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Film Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

“Find Jack Sparrow For Me And Relay A Message From Captain Salazar. Tell Him: Death Will Come Straight For Him…”

Praise be and grab your rum of choice, it is indeed that time once again. After believing that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise had sailed its’ last sail with On Stranger Tides, a third sequel to Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney’s flagship theme park based series swiftly returns this week with Salazar’s Revenge or perhaps, Dead Men Tell No Tales, depending on where exactly you will be spending your hard earned cash in order to witness the newest CGI orgy of famous actors dressing up like second year university students hitting the town and pretending to act serious when shouting “arghhh” and battling invisible, digitally created cannon fodder, all of whom are eager for disposal by death. Holding my frightfully cynical tone for a moment, the release of Salazar’s Revenge might controversially be the film which reinvents my opinion of the gargantuan series, and even with expectations as low as the depths of the pacific ocean, the addition of Norwegian directorial pair Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg alongside the ever reliable presence of Javier Bardem is a cause for cautious optimism, particular with the latter’s ability to carry off a damn fine villain when necessary. Inevitably, Salazar’s Revenge instead is yet just another CGI-fuelled bore-fest, one which trades set pieces for narrative and acting ability for budget costs within a skin peeling two hours which confirms the series has indeed sunk to the depths of mediocrity without any sign of resuscitation aboard.

Whilst the film centrally is based around the retrieval of a mysterious object which breaks every and any curse laced upon the many characters within the Pirates universe, Salazar’s Revenge also has to try and squeeze in the titular character’s quest for violent justice, with Javier Bardem’s CGI-masked villain setting his sights on the figure of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, a Captain Jack Sparrow who has seemingly worsened in every subsequent movie, resulting in a performance which has increasingly become a caricature of itself in an almost cringe-like fashion. With a script which is laced with cheesy and ear-grating dialogue, Depp has finally managed to confirm that his time in the spotlight as the world’s worst pirate must finally come to some sort of a dignified end, and whilst the inclusion of Orlando Bloom and a completely silent Keira Knightley could leave some fans jumping for joy, the return of their respective characters adds absolutely nothing to the overall enjoyment of the movie. Alongside some terrible sound editing and a complete lack of threat, Salazar’s Revenge is unsurprisingly a meaningless, dull affair, one which continues the woeful track record of blockbusters this year and a film which rivals David Beckham for worst cameo of the year so far. I mean, Paul McCartney, what are you thinking?

Overall Score: 3/10

Disney Reportedly in Talks With Fisher’s Estate

Its been a difficult few weeks for Star Wars fans who have been rocked by the death of Carrie Fisher. Even more so consider her reportedly large role within the leiaupcoming instalment of the series. Fortunately, the filming for Episode 8 has wrapped and Fisher will be making a posthumous return, but what about the final episode in this trilogy that also considers her role extremely important?

If we take a step back and look at the latest Star Wars adaptation, we can see Disney and Lucasfilms have a potential solution. Peter Cushing or as some may know him, Grand Moff Tarkin was digitally imprinted into Rogue One. Cushing, who died is 1994 was brought back to life by VFX artists and magicians to reprise the iconic role with express permission from his estate. Personally, had I not been told, I wouldn’t have known about this until after the release of the film which prompted a lot of controversy. Towards the end of the film we also witnessed a young Princess Leia using the same technology but was far more apparent.

Its being reported that Disney have already begun talks with Fisher’s estate to utilise her image as Princess Leia so they can finish this trilogy. As of what the talks peter-cushingwill consist of or if there will be any script/story changes, we can’t be sure, but its hoped by many that if they come to an agreement, Leia will be done gracefully, not overdone and her role heavily reduced or ended appropriately.

Considering the impact of the character on the universe and the film industry, I can see a deal going ahead. Fisher’s estate owes a lot to the Leia character and the fans that have supported them the over decades and I feel that justice can be done for both Carrie and Leia to round out her career with respectfully.

What do you think of this? Would you like to see Fisher maintain her role through CGI? Let us know in the comment section below!

Film Review: The Jungle Book

“I Am Mowgli, And This Is My Home..!”

Of all the Live-Action Disney remakes that have graced our screens over the course of the past few years or so, the latest from Iron Man’s Jon Favreau could easily be regarded as perhaps the best of the lot, with Kenneth Branagh’s take on Cinderella last year arguably being the closest Disney re-imagining that manages to at least rival and in some areas, better, the latest take on Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a film featuring an impressive foray of CGI inflicted animals, each with their own personalities, aided by a stellar voice cast featuring the likes of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley and of course, Idris Elba as the terrifying figure of Shere Kan, an enemy completely parallel to the one featured in the 1967 Disney animated classic, highlighting the darker and scarier direction Favreau’s film has decided to go in. The real question still remains though; does the latest incarnation of Mowgli and Baloo’s story give justice to both Kipling and the 1967 animation? It does indeed, although, perhaps inevitably, probably won’t be as endearing as the latter has been in terms of longevity and legacy.

Of the film’s many successes, the CGI animals throughout the entirety of the film are a sheer wonder to behold, with flawless design and an incredibly voice cast accomplishing the incredible feat of forgetting the animals’ fictionalised reality and entirely believing in them from the outset. A dour joke at the beginning that fell flat on its’ face aside, the CGI through the course of the film is easily the best use of the technology in recent memory, perfectly realising the characters of Kipling, particularly that of the stand-out trio in Bill Murray’s charismatic Baloo, Idris Elba’s sinister Shere Kan and finally, Christopher Walken’s King Louie, harbouring a comical updated version of “I Wan’na Be Like You”. Letting the team down rather comprehensively however is Scarlett Johansson’s Kaa, a involvement way too short to have any impact whatsoever. Of course, being the only real-life actor within the film, Neel Sethi’s portrayal of Mowgli is one of depth and interest, a testament to the young acting abilities of Sethi, a previously unheard actor. Not any more I would think. Disney does it again, congratulations, The Jungle Book is a easy-going family treat, one that will please everyone that intends to see it. With a sequel already in the works, it is safe to say the story of Mowgli has a very strong future indeed. Any news on Star Wars now?

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Inside Out

Life of Riley

When it comes to my final countdown of this years’ best and brightest movies, at least two films within that list will be that of an animated pedigree, with the first being the wonderful Song of the Sea, released only two weeks ago, which proved to be one of the most blissfully entertaining and emotion rattling films that I had seen so far this year with gorgeous visuals, a simply gorgeous design and a soundtrack that rivals any classic musical companion to date. The second on that list however, without a doubt, will be this weeks’ new Disney Pixar release, Inside Out, a film so masterful in reaching all its’ cinematic targets and avenues that it begs the question whether Disney can ever outdo itself ever again in creating a film that not only touches the heart, but touches the mind too with concepts and ideas that are set to bring a overarching sense of joy out in everyone, even if they are too stubborn to admit it.

The story of Inside Out focuses on the life of young Riley Anderson and her five manifestations of emotions that reside within her mind who control the way in which her life is run, whether it be saving memories of joy and happiness, creating islands of Riley’s personality or just finding solutions to day-to-day problems and situations young Riley finds herself in. Of these emotions, Joy (Voiced by Amy Poehler) believes the best way for Riley to live her life is to constantly be happy and only resort to the other emotions of either Disgust, Fear, Anger and Sadness if completely necessary, yet Riley and her emotions are turned upside down when she is forced to relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco, resulting in a range of stark changes that set Joy and co. on a wild quest to adapt to their inhabitants sudden and relentless changes. From the plot synopsis alone, it is obvious that Inside Out is a movie that can be related with by almost everyone and anyone, regardless of age, with the youngest audience being there for the gorgeous visuals and design, the high comedic and slapstick output and relationship to the character of Riley, whilst the older audience being there to enjoy the relationship between Riley and her parents, helped by a deep understanding of the films’ main idea that growing up brings with it a rafter of changes, both physically and mentally.

Of the many positives within the film, the simple, yet brilliant concepts that continued to pop up were astounding to behold, with trains of thought, islands of personality, imaginary friends and subconscious fears all being expertly designed, resulting in a roller-coaster ride of emotions with moments of sheer sadness, uplifting joy, and an overall sense of wonder that the film willingly creates. For example, one young girl in the cinema showing I was in actually broke down in tears during the film and although I was never going to follow suit, I have to admit, there were times my tongue was being well and truly bit, particularly in regards to the final scene of Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong. I’m such an emotional wreck. These collage of magical elements that encompassed Inside Out throughout its’ runtime results in making the film not only one of the best of the year, but a true Disney Classic, one of which will live long in the memory of all that choose to watch it.

Overall Score: 10/10     

  

Film Review: Tomorrowland

Back to the Future

To say that Disney have done reasonably well this year in terms of both cinematic revenue and, more importantly, critical success would be something of an understatement, with Cinderella and Avengers: Age of Ultron two of the many Disney distributed films that are set to be released in 2016 already doing fabulously well in both categories. If I was to pick a favourite in terms of its’ critical appeal out of the two so far, then Cinderella would take that gong at this very moment in time, but maybe not for long, with Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland causing a potential upset for Mr. Branagh and his little glass slipper. I mean come on, George Clooney and time travel. what more can you want?

After being arrested for trespassing on a defunct NASA operative base, heroine Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) comes across a pin which transports her to the magical world of Tomorrowland, a utopian dimension of life where Frank Walker (George Clooney) has been exiled due to his creation of an algorithm designed to determine the future of those who wish to see it. When such algorithm determines that the Earth is set to destroy itself within the next 66 days, Casey and Frank are tasked with saving it by Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a girl who may not be as she seems. Firstly, a film which basis itself on a theme park is destined to have restrictions from the get-go. Take the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise for instance, where the first may have been rather good-fun, if overlong, but then sank into depths of darkness with its’ sequels where plot points ran thin and characters’ became tiresome, even if they continued to still take bundles of cash. Where the first Pirates was good fun and entertaining, Tomorrowland at times, is arduous and obvious in its’ direction and intentions, with its’ main morale standpoint of ‘move to Disneyland when the shit hits the fan on Earth’, questionable to say the least.

Aside from questionable underlying themes of utopia, which for some youngsters may be a step too far, Tomorrowland does feature some solid acting, particularly from Raffey Cassidy, who aside from sounding startlingly like the evil sentient AI from the first Resident Evil film, is the standout performer as young-un Athena, who even out-acts Clooney at times, who although gives it his best shot as Frank Walker, is reduced to cliche’d adventure-film lines throughout most of his time on-screen. In fact, all of the child-actors in Tomorrowland do a solid job in comparison to their elder co-stars, even Pierce Gagnon. last seen as spooky child Cid in the wonderful Looper, as Nate Newton, whilst Hugh Laurie is given way too little screen time to embrace himself in the role of the evil David Nix. The visuals may look top-notch, and so they should for a Disney film, but they also seem vacuous, something of which is now common place in a lot of 21st century films due to the magic of CGI. Does anyone still remember stunts? Aside from George Miller that is.

Muddled in its’ morale standpoint, messy in its’ exploration, Tomorrowland seeks to assert the notion that good things come to those who buy Disney products are good themselves, featuring some rather excellent child-actors, whilst strangely wasting the combined talents of both Clooney and Laurie. Cinderella, have no fear. You are still the top Disney dog of the year so far.

Overall Score: 6/10

Saving Mr. Banks – Quicky Review!

Yeah, so this has been a draft for about 2 weeks now. Sorry about that….Saving Mr Banks

Mary Poppins is a character that will stay with many of us for the rest of our lives and will be remembered for many years to come. A tale of a wondrous nanny with magical abilities and a loving heart cemented it’s place in many hearts and minds, even when it was just a book! Saving Mr. Banks details the creation of Mary Poppins and P.L. Travers’ aversion to it’s filming without her specific sign off.

Going into the theatre, the trailer didn’t look all that, but considering I have a soft spot for anything vintage or Disney orientated, I looked forward to exploring the workings and production of a story that was a staple in my childhood. The opening scene of the iconic Disney castle logo was the 1960’s version and kept it’s grainy 30mm film aspect and was an incredible gorgeous but subtle piece even before the movie starts, almost as if it’s taking it’s hat off, bowing in respect to the past.

Jumping into the movie, we follow 2 time lines. The first is obviously the 1960’s era that depicts Travers’ struggles and the weeks she spent in California working on the film. Our second time line is Travers as a young girl in Australia that depicts a life vastly different to her current lifestyle. The stories merge intermittently throughout to give context to certain scenes and motivations. They also help illustrate Travers’ attitudes and aversion to change. The merging of the lines is perfectly done. Nothing is harsh on the eye and you don’t get dropped into another scene that opens up another avenue, it seamlessly blends together. Even though the stories follow the same character, the pieces are juxtaposed against each other. While one starts off happy, it deteriorates while the other flourishes the longer it goes on.

Many scenes are dotted throughout the movie that are just perfect. There is no doubt about it. A mix of the exuberant colours, great acting and a brilliant script that really resonates. A particular favourite was when Travers’ was leaving the US. Through the time she spent there, a personal driver was assigned to drive her where ever she chose. Ralph (Paul Giamatti) was his name. Blissfully unaware to who he was driving about, he would talk about the beauty of life in LA and his disabled daughter. Just before Travers leaves, Ralph found out from his daughter about her and asked for a signature. The ensuing conversation is a real tear-jerker and still stays with me even when I saw it weeks ago.

With a huge cast of actors and many recognisable faces, we understand their abilities. Fortunately, they manage to maintain a high standard of acting that doesn’t diminish. I was extremely surprised to see Colin Farrell appear. I didn’t expect to see so many people. Farrell also has experience as an alcoholic, so jumping into the boots of one isn’t much different to what he used to do. Not being a huge fan of him, I do have to say that he played the role with dignity and portrays Travers Goff as a wonderful human being struck by something difficult to control. Obviously, Tom Hanks is Walt Disney and I really enjoyed his performance, even though I’m hearing complaints about his southern accent. Personally, I have no idea what they are grinding at but otherwise all the acting was superb.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had real trouble trying to find something wrong with the movie. I didn’t want to sit here a praise it endlessly without something to pick on. The only thing I can think of is that I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Disney. Not just the theme park but a little more into the background of Walt. Seeing I’ve run out of things to say, I believe that this movie is worth a good 9/10. Mary Poppins is brilliant story that has influenced countless generations and the premise to delve into it was a great idea while seamlessly blending two time lines into one.

Saving Mr Banks 1

The Lone Ranger – The Not So Quicky, Quicky Review! – SPOILERS –

The Lone Ranger 2Another Disney movie with Johnny Depp in. Again, playing the weirdest character possible. For me, it’s lost it’s charm and really reflects Disney’s desire to ride off of the success of Jack Sparrow in alternate realities. Within recent weeks, The Lone Ranger has suffered largely from a flop in America and critics bashing it left, right and centre. It’s $220 million budget was one of the big problems that Disney has had on this project and it’s expected that it may not see an actual return on the investment. With thee American results over a month ago, it is extremely unlikely that it will achieve over $190 million from the worldwide box office. Personally, I wasn’t aware that The Lone Ranger was a radio show, TV show and loads more avenues. I thought it was a kids books from back in the day. Not experiencing the avenues, I don’t know much about The Lone Ranger and Tonto but this movie focuses on the beginning of the pair which could mean it is an origins story with the potential for more. However, due to the sales, this is very unlikely even though Gore Verbinski directed it and is renowned for his Pirates of The Caribbean trilogy (Not the Black Beard one!)

Instead of just jumping into the story, we join the world in the 1920’s (Bit of a stab in the dark!) A young boy dressed in Lone Ranger attire wanders through a Wild West carnival exhibit and stumbles across a Native Indian statue which turns out to be real. Soon we find out it’s Tonto (Johnny Depp) whose grown old. From this point, he beings to reactant the story of how he and the Lone Ranger met and the story that formed the bond between them, only to be interrupted a few times in the midst of the story to clear up things that Tonto left out (presumably because of age), this could have been used to aid the plot but it felt intrusive and stopped the motion of play at certain points but really aided the ending with the explosion of a bridge by deviating before it blew and returning about 20 minutes later to finally watch it go up in flames. The overall story was one that was very simple and could have ended at multiple points. Skipping through the usual ‘How our heroes came to be’ we know that Tonto is a nutter and John Reid – The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) is a city lawyer broken apart by the death of his Texas Ranger brother. Seeking justice, the pair ride together to find Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), an infamous posse leader who is known for eating the organs of his fallen foes, right in front of their corpse. With a mix of plot twists and turns, the story doesn’t grind to a halt but it could easily have ended much sooner rather than being dragged along for a 2 1/2 hour journey.The Lone Ranger

A big budget, a collection of famous names and faces with a talented director and Disney’s backing, you can see that a lot of work and dedication has gone into the movie. As a group, the writers have worked together to create something both adult and child friendly while reflecting the complexity of the situation that was happening at the time with the conflicts between Americans and the Natives over control of the land and its natural resources. Alongside the cinematography the overall filming was stunning and the cunning use of the props was an intriguing and clever idea. The prop use that sticks out to me was when Tonto was looting the bodies of the dead rangers and was doing a traditional Indian trade when he gave him a packet of nuts that was given to him by the young child he is telling the story too. Lighting was heavily considered for certain areas. The most prominent area was the silver mine which has the brightest lighting combined with the natural light of the area, the whole area glistened white. The shots ranged from extreme close-ups to long shots that captured the landscape brilliantly and transitioned between areas extremely well. The general construction of both the settings and the costumes should be applauded as they were well manufactured and fit the area perfectly.

Out of the whole cast, the best acted character was Butch Cavendish. One – his make-up was impeccable and I didn’t know it was him until I looked at the IMDB list. Two – Fichtner managed to keep in character without losing character by over exaggerating. Once again, the typical duo of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are gracing the screens together. Nothing new and exciting there but Helena only appears 2-3 times and doesn’t really do much to warrant the huge pay check that she received, especially with the accent that didn’t sound very ‘western’. As usual, Depp plays a weird character that is placed out of the regular confines of modern society in a changing world. He plays the crazy characters fine, the feeding of the dead bird was entertaining and his blank stares were much the same but it’s nothing that we haven’t already seen and I would really like to see him in something a little more serious, perhaps Rum The Lone Ranger 3Diaries. Finally, we have the main hero John Reid. Arnie Hammer doesn’t appear to have done a huge amount and I would hazard a guess that this is his first leading role so far and it wasn’t bad. He was a little weird and points and spent most of the time being a bit of a liability with very little character development apart from his brothers death and his brothers wife who he loves…One of my problems is with the casting of Reid’s nephew, why can they not cast a child who can act a little?

In typical Verbinski style, this movie is just an action movie. It is also filled with comedy and crazy shenanigans which made the Pirates series so popular. A personal favourite was the rabbits. Not just ordinary rabbits, savage mother fuckers who will quite happily feed on their dead cooked cousin while snarling at the screen bearing its teeth, bundling in with a brawl between seemingly normal animals. The rest of the comedy was the over zealous explosions, fight scenes with witty one liners, The spirit horse that appears from nowhere and the heroic duo who spend moments arguing like a married couple in Asda’s drink section (Walmart to the Americans), Alongside that you have Tonto’s weird behaviour coupled with that bloody crow can be funny.

So overall, the movie is fun. Not a masterpiece of cinema, or a brilliantly scripted piece that grabs you by the balls and pulls you into the dark room. There was no tension builders that could have assisted the story but in total I feel it is worth the watch, seeing as we won’t be seeing a follow-up to it. 6/10 feels right to me. 7/10 on a good day.

The Lone Ranger 1

Monsters University – Review – SPOILERS – UK RELEASE

Monsters UniversitySorry that I didn’t get this out on release day, but seeing as it only came out Friday, I say its fair that I saw it today!

Here we have a triumphant return from Pixar with the worlds favourite monsters. In a story that prequels Monsters Inc, it looks like an origin story of the great duo. It opens up with a collection of child monsters on a school trip too Monsters Inc., upon enters a tiny Mike, a adorably big eye, a stature that puts him in the light weight boxing division of Barbie & Action Man dolls, alongside vibrant green skin and a cute little smile. At the scare factory, we find out Mike’s inspiration and reason behind his decision to join the Monsters University. From this point on, he focuses on getting there and achieving his dream of becoming a screamer. Not till later do we see a skinnier, leaner version of Sully who is a powerhouse of strength and creature of fear, yet lacks theoretical perspective and uses his fathers fame to further his popularity, therefore, making him the common day rich douche-bag. At the start of good year, both tend to avoid each other and don’t interact much, but as we progress, we see a rivalry and distinguished hatred for each other which lays them in trouble with the university dean and leads to a series of events detailing the pairs friendship growth, alongside a group of shunned students who are pushed to strive for bigger things.Monsters University 2

As a member of the 90’s generation, I was about when Monsters Inc. came out and could truly appreciate it at that age due to its colour, comedy and its ingenious plot that makes it so memorable. Now as an adult, this movie feels like it was made for the generation who lived to see it in the cinema and value it. Now I can appreciate the extensive amounts of work that goes into making Sully’s hair move or every single blade of grass under Mike’s feet. The lines and shapes that make up the campus and so much more. Visually the movie is pristine. Everything is vibrant and punchy that sends your eyes blitzing around the screen soaking in every last orange and pink in the vast scenery. Everything was in focus allowing you time to look.

As with any Pixar movie, once they develop onto it and create a foundation, the stories can become a little predictable at points with a lot of moral dilemmas throughout whenever a plot twist occurs. As predictable as it was, the story was still fun, witty and utilizes it’s potential to Monsters University 5make it far bigger. Character stories were heartfelt, pulling on the heart strings at points and the whole film would keep a smile permanently wedged onto your face, hairs raised on the back of your neck and an attachment that only Pixar could create. The witty creations and variations that they went through to develop each character is phenomenal and the variation shows the dedication to create a real world for the monsters and not some copy and paste fillers.

As an overview, I don’t have much to write about. The movie was a stunning piece of art, a graceful origins story, a heart warming adventure with silly humour fit for all the family. However, before the movie even starts, The Blue Umbrella is a Pixar short to open Monsters University and is impeccable and a stunning short film to open with. I never felt that I could develop an emotional attachment to an object as simple as an umbrella. If this hasn’t shown at your cinema, Google is a thing that can help!

So, as an overall rating, I’m going to go with an 8/10 due to its predictability, but also the skipping of some sub-characters. A must-see movie for the summer!

Monsters University 4

Paperman

Disney s “Paperman”

Directed by John kahrs

Paperman was recently awarded best animated short film at the Oscars last week,  due to this I decided to review it and let you know what i think of it.

I saw Paperman by accident while browsing the interwebs back in the beginning of this month (February)  and I’m glad I did as it is a work worthy of that award.

Paperman-poster

“An animated short that follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him.”(Walt Disney Studios)

Firstly the film is completely done in black and white, except for the single shade of red of the women’s lipstick, and not a single word spoken during the length of the film. Still being the animation runtime is only six and a half minutes the whole no speaking and no colour is bearable in-fact I would say it makes it better. What really stood out to me was the animation style, a mix between hand drawn 2D animations overlaid with 3D CGI, which looks incredible. You can see the pencil sketch marks which is slowly being lost to digital works. In terms of the story it was a simple story of two people falling in love at first sight, which has Disney written all over it and told in a fantastic and creative way.

Due to the no speaking the soundtrack is the only thing you are given to listen to and the music goes perfect with the animation, in some parts it portrays the sad and alone feelings of the characters, and in others it  brings out the magic of the two characters reuniting with other,  beautifully performed by Christopher Beck.

Overall I would really recommend this to anyone  for its amazing animation and simple yet quick story that anyone can enjoy. 9/10