“Even If There’s A Small Chance. We Owe This, To Everyone Who’s Not In This Room, To Try…”
With the final season of Game of Thrones gracing eager audiences earlier in the month, April 2019 will always be remembered as the time in which pop culture exploded into realms of unprecedented greatness as society witnesses the end point of both TV’s most talked about show and of course, the enormously anticipated, Avengers: Endgame, the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the sequel to last year’s excellent and groundbreaking, Infinity War. Presented as the final installment in the Kevin Feige coined, “Infinity Saga”, which began all the way back in 2008 with Iron Man, Endgame sees our grieving band of OG superheroes come to terms with, and more importantly, attempt to revert the catastrophic damage caused by Josh Brolin’s (Deadpool 2) megalomaniacal titan, Thanos, in the previous chapter, and with the giant purple one’s tricky finger snap having gone down in pop culture loire for evermore, the bar is set impressively high for a sequel which Marvel themselves see as the one film the entire MCU has pretty much been leading up to. Bamboozling critics and audiences alike with a staggeringly long three hour run time, it’s fair to say that in terms of excess, Endgame laps it up completely, and whilst anything stamped with the Marvel branding tends to be absolutely critic-proof, what an absolute pleasure it is in being able to confirm that Endgame is everything that it should be and more, an emotional, bizarre and thoroughly engaging and entertaining cinematic blockbuster which manages to effectively balance spectacle with narrative payoffs, resulting in a closing chapter which beautifully reinforces the idea that what Marvel have done will never ever be executed quite as brilliantly ever again in the history of cinema.
Heading in, it’s quite important to note that Endgame is not in anyway Infinity War part two, and whilst expectations and fan theories always affect judgement on the final piece, the fact that I’ve now watched Endgame twice goes to show that the fourth Avengers piece is not just another movie, in fact it’s almost too much of a movie, a three hour long comic book dream which expects its’ audience to be synchronised with every in-joke, every knowing aside and be able to recount what happened where and at what time in each of the preceding twenty one MCU chapters. If part of this selective band of followers, then Endgame seeks to provide as much fan service to you as humanly possible whilst crucially still understanding the fundamentals of filmmaking by biding its time with an opening act which seeks to show the effects of Thanos’ snap, one which impressively highlights melancholic tales of loss, depression and guilt, resulting in some of the most impressive writing I can remember seeing in a superhero film since The Dark Knight. With the PR team for Endgame deserving their own round of applause for brilliantly being able to manage not spoiling anything at all, pretty much everything seen in the film’s trailers either occurs during the opening thirty minutes or not at all, and whilst particular narrative choices are expected from fans with more observant qualities to their Marvel addiction, the fact remains that in order to enjoy Endgame‘s many shocks and surprises you must simply head in not being aware of anything, with one of the film’s many joys is being able to gasp, cry and fist-pump your way through the action with an audience who are as dedicated to both the characters and the franchise as you undoubtedly are, if not more so.
At three hours long, the fact that Endgame did not feel as if it was testing any sort of patience at any point is a remarkable feat in itself, with both the pacing and the editing serving the action rather splendidly in a way that only the best filmmakers can successfully manage to balance, and whilst at times particular characters seem to be slightly wasted or criminally underused, such a complaint is particularly minor and in a way obsolete, with the primary mission of the piece clearly offering the chance to serve conclusions to characters who have been with us since the start and being well aware that for the new breed, the future is both bright and holds their own tales ready to be told and explored as we head into the franchise’s new phase come the end of the year. With enough hilarious dialogue and slapstick performances to put most so-called comedies to shame, Endgame deliciously plays into the Marvel mould we have both come to know and love, and whilst the balance between light and dark never fails to hit the solemn, gritty realism of Logan, the emotional payoffs of particular character arcs will leave even the most cold-hearted of sociopaths in floods of tears as they come to realise that characters in which their time has been spent with for just over a decade may not be ever seen again, in this universe anyway. When it comes to reviewing Endgame, what Marvel have ultimately achieved is unprecedented in the realm of cinema, twenty two movies across eleven years and all leading to a conclusion which is worthy of both the hype and anticipation laid upon it, and in some way, just being part of such a magnificent journey is reason enough to fall in love with a movie which will not only make it difficult to look at any future superhero movie in the same way, but is in some ways a love letter to fans whose dedication and desire have ultimately made such a dream come true.
Overall Score: 9/10
“You Wanna See This Thing Through? I’m Gonna Have To Get, Dirty…”
With Denis Villeneuve showing a wider audience what was to come of his expert film-making prowess back in 2015 with Sicario, a expertly crafted, white-knuckle thriller which laid the basis for the similarly masterful Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 in terms of what the French-Canadian could achieve with the right backing, arguably the more impressive element of the feature was Taylor Sheridan, an American most famous at the time for his stint on Sons of Anarchy but whose screenplay for Sicario was both smart and compelling, one swiftly followed by equally impressive screenplays for both Hell or High Water and Wind River, capping off a trio of superbly written movies. each with a dedicated lust for heavy doses of substance and style in equal measure. Returning to writing duties again for the eagerly anticipated Sicario sequel, subtitled Soldado, the absence of Villeneuve means Italian director Stefano Sollima (Suburra) takes charge of a movie which continues the oppressive, ominous tone of the original whilst working through a genuinely thrilling narrative, one which sees the return of Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War) and Benicio del Toro (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Matt Graver and Alejandro Gillick as they attempt to orchestrate a war between the Mexican cartels after they are seen to be aiding agents of ISIS cross the border in order to carry out their destructive message, and whilst Soldado doesn’t entirely hit the heavy heights of its’ near-perfect predecessor come the end credits, Sollima’s movie is still an unnerving, powerful work of war at its’ most darkest and lawless.
Beginning with a catalogue of terrorist related events, including a jaw-dropping and horrific supermarket explosion in which the camera lingers closely from outside through every familiar step of contemporary terror, Soldado quickly re-introduces the reunion of Graver and Gillick as they are handed the freedom to do as they please in order to combat the ever-increasing Mexican cartel presence on the US-border which has now taken extra precedence due their involvement in potential terror activities. With a central narrative which sees the kidnapping of the young, spoiled daughter of a renowned Mexican cartel boss, one which ultimately results in in-house allegiances being put to the test, Sheridan’s screenplay also follows closely the exploits of newcomer Elijah Rodriguez’s Miguel as he crawls up the ranks of the cartel’s people smuggling operation, and whilst the sequel doesn’t entirely hit the brooding, ambiguity which drove through the entirety of its’ predecessor up until the very end, the tight-knit, unbearable tension does manage to completely follow over, rearing its’ head throughout a high proportion of a movie which aside from one sarcastic aside, primarily holds its’ tone as completely and utterly serious. With a Michael Mann-esque, militaristic sensibility which sees countless shots of rampaging army vehicles cruising across the vacant, perilous landscapes of the US/Mexican border, Soldado is wickedly spectacular in its’ approach to action set pieces, with the piercing sound of bullets echoing the overripe mixing of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk merging spectacularly with endless cinematic screenshots of whirring helicopters, over-head drones and enough firepower to start and end a small coup.
With the inclusion of much more lusciously orchestrated action scenes second time around, the question remains whether the overall screenplay deserves such luxuries, and even as an overall body of work Soldado doesn’t piece together as tightly or rigidly as Sicario, with particular crucial plot threads concluding rather suddenly without any real sense of full-blooded purpose, the avenues which Sheridan’s writing takes us undoubtedly suits the bleak mould of the series, particularly in the movies’ penchant for gut-wrenching murder sequences and a concluding near-death experience which undeniably ranks up there with one of the more brutal character arcs in recent history. With Brolin and del Toro on superb, angst-ridden, macho-growling form, with the latter having much more space for a deeper layer of examination this time around as his character’s uncertain, ambiguous nature is slowly scraped at and given light, young Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight) as the similarly tough Isabela Reyes gives an equally impressive performance as the daughter of the cartel boss responsible for the death of Alejandro’s wife and daughter. With a bruising, battling, war torn sensibility which is as tough at times as it is riotously engaging and enjoyable, Soldado is a sequel success story which both pays homage to its’ predecessor with utmost respect whilst developing its’ characters in fascinating ways, and with the possibility of a third film coming to nicely round the series off as a trilogy, one can only query how much further Sheridan can continue his winning scripture streak.
Overall Score: 8/10
“Doing The Right Thing Is Messy. You Want To Fight For What’s Right, Sometimes You Have To Fight Dirty…”
With Avengers: Infinity War concurring global box office domination for the past four weeks or so, it seems only fair that another highly anticipated superhero sequel should try and chip at the financial willingness of a 21st century, comic-hungry audience, and whilst that sequel this week is of course Deadpool 2, it comes at no surprise that Marvel, and more unsurprisingly, Disney, feel the need to make even more eye-watering sums of cash with yet another hot release. I mean come on, it almost feels like yet another Star Wars should be coming out soon, right? Right? Swapping mass universal destruction and gut wrenching superhero genocide for the 15 rated oeuvre in which 2016’s Deadpool graced its’ successful presence, Deadpool 2 swaps original director, Tim Miller, for Atomic Blonde and unaccredited John Wick director, David Leitch, as it attempts to build on the meta-referencing, fourth-wall breaking shenanigans of its’ predecessor and proving the joke of R-rated comic book carnage isn’t as one note as one might expect. With the original Deadpool described in my own review as “not amazing, but enjoyable nonetheless” and a movie which “goes in one ear and carves its’ way out the other in the most violent and adolescent way possible”, it’s ironic how such sentiments echo the feeling of its’ sequel, a movie which takes the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 approach of playing to its’ predecessors strengths and attempting to expand upon them to successful degrees, and whilst Vol.2 never was going to match the success of its’ respective predecessor, Deadpool 2 does manage to complete such a task and whilst Leitch’s movie still isn’t on the same level of excellence as other Marvel alternatives, it’s still a expletive laden ride.
With Ryan Reynolds (Life) returning as the invincible and titular figure of Wade Wilson, the added inclusion of 2018’s man of the year, Josh Brolin, as the time travelling, futuristic cyborg killer, Nathan Summers/Cable, is undeniably one of the more pressing reasons for the sequel’s existence, but with Brolin’s superbly crafted digital performance of Thanos in Infinity War setting a new bar for superhero villains, it’s surprising how little character development Brolin’s Cable is afforded in the movie’s extended two hour runtime, resulting in his character somewhat lacking in memorability even when Brolin is as cool and imposing as ever. With an added level of sentiment within a Looper inspired narrative, particularly aided by the inclusion of Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s, Julian Dennison, the tonal shifts between shock value comedy and gut punching loss does not work well at all, with the early death of an important character not entirely suiting the film’s overly silly sensibility, but with at least eighty percent of the quickfire puns and sharp, slick in-house references resulting in effective laughs, Deadpool 2 feeds the paying audience exactly what they want without ever stopping slow enough to fall out of the carnival-esque state the movie straps you into, and with solid enough action and comedy set pieces, a quickfire editing pace and a combination of brilliantly designed pre and post credit sequences, Deadpool 2 is flashier, more experimental and much more rewarding that its’ first incarnation, but too a movie which begs the question how much longer the joke can be stretched out before it begins to feel slightly tiresome. I’m sure the box office will have the final answer on that one.
Overall Score: 7/10
“When I’m Done, Half Of Humanity Will Still Exist. Perfectly Balanced, As All Things Should Be…”
Following the release of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man exactly ten years ago, the culmination of plot threads, narrative developments and vast array of characters which have encompassed the Marvel Cinematic Universe since then have all led in the direction of Avengers: Infinity War, the latest gargantuan superhero romp which sees each of the major Marvel characters of the past ten years come together and join forces in order to thwart the oncoming threat of Josh Brolin’s (Sicario) ominous Thanos, who vows to collect each of the Infinity Stones, six immensely powerful alien artefacts, in order to bend the universe to his evil and genocidal will. With the hype train well and truly steaming ahead, the anticipation for Infinity War is unprecedented within the realms of superhero cinema, and with a extensively star studded cast list and the directing duo of Anthony and Joe Russo at the helm, whose previous credits of course include Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, expectations from audiences and critics alike are resoundingly off the charts. Thankfully, what the Russo’s have manged to achieve with Infinity War is a staggering, operatic work of spectacle and heartbreaking drama, a film, which on paper had no right to succeed, but has somehow resulted in the most rewarding, magical and downright jaw-dropping Marvel superhero experience in the MCU so far.
With two and a half hours worth of plot to dissect, Infinity War essentially breaks down into a quartet of individual narrative channels, with Earth being the base for the character band lead by Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, space being the battleground for both the Guardians of the Galaxy subplot and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark own personal quest, and the entire universe being the backdrop for Brolin’s Thanos who travels from planet to planet leaving behind a cold, calculated and murderous path as he collects the all-powerful Infinity Stones. With the MCU struggling in the past to effectively conjure up groundbreaking and well-rounded villains, the introduction of Thanos follows in the footsteps of Black Panther‘s Killmonger by refusing to bow down to simply cannon fodder for superhero stardom and instead is the surprising central character of the piece, with the script superbly managing to highlight the character’s genocidal plan with some degree of purpose whilst at the same time introducing flaws and elements of empathy, particularly in the stand-out conversations between himself and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. Of course, with purple CGI muscles, a band of merry followers known as the Black Order and the Infinity Gauntlet in hand, the real power of the character is evidenced to an alarming degree too, with surprising character deaths by his own hand and a dedicated reluctance to fail, resulting in explosive action set pieces which both never seem to outstay their welcome and a include too a perilous sense of threat for everyone involved which the franchise up to now was thoroughly lacking.
Of course, with so many characters and so little time spared on deep characterisation aside from the film’s leading antagonist, particular individuals do become somewhat by-products of a larger endgame, particularly those involved in the drama taking place on Earth and specifically, Wakanda, but with eighteen previous stories worth of backstory and development behind it, Infinity War isn’t designed to further character arcs and instead is there to tie up the development already achieved and offer long-awaited fan service for which it undenaibly achieves. Whether it’s the banter fuelled dialogue between Tony Stark and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange or the egotistical match-up between Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, amidst all the grandiose drama, Infinity War still manages to hold onto the razor-sharp comedic puns the franchise is renowned for without ever feeling cheesy or stupid enough to lose its’ dramatic edge, and whilst the best moments are undoubtedly in the other-worldly realms in which Downey Jr. and Pratt are present, the film as a whole balances its’ monumental premise with staggering ease. Of course, with Infinity War only part one of a much bigger design, there is a resounding sense of payoff not yet being ripely achieved, but with a ground-breaking, melancholic and brazen concluding scene which rips up the cinematic blockbuster rule book completely, the year long wait for the concluding chapter is of course undeniably agonising, but one which if continuing the success of Infinity War, will undoubtedly be an experience to savour.
Overall Score: 8/10
“No Matter What You Hear Or What’s Going On, Stay Together…”
Directed by American filmmaker Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion), Only the Brave tells the dramatic and heartbreaking tale of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite team of firefighters who in their attempts in thwarting the Yarnell Hill Fire in June of 2013 became American heroes and the subject of Sean Flynn’s GQ article “No Exit” of which Kosinski’s movie is based upon, and whilst the American’s previous forays into the world of science fiction cinema have been somewhat laboured, the same cannot be said for his ability in the genre of biographical dramas, with Only the Brave being a slow-burning, character-driven tale of heroism and bravery which follows in the footsteps of Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day by being effectively crafted without ever falling into the realms of schmaltziness or cliche. Working with an ensemble cast which includes a reunion with Jeff Bridges and the likes of Josh Brolin and Miles Teller, Kosinski uses the ultimate conclusion of the tale to full emotive effect by using the bulk of the movie to develop meaningful relationships and characteristics, ranging from Miles Teller’s Brendan’s evolution from junkie to father to Josh Brolin’s “Supe” who uses the thrill of his occupation to fill the gap left behind by a previous illegal pastime.
Whilst the movie does suffer slightly from being twenty minutes too long and sometimes not using the likes of Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Connelly to full effect considering their pedigree as actors, Only the Brave chooses instead to focus primarily on Josh Brolin and Miles Teller’s characters, particularly in regards to their respective personal issues and familial ties, and whilst this sometimes leaves other members of the team to come across as simply window dressing, the performances of both hold the key to the film’s successes, with the contrasting final arc of their tale bringing the previous development together to a nicely cropped end which will leave even the most thick skinned audiences gasping with a sense of awe and shock, particularly in one of the film’s final shots when we see our heroes’ family members waiting together in a staggering state of uncertainty. Mixed together with a soundtrack which ticks all the boxes in terms of greatness, with the likes of Pearl Jam, AC/DC and Metallica all making a welcome appearance, Kosinski’s movie manages to be both an excellent homage to the true heroes of the tale and a menacing thrill ride at the same time and with central performances at the top of their game, Only the Brave is an excellent piece of biographical cinema.
Overall Score: 8/10
“Squint Against The Grandeur..!”
When it comes to the Coen Brothers, there is no doubting their ability in the art of film-making even if sometimes their films begin to dwell into the realm of complete mayhem, with films such as Burn After Reading showing their tendency to revel in too much kookiness being on similar wave-lines with cinematic sludges such as their remake of True Grit, a film that can be applauded for its’ cast but yawn inducing nonetheless. On the other hand, films such as No Country For Old Men, Fargo and my own personal favourite Inside Llewyn Davis showcase the brothers’ love for cinema, a love that is no doubt reciprocated within their latest adventure Hail, Caesar! a comedic drama focusing on a day in the life of Capitol Pictures fixer Eddie Mannix, portrayed in a near-perfect fashion by Coen mainstay Josh Brolin supported by a mind-boggling rafter of stars including George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlet Johansson, and Channing Tatum as well as Alden Ehrenreich as the “singing cowboy” Hobie Doyle. Stars galore right? But does the film match the greatness of its’ payroll? Not exactly.
Amongst the damsels in distress, replacement actors, an attempt to get a mother to adopt her own child and contemplating a move to another place of working life, all of which encompass one day in the life of Brolin’s Mannix, the core plot-line amongst the many that are brought to life within the film’s magical air of 1950’s Hollywood is the kidnapping of famous star Baird Whitlock, played in full-on comedic fashion by Clooney, by the mysterious cult calling themselves “The Future”. Although this particular plot-line establishes itself as the core of the movie, aside from the involvement of Clooney, it is strangely the weakest within the film, resulting in a through line that attempts to hold the film together but instead results in a film weaker than the sum of its’ parts. It almost feels like a Coenzian (I’m coining that phrase now) wishlist of stars playing their part in the dreamland of a Hollywood in the mid-20th century of which the brothers wished they were part of, something that on the face of it isn’t bad at all, but for some strange reason, the love I wish I had for it just isn’t there and Hail, Caesar! ultimately feels like something of a let down regarding the talent on display.
Among the great things in the movie is the introduction to Tatum’s character with an all-singing all-dancing routine which is bound to capture the hearts of most audiences whilst the story of Doyle is particularly captivating, with his confrontation with Fienne’s Laurence Laurentz easily one of the most quotable of the year so far. Hill barely has two words to say and is just completely wasted whilst Frances McDormand continues to cash in on her marital duties and appears ever so briefly in the husky air of the back-end editing room; a very strange scene indeed. Hail, Caesar! has a few laughs, a variety of chuckles and a tendency to bring out a smile on occasion yet the film just isn’t the masterpiece it perhaps could have been. Better than Burn After Reading? God, yes. As good as Inside Llewyn Davis? Not at all. It’s solid from the Coen’s, just not ground-breaking.
Overall Score: 6/10
“Welcome To Juarez…”
Back in early January when Denis Villeneuve’s mind-warping thriller Enemy was released, it began a spur of excitement towards a director who although had already began to make waves to a wider audience with Prisoners, was quietly going under the radar making enthralling and, against the norm of the money-making syndicate that is Hollywood in the 21st century, intelligent works of art. If Enemy left me with a sense of sheer fright at the sight of its’ ever so creepy final scene, then Villeneuve’s latest Sicario takes it up a notch, and then some, with Villeneuve not in any way being tempted to resort to the crash-bang-wallop of recent thrillers deriving from the US, which although may result in a stack load of money, usually ends up being particularly forgettable piles of tripe in the long run, something of which cannot be said of Sicario, a film so enriched in tension and threat that if it were not for it being advertised as being a stone-cold thriller, could easily be regarded as a first-class horror, designed to tickle the senses from head to toe.
When a kidnapping raid in Chandler, Arizona goes horrendously wrong, FBI Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt, Looper, Edge of Tomorrow) is quickly tasked with the shady, if enigmatic, Department of Defense adviser Matt Graver (Josh Brolin, No Country For Old Men, Everest) in an attempt to dismantle the enraging cartel activity behind the raid’s failure, During her venture into the ambiguous nature of her involvement with Graver, Macer comes into contact with his partner, Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro, Traffic, Sin City) a silent and secretive agent who is reluctant to share his involvement in the operation, Delving deeper and deeper into the heart of gangland territory, Kate begins to suspect that all is not what it seems with her life becoming more and more in danger the deeper she treads into the real objectives of both Graver and Gillick. Sound gripping? And oh boy is it, with not one, but three set pieces in particular within Sicario actually managing to make my heart beat at a higher rate than normal, something of which hasn’t occurred since maybe Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, a dark and mysterious thriller/horror that has many positive links with Villeneuve’s latest, with both featuring an engrossing story that forgets the spoon-fed nature of a mass audience and instead focuses on natures both ambiguous and unknown.
The three set pieces? A congested motorway. A pitch black tunnel. A last supper. All scenes in which silence is played upon to the extreme and tension is rammed up to the max, helped significantly by top-of-their-game acting from the three main leads in the form of Blunt, Del Toro, and Brolin, all of whom should regard Sicario as a true statement of their own individual acting pedigree with Blunt’s portrayal as the ambitious and rather curious Macer a true indication of her diverse acting ability (Into The Woods, The Devil Wears Prada). Stars of the show however belong to both Del Toro as the incredibly stone-cold Gillick, his best role in years, and cinematographer Roger Deakins, the Devon-born artist who even though after doing brilliant work on The Shawshank Redemption, Skyfall, and basically the entire Coen Brothers back catalogue, has still failed to win an Oscar, may finally get his chance to proclaim supremacy with his latest offering. Take it from me, Sicario looks beautiful with Deakins’ work effectively adhering to and empowering the dark and deadly nature of the film’s atmosphere resulting in a film that isn’t just your everyday thriller, its’ a film laced with horror tropes from start to finish and ultimately results in one leaving the cinema both shaking in fear and gawping in amazement, a solid thumbs up in anyone’s opinion.
Overall Score: 9/10
Snow, Lot’s of Snow
When a challenge with an intensity such as climbing Mount Everest is set upon us humans by the greater gods, aliens, those weird blue things from Prometheus, or whatever you believe in in regards to our creation, the natural response from almost everyone on Earth is to stay as far away as humanly possible from almost what is near-certain death, but in the case of the mad minority, a chosen few in the last century or so have decided to attempt such a feat in climbing safely to the top of Earth’s highest mountain, with the latest popcorn-fueled, 3D epic in the form of the aptly named Everest, attempting to tell the tale of the real events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster in which SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. Obviously if you are well versed in the National Geographic channel or other alternative options to observe our recent history, such spoilers limit the film’s appeal in some sense, but if unbeknownst to the facts, like myself, Everest brings a sharp cinematic appeal to one of the world’s most spectacular wonders.
Boasting a cast so A-List top-heavy, you could have been fooled for thinking actors such as Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Josh Brolin, were set to appear in a arctic spin-off of Avengers Assemble, Everest’s first half consists of both character development and build-up to an almost inevitable conclusion, particularly if you had seen the trailer, regarding the group’s attempt to accomplish their goal of reaching the top of the mountain, Not only does Everest suffer from the familiar movie trait of giving too much away in its’ pre-release trailers resulting in a feeling of, “oh, just hurry up and reach the top,” but subsequently suffers from an almost cramped amount of characters seemingly all played in cameo fashion from A-Lister’s such as Gyllenhaal and Brolin, without having one solid lead or hero, even if it is suggested that Clarke’s role as Rob Hall was the intended recipient of such with the movie switching from focus between Clarke and Brolin in the first and second acts.
If the first half of Everest is somewhat lacklustre, the second half of the film more than makes up for it and undoubtedly saves the film no-end, with the sheer horror of survival in the face of certain death being expertly displayed across gorgeous cinematography whilst scenes of sheer horror in which the effects of such perils are unpleasantly displayed result in a heavy sense of squeamishness. Although scenes in which the true horror and danger of climbing such a feat could have been added to, the film did at times leave me with a sense of vertigo but not in a fashion I would have deemed adequate from a disaster movie in which the tension should definitely be current throughout, something of which cannot be said of Everest, even with the mountainous terrain being constantly adhered to by the film-makers. Everest is a film that aspires to be a metaphorical equivalent to its’ title, with an A-List cast undoubtedly boosting the appeal but it suffers heavily from a slow first half and too many characters with none sticking out from the crowd in an attempt to form any meaningful emotional bond with throughout the course of their life-or-death situation.
Overall Score: 7/10
1970: A Drug Odyssey
Paul Thomas Anderson films in general, so far, have been films that I haven’t really warmed to. I didn’t really dig Magnolia and I couldn’t stand The Master, so with this in mind, my expectation level going into Inherent Vice was rather flat. After watching it though, it’s safe to say Inherent Vice is probably my favourite Anderson film to date, which in itself is faint praise due to my distaste for his earlier material. The film focuses on Joaquin Phoenix’s, private investigator Larry “Doc” Sportello, and his plot to help his ex-girlfriend have her wealthy boyfriend Mickey Wolfmann committed to an insane asylum, yet that’s as clear as the film’s plot gets, with its’ two and a half hour run-time being full of ambiguity and a distinct haziness which clearly attempts to parallel the drug-infested era of the early 1970’s. The challenging nature of the film will definitely not be for everyone, particularly those who depend on a film’s narrative being explained to the last detail, yet it’s lack of explanation adds a strange layer of mystery, which in itself is rather compelling.
Inherent Vice is full of solid acting, strong comedic moments, and a plot so out-of-control, it ends up being both painful and fascinating, Its’ run-time is way too long, and the film suffers as a result, as many times I began to lose patience and checked how long we had left. Like I said, Inherent Vice is my favourite Anderson film to date, and it makes me want to watch his previous efforts again to see if it was just me and not the films themselves. Peace Out.
Overall Score: 7/10