Monday, 30 May 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE




9/10

Ricky Baker is a "real bad egg" of a boy and he had stretched the patience of the social services to the limit. His last chance is to find home with the new family on the farm in the middle of nowhere. Things look up at first, and for the first time in his life Ricky feels he belongs somewhere. But some sad circumstances make him and his uncle Hec escape to the bush. With the police and social services in pursuit, Ricky and his uncle have to put their differences aside in order to survive in the wilderness. Let the hunt begin!

The simple set up of this heart warming and hilarious comedy is solely focused on the main duo: Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) and uncle Hec (Sam Neill). Their dynamic is what makes the film what it is - a story of a true friendship and the sense of adventure. In fact the sense of adventure is what WILDERPEOPLE is all about. We get dangerous bits, hilarious bits and even sad bits, but all this is soaked in romanticism. The dramatic aspects of the film are seen through the eyes of a child, which softens all the harsh angles of what could have been in many ways a sad affair. It is amazing (and true) how quickly Ricky manages to bounce back from any trouble, and this energy, little by little, infects his older companion.

Julian Dennison is consistent and believable in his role of Ricky all throughout the film and is equal to Sam Neill's measured performance. Rima Te Wiata as aunt Bella has a small role, but it has a key importance to the developing relationship between the two leads and her presence is felt all throughout the film.

The movie is stunningly photographed with plenty of aerial shots. Without any CGI this still looks like a land of dreams.

But the most beautiful thing about THE WILDERPEOPLE is the writing. The script is focused, funny and has the right pace. There are no boring gap moments and this is how  great storytelling should be. 

The director Taika Waititi had already received his ticket to Hollywood, directing the latest installment  of Thor: Ragnarok, but it's always the smaller projects like WILDERPEOPLE that have the heart in the right place.  With no flaws that deserve to mention this is a family movie that has the spirit of true adventure and the characters that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS



5/10

Alice is all grown up now. She had travelled the world, fought pirates and seen China. But on her return to England she faces financial ruin at the hands of the man she refused to marry. What is the best solution to problems if not to escape to her inner world, her Wonderland? Especially now, when her truest friend Mad Hatter had fallen sick. The only way to save him is to turn back time. Time is a villain in this story. Or is he?

Referencing the original books by Lewis Carrol, the latest instalment of this Disney franchise is an odd blend of fantasy and realism. But what seemed like a lucky experiment in the first movie, turns messy in the sequel. The real problem of Alice Through The Looking Glass is that it does not really have a plot. The new screenplay by Linda Woolverton, who penned the original, suffers from over explaining. We are given the "origin" story of the Hatter and of the Red Queen, which takes away some of their magic, and the crazy world of Wonderland is downgraded to something very similar to our own.

The original Alice movie was full of symbolism. The dragon slaying scene in the end of it seemed like the odd choice, however it represented the coming of age for our heroine, "no dragons left to slain" so to speak. The feministic message there was subtle and meaningful. In the sequel the preaching about "how past cannot be changed" and how "the only way to move forward is to learn from the mistakes we have made", is shoved down our throat with such force we are risking a violent heartburn.

The respected cast is marching effortlessly  through this "nothing" movie, but the only one inspiring performance here is from Sacha Baron Cohen, who had created a magnificent and likeable villain with a type of effortlessness that only comes from hard work.

The 3D transcoding of the film is sloppy, without much depth, just like the overall meaning of this cinematic affair. It's a shame that such a hard work from so many people end up bringing an average result. Hopefully Disney will follow its own advice - you have to learn from the past. This movie franchise has to be let go!

MOVIE REVIEW: NICE GUYS




8/10

It's 1977 and the paths of two troubled detectives  Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) cross when they realise they are looking for the same girl. Aided by Hollands daughter Holly (Our own Melbourne actor Angourie Rice) they unite in order to investigate the series of murders which were triggered by the the making of one peculiar porno film.

NICE GUYS is a film noir which means the main characters take a lot of beatings, inflict a lot of beatings and balance just on the edge of being villains. However NICE GUYS first and foremost is a comedy. Helmed by the inventor of the buddy cop movie Shane Black (screenwriter of Leathal Weapon movies, The Last Boy Scout and Last Action Hero to name a few), it is a journey of swift and clever dialogue, brutal shootouts and seventies bravado.

The movie is driven by the charisma of Crowe and Gosling and has just enough mystery element to give a reason for their adventures. The film requires a serious suspension of disbelief on many occasions, and the finale looks like something straight from Tin Tin movie, but the atmosphere of the seventies is perfectly captured and jokes are just keep on coming.

Crowe and Gosling are great actors and they seem to enjoy themselves in this brutally lighthearted movie, however they are often upstaged by Angourie Rice. She steals every scene she is in and a talent to watch. Bravo Melbourne!

NICE GUYS is a sort of film that leave a great impression, but gets even better when you see it again. There are plenty of jokes that I have missed that deserve a second chance. It is fantastic to see something original on screen, with great comedy timing, well written and executed. Is it a birth of a new franchise? Time will tell.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: X-MEN APOCALYPSE




7/10


Tightly stitched into X-men franchise reboot that began in 2011 with the FIRST CLASS, Apocalypse continues the origin story of X-men, introducing the classic characters such as Cyclop, Storm and Jean Grey. The film’s trump card is being still a period piece. But fantasy sequences just don’t belong in it.

Welcome to 1983 where the uncanny being called Apocalypse, the very first mutant, awakens to rule the world. The film opens with an impressive Egyptian set piece, that does not quite fit to the carefully designed world of previous films, and the villain himself, Apocalypse, is  an alien presence here, as if he had stepped into it from another story.

The film was criticized for being overloaded with action, but in my opinion it took things very slowly, explaining the reasons for every character’s choice. The final battle is impressive, but as generic as the finale of Batman Vs Superman.

On the acting front everyone has done a great job, but Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique is no different from her character in Hunger Games – she is still a tough idol for the young and will not hesitate to take on the government or the world.

Michael Fassbinder delivers a well fleshed out Magneto, however I could not believe his character’s choices towards the end of the film.

The movie looks great in 3D, also it was not shot this way and 3D conversion had been used.


X-MEN  Apocalypse is one of this films that has many elements that work great on its own, but just don’t quite fit together. However it is worth the look for one fantastic sequence featuring Quicksilver and the unexpected appearance of one old friend.

The least original and exciting X-MEN film since FIRST CLASS, APOCALYPSE is still an descent addition to the universe and develops further the world I learned to love, however I would need a much better story next time around.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR


5/5

Team Captain America gets into trouble preventing a bigger disaster they cause some civilian causalities. There is a motion to sign a government bill to restrict Avengers from their independence. Tony Stark, The Iron Man, supports the bill. Captain America rebels. It doesn't help the cause that the suspect in recent terrorist attack is Bucky - Captain's old pal. The conflict between Iron Man and Captain America divides Avengers and they go head to head, unaware that there are other shadow forces at play...
 
CIVIL WAR is a hallmark of screenwriting for the film with multiple main characters. The way Black Panther and Spider-man were introduced  is both entertaining and satisfying. Whatever your preference is, you will not be cheated out of your favourite super hero. Everyone gets significant screen time without loosing the focus of the main plot. CIVIL WAR is perfectly paced, with many battles, car chases and hands on combat, but also is deep and thought provoking. It's a nice feeling when as a viewer you think the things cannot get any better but the film's proves you wrong.
 
After the massive, inventive, mind blowing airport superhero smash we get a more personal battle. And things get serious when a terrifying detail from Tony Stark's past is revealed.
 
CIVIL WAR is imaginative when it comes to set pieces. Learning the lessons from the Age Of Ultron, the meaningless action is no longer at play. CIVIL WAR is full of carefully orchestrated battle sequences that are not simply picture perfect, but cleverly conceived and executed in relation to the plot and character development.
 
The acting is even, and this is what you expect from twelve "A" list actors in one film. The are no surprises in acting department, however for me, personally, Elisabeth Olsen has invested more than anyone into her character of Crimson Witch. I really hope that she will get her own movie one day.
CIVIL WAR is the most exciting movie to date Marvel Comic Universe brought to life, but its success is partial due to the twelve instalments that came before it. 
 
Proving the investing  into a franchise can pay out, and lifting up the expectations handsomely, CIVIL WAR gives us a blockbuster the way it should be, busy but focused, light but clever, and a new hope for the future excitement in store.

SFF MOVIE REVIEW: DEATH OF A FISHERMAN (LA PLAYA DE LOS AHGAODS)



Death of a Fisherman

4/5

The Spanish fishing village is shaken by apparent suicide of a local fisherman. The same man many years ago was involved in a shipwreck. With a captain dead three sailors managed to get to the shore alive. The current death may be connected to that tragic stormy night. And a local detective Leo Caldas is on the case.

DEATH OF A FISHERMAN is based on a bestselling novel. It's chapter-like construction is easy to follow. The setting of a sleepy fishermen town is spot on and the characters are colourful and charismatic. Spanish winner of two Goya Awards Carmello Gomez is convincing in the main role of a detective, however the viewer is not allowed to know about his character more than the premise of the murder mystery allows.

The mystery itself is simple, but elegant, with a few red hearings pointing to the wrong direction, but you will be just one step ahead of the narrative. The final reveal is intriguing, even though could be easily predicted if you pay attention during the film.


The movie can hardly compete with modern quality tv shows, but it is full of Spanish flavour and the cinematography is top notch. With all its simplicity DEATH OF A FISHERMAN is a decent murder mystery, both atmospheric and satisfying.