Sunday, 27 November 2016

ANIME MOVIE REVIEW: YOUR NAME (KIMI NO NA WA?)


10/10 

Mitsuha is a country girl who is dreaming of big city life. Taki is a boy from Tokyo who one day wakes up... in Mitsuha's body. The same happens to Mitsuha. After this body switching, when they both come around the next morning, they have very little memory of what has occurred... this strange phenomena repeats itself for some unknown reason. As the boy and the girl learn to live with this curious body swapping, they also become curious of each other... is it love? When the phenomena suddenly stops Taki leaves the comfort of his Tokyo home to find the mysterious girl whose life seems to be fused with his own. What he discovers will shake him to the core. Will the two star crossed lovers be able to reunite against all the odds? 

In Japan the plot of YOUR NAME could be called a "gender bender", but in truth it is a genre bender, uniting romance, thriller, sci fi and disaster in one very complex movie that is very confident  in its own storytelling. 

Director Makoto Shinkai comes from independent movie making, but this mainstream full feature film, that broke the attendance records in Japan, is a true marvel. Shinkai who had always been a one man operation, here, with a decent budget and enough creative freedom, gives us a romantic thriller that is nothing like you have ever seen before.

Applying plot devices that we may have experienced before, Shinkai creates something truly original. Technological specs aside (the animation looks both spectacular and artistic) the movie has the characters you can instantly care for and relate to. The upbeat soundtrack nicely compliments the action and the complicated plot has all the answers when the right time comes.

YOUR NAME Is a feast of colours, adventure and romanticism. Above all it is genuine to its audience and true to the story it strives to tell. If you ever had doubt about watching Japanese anime it is time to be converted. This incredible movie will last with you for the years to come. 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

MOVIE REVIEW: ALLIED



9/10

World War Two is raging, as a Canadian spy, Max (Brad Pitt) and a French resistance fighter Marianne (Marion Cotillard)  meet in Casablanca to complete a deadly mission. Their relationship builds and grows, and soon they are married and united in London, as real life husband and wife. When Marianne is suspected of being  a German spy, Max has 72 hours to prove she is innocent or to kill her. How far would he go for love?

Offering a lengthy prologue in Casablanca (a certain reference without a doubt) ALLIED immediately establishes itself as a modern take of a classic World War Two romance. The movie spends enough time to build the characters and their perfect affair, just to throw it all into turmoil in the second act. The characters are believable, the love, they feel for each other, is genuine and the tension that builds on a premise that one of them is a villain keeps it all tightly paced.

The dilemma, "did she or did she not", is a perfect entertainment tool, as we are constantly being thrown off balance by the introduction of multiple "red herrings". The finale at the airport is another nod to classic CASABLANCA, where their great love hangs in the balance and sacrifices are to be made.

Robert Zemeckis always makes solid and stylish films, with exceptional camera work, but what I find most attractive in his work is a sense of a pure adventure. ALLIED is a romantic thriller, but above all it is an adventure film.

In the acting department, all the limelight is stolen by Marion Cotillard, with Brad Pitt doing a decent job, but somehow, being the main protagonist, he feels to be in a supporting role.

ALLIED never loses its pace nor stops being entertaining, however it does feel like a much smaller movie stretched out to a two hour mark. That said, however, ALLIED may benefit from multiple viewing, as it is a beautifully written, acted and executed film.


Sunday, 13 November 2016

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR



It’s day thirty-one and the final day of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR works on a simple premise, where-by in the future America, once a year, during 12 hour period called THE PURGE, every crime, including murder, is forgiven. Senator Charlie Roan, whose family had been massacred during one of the purges is now in the race for presidency, her first action if she wins will be to cancel THE PURGE. But in the election year the new rules declare, that no one is immune from THE PURGE. Now as she is being hunted down by her opponent, Charlie is on the run. What will it take to win the election and how far will she be prepared to go?

Written and directed by James DeMonaco THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR is the third instalment in the series. DeMonaco had come up with the idea, penned and helmed all three films, and in the ELECTION YEAR the good writing has met the right budget. It is the best of the three.

The movie is not afraid to spend time establishing the characters and this pays off in the long run. The protagonists are easy to identify with and to care for. The premise is simple and effective, and mirroring the reality of the modern world, making this feature borderline terrifying. The creepy villain and buckets of gore turns it into an intense watch and to top it all, the film does not have a singe boring moment. With the action streaming, in the vein of my favourite TVs show "24", there's barely time to catch one's breath.

Unknowingly to myself, I saved the best for last. I am finally giving the movie a perfect score. This is a perfect end for my Halloween challenge.


SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡🗡🗡🗡
SCARE SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE ONES BELOW



It’s day thirty of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

THE ONES BELOW is a stylish Hitchcockian  thriller of a subtle suspense, that is more tense than any straightforward horror movie could be.

Kate and Justin who are expecting a baby, befriend a strange neighbours from downstairs. When tragedy strikes, Kate starts to suspect that her neighbours have sinister plans.
The movie cleverly plays with expectation, and the attention towards the end becomes almost unbearable.

David Farr, a theatre director, who also has an impressive filmography writing for Tv shows Spooks, The Manager Manager and has also penned a few Hollywood film scripts. He has come up with his first directorial  full length feature debut, which is haunting and terrifying.

Carefully constructed, the story keeps its cards menacingly open, only to slap you in the face with an ending that you will not forget.


SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻👻👻👻
GORE SCORE: NONE
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE DARK STRANGER


It’s day twenty-nine of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

In THE DARK STRANGER a comic book artist is fighting depression and the grief of her mother's suicide, while the visions of The Dark Man, a mysterious figure from the Comic book she is creating starts haunting her and becomes a threat to all. Partially animation, partially a coming of age story, THE DARK STRANGER has a few interesting twists and turns, but drives a familiar route of a family in distress and a young and pretty protagonist fighting evil.

The character of THE DARK STRANGER symbolises depression, and this message and it is not obscure enough to be effective. It is hard to define the target audience for this little movie: it is definitely not for grown ups and teenagers will find it dull. THE DARK STRANGER has a few original ideas up its sleeve, but it's not enough to pull it through.


SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: 👻
GORE SCORE: 🗡🗡
FUN SCORE: 🎃🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: PHANTASM RAVAGER



It’s day twenty-eight of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

PHANTASM is a film , which shares the pedestal with other horror classics, such as HALLOWEEN, but its multiple sequels do not do justice to the original. PHANTASM RAVAGER is the latest instalment the fans of the franchise held high hopes for. What transpired is overwritten, confusing and an uninteresting ride that should have stayed buried or forgotten on the studio's shelf.

You have to give it to the actors from the original, most of them are back for this FINAL fight with evil, and give enthusiastic performances, but the lazy script does not give them much to work with.
The visual effects department was also a major let down. The clumsy CGI is barely passable and will look awkward on the big screen.

There's nothing positive to say about PHANTASM RAVAGER. It made me feel nostalgic for the time when I saw the original, but this is not the "final chapter" the fans like myself deserved.


SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: NONE
GORE SCORE: NONE
FUN SCORE: 🎃

HORROR MOVIE REVIEW: THE DARKNESS



It’s day twenty-seven of my HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE where I have to see a horror movie a day during the month of October and write a short review for each one.

THE DARKNESS is an American movie from Australian Greg McLean, the creator of Wolf Creek. Once again touching upon the travellers entering an uncharted territory, the movie sets the stage in a typical suburban America, with your "next door neighbours" type of characters in peril. When their autistic son picks up some weird artefacts during their vacation in Grand Canyon, he brings in the demonic presence into their everyday life.

THE DARKNESS boasts being based on real life story, but it tries to copy THE CONJURING and INSIDIOUS in a badly unsuspenseful way. The film is a misfire by an otherwise clever director, with a perfect sense of what horror should look like. It's always rewarding to watch Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell, but the script does not give them much to work with. THE DARKNESS is much more concerned about the family drama than horror, delivering in the end a rather mediocre result.

It's not exactly the time to dismiss McLean as an Australian pioneer of horror, but this is a definite diversion from his otherwise decent filmography.


SCORE OUT OF 5:

SCARY SCORE: NONE
GORE SCORE: NONE
FUN SCORE: 🎃