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Film Review: Searching

“I Didn’t Know Her. I Didn’t Know My Own Daughter…”

With 2015’s Unfriended offering a subversive and original spin on the found footage genre of horror with great success, the same cinematic platform used within that movie returns once again in Searching, a Hitchcockian cyber-space psychological thriller which takes place completely upon the wide range of technological platforms belonging to leading star John Cho’s (Star Trek Beyond) David Kim, a single father still mourning the death of his wife who attempts to solve the mystery of his daughter’s recent disappearance via any means possible. Whilst many audiences may feel alienated by the claustrophobic nature of viewing events of a movie from a screen most people now continuously glare at on a daily basis, myself included, debut writer and director, Aneesh Chaganty, successfully manages to build the tension and unravel the central mystery at the heart of the drama with great aplomb, utilising well-known technological formats which not only conveys the hunt for Michelle La’s Margot Kim, but also finds the time to joyfully poke fun at and satirically comment on the emptiness and shallowness of social media, and whilst Chaganty’s debut does suffer slightly from a strangely artificial sensibility and a couple of hokey performances, Searching is an interesting and fun slice of cinematic guess-who.

Beginning with historical exposition which explores the heartbreak of the Kim family and their sudden matriarchal loss brilliantly set to the backdrop of the evolution of computer systems over the past few years, Searching takes no time whatsoever in getting to the crux of the drama, with John Cho’s large, selfie-style head looking continuously distraught as his daughter’s disappearance brings to light hidden secrets regarding her infidelity and uneven social life in the real world when on the virtual side, everything previously seemed fine. Whilst the central mystery of Searching does contain some effective and clever narrative twists, the best parts of the movie is undoubtedly the social commentary it makes in reference to social media culture, with one scene in which a previous uncaring acquaintance of Kim’s suddenly breaks down in tears in front of the media after her prolonged absence in an attempt to gain a few minutes airtime both comedic and downright depressing, a telling image of contemporary society in which physical interaction is slowly being replaced with emoji’s and gifs, and whilst the movie does ultimately end in the a-typical Hollywood cheese-fest audience’s have come to expect, the journey before the film’s conclusion was an impressive debut from a director we should be seeing much more of in the future.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Star Trek: Beyond

“We’ve Got No Ship, No Crew, How’re We Going To Get Out Of This One…?

Taking the helm as only producer this time around, it is resoundingly safe to say that J. J. Abrams is the all-round geek saviour of the 20th century where long before breaking box office records and smashing countless other cinematic achievements with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mr. Abrams lit the fuse once again in regards to the nations’ love of Star Trek, with a brand new team of space explorers being offset with a brand new timeline, expanding the stories of the crew upon the Enterprise to new and exciting limits. Now, six years since the first Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: Beyond continues the blockbuster success of the franchise, where although it could be regarded as the weakest of the three so far, Justin Lin’s directorial space debut is solid and sometimes spectacular summer popcorn fun featuring everything you would expect from an array of actors each used to their own talents on and off-screen in the six years from which they first began their voyage into deep space, albeit if the series itself is beginning to feel ever so slightly formulaic.

Beginning with a portrayal of a day in the life of our beloved Enterprise crew, Star Trek: Beyond begins rather slowly and then ascends into a two-hour survival mission against the ominous yet dedicated figure of main antagonist Krall, played expertly by everyone’s favourite Bond hopeful, Idris Elba, and his pack of cronies, hell bent on bringing destruction to those who wronged them in the past. If anything, Krall’s role in Beyond is all too small, where although Elba’s performance is enough to make him an effective bad guy, the script just doesn’t allow his character to become complex enough to make him memorable. Of course, the one-two of Pine and Quinto brings the bromance factor to the table, sidelined by the cling-on (no pun intended) of third wheeler Bones, whilst the bad-ass duo of Zoe Saldana and Sofia Boutella gives the female characters an extensive role to bring to life. Of course, overshadowing the release of Beyond is the deeply saddening loss of Anton Yelchin, an actor lost too young and an actor whose roles in films such as Green Room and the Star Trek franchise means he will not swiftly be forgotten. Beyond is Star Trek to the T. A classic adventure with some great thrills, if not entirely up to the mark of its’ predecessors within the 21st century revival trilogy.

Overall Score: 7/10