt local girl Isabel Graysmark played by Oscar winner Alicia Vikander. They have a lot to explore with their characters as the film covers a long period of time so you see the actors play around with the different seasons their characters go through and it’s exciting to see so much depth in a character.

Oscar winner Rachel Weisz appears later on in the film changing the mood of the film allowing the film to explore other issues and themes. The dynamic between the cast is so natural and they all blend so well together it’s great to watch. The emotion they managed to evoke is incredible and so natural.

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I can’t say much about the film as I don’t want to spoil the different avenues the film explores however I will say that you need to bring your tissues as it definitely isn’t easy on the heart. That being said what I love about the film is how it has a good pace, without the film feeling rushed or dragged along. I’ll also say that the tone of the film is consistent despite the fact events happen which changes the direction of the film yet the tone never feels uneven or abrupt; everything is connected and feels justified to be in the film. The themes explored can be heavy but they are explored delicately and there is no sense of judgement of the characters’ actions. There are so many layers to the characters which creates engaging discussions about how they cannot be easily defined.

You need to watch the film to see for yourself how intricate the narrative development is and how each character is substantial and says a lot about humanity and our need to feel belonged; to be with each other and not isolated. There’s so much I want to say about specific scenes which perfectly sum up the themes explored in the film but I won’t spoil it for you; so watch the film and then take a few minutes to process what you’ve just seen.

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