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Black Ribbon’s Top Film’s of 2015: Part Two

Top Films of 2015: 10-1

The first weeks of 2016 dawn upon us leaving the success or failures of 2015 swiftly in the past, a year in which I have well and truly have had to wait until the last week of the year in order to fully decide my top ten favourite films thanks to the late, late release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the continuation of the famous saga which, unless turned out to be absolute an absolute drag, was inevitably going to end up being one of my favourite films of the year. With this in mind, the final list has finally been completed and the best 2015, in terms of movie magic, has had to offer begins with…

10. Wild Tales

Deliciously dark yet uproariously hilarious, Damian Szifron’s anthology of revenge leans heavy on the use of black horror and dry wit whilst not shying away from the ridiculousness of primal human nature in society today. I mean come one, almost everyone on the planet has had a barmy with a traffic warden and it is situations like these that are turned well and truly on their head and portrayed with a pulpy style reminiscent of the best comic violence auteurs like Tarantino and even Sam Raimi. Check it out now.

9. Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller’s completely off-the-chain, ludicrous and wholly spectacular revamp of the famous cult classic Mad Max franchise in which a baby-faced Mel Gibson has been replaced with the stern English chops of Tom Hardy has ultimately in retrospect thwarted all previous expectations of its’ critical sustainability due in part to it’s simply mind-blowing stunt work and artistic tendencies with John Seale’s cinematography being a standout performance. Sight & Sound voted it the third best film of the year but for me it sneaks just in at ninth.

8. The Gift

Oh Blumhouse Productions, how you make me weep with both resentment and sheer admiration on a rather annoyingly regular basis. How can a production company resort to releasing such turgid disgraces to horror such as any of the Sinister, Insidious sequels but then also create films like The Gift, a cleverly scripted and brilliantly acted chiller thriller written, directed and starring Joel Edgerton which brought about one of the most horrific jump scares I can recall in recent memory. If there ever was a blueprint for heading in the right direction for Blumhouse then The Gift is it. Please abide by such. Please.

7. Birdman

Preposterous and simply bewildering on first glance, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s satirical glance on the state of Hollywood and the trials and tribulations of actors and actresses in general definitely takes some warming to and ultimately becomes a better film with each and every watch. Winning the Oscar for best film in 2015 was met with a whole lotta skepticism by many but in a strange, roundabout sort of way, by allowing the Oscar ceremony to fully embrace a film that basically sticks it’s two fingers up at the current climate of Hollywood is rather comedic in itself. Birdman works, it just takes some time to fully understand why.

6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

“Every generations has a story” claimed Disney and boy were they spot on. From the minute John Williams’ famous Star Wars overture blasts on to the screen within The Force Awakens, you know you are in safe hands, yet J.J Abrams’ continuation of the famous saga does more than settle for returning back into the saddle again after the peril of the prequels and instead introduces a new set of heroes for a new wave of Star Wars fans in the form of Rey and Finn whilst incorporating a complex, evil, and wholly interesting villain in the form of Kylo Ren. Simply marvelous. P.S, who else got a remote controlled BB-8 for Xmas?

5. Spectre 

There is something rather strange and fundamentally patriotic about my undeniable love for the James Bond series, a series in which its’ peak was arguably tipped by the release of Skyfall back in 2012 and a film that SPECTRE had a barrel load to live up to, yet after the dust has settled and feelings have finally settled down, it seems there isn’t much point in comparing the two with both strangely enough being completely different movies even if being molded by the same franchise. SPECTRE has strangely had some bad press by many, particularly across the sea in the US of A, but for me it continues the success of Skyfall and allows the beauty of Bond to continue well into the future.

 4. Macbeth

Shakespeare meets Kill List with a hint of 300. What more do you want? After the dark and desperate display of directing in Snowtown, Justin Kurzel attempts to go full throttle darkness with the latest desperation of the famous tragedy starring the wonderful Michael Fassbender and the equally majestic Marillon Cotillard in the roles of Lord and Lady Macbeth respectively. It may not be for everyone, granted, but for the Wheatley-love that resides within me, Macbeth is the closest thing to a all-out cinematic blackout in terms of tone I have seen since Wheatley’s own masterpiece, Kill List. 

3. Sicario

With the sequel to Blade Runner in the hands of Sicario director Denis Villeneuve, I can safely say my original feelings of utter horror and sheer doubtfulness have well and truly been grounded due to the continuation of Villeneuve’s remarkable career so far. Continuing his success story of Incendies, Prisoners and Enemy, is Sicario, Villeneuve’s white-knuckle thriller focusing on the dodgy dealings of the US Government around the Mexican border and the Cartel. Two set pieces particularly set the tone for the film with the tensest traffic jam ever and a venture into a dark and dangerous tunnel, combining in a film so engrossing it’s hard to not talk about it after every watch.

2. Inside Out/Song of the Sea

A bit of cheating here but it was simply impossible to decide which was better out of the two best animated features of the past few years or so, if not ever, with Disney’s Inside Out sharing a wide range of similarities with Song of the Sea, a beautifully crafted animation based around Irish folklore and featuring some of the best use of music that has been heard this year. What do both movies have in common I hear you scream, well a wide range of imagination for starters as well as a sheer amount of attention to detail and scenes that are guaranteed to pull tightly at the heart-strings. Who says these films are for kids? If so, class me a child and I will wear it with pride if animated films continue to be this rich and rewarding.

1. Whiplash

If you are a regular visitor of Black Ribbon, you will no doubt be aware of my sheer admiration for Whiplash, Damien Chazelle’s simply masterful and dramatic exploration of desire, admiration, willingness and eagerness in the world of music, helmed terrifically by the most deserved Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor in recent years in the form of J.K. Simmons as Terrence Fletcher, the menacing and simply terrifying musical teacher who obviously takes his educational standpoint from that of Drill Sergeant Hartman in Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. If you haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, please do, and you will witness the best film of 2015. Trust me.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Duo Review

Dan’s Review

 

The biggest film of 2015 is finally here after years, almost decades of an excruciating wait for a true continuation of George Lucas’s original trilogy, something of which would attempt to eradicate the wholly mediocre memory that the prequels imprinted on the Star Wars community, whilst expanding the well and truly cherished universe for a whole new generation of young children who’s experience of The Force Awakens may indeed be their first taste of Star Wars on the big screen. With George Lucas handing directorial duties to renowned sci-fi enthusiast, J.J. Abrams, the man behind the reinvention of the Star Trek series, The Force Awakens was already heading in the desired direction with Lucas finally understanding that money can only go so far and what was truly needed with The Force Awakens was to return to the imaginative and truly immersive spectacle the original trilogy portrayed all the way back with the release of A New Hope in 1977. Has it succeeded? Is The Force Awakens the magnum opus of the Star Wars universe many have proclaimed it to be? Not exactly, but one thing is for sure, it is a resounding homecoming and like the original trilogy, a whole lotta fun.



Beginning once again with the legendary line of “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, John Williams famous overture blasts onto our screens over the scrolling opening crawl that informs us of Luke Skywalker’s apparent disappearance and the rise of the First Order, a seedy, evil faction of the fallen galactic empire who are attempting to discover the location of the lost, legendary Jedi, an opening backdrop much more streamlined than the tax credit political nonsense that The Phantom Menace began with. So far, so good, and the film takes no time at all settling into the introduction of the both the film’s antagonist and protagonist with the Sith-ridden Kylo Ren being introduced through ruthless murder and an understanding of the force similar to that of Vader himself, whilst Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron comes across as the cocky, swaggering second shade of Han Solo himself, and already I’m sold. Within the first ten minutes of the film we are exposed to an understanding of the force unlike anything I have ever seen before and this is a riff played extensively upon throughout the course of The Force Awakens, resulting in a villain both ominous and ambiguous who is crippled by, excuse the pun, the force of expectation brought upon him due to his rather muddled family tree. No spoilers here.


 

Where Kylo Ren proves to be a real win in terms of the evil side of the force, the introduction of Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn are welcome entries into the Star Wars universe, with Rey particularly being a strong, independent, and well-developed female lead, expanding the rather limited female base of characters established in the universe so far and for that I’m glad. Following in the footsteps of the universally recognised R2-D2 also, is that of BB-8, the orange coated roller-ball who, along with the return of Chewbacca, brings the greatest comedic elements of the film, particularly in a scene where it responds to Finn’s thumbs up which resulted in the entire screening laughing in hysterics. As for the return of the golden-oldies, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo is the obvious winner with him not only getting the greatest screen time, but also the best lines, most of which hark back to the original trilogy or his relationship with his favourite Wookie, a true bromance is ever there was one whilst it is his character which takes the front-line in the film’s most shocking twist, a cinematic moment on par with “I am your father”, and one that is set to send shock-waves across the Star Wars universe.

 

As for the film’s production, The Force Awakens is a particularly handsome movie with spectacular scenes of vast, endless landscapes, gorgeous looking CGI spaces battles, and a unnerving attention to detail that highlights the love and dedication to which the film has been made with. Where the film ultimately succeeds is in its’ sheer diversity to the prequels, with the dodgy CGI of the early 21st century being totally outclassed with the use of practical, real life props, giving the film that rustic aesthetic which makes you feel these places actually do exist and aren’t created on somebody’s computer, a brilliant change of direction, and one that leaves me reeling for more. For all the film’s brilliance, there are certain degrees of similarity in terms of plot which reduces the film’s overall originality, yet one can afford to overlook such weaknesses and exhale in relief. The Force Awakens is a true return to the magical wonder of the saga’s original trilogy, incorporating new, interesting characters whilst working a winning nostalgia appeal with the return of the series’ most famous faces. A real triumph. How many years until the next one? 

Overall Score: 9/10

 

Josh’s Review

The hype is real and totally worth it!

Usually in these duo reviews it seems that I’m the one to poke holes in the plot, but I don’t know if I’m “fanboying” too much while mentally blocking most of them out. There isn’t many films that I would say that I’d gladly sit in the cinema and watch again, back to back, but I would for this. If you haven’t yet, go see this film!

As obvious as the statement is, this is undoubtedly a Star Wars film. What I mean by that is that it feels like a continuation of the originally trilogy. J.J Abrams decision to use more costumes and animatronics instead of relying solely on computer effects is a noticeable improvement, bringing a more organic feel to environments and sets.

 

The return of the previous cast is a welcome sight  and a good measure of the passage of time. good to see that none of the previous actors have forgotten their roles despite it being 32 years since they were last in their characters shoes. Moving on to the new characters, as Dan said huge praise for Daisy Ridley’s  character Rey, loved the character progression which was done at the right pace. Along with Oscar Isaac’s character Poe which immediately resembled a Han Solo personality and humour but thankfully not to the extent which he mirrors him. John Boyega’s character Finn slightly recalled me to how Luke was in the original film. Its often hinted throughout the film that there is something special about him but he struggles to become it but that’s not say that his character doesn’t also make loads of progression. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who left the cinema wanting a  BB-8 for Christmas. The lovable droid despite only commuting with limited gestures was hilarious and adorable even more so than I dare say R2-D2.

No Star Wars film is complete without the Dark Side. Though I admit I was originally sceptical  to Adam Driver as the First Order’s Kylo Ren, however, he did an impressive job…while the mask was on. Without the mask he just didn’t seem as big nor as threatening, yet maybe that was deliberate. What Kylo Ren can do with the force though brings a new evil with the Sith (torture) and I love his character for that.

One little complaint I have would be with Gwendaline Christie’s character, Captain Phasma. Despite being one of the most advertised characters her role was minuscule with hardly any dialogue. She didn’t even fire her blaster once! Hopefully she will have a larger role in the future upcoming films.

The fight choreography is perfect for the setting of the film. No force triple back flips or over the top dance fighting which is how it should be. Every swing has the characters emotion in it, along with the amazing camera work and epic music it creates truly enjoyable fight scenes.

After watching the film you can clearly tell that J.J Abrams is a huge fan of the original trilogy and directed “The Force Awakens” for fans. Its safe to say that he hasn’t let us down at all. There are throw backs to the previous films but not so many that we are chocking on it or that it disrupts the pacing of the story. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next and hopefully it continues with this momentum.

If this had came out before I did my top 5 this would’ve easily been my number 1!

9/10

Black Ribbon’s Worst Films of 2015

Worst Films of 2015

Within all the greatness of movies across the year, there inevitably is set to be a wide range of turkeys, movies that set themselves aside from the rest from being something utterly worse than mediocre and plain boring but in fact, loathsome, hateful and at the end of the day, utterly pointless. Before unleashing the best 2015 has had to offer in the world of cinema therefore, I thought it was only reasonable to highlight film’s that probably should have been missed this year, those flicks that are guaranteed to swiftly be buried under the proverbial carpet and those that highlight the ways in which films should not be constructed. Here we go…

10. Hitman: Agent 47

It’s not that hard to understand why films that are based upon the premise of a video game always seem to get a negative amount of spin before they are even announced, particularly in regards to the rafter of films that have been simply awful after making such a leap in format such as Doom, Max Payne, and most of the Resident Evil series. Carrying on that formula is Hitman: Agent 47, a staggeringly dull and wholly unoriginal take on the popular video game franchise which aside from being an overblown Audi commercial, is also an overblown, extended video game cut-scene hell bent on tarnishing the good nature of the video game business once and for all.

9. Sinister 2

All hail the remarkable workmanship at Blumhouse Productions, the raging antipathy of death, hell bent on destroying the entire horror genre, who frustratingly, when try to get it right, can in fact make some brilliant movies with The Gift and Whiplash being key examples, yet when resort to making trashy, cash-eyed horror sequels only resort in my hatred ever-growing. It’s a love/hate relationship, one that isn’t proved upon with Sinister 2, a pointless, hopeless sequel which abandons all sense of horror and scares for a quick buck instead. One of two on this list produced by those at Blumhouse.

8. Jupiter Ascending

Unintentional camp sci-fi is as painful as a throbbing nail through the hand and the highly comical Jupiter Ascending reasserts that sometimes too much over-acting can result in one of the most cringe-worthy performances of all time. That’s right Eddie Redmayne, I am talking to you. Put down your Oscar, sweep away your plaudits and bow your head in shame for your simply dire performance as a 21st century dodgy update of Flash Gordon’s Emperor Ming in The Wachowski siblings’ simply stinker of a sci-fi movie, stealing riffs from Star Wars, Star Trek and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil whilst using the greatest array of tacky wardrobes I think I have ever seen. It’s really bad.

7. Poltergeist

When is a remake not a remake? When crafty producers decide to proclaim it as a “re-imagining”, a word that essentially means they are saying, “hey, you know that really classic and interesting film that was made all those years ago and was really quite important? Well, why don’t we remake it and grab a few extra million?” Oh dear. In the case of Poltergeist, a film that I really do cherish and one that made up part of my early horror movie experience as a child, why did it really need to be remade if not for a slight financial gain on the producers part? It’s not that I hate it, it’s just I find it slightly unnecessary and a complete waste of time. It’s a film which makes the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre look good.

6. Fantastic Four

And here we are, the biggest blockbuster let-down of the year in the form of Fantastic Four, a film so mixed in its’ tone, setting and well, everything, it wouldn’t be surprising if 20th Century Fox suddenly confessed to releasing it without actually putting it through the editing stage or even as a late April fools joke. With young acting talents such as Miles Teller, Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan, Fantastic Four is let down by one of the most preposterous plots I have ever scene and a final act which is simply mind-blowing in terms of its’ sheer incompetence. I suggest you try again lads and lasses.

5. The Interview

Oh how the genre of comedy has fallen into the hands of pubescent, immature teenagers where the funniest thing on earth is seeing a man reveal his most intimate of parts and swing it mercifully around in front of corrupt North Korean soldiers. Hardy flippin ha… The Interview is so bad it is not even worthy of respite. It’s a comedy so low on the intelligence scale it hurts my brain to think about it. So I won’t. And neither will many others.

4. Fifty Shades of Grey

You want to do what to her? You said what? That room is full of what? Do you really want this dialogue in the movie? These are the sort of questions any right-minded producer, director, actor, whatever, should have been saying on the set of Fifty Shades of Grey, a template example of un-sexy sexiness where eroticism and romance is replaced with sniggers and raspberries due to its’ simply awful dialogue and acting so wooden it began to spurt woodworm. AWFUL.

3. The Cobbler

The bravura acting talent that is Adam Sandler continues his excruciating form of cinematic rubbish with The Cobbler, the creepiest and most sadistic stalker film that isn’t actually based around a stalker but instead is meant to be a life-assuring comedy drama about a man who finds magical powers within his role as, you guessed it, a cobbler. Featuring the longest 90 minutes of film I can remember, The Cobbler is a tragic example of an actor well and truly scraping the barrel.

2. The Bad Education Movie

Why hate on Cornwall? It’s a lovely place and features more spectacular entertainment than The Bad Education Movie provides in it’s overlong attempt to make us laugh. Well guess what, you didn’t, and instead you managed to make us cringe in despair at the sheer wastefulness of time spent watching such trash. Not only is it another example of movies failing when moving from the small screen to the big, but it just reasserts the notion that comedy is slowly becoming a dying art, with intelligence and gusto being replaced with immaturity and vulgarity. Please dismiss.

1. The Gallows

And here we are at last, my least favourite film of the year and alas, it is a horror, a genre that continues to be tarnished by the ridiculous amount of mediocre examples that continue to plague our cinemas each and every year. This year however, the one taking all the plaudits for sheer awfulness is The Gallows, one gigantic rip-off of genre classics such as The Blair Witch Project and Halloween whilst featuring the stupidest use of shaky-cam I can remember and a final act in which I can barely keep track of the amount of sheer movie-making mis-steps over it’s startling lack of threat and, or scares. Please, if 2016 brings anything with it, please don’t let it bring any more creaky, crappy horror movies. I think it would force me to abandon hope for the genre to return from the seemingly dead end films like The Gallows are driving it into.

Black Ribbon’s Best Film Scenes of 2015

Best Film Scenes of 2015

Within every great movie is a scene of equal greatness, whether it be a memorable moment of character progression, a tear-jerking loss of a key character, or even something as trivial as a note of music that pulls at the heartstrings in a way that affects a particular viewer. Throughout 2015 there have been a vast amount of particular movie moments where the magic really kicks in, scenes in which have left a long-lasting impression within my mind and have resulted in either making the film a better picture or just a fantastic scene on its’ own ground albeit being in a overly mediocre movie. Within this list is Black Ribbon’s top ten most memorable scenes of 2015, starting promptly with…

10. A Meeting With Macha – Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea is many things. Beautiful. Awe-inspiring. Genuinely tear-inducing. Yet one of the things I didn’t expect from Tomm Moore’s animated masterpiece is the scene in which our beloved heroes come across the legendary owl-witch known as the Macha, whereby we witness the darker side of the Irish folklore in which Song of the Sea is based upon. Although most of Song of the Sea is undeniably child-friendly, the introduction to the insidious Macha was genuinely startling, resulting in a hallucinatory dream-scape of evil owls and creepy Irish folklore legends.

9. Confrontation With Jobs – Steve Jobs

Although Steve Jobs is directed by the fine hand of Danny Boyle, it undoubtedly belongs to the craftsman of screenplays himself, Aaron Sorkin, with its’ three-act structure being an effective stage for which Sorkin is allowed to play upon. Of the many wordy dialogues within the film, the scene in which Jobs is confronted by John Sculley within the second act of the film is the one that stands out the furthest, with Sorkin’s brilliant script being fully embraced by the acting duo of both Fassbender and Daniels whilst being offset with flashbacks of the past, all of which results in a heavy sense of escalating drama that gives credence to the simply unfair talent that Sorkin has unleashed upon directors such as Boyle and David Fincher, both of whom have enjoyed undeniable success because of such in Steve Jobs and The Social Network respectively.

8. Day of the Dead – Spectre

Before Spectre was even released, director Sam Mendes made sure that his latest entry into the Bond canon was set to have one of the most epic opening scenes in the film’s 53 year history, with the famous Day of the Dead in Mexico City being the backdrop for the return of everyone’s favourite English super-spy. Beginning with a seemingly one-take shot following Bond through the streets of Mexico City and onto the rooftops above, Spectre’s opening scene definitely ramps up the thrills and skills, with Bond mercifully tracking down and defeating a high-ranking agent of SPECTRE all-the-while attempting to keep the poor innocents of Mexico City with their lives intact from the rogue helicopter in which our enemy decides to escape within. Mr Mendes, you were right. The opening scene of Spectre is one to be treasured.

7. The Walk – The Walk

Although not exactly the greatest film of the year, with the release of Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk essentially just being a dramatic re-telling of the superior documentary Man on Wire, one thing the film did have going for it was the exceptional titular sequence in which Philippe Petit crosses the Twin Towers with nothing more than his wit and skill as a wire-walker to keep him alive. As a self-confessed hater of heights as it is, the concluding 30 minute scene of The Walk was a sheer nail-biting collage of vertigo-esque tension, where even though I was fully aware of Petit’s incredible success, resulted in an sense of intolerable discomfort in the best way possible, something of which is owed simply to the brilliant way in which Zemeckis’ titular act is filmed. Simply breathtaking.

6. F**K Tha Police – Straight Outta Compton

Some of the best films are those that unexpectedly turn out to be real gems and surpass any expectations they have had before it, and in the case of Straight Outta Compton, F. Gary Gray’s real firecracker of a drama based upon the rise of the notorious hip-hop group, N.W.A, what a surprise it was to witness its’ brilliantly managed explosive temperament and uncanny portrayals of the genre’s most decorated patrons. Within the film’s many great scenes is the recording sessions of the group’s titular debut album, particularly that of their most notorious single, “F**K Tha Police”, recorded after a confrontation with the somewhat backward’s handling of the Los Angeles police department whose racial stereotypes present in the early 1990’s are made abundantly clear within Straight Outta Compton, yet it’s the ferocious response from the group into recording arguably their most famous hit which creates one of the most entertaining scenes of 2015.

5. Showdown With Gordo – The Gift

Written, directed and starring Joel Edgerton, The Gift proved to be a real tense and taut claustrophobic chiller thriller with Edgerton sinking in almost too well into the role of Gordo, the creepy stalker hell bent on making the lives of both Simon and Robyn Callum rather awkward with a selection of creepy get-together’s and unwanted hand-delivered gifts. The real winning success of The Gift however is down to the nature in which Edgerton’s portrayal of Gordo is one of a rather mixed and ambiguous nature, resorting to feelings of compassion towards someone who is obviously rather troubled at heart. One of the most incredible scenes within The Gift is when we witness the rather fiery Simon confront Gordo at his place of work, yet instead of being on the side of the targeted Simon, the sight of Gordo’s sheer embarrassment as his real life is discovered results in a collage of conflicting feelings, something of which has stayed with me ever since the film’s release.

4. Madness Prevails – Macbeth

Transferring the dark, twisted tale of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to the big-screen is no easy feat in itself, yet Snowtown director Justin Kurzel manages to embrace the bloody nature of the famous text and turns it into essentially a horror flick with glorious displays of violence, something of which won’t exactly be shown to schoolkids examining the play for the sake of education. Of the many great scenes within Kurzel’s adaptation is when we witness the titular Macbeth, played majestically by Michael Fassbender, start to go completely bonkers at a royal feast in front of his loving, loyal wife and fellow ruling family and friends where, reeling from the violent slaughter of Banquo by his own hand, Macbeth begins to hallucinate his bleeding, pierced body dining at his feast, resulting in a crazed, frightened Macbeth showing how the power of being King has truly began to corrupt him. It’s a wonderful scene and one in which Fassbender’s raw and ripe acting talents are once again put on display.

3. Thermal Imagery – Sicario

If Sicario is not the film that finally wins the simply brilliant Roger Deakins an Oscar for his cinematography skills then I am pretty sure nothing will. One of the most talked about shots of the year is the scene in which we witness the spook-like militaristic agents disappear into darkness in search of a drug-trafficking tunnel and it is here where the best scene of the film begins. Switching between complete darkness and thermal imagery, our venture into the pitch black tunnel of horror, all seen through the eyes of unknowing FBI Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), is nail-biting tension in its’ most extreme, even more so than the scariest traffic jam ever we witness earlier in the film, yet it is the ambiguous nature of both our heroines nature and what lies for her in the tunnel which makes this particular scene a true gem and definitely the most tense twenty minutes of the entire year.

2. Goodbye Bing Bong – Inside Out

I love Disney, I’m not afraid to say it, and I love Inside Out even more. Not only is it wholly original and incredibly intelligent but it also features the most heartbreaking cinematic moment of the year by a long shot. After falling into the subconscious and memory dump of Riley’s mind, Joy and imaginary friend Bing Bong attempt to escape via that of Bing Bong’s homemade rocket ship yet after being originally unsuccessful, Bing Bong sacrifices himself to get Joy safely back to head office, who subsequently disappears into dust, much to the despair of everyone, including myself, who found it hard to hold back the tears, regardless of the extent to which lip biting came into effect. It’s a scene as heartbreaking as the death of Mufasa and reinforces Disney’s ability to make every human resort to their inner child and weep with sheer sadness. Damn you!

1. A Final Encore – Whiplash

The final ten minutes of Whiplash are among the greatest of cinema within the past decade or so, if not of all time, with the final drum solo combining sheer tension and thrills, resulting in a storming final encore for both Miles Teller’s Andrew Neiman and Damien Chazelle’s simply brilliant drama surrounding the abusive teachings of Oscar winning supporting actor J.K. Simmons as the terrifying Terrence Fletcher. Although drumming and the entire aspect of drums are as exciting to me as a wet flannel, somehow Whiplash is a film that just is just majestic in its’ execution with Tom Cross’s editing one of the many reasons for such, and it is here within the final scene where his skills are truly put to the test, resulting in a stunning tour de force of blood, sweat and tears which left me simply breathless. With that in mind, scene of the year belongs to Whiplash, and boy does it deserve it.

Black Ribbon’s Top Film’s of 2015: Part One

Top Films of 2015: 20-11

What a resounding year it has been in the world of cinema. Not only have we had the grand-scale return of beloved franchises such as Bond and of course, STAR WARS, but we have also been treated to a vast range of quality independent movies that although may have gone slightly under the wide-appeal radar, haven’t shied away from deserved critical acclaim. Although it is nearly impossible to catch up with every single release each and every week of the year, Black Ribbon has worked extensively to provide weekly reviews of the newest releases throughout 2015, and here is the first part of my own personal top films of the year, starting with numbers twenty through to eleven…

20. Ex Machina

Remember how good 28 Days Later was? Well after taking on the infected in the streets of London, writer Alex Garland takes on directorial duties for Ex Machina, a creepy, claustrophobic thriller focusing on the concept of artificial intelligence, nodding ever-so slightly into the realms of Blade Runner, but resulting in a solid first outing for the talented Garland and reasserting the talents of both Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander. If it’s creepy sci-fi chills you are after, Ex Machina is definitely for you.

19. Enemy

In Enemy, Denis Villeneuve goes full-out Lynch mode, even so far by casting Blue Velvet actress Isabella Rossellini in a minor, if rather significant role, but the real masterwork of Enemy is the way in which questions are left without straightforward answers without ever feeling self-indulgent or being created for the credit of being linked to the work of Lynch himself like this years’ terrible Lost River. Spooky, weird, and featuring the creepiest ending to a film this year, Enemy is another win in the ever-growing back catalogue of Canadian Villeneuve.

18. Carol

A rather late addition to the floor, but within Carol, we witness director Todd Hayne’s beautifully elegant and incredibly delicate portrayal of forbidden romance and social acceptability with Oscar-worthy performances from both the radiant Cate Blanchett and the all-eyes spectacle that is the brilliant Rooney Mara. Carol is not only a great film, it is  one that  has been made with pride and admiration and wants the viewer to sit back and let the film simmer in its’ beauty and marvelous attention to detail.

17. Montage of Heck 

21 years after his death, Kurt Cobain is still undoubtedly one of the biggest household names when it comes to the reinvention of the rock genre during the grunge outbreak of the 1990’s with Montage of Heck a comprehensive insight into the star’s early childhood, his rise to fame, through to the endearing legacy of Nirvana’s impact on the musical industry during their way-too short stint on this beloved planet. Although the film does dwell on the presence and influence of Courtney Love a bit too much, Montage of Heck is a insightful and creative window into the world of music’s most tragic hero.

16. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Talking of David Lynch, Ana Lily Amirpour’s noir-influenced genre horror takes the Lynchian recipe book and creates a masterpiece of vampiric mythology, resorting to long takes of silence and intrigue and bursts of violence representing the best bits of the age-old vampire story and producing a eerie and compelling drama of love, lust and desire, all incorporated around a equally eerie soundtrack. Think Let The Right One In meets Eraserhead, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is a real triumph.

15. A Most Violent Year

Featuring two of my favourite acting talents in this current cinematic climate, A Most Violent Year focuses on Oscar Isaac’s Abel Morales’ attempts to further advance his Oil Company whilst battling external violent pressures and the threat of continual hijackings, all the while being guided by his femme-fatale of a wife played by the majestic Jessica Chastain. Brilliantly acted and directed, A Most Violent Year produces tension in areas that in other films would only be trivial in a vein similar to that of the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock.

14. Bridge of Spies

Only extending Steven Spielberg and Tom Hank’s remarkable partnership is Bridge of Spies, a tremendous cold-war thriller focusing on American attorney James Donovan’s attempts to negotiate the exchange of Mark Rylance’s Russian spy Rudolf Abel for two American captives in Soviet Russia. If the spectacle of the ice-cold cinematography of Germany and the captivating supporting performance from Rylance aren’t enough to keep you entertained for two hours or so, then nothing will. A gem of an entry into the ever-growing back catalogue of entertainment auteur, Steven Spielberg.

13. Straight Outta Compton

Flawlessly acted and bouncing with style and substance, Straight Outta Compton focuses on the rise and fall of N.W.A, the notorious hip-hop group featuring the likes of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E. With uncanny re-recorded takes on the groups musical back catalogue, F. Gary Gray’s choice to focus primarily on the relationships rather than the social spectacle presents an interesting and compelling drama that fulfilled and exceeded any expectations proceeding it.

12. Steve Jobs

If double-billed with the equally fabulous, The Social Network, Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs would showcase a masterpiece of cinematic writing from Aaron Sorkin whose latest screenplay is undoubtedly one of the best produced this year with it being filled with quick one-liners, snappy dialogue, and a tendency to think everyone is as clever as he is. Fassbender does a great job in the lead role, with kudos too going to the likes of Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels, but Steve Jobs belongs to Sorkin. It’s rather good.

11. Brooklyn

Amidst all the craziness of superheroes and dinosaurs this year is Brooklyn, a wonderful romantic drama penned by Nick Hornby and starring Saoirse Ronan in a leading performance that is set to bring a rafter of nominations and awards after being universally acclaimed for her portrayal of the alienated-Irish wanderer who begins a new life in the United States only to question where she really feels at home. Wonderfully costumed and acted almost too well, Brooklyn is a real treat and deserves all the praise it hopefully gets in the coming months or so.

Part Two Coming Soon…

Film Review: Steve Jobs

“We Will Know Soon Enough If You Are Leonardo da Vinci Or Just Think You Are…”

Let’s get this straight. I am seemingly one of the minority in the world where shopping in an Apple branded store for Apple branded products to me would be in similar vein to shopping at Waitrose. Sure everything looks nice and flashy, but it’s price tag and lack of distinction from the norm really makes me want to shop elsewhere. With this thought in mind, I ventured into my local world of cine and into a midday screening of Steve Jobs with rather mixed expectations. On the upside, I love Danny Boyle, with his entire filmography stretching all the way back to Shallow Grave being something I will always love and cherish, and I love Micheal Fassbender, with his recent performance in Macbeth being one of my favourites of the year so far. So all in all, the signs were mixed, was Steve Jobs set to be a success in my own point of view after hearing of possible award ceremony attention heading its’ way? Was Fassbender set to reel us in with his portrayal of Jobs and leave us wanting more by the end of it? After leaving the cinema my instant reaction to both questions was a sincere, yes, with Steve Jobs being one of the most entertainingly and highly engrossing written movies I have watched in recent memory.

Set in the form of three acts, each taking place before the launch of a major Jobs’-led product, Steve Jobs is a masterpiece in how, if written with extreme delicacy and understanding, a two-hour film set basically in one confined space, can become a work of art. Much like the Apple products themselves, Steve Jobs is a rife and intelligent beast, if rather fundamentally lacking in a sense of depth and scope, with Danny Boyles’ latest relying heavily on the influence of Aaron Sorkin’s script, a man best known for The West Wing and the simply brilliant The Social Network, a film which can draw a lot of similarities with Steve Jobs due to both having an extensive amount of the “walk and talk” nature of their scripts, a feat in which Sorkin is proudly famous for. Within the fundamental intelligence of Sorkin’s script, is a heavy sense of theater and stage, giving room for the cast that includes the likes of Jeff Daniels, Seth Rogen, and particularly the one-two of Fassbender and Kate Winslet, room to go completely full on, adapting scenes of dialogue from Sorkin’s script into a real sense of dramatic power and steel.

  Of course, Steve Jobs is not set to be for everyone, with its’ heavy reliance on dialogue and concentration not entirely being set for mass appeal, whilst Fassbender’s inhuman and simply cold portrayal of Jobs himself may be rather too alienating for some of the more humane audiences out there, yet for me personally, Steve Jobs exceeded my rather mid-level expectations twice-fold with its’ flashy and intelligent script and rather brilliant performances of almost everyone involved, but with standout nods to particularly Fassbender, Winslet and Daniels, making Steve Jobs a real joyous surprise. Oscars, you may be right. Steve Jobs is a-coming.

Overall Score: 9/10

Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Two

“Turn Your Weapons To The Capitol! Turn Your Weapons To Snow…”

Looking back at my time growing up as a teenager, it is rather fair to say that in terms of cinematic experiences that was forged during my development from child-minded youngster to well, child-minded adult, that I, and many others of similar age, were well and truly spoiled. I mean come on, we had the reinvention of fantasy epics with The Lord of the Rings, the angsty teen family friendly years of Harry Potter, and the re-invention of both the Bond and the Batman films, with The Dark Knight still being a huge turning point in terms of my understanding of what makes a truly great cinematic memory. This complete spoilage of greatness during my own personal childhood has only received further gratitude in recent times when examining the recent implosion of child-targeted franchises hoping to fill the gaps that series’ such as Harry Potter vacated when they came to their concluding tales, most of which have seen that the teen-led dystopian universe is the right way to go. Although The Hunger Games series definitely is the leader of the pack when it comes to such, beating the Divergent and Maze Runner series’ hands down, its’ concluding tale in the form of Mockingjay – Part Two is an unfortunate mess, leaving the legacy of such a franchise ending with a whim, rather than a stage of defiance and strength in a vein similar to its’ titular character.

If you aren’t already well and truly versed in the plot-lines of the whole Hunger Games saga, there really is not much point attempting to try and explain almost seven hours worth of backstory right now except from the fact that the entire series is basically Battle Royale with cheese (yes, I loved that too Pulp Fiction fans) where aside from the rather important and intelligent notions of dystopian futures, uprisings and a fight against tyranny, something of which would give George Orwell a run for his money, The Hunger Games franchise has always seemed to be rather misplaced in my own personal point of view due to a variety of reasons that seem to come full circle in its’ concluding chapter. Firstly, aside from Jennifer Lawrence well and truly embracing the role of Katniss Everdeen, a character in which is meant to symbolise a role model for many fans of the series, there really isn’t one other character in which I can truly say I feel heavily invested in both emotionally and mentally. Because of this, the entirety of MJ Part One was rather a significant bore, with way too many scenes of exposition and explanation and much too less of actually getting to the point, highlighting the argument for why these concluding parts were not just made into one film rather than two.

Such a problem continues in MJ Part Two, where scenes of excruciatingly dull dialogue are played out far too long too often in comparison to scenes of vital importance which are sped through way too quickly, resulting in a sense of continuous questioning and a jump between states of sheer boredom and utter confusion. Thankfully, with Lawrence in the titular role as the Mockingjay, such scenes are saved from total extinction with her performance as the “girl on fire”, continuing her rather brilliant start to life as an actress, whilst the seedy, ice-like figure of the wonderful Donald Sutherland as the ruthless autocratic President Snow is also a trait in the film’s favour. Amid scenes of sheer tension, particularly one in which our heroes and heroines venture into the city’s sewers, is times in which the film’s fundamental dark subject matter come into force, particularly in one scene in which we witness a mass gathering of children being blown to pieces, and it is here where the age-old question of classification comes into account, with MJ Part Two, being definitely in the category of top-end 12A’s. In other words, do not take your seven year old child to see this. You may scar them for life.

Obviously as I am not a die-hard fan of the series, MJ Part Two was never going to fulfill all my expectations entirely, but the fact that the concluding chapter of this franchise is made in such a terrible fashion upsets me personally on behalf of its’ core fans. It’s messy, it’s overlong, it features the worse love-triangle since Twilight, MJ Part Two for me, was a severe let-down from my already mediocre expectations, ending on a sour note rather than a show of brilliance that the first two in the series brought with it. At the end of the day, it may be a suitable end to the Mockingjay series for some, but for me, Mockingjay – Part Two was a wholly mediocre affair, too hell bent on getting too much done too quickly whilst reeling on the lack of assured substance and depth that may have been accomplished if made into one film rather than two for the sake of the accountants. And boy, that ending was truly terrible.

Overall Score: 5/10

Film Review: Brooklyn

“Homesickness Is Like Most Sicknesses, It Will Pass…”

Within the midst of spies, dystopian uprisings, and that gangster crime-lord caper with that guy from those pirate flicks in, all of which are set to hit or possibly miss within cinemas across the country over this week and the next, has been Brooklyn, a film so meagerly advertised and highlighted within both cinemas and TV spots, that such a distinct change from the rather familiar fashion of the many propaganda-esque ways in which certain flicks force themselves on audiences today, suggests a rather distinct lack of faith on the film’s standing against its’ cinematic rivals, most of which are either worn-out sequels or money-making blockbusters. Yet for the case of Brooklyn, a film which on the face of it seems rather low-key and inherently straightforward, it manages to encapsulate something that most of it cinematic contemporaries fail to grasp; a deep sense of heart and soul, powered fundamentally by a simply mesmerising performance by Saoirse Ronan, an actress who already sits high in pedigree in my own eyes but excels herself in one of the best dramas of the year so far.

When young Ellis Lacey (Ronan) leaves her homeland of Ireland for Brooklyn, US of A, for purposes not only focused on that of a career path but a fundamental change of scenery, she quickly falls for Italian-American Tony Fiorello who helps Ellis recover from her severe strain of homesickness away from both her mother and sister. Settling strongly into her new way of life, Ellis soon hears of tragedy from her homeland, forcing her to return back to Ireland where she soon realises there more have been more to life back home after all, resulting in Ellis making a hard choice regarding whether to stay in her beloved home of Ireland or return to her newly found way of life and love for Tony and the city of Brooklyn. What makes Brooklyn so magical is that within all its’ straightforwardness in terms of its’ plot and story-line, is a straight-faced way in which the film attempts to tell a tale without need for an over-zealous use of dramatic set-pieces or particular scenes that can be singled out as possible key scenes or memorable moments of magic. Instead, Brooklyn chooses to play out its’ tale of romance, alienation and choice in rather low-key fashion, something of which differentiates itself from most of its’ cinematic contemporaries in which action and epicness comes first whilst plot and characterisation comes second.

At the heart of Brooklyn is a truly spell-bounding performance from Saoirse Ronan, an actress who has impressed me in all of her back catalogue in which I have seen so far, with last year’s The Grand Budapest Hotel being the standout Ronan role so far alongside acting pedigree such as Ralph Fiennes, Willem Defoe and Bill Murray, yet Brooklyn is a true testament to her acting abilities and skills, with her emotional range well and truly being tested in a role that if gone to someone else, may have resulted in a film that may have not been as engaging as it is with Ronan in the lead role. Maybe it’s just that Irish accent that results in a strange sense of affection for her, but Brooklyn, if anything, is the annual example of a low-key film being that good that to not be noticed from some sort of awarding body would be criminal, not that such an award would particularly matter in any sense with Brooklyn being a fundamentally wonderful movie, but to be recognised by the highest honours out there would be a testament to the film’s overall greatness. In the mood for overblown action, messy plot lines and lack of characterisation? Go watch The Hunger Games. In the mood for a downright damn good drama? Seek out Brooklyn, it’s really that good.

Overall Score: 9/10

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 

Triple Film Review: SPECTRE

Dan’s Review

After the enormous success of Sam Mendes’ Skyfall back in 2012, a film which celebrated Bond’s fiftieth anniversary in rather spectacular fashion which not only gained sumptuous critical plaudits but also managed to become the highest grossing movie in the UK to date, any potential follow up was set to be under a huge amount of pressure from the outset, yet the return of director Sam Mendes and the continuation of Daniel Craig as the world’s greatest secret agent put Skyfall’s successor in rather safe hands, strengthened not only by the return of the titular SPECTRE, the seedy, shadowy criminal organisation last featured in Sean Connery’s Bond swansong Diamonds Are Forever, but by the inclusion of cast members such as Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, and the two-time Oscar winning Christoph Waltz. Although the shadow of Skyfall’s success was inherently creeping up on the newest incarnation of 007, Mendes himself made it clear that Spectre was set to be a very different beast indeed, and within all the explosions, helicopter battles, car chases, and secret lairs, Spectre grabs all the best bits of the Bond canon and ramps them up to produce a highly enjoyable blockbuster, reminiscent more of the camp, gadget-induced Bond of years previous whist nicely tying up the plot threads that have been rife since Craig’s first outing in Casino Royale. 

After Bond (Daniel Craig) is sent a cryptic message from the past, he is sent on a journey to discover and unravel the secrets of the seedy organisation SPECTRE, a criminal organisation at the heart of Bond’s past. Whilst M (Ralph Fiennes) battles forces in London with the newly appointed C (Andrew Scott), the head of the newly created Joint Intelligence Service, Bond seeks out the truth behind SPECTRE with the help of Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux), the daughter of an old foe, in an attempt to destroy the organisation’s evil deeds once and for all. If Skyfall came across to the audiences as a much more elegant, character and emotion driven piece of cinema, helped directly by the handy-work of not only the acclaimed Sam Mendes but the long awaited Oscar recipient, Roger Deakins, then Spectre attempts to completely divert away from repeating the trick once more and attempts to go full on 80’s Bond mode, with much more action set pieces including a brilliantly tenses opening scene and a bruising and bloody fight on a sleeper train, nodding back to Bond’s fight with Grant in From Russia With Love. Aside from the abundance of action and wasted ammunition, we witness Bond well and truly stamp his passport with him travelling across the globe from Mexico City to Rome, from Austria to Morocco, all of which are beautifully shot by Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, eventually leading back to the capital city of London for the final act.

With Christoph Waltz on the payroll, Spectre was inevitably going to buildup to certain revelations regarding the character of Franz Oberhauser, all of which were done in an overly entertaining and eye-winking manner, something of which as an overtly dedicated Bond fan, I couldn’t resist from laughing at with sheer joy, particularly when we are treated to a shot of a rather fluffy particular breed of household animal. Although Waltz isn’t in the film long enough at all, the camera is completely transfixed with his eerie demeanor each and every time he appears, starting with a completely blacked-out board meeting in which he quietly whispers instructions to his dedicated servants, and resulting in a tense revelation scene within the confines of a 21st century update of a well-established Bond lair, complete with hideously ludicrous torture equipment, and the coincidentally accessible escape vehicle, all of which our favourite super-spy uses without question. Kudos to the film-makers for not choosing to kill off our underused villain, restoring faith in the notion that you can’t have too much of a good thing. See you around Mr Waltz.

Uproariously entertaining and extremely watchable from the outset, Spectre fundamentally wants to be everything that Skyfall wasn’t, with an abundance more amount of action, brilliant comic timing from the likes of Ben Whishaw as Q and Fiennes as M, with one scene in particular with C bringing the whole audience to a spout of laughter, and a much more laid back temperament, harking back to the gadget strewn Bond era of Moore and Brosnan, with Craig ultimately having fun with the role as the world’s great agent, who this time does get the girl in the form of Leas Seydoux’s Madeline Swann, a rather perfect match for our battle-worn Englishman, who breaks from the reigns of cliched Bond girls and actually comes across as a three-dimensional, intelligent female in the land of Bond. Who would have thought? If this is to be the last round for both Craig and Mendes, it sure is a fine way to call it a day, with Spectre being pretty much everything a Bond fan in the 21st century would want from the opening credits. Farewell Mr Craig and Mr Mendes, it’s been emotional. Unless you do one more. Please. Please do.

Overall Score: 9/10

Josh’s Review

Bond Is Back! (Couldn’t help myself with that) to finish what was started all that time ago in Casino Royale (2006), which luckily I decided to watch the previous night at 01:00 in preparation, and if I had the time I would have watched Quantum of Solace and Skyfall but I digress. In terms of Spectre therefore, I have to start with that opening. It isn’t a Bond film without a slow song mixed in with silhouette ladies dancing along. I personally loved it with the visuals mixing in well with Sam Smith’s chart-topping single “Writings on the Wall” which felt like it was written directly for the film and is one of the reasons why I am listening to it now non-stop as I write this review. Back to gadgets (*Face palm*) where despite in Skyfall Q saying they had gone past explosive pens and other absurdities, here we are only one film later with explosive watches! A problem with gadgets is that they are always used in obvious situations and act almost like the “get out of jail free card” on a monopoly board, resulting in such tropes feeling as if the film-makers were trying to justify product placement by giving it an actual role, which of course will result in hundreds of people attempting to buy such objects (Yes, I did have a look myself).

Daniel Craig’s Bond this time feels much more refined than he was in Skyfall with Craig being back in top form in both athleticism and wit, therefore being much more comparable to previous Bonds instead of the raw violence seen in his previous outings. Oscar winner Christoph Waltz’s performance as Oberhauser was enjoyable to watch however, I was disappointed with how the character was written. It seems we are back to villains seemingly playing tempestuously with their food (James Bond) who in the meantime share their master plan away whilst giving too many chances for the hero to escape. I mean come on, what was the point of that torture scene, a scene which felt weak in comparison to Casino Royale’s chair and bollocks scene, with Spectre’s particular torture scene having few too many chances where Bond could easily slip his head out from the chair. Throughout the course of the movie, Oberhauser had more than enough chances to put a bullet in him and even had the chance to destroy him once for all in the final act. I mean  why not set the bomb for 2 minutes and fly away instead?

The car chase with Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) was a fairly big disappointment with it being more comical than action based, with the chase itself rife with comical perseverance in which it hardly showed what the cars are capable of. Another example of undermining the action for comedy would be in Mexico City, in which we witness Bond falling through decaying buildings only to land square on a conveniently placed sofa. Yes comical, however incredibly childish. Not all of the action within Spectre was lacklustre however, with the fight scene with Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) in particular being by far one of my favourite scenes of the movie, with the sheer amount of destruction against a towering foe is what I love about Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond. Furthermore, some of the jump-cuts between locations felt unexplained with vital clues seemingly being partially pulled out of a hat, making following some parts of the plot very difficult, to an extent that I would have to re-watch it in order to understand it completely, with the major one for me being linking the previous Bond villains just with single ring. I mean if it was the symbol on the face of the ring couldn’t they have linked all of these previous threats before without the ring? Surely so with one of them actually managing to kill the the previous “M” and blow up MI5.

Spectre seems to be returning Bond to its’ organic roots, with more wit than destructive violence, and with gadgets popping up Bond’s sleeve and into his car, something of which the old Bond fan in me loves, however it isn’t the Bond film I was expecting with Daniel Craig. Yes, you could argue that such tropes and traits is the result of his character growing into the older Bond we know, however his violent side was what we loved about him in the 21st century. Although the plot does seem to jump around quite heavily and it features some poor 1940’s villain writing, Spectre was highly enjoyable but I hope that’s that with Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond, with Spectre being a good note to leave Bond behind, particularly with Craig’s recent outbursts about regretting being Bond in the first place.

Overall Score: 7/10

Pete’s Review

As Dan has so elegantly described, Spectre harks back to its origins with its classic villains, witty banter and excessive action scenes. It was a very enjoyable film and sits as a very good blockbuster but personally, its sits outside of Daniel Craig’s Bond. When Craig first appeared on the scene, audiences were skeptical. A blonde hair, blue eyed Bond was very much out of the ordinary but he turned that around with Casino Royale and reinvigorated the series with a sense of realism and darkness that we’d never seen before in this particular universe. In Skyfall we actually get a far grittier and darker tale. Javier Bardem is his usual fantastic self, creating an extreme threat that even worries Bond and puts him through hell. Christoph Waltz in Spectre is the apparent mastermind behind the operation and Bond’s cruel luck that has seen him dragged through hell, but in reality, he isn’t scary. His background story is so cringe worthy, it seemingly fell from the latest teen flick, full of teen angst and jealousy of another child. Josh also speaks volumes for the progression of the story. It often felt that we moved too quickly. Links were being established and any sort of reasoning behind it was ignored. A simple ring linked to every villain Bond has faced so far through a somewhat over complicated scanning device and being the longest one so far, you’d suspect that it wouldn’t have been such an issue.

The classic Bond element didn’t hit me. After Skyfall, a lot could have been done and I feel that choosing to stray from the metric was a really poor idea. Daniel Craig has also been very vocal about not wanting to play the character any more as he hates him. It seems as if this is the straw that broke the camels back. The dramatic shift from a character torn apart by loss and the realities of his job only to be swept under the rug and made jolly with a lot of sarcasm and a new women. As a Bond movie, it was great. For a Daniel Craig Bond flick, it was alright. Visually the film is stunning and the action scenes were fantastic. The Aston Martin DB10 should have got a little more show time for the press it received but what little of it we saw was great fun. Some points with the awful taste in music of 009 and the empty ammo canisters screamed fond memories of Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English and classic bond humour. The opening’s explosive Day of the Dead scene with the aero-acrobatics of a helicopter over the heavily populated area was amazing. Its not something we see very often and will probably sit with me for quite some time as one of the best stunt scenes of recent years. Although these are the guys who received the world record for most rolls of a car in a single take from Casino Royale so its fairly understandable that they could pull something like this off.

However, Spectre did have its cheesy moments, the final scene on the bridge in particular shunned the Bond of the past for Rom-com Bond. For me, I sit right on the wall. The run up and the hype was all well and good but I expected a darker, more emotional tale with a villain that was truly genius and mad as can be. What I got was a throwback to the classics that was fun but didn’t bowl me over. Visually and musically the whole spectacle was awesome and Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” is an amazing theme song, albeit not as powerful as Adele’s “Skyfall” or Chris Cornell’s ” You Know My Name” but it captured the essence of what I really wanted from this.

Pete’s score – 8/10

Overall Score: 8/10