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Film Review: Snatched

“What I Need Is An Amazing Adventure…”

In a world where American comedy is usually as effective as a chocolate teapot, Amy Schumer undeniably is up there with the worst that particular side of the continent has delivered over the course of the past few years, with her venture onto the big screen with releases such as Trainwreck burdening millions with her screechy Americanised tones and hysterically dull sensibility which really doesn’t compute with my idea of an effective comedic personality, particularly in a day and age in which memorable comedies are quite hard to find. Co-starring this week in Snatched with Hollywood legend Goldie Hawn, mother of Kate Hudson and partner to the awesomely cool Kurt Russell, Schumer once again proves that her particular brand of comedy just doesn’t work within the cinematic atmosphere, resulting in a performance which ultimately solidifies the notion of her inability to create laughs through a tired and cliche-ridden narrative which attempts to turn the vulgarity up to eleven in order to distract the audience from the utter boredom which encompasses the events on-screen. Goldie Hawn, what on Earth are you doing in this movie? I guess a gas bill must be due sometime soon. Ker-ching indeed.

After being dumped by her rock and roll boyfriend, Schumer’s unbelievably annoying leading character decides to make the most of her pre-planned trip to South America by inviting her feline-loving mother (Goldie Hawn) with a penchant for over-protection and questionable sculpturing techniques. Cue loud and completely unnecessary scenes of alcoholism, party music and nudity, Snatched is the type of 21st century so-called “comedy” which adds to the argument that the good times have most definitely come and gone in regards to its’ respective genre. Whilst Hawn seems to be there only for the sake of financial inducement, the film really doesn’t paint a sympathetic picture of its’ leading character, resulting in a warped sensibility which desires her captors to actually go through with their sickening plan and dispose of their prisoners as swiftly as possible. If this was indeed the case, the audience would have been spared from a 90 minute bore-fest whose only redeemable character is the poor U.S state department official who gets forced to help save their lives. Maybe next time mate, just forget the rescue and leave them to it.

Overall Score: 3/10

Film Review: Rules Don’t Apply

“You’re An Exception. The Rules Don’t Apply To You…”

Whilst Warren Beatty might be best known in contemporary media circles as being lead conspirator in the Best Picture fiasco at this year’s Academy Award’s ceremony, a recent high-profile cock-up more commonly known as “La La-Gate”, the attention comes in a somewhat suspiciously well timed manner considering the release of Rules Don’t Apply this week, a picture directed, produced, written by and of course, starring the cinematic legend, who takes the leading mantle as infamous businessman Howard Hughes within the setting of 1950’s Hollywood, supported by a simply enormous cast featuring the likes of Hail! Caesar star Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins, Matthew Broderick, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin and the always superb, Ed Harris. With a cast as vast as this, Rules Don’t Apply is the type of movie you would think on the surface is one which everyone in the current cinematic world seemed to aching to be involved in, particularly with the reputation of Beatty at the helm, yet the finished picture is one of entirely mixed fortunes, one which suffers from a non-existent narrative and some misjudged moments of self-indulgence amidst some basic film-making errors which makes you wonder whether the real Warren Beatty should most definitely stand up.

Of the good things within Rules Don’t Apply, the leading trio of Beatty, Ehrenreich and Collins each give respectable performances amidst a screenplay which doesn’t really offer much chance to break new ground, with Beatty really hitting the zany mark in his depiction of Howard Hughes, taking cues from DiCaprio in The Aviator when needed but strictly focusing on the wilder side of the infamous billionaire, whilst Ehrenreich continues to impress every time I see him perform on screen, gearing him up for inevitable higher levels of stardom come next year’s Han Solo spin-off release. Star of the picture however is Lily Collins as the doe-eyed and wondrous Marla Mabrey, the keen and confident Virginian rookie who although is trying sometime in terms of awkward character quips and decision making, is a real find and completely holds her own against the likes of Beatty in a leading role. As for the not-so good elements of the film, Beatty treats the film as a personal blueprint for himself to engage in exceptional levels of excess, an understandable element when considering the character in which he is portraying, yet the sight of an aged Hollywood legend feeling up an intoxicated young star really didn’t sit well on a personal level whilst some fundamental film-making traits are completely disregarded, with endless questionable edits and narrative trails which simply go nowhere. resulting in a movie which ultimately is a complete drag to sit through and when you consider the talent at hand behind it, Rules Don’t Apply can only be regarded as a monumental disappointment.

Overall Score: 4/10

Film Review: Logan

“Nature Made Me A Freak. Man Made Me A Weapon, And God Made It Last Too Long…”

With the monumental success of Marvel’s Deadpool last year, the inevitably of a sudden spike in similarly R-Rated comic-based movies was somewhat unavoidable, with Suicide Squad being the first to match the all-swearing, all-shooting red guy in terms of regressing to a somewhat more “adult” nature with naughty swear words and a level of sexual awareness which was unbeknown to the vast majority of audiences who simply couldn’t believe a film could actually be made, let alone be a success. Whilst Deadpool was a middling critical success, Suicide Squad on the other hand was a film which at the time seemed no more than a utter disappointment, yet in almost six months retrospective can only be regarded as an utter, utter clanger. Attempting to establish themselves as the leading figure of recent R-Rated superhero adaptations this week is Logan, a continuation of the X-Men/Wolverine movie franchise directed by James Mangold, famous for movies such as Walk The Line, 3:10 to Yuma and The Wolverine, and of course starring Hugh Jackman in a leading role which since 2000 has arguably been his most iconic and eye-catching amongst the many X-Men movies which have graced our screens over the last 17 years. Most impressively, Logan is indeed the movie everyone wanted since the film first began to play its’ cards in pre-production, but more importantly, it is the film the superhero genre needed. Forget Deadpool, Logan is the ultra-adult, ultra-violent and swear-tastic Marvel film we’ve all been waiting for.

Set in 2029, an elderly Wolverine strives for survival in the heat of the Mexican border alongside a severely ill Professor X within a world in which the mutant race has all but been wiped out with no sign of a mutant birth in over 20 years in a Children of Men style world crisis. After colliding into the life of young Laura however, Logan is forced to battle his demons and seek closure not only from his own life and the past he most desperately is seeking to leave behind, but for the future of mutants entirely. With Logan being released half way through the week, my view count of the movie has already hit the lofty heights of two, resulting in a much more aligned opinion of a movie in which hype and excitement has once again preceded its’ release. With the parallels between Logan and Deadpool almost inevitable, the difference between the two is astronomical in terms of tone and overall satisfaction levels with the former being a hard-hitting tale of age and loss and the latter just an open canvas for a silly, albeit moderately enjoyable, teenage fantasy of sex, violence and breaking of the fourth wall. Logan is the type of movie in which pain is transposed from screen to audience, with the sharp swoosh of Wolverine’s claws being as piercing as they are deadly, resulting in a wide array of foes and enemies which are violently massacred in jaw-dropping moments of action which bring to mind everything from Kill Bill to The Raid.

One of the main questions arising from the release of Logan however is why has it taken this long to finally see a Wolverine this exciting and deadly? With Hugh Jackman on top-form almost every time he kicks into the character of Wolverine, the foresight of witnessing a rip-roaring Logan in his prime is mouthwatering to say the least and although Mangold’s movie does indeed mark the end for both Jackman’s portrayal of the iconic character and Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Logan is the melancholic, character-based superhero movie no one was really expecting, yet a movie which makes crystal clear sense in regards to a conclusion for characters which have graced our screens for nearly two decades. Whilst not exactly The Dark Knight in terms of overall superhero greatness, Logan is a surprisingly powerful Westernised drama which just happens to feature mutants. Obviously Jackman deserves to take the plaudits for his conflicted and degrading portrayal of the titular hero, but kudos too belongs to Stewart and newcomer Dafne Keen whose ambiguity and bad-assery threatens to steal the limelight away from her elder counterparts. Logan is excellent, there are no two ways about it, with the second viewing only increasing the levels of enjoyment of which the film secretes throughout a running time which simply flies by. A fitting end for one of the most iconic big-screen characters of this millennium so far, Logan is brill. That cross turn bro, that cross turn.

Overall Score: 8/10

Film Review: A Cure For Wellness

Do You Know What The Cure For The Human Condition Is? Disease. Because That’s The Only Way One Could Hope For A Cure…”

Rather annoyingly, the use of the term “visionary” is something of which is pushed around so often in the current cinematic climate that to be regarded as such is somewhat of a negative down-stroke. With the likes of Zack Snyder and now Gore Verbinski proclaiming themselves as visionaries of modern cinema, directors who have released such “classics” such as Sucker Punch and Mouse Hunt respectively, the term has now officially become defunct and saved only for those who are deserved of the term, you know, like directors who have actually made films of some worth. Anyhow, Verbinski returns this year with the 18 rated A Cure For Wellness, a film which harks back to everything from The Ninth Configuration to Lars von Trier’s Riget, and a picture which can only be regarded as one of the most boring, misjudged and overlong works of horror I can remember within the remits of recent history. Whilst many have condoned A Cure For Wellness as simply nothing more than a Shutter Island rip-off, Verbinski’s latest makes Scorsese’s OTT two hours of mania look like a modern masterpiece, with it more likely to send you into a deep coma of confusion than inflict any real tangible sense of threat throughout a barnstorming length of two and a half hours.

After dropping a job-losing clunker and subsequently threatened with criminal prosecution, egotistic Wall Street flunky Lockhart, played by The Place Beyond the Pines’ Dane DeHaan, is sent to a mysterious health care centre in the heart of the Swiss Alps in order to retrieve a AWOL financial executive who has supposedly regressed into a complete and utter basket case and refuses to return to the US of A in order to complete a huge financial deal. Cue creepy looking patients, a mindless and ridiculously overcooked narrative and a concluding feeling of watching a movie which not only could lose at least an hour of its’ running time but one in which nothing actually happens, A Cure for Wellness suffers primarily from a runtime which is unbearable to say the least, and although Verbinski is renowned for an array of miscalculated movie lengths, with Pirates of the Caribbean 3 being a prime example, A Cure for Wellness is his pièce de résistance in terms of runtime malpractice. Whilst Jason Isaacs does do the best with what he’s given in the cliched “foreign stranger” role, the movie can’t escape the problems of its’ silliness, particularly within scenes of unnecessary violence including a cheesy R-rated dentist appointment and an attempted rape scene which borders on the outskirts of being a utter cringe-inflicted misstep. If you wish to see the type of movie A Cure for Wellness is so obviously attempting to be, seek out something like Shutter Island or The Shining instead, relieving you of the utter tedium of delving into a horror which is neither horrific or interesting. A cure for wellness? A cure for sleep deprivation.

Overall Score: 3/10

Film Review: Morgan

“I’m Starting To Feel Like Myself…”

Oh nepotism, how we love you. It is regrettable that after losing track in recent years when it comes to replicating the real quality of his earlier projects such as Blade Runner and Alien, director Ridley Scott has somewhat diminished in terms of reputation, particularly when examining his recent work such as Exodus: Gods and Kings, Robin Hood and The Counsellor. Yes, The Martian was pretty solid and a welcome return to some kind of form, yet it is still rather disheartening to think films as radical as Blade Runner may indeed never break out onto the big screen ever again. In the meantime however, Ridley’s knack of tackling sci-fi genre conventions has seemingly passed on through the gene pool and onto Luke Scott, whose directorial debut in the form of Morgan, no, not a documentary on Morgan Freeman, is the canvas to showcase whether the son has even half of his father’s early talent. Part Ex-Machina, part Terminator, Morgan has the necessary blueprints to regard itself as a work of science fiction, yet its’ ridiculous plot and complete lack of subtlety, particularly in its’ shambles of a final act, means Morgan is a lukewarm start to the ventures of baby Scott.

Although Morgan boats an extensive amount of talent in terms of its’ casting, with Kate Mara, Toby Jones, Paul Giamatti and Brian Cox all managing to squeeze in to the films’ 100 minute run-time, The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy takes the titular role of the synthetic-based humanoid in her stride, pulling out a performance that if served by a sharper and tighter script, may have been something of better consequence. Although the film does hark back to classics of the genre, some even made by father, Ridley, Morgan fails on some level by not entirely deciding on what it really wants to be, much like its’ titular character. Is it a horror? Is it an action thriller? Is it a bit of both? Who knows, and with the fast-paced editing of the latter act of the film not allowing one frame to settle, you leave the cinema with not only a head-rush bit with a sense of something that could have been better served if not for a more careful design. The main talking point of the movie may indeed be the final revelation, yet for anyone with a brain cell, it can only be regarded as wholly predictable, so much so that it shouldn’t even be regarded as a full 360 degree twist. Maybe a 40? Anyhow, Morgan isn’t the decades’ Blade Runner and although guided by the no-how of his father, Luke Scott’s debut is unfortunately one to forget.

Overall Score: 4/10

Duo Review: Deadpool

Dan’s Review

I love comic book movies. I admit it wholeheartedly. The Dark Knight is the undisputed king whilst the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a fun and wholly impressive canon of success, with the much anticipated Captain America: Civil War embracing our screens in the near future. One thing that I am not a fan of however is the comic books themselves with none having the pulling power of gaining my attention away from the live-action adaptations that are constantly engrained on us from the small screen to the big and onto the page of their most original and truest form. Strange I know, but keeping up with Arrow, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and many, many more is exhausting enough. With that in mind, the arrival of Deadpool is somewhat something of a enigma. Sure, I know that this particular superhero is not exactly adhering to the notion of being very super, more anti-hero, more foe than friend with a knack of swearing at you and laughing rather then actually lending a hand, but in all honesty. sounds a bit Kick-Ass meets The Punisher with a hint of V For Vendetta doesn’t it? Without the political intrigue of course. In that regard, not being part of the hardcore comic book fan-club left me in a state of open-mindedness heading into Deadpool, with the film in the end being another case of superhero origin with added violence, swearing and fourth-wall breaking in an attempt to distinguish itself from other and ultimately, better examples of the genre. Please don’t hate me, I’m vulnerable.

Deciding to flesh out the story of Wade Wilson in a non-linear fashion in which we essentially witness the beginnings of the final showdown within the first few minutes, Deadpool can be seen as adhering more towards the B-Movie end of the cinematic spectrum, with ramped up violence taking precedent over true substance whilst adolescent jokes and endless resorts to swearing paint over the rather shallow origin story, something of which has become ever-increasingly tiresome in an age where comic book movies are indeed the top of Hollywood’s wish list. A guy meets a girl. A guy gets screwed over. A guy loses girl. Guy takes revenge. With violence, lot’s of violence. Not exactly the hallmark of a masterpiece but indeed something of a 90 minute Roger Corman-esque, culty B-Movie, except with a 58 million dollar budget at its disposal, all of which will no doubt please the comic-book loving masses, but for the lay viewer, leaves nothing but a gaping whole of mediocrity. Ryan Reynolds is good as the titular anti-hero whilst Morena Baccarin tries her best to break type of the two-dimensional superhero girlfriend, but the real winner here once again is Marvel, with them giving exactly what the fans wanted in creating a movie that specifically will be meant for them. As for me, it’s just not that special but I can see why many will love it and see it as the best thing since sliced bread. Not amazing, but enjoyable nonetheless, Deadpool goes in one ear and carves its’ way out the other in the most violent and adolescent way possible, laughing all the way.

Dan’s Score: 6/10

Pete’s Review

Unlike Dan, I love my comic books. My only issue is the moths fluttering out of my wallet when ever I open it up. As far as Marvel goes, I’m very much into The Amazing Spider-Man but Deadpool has been a character that I’ve known and loved for years, whose comics have been out of my reach for quite sometime. Excerpts and clippings surface everywhere and I enjoy every one of them. This passion only increased when the test footage leaked. It depicted the character I had envisioned and Ryan Reynolds sold it. To be brief, for me, the movie is a resounding success. An action “hero” movie with a lot of flair. On the other hand, I vehemently dislike the TV shows. If you’re looking for corny action scenes, sup-par acting, low-budget visual and god awful cinematography, comic book TV shows really are right up your street. I cannot watch these without cringing. Arrow’s voice changer is enough to make me spit out my drink in laughter.

But I digress. That isn’t why we’re here. Sure, its an origin movie, but its an origin movie with a difference. It appealed to the comic book lovers. It depicts the world correctly and is incredibly meta. The story and process of what made him into Deadpool is a very dark tale and sure, some of the usual action movie tropes are thrown in but throwing such a diverse character into a lead role and not giving this vital information would mean that the movie wouldn’t have traction with the audience and would be a confusing mess. Throwing him into some world ending, overly convoluted story would guarantee its’ death, but also shit over the character. As for its opening scene, I felt it was necessary to use this footage sooner rather than later. Being that it was in the test footage that millions viewed, its only reasonable to show that footage first so you aren’t left waiting for it throughout.

As for the violence, I cannot see an issue with it. It was creative, exciting, vivid and extremely funny. Giggling like a schoolgirl throughout, I couldn’t recommend it more to fans of action flicks and even more so to comic book fans. I have to disagree with Dan. (If you’d like to know more, jump over to our Youtube channel where we shall be talking about this soon!). The only real glaring issues I had with the film was the CGI backgrounds. They lacked the fidelity and sharpness I would have liked and the soundtrack is a little lacking. Apart from that, its everything I could have hoped for and more.

Pete’s Score: 9/10

Overall Score: 7.5/10

Film Review: The Revenant

“I Ain’t Afraid To Die Anymore. I’ve Done It Already…”

Within the space of just twelve months, director Alejandro G. Inarritu has swiftly become the toast of Hollywood, a man whose last film Birdman generously took home the best picture award at the Oscars as well as slowly but surely imprinting it’s own brilliance upon myself after an initial bout of skepticism and uncertainty. Continuing such critical success is The Revenant, Inarritu’s adaptation of Michael Punke’s novel of the same name which focuses on the real-life story of American frontiersman Hugh Glass and his quest for revenge. So after the success of Birdman last year, what on earth would you expect Inarritu to do in order to try and replicate such critical attention just one year on for his latest pet project? Keep to what you know and love of course, with the commanding presence of Inarritu being sent aid from the returning duo of cinematographer and two-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki as well as editor Stephen Mirrione, and it is this triplet that once again leads to success with each upping their game and becoming the sheer backbone of The Revenant, a film in which not only has a undeniable film-making sense of beauty but one that surely, surely, surely finally wins Mr. DiCaprio his long-awaited Oscar.

Although slightly stealing tactics originally from Hitchcock in Rope, Inarritu’s much acclaimed use of the seemingly one-take tactic of Birdman is ditched within The Revenant yet the Sergio Leone-esque desire to shove the camera right into the face of each and every actor that was prevalent within Birdman makes it’s way instead, with Inarritu choosing to place the viewer right into the heart of the danger and chaos that ensues throughout the many set pieces within the film. This particular way of filming is undeniably breathtaking and creates a sense of pain-staking realism on a entirely new level, resulting in being the first film in a long time to physically make me turn away and close my eyes from what our man DiCaprio has to endure in order to survive. Of his miraculous tale of sheer human endurance is the much talked about bear attack scene, a scene in which, although CGI designed, is without limits in showing the sheer brutality of such an attack. It’s a scene reminiscent of the velociraptor hunt within Jurassic Park but with an added R rating, and a scene which sets up the tone for the entire movie. It’s hard to watch, but beautiful nonetheless.

With twelve Oscar nods on its’ side already, The Revenant is undoubtedly a classic in the making. A dark, desperate revenge thriller that feels as claustrophobic as it does epic thanks to the sheer brilliant cinematography by Mr Lubezki, a man set to win yet another Oscar, whereby the breathtaking wilderness is gorgeously examined all within the backdrop of natural light, a time-consuming yet worthwhile tactic that has resulted in in The Revenant being a true cinematic experience, one that should most definitely be witnessed on the biggest screen possible. Understandably, all the talk has all been pointing towards the performances of both DiCaprio and Hardy, with the former literally going through hell in order to adhere to the realistic feel of his surroundings, and even though it is a performance of little speech, it is one of sheer brutality, one that brings with it a sense of sympathy for a man who so clearly wants to collect that prestigious academy award. Don’t let DiCaprio’s performance be the only thing you take from The Revenant however, it is a film made with exquisite skill and talent, a film that creates a world of dark, desperate despair and a film that, Hardy’s sometimes inaudible dialogue aside, is pretty much perfect. A excellent example of modern cinema.

Overall Score: 9/10

Film Review: Joy

“Don’t Ever Think The World Owes You Anything, Because It Doesn’t…”

Although I’m fundamentally confused and sometimes disorientated at the sheer amount of Oscar-waving movies that are dumped upon our screens within the space of around eight or so weeks at the beginning of each year, there is a sense of wonder when examining what makes the blueprint of a film destined for awards from all corners of well, Hollywood. Beginning my venture into the year of film in 2016 is Joy, the new film by David O. Russell, the man behind the simply brilliant one-two of The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook and the rather tedious twiddle that was American Hustle, but hey, you’ve got to take the bad with the good. Ever since the success of Silver Linings Playbook, there is always a guaranteed set of events that are set to follow when a O. Russell film is announced. One. a cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro in a supporting role. Two, a story that is overtly dramatic but relies mainly on performance rather than a presence of underlying depth, and finally, Oscars. With Joy, Russell’s latest indeed features the first two and may indeed end with the latter but in an overall summary, Russel improves on the no-show of American Hustle but fails to live up to the exceedingly high watermark of The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook.

Loosely based on the real-life tale of Joy Mangano, Joy, features Jennifer Lawrence in the titular role, a over-worked single mother, basked with the responsibility of not one, but three generations of family from grandmother down to daughter and son, but with mother, father and half-sister seemingly being the hardest to comprehend and control. After a ring of unsuccessful attempts to spring out from obscurity, Joy begins to design the “miracle mop” with the financial help of her father’s partner and the advertising of Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), a leading executive at QVC, yet it soon begins to materialise that perhaps Joy’s attempts at gaining success and riches are as difficult as controlling her stereotypical family of madness. Much like the life outside the ring for both Dickie and Micky in The Fighter, Joy is at its’ best when the real-life trivialities of family life is exposed, with its’ surprisingly limited comedic element only being adhered too during such scenes, scenes in which sibling rivalries are effectively propositioned by the acting talents of Robert De Niro and Diane Ladd as the one-two mother and father, and Elisabeth Rohm as Joy’s estranged and slightly jealous half-sister.

Where the film ultimately succeeds is it’s reliance on the strength of Lawrence’s leading performance, a testament to her incredible abilities as an actress who, at the age of 25, seemingly has accomplished much more than most of the veterans of today’s acting establishments, yet Joy not only gives her room to expand her vast array of acting talent in the titular role of her character’s single mother lifestyle, it also proves that even with a minimalistic plot that Joy unfortunately has, Lawrence can propel a film into something actually quite good rather than just being okay. Saying that, Joy indeed is the best film you will see this year about the creation of a mop, and as a starter for the year in film, it’s not a bad one. Not quite The Fighter, but definitely better than American Hustle, Joy is a heartwarming addition to the filmography of both Lawrence and Russell.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Bridge of Spies

“We Have To Have The Conversations Our Governments Cant…”

Much like Disney, Marvel, and Bond, the singular word that is “Spielberg” automatically creates a blinding vortex of cinematic vigor and eager anticipation, a feat of which is arguably expected more so than any other directorial name that has come and gone in the past thirty years or so in the eyes (or ears) of the widespread general public. Of course such a household name such as Steven Spielberg has been helped in part to the simply spellbinding back catalogue that Steven Spielberg has created over the course of more than forty years, of which includes my personal favourites Minority Report, Saving Private Ryan, and the first three Indian Jones movies among many many others that have gone on to win both critical and financial acclaim as well as a rafter of awards including the odd Oscar or two. With Bridge of Spies, Spielberg’s latest offering only continues his remarkable career, combining the reliable acting efforts of Tom Hanks, the writing credits of the Coen Brothers, and a Thomas Newman score, creating a classy, entertaining, and pleasingly intelligent Cold War thriller.

Bridge of Spies focuses on the true story of American lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) and his attempt to successfully negotiate the exchange of the captive Soviet Union spy, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) for Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell), an American pilot who was shot down and captured by the Russians during the height of the Cold War in 1957. What makes Bridge of Spies rather splendid is due to a wide range of different factors. One of the most important within the film was how, much like many Cold War era flicks including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Dr. Strangelove, Bridge of Spies manages to effectively handle the strange sense of paranoia and impending doom present in such an ambiguous era where nuclear disaster was a realistic and dangerous threat to both the Soviet Union and the US. Although not being directly part of the main plot threads, the possibility of nuclear war is rife throughout Bridge of Spies and is particularly startling during a scene in which we witness a young classroom watch help guides regarding what to do if a nuclear strike ever occurs on US soil, a frightening experience if ever there was one.

Yes, the Coen Brothers led script is aptly superb, and Janusz Kaminski’s chilly cinematography adheres to the notion of the rather ironically named “Cold War”, but the true winners here are no doubt the leading actors with Tom Hanks continuing on with his fine acting form present in Captain Phillips, whilst esteemed stage actor Mark Ryland as the Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel. also stands out with his suave, silent and sophisticated portrayal of the convicted felon, unsure of his future in either the confines of the US or his freedom in the homeland of Soviet Russia, being a integral part to the films’ effectiveness. Although a shade too long in places, and ending on a sense of sentimentality that Spielberg is wholly renowned for, Bridge of Spies will no doubt be a huge part of next years’ Oscar ceremonials as classy Spielberg war flicks tend to be the best kind of Oscar bait, but unlike some supposed Oscar tipped films that are set to come out in the upcoming months or so, Bridge of Spies is one film where it does deserve the credit it hopefully will get in the near future or so and fits snugly into the ever-growing list of films directed by one Comrade Spielberg.

Overall Score: 8/10 

Film Review: The Martian

Life On Mars

When the first theatrical trailer for Ridley Scott’s new sci-fi movie The Martian was released to the world a few months back, the two-minute clip was so spoiler-heavy in terms of some rather important plot points, you could have been easily forgiven for not choosing to pay to watch what essentially might have been a two and a half hour extension of the ideas highlighted in that particularly short amount of time, and when a following six-minute trailer for the film was released soon after the first, I completely blocked it in order to save some of the excitement for the film’s release. If you were one of the many who chose to watch The Martian in its’ six-minute release format, I can’t imagine you could have been overly impressed by the complete package, with it, like Everest recently, suffering from the now-familiar problem that its’ core shocks and storylines were overtly spoiled before the film’s release in a vain attempt to sell the film to the masses via that of a trailer, something of which detracts the film from the excellence it could have possibly become.

When the NASA led Ares III manned mission to Mars is forced to retreat due to heavy storms and dangerous weather, astronaut and acclaimed botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left for dead on the planet after being hit by debris, yet soon after, NASA realise Watney is in fact alive and well on the planet after surviving the accident and is now attempting to survive on Mars for the duration of time it takes until the next scheduled NASA mission lands. Using the wide range of expertise of both Watney and those back on Earth, the two combine in an attempt to accomplish the miracle of getting Watney back home, a destination all of 33 million miles away. Directed by the genius that is Ridley Scott, creator of two of my favourite films of all time in the form of Blade Runner and Alien, The Martian proves to be one of his better works in recent times but ultimately fails to touch the greatness of some of his most prestigious work whilst feeling indirectly and unfortunately familiar to the masterpiece that was last year’s Interstellar, with the film even going so far as having some of the same actors (Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain) whilst having an unbelievably uncanny plot point that derives straight from last years’ Nolan epic (Matt Damon being stranded alone on a alien planet).

Areas in which the film succeeds is the way in which Damon’s portrayal of the lone astronaut Mark Watney is strongly handled with him neither passing into the realm of annoyance or boredom and instead being an interesting and well-developed character throughout, whilst the interaction of geeks and gargantuan space-filled characters on Earth was also highly enjoyable with a wide range of unexpected comedic content, aside from the inclusion of Donald Glover’s Rich Purnell whose annoying ten-minute inclusion almost ruined every scene in which he was present. Excellent also was the presentation of the desperate wasteland that is Mars, with Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography being on tip-top form when confronted with the planet’s desolate surroundings. The main problem in my opinion with The Martian, aside from it being around twenty-minutes too long, was there was no real sense of threat for the character of Mark Watney, with it being blindingly obvious that his escape from Mars was set to be a successful venture, something of which was rather disappointing, whilst the sometimes cheesy script and dialogue (That Iron Man scene…Eugh) resulted in The Martian being a solid return for Sir Ridley, but nothing actually that spectacular on the face of it.

Overall Score: 7/10