“Things Are Not Always As They Seem…”
Adapted from their very own play of the same name which premiered back in 2010, Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson swap the stage for the screen with Ghost Stories, a Hammer Horror inspired creeper which mixes a mock-documentary style narrative with elements of the portmanteau cinematic medium which has worked incredibly effectively before in the horror genre with the likes of V/H/S and it’s juicier, more experimental sequel arguably being the more contemporary standout examples. With Nyman himself assuming the lead role of Professor Phillip Goodman, a single minded debunker of the supernatural who is tasked with solving three individual and unexplained cases designed to test his ignorance of the paranormal, Ghost Stories takes the audience through an exhausting check list of every classic horror trope in existence as we move from one case to the next, with each investigation creepier and weirder than the last, and whilst most movies which form a narrative around very well-worn and rusty horror cliches more often than not tend to be complete and utter disasters, take Winchester this year alone for example, Ghost Stories works impressively due to a ripe and over-the-top sensibility which is simply too much fun to disregard.
Supported by a variety of tip-top British talent including Paul Whitehouse (The Death of Stalin), Alex Lawther (Black Ribbon – “Shut Up and Dance”) and the mighty Dr. Watson himself, Martin Freeman (Black Panther), their respective characters each provide the details of their own individual supernatural experiences including a haunted Session 9 inspired mental institution, a meeting with evil and an interaction with the freshly dead. With manically timed and alarmingly impressive jump-scares throughout, the horror elements are wickedly managed and at times, unrelenting in nature, and even when the film does suffer terribly in its’ opening quarter due to a wandering direction and lack of grounded involvement, as soon as we begin to interfere in our leading character’s draining investigations, the haunted house of a thrill ride adequately begins. Concluding with a final act which twists the film on its’ head and forces you to gasp at the sheer absurdity of where and how the action ultimately unfolds, Ghost Stories is a stellar success and a future British Halloween classic, one which both will please mainstream audiences and aficionado horror audiences who although are used to the thrills the movie offers, will lap it up in spades.
Overall Score: 8/10
“You Are A Good Man, With A Good Heart. And It’s Hard For A Good Man To Be A King…”
Whilst it is now common practice for Disney to hire critically acclaimed and subversive filmmakers in the ilk of Taika Waititi, Shane Black and the Russo Brothers to helm tangent releases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe post The Avengers, the decision to choose Ryan Coogler as the leading light behind Black Panther, the eighteenth release within the ever-expanding superhero franchise, is a real stroke of genius, a talented filmmaker with the likes of Fruitvale Station and Creed in his back pocket and most importantly, a director who knows full well the balance between script and spectacle when given the chance to helm pedigree franchises and big budget releases. Utilising an astounding array of raw talent to convey the first standalone depiction of the superhero widely recognised as the first character of African descent in American mainstream comics, Coogler’s latest stars Chadwick Boseman (Marshall) as T’Challa, the titular king of the fictional East African nation of Wakanda, who reprises his scene-stealing appearance in Captain America: Civil War as he returns to his homeland in order to address the ceremonial tradition of becoming his country’s ruler after the untimely passing of his father, King T’Chaka, but with the emergence of a long lost royalty successor, T’Challa’s reign is immediately threatened and challenged, resulting in the possibility of detrimental effects to the outside world that the Wakandan way of life has always refused to become an integral part of.
With eye-widening spectacle in abundance, a successful blend of drama and humour, and a cultural exploration unlike any world before it, Coogler’s latest is one of the most fist-pumping releases in the MCU, a joyous ride of popcorn entertainment with an array of substance and depth, with Coogler’s movie undeniably the most thematic based superhero release since Nolan’s 2008 masterpiece, The Dark Knight. Working on a script by both Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther explores a wide range of captivating ideas, beginning with T’Challa’s sudden rise to power and moving through notions of power sharing, the isolation from the perils of the outside world and with the introduction of Michael B. Jordan’s (Creed) physically imposing, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, societal comments regarding the empowerment of the powerless in a world overran with tyrannical rulings and unjust treatment of the voiceless. Celebrating the world of Wakanda in gorgeously designed detail after only being passingly mentioned throughout previous Marvel releases, the visual splendour of the country and the exploration of otherworldly technology is thoroughly entertaining and indulgent, with Letitia Wright’s (Black Mirror) Princess Shuri essentially a hipper, suavely comical Q to Boseman’s Bond-esque hero figure, with a superbly measured action set piece in South Korea demonstrating the blockbuster scale of tools the people of Wakanda are used to and reluctant to let go.
With Andy Serkis (War For The Planet Of The Apes) fleshing out his role as the ruthless arms dealer and all round nasty piece of work, Ulysses Klaue, after his minor stint in Age of Ultron, the character’s hatred of Wakandan privilege and greedy need for the power of vibranium, the strongest metal on Earth and the core of Captain America’s indestructible shield, allows for the introduction of Jordan’s Killmonger, the primary antagonist of the piece whose hidden familial ties and lust for revenge sets him on a path of destruction and idealistic plans of world changing possibilities, a narrative point which aside from failing to adhere to the bog standard cliche of world domination is too a scheme which remarkably does seem inherently understandable, offering a conflicting battle between who and what is truly on the side of what can be deemed sufficiently right or wrong. With the CGI at times a tad iffy and an opening twenty minutes which somewhat disjoints the pacing of the action which follows, Black Panther is no means a superhero masterpiece, but with an organic cultural sensibility which opens the door to engaging and overly exciting new characters and a empowered outlook on the Wakandan way of life in which the most brave and bad-ass just happens to be led by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira as Okoye, an actress so brilliant in last year’s All Eyez on Me, Coogler’s addition to the Marvel franchise is a riveting and overly cool action adventure, and with Infinity War to come, 2018’s superhero calendar has started with a superhero sized bang.
Overall Score: 8/10
One Last Time…?
Here we are at last. After 726 minutes of Lord of the Rings (I’m including the extended Blu-Ray editions as i recently watched them all) and 343 minutes of The Hobbit so far (once again, the extended editions) we have the final installment of our journey through middle-earth. What a ride it has been. Shall we do it one last time?
The Hobbit series so far hasn’t at all gripped me in ways that LOTR did. I found An Unexpected Journey way too long, yet a solid start, and although The Desolation of Smaug was a much improved addition to the Middle Earth saga, it still stood in the shadow of all films within the LOTR trilogy. Now we have The Battle of Five Armies, a film that starts with a superb opening scene following on from the conclusion of the previous film, in which the monstrous Smaug descends upon Laketown with death, and death in huge numbers, in mind. Ironically, the epicness and awe-inspiring first section of the film is never really surpassed in the two hours that followed.
In terms of the good, the first is that the film is much shorter than the previous offerings resulting in a better pace as well as eradicating the feeling that the story was dragging on, something which i had felt particularly in the first film. Secondly, Richard Armitage is fantastic as Thorin, and in my view stole the show portraying a character battling with his inner demons in a way not too dissimilar from the effects of the one ring, although this inadvertently results in Freeman’s perfect portrayal of Bilbo almost being sidelined. Other positive points include the way in which Christopher Lee, aged 92, can still kick shadowy butt, and the way in which the film nicely rounds off the middle-earth saga by leading the audience straight into The Fellowship of the Ring.
Now for the bad. For some reason, the makers of The Hobbit Trilogy have gone CGI crazy, particularly within this last installment, and for me the sheer amount of reliance on such sadly reduces the feeling of epicness i should have been feeling. CGI orcs? Not needed. The orcs in LOTR were brilliant. Why change that? CGI Dain? WHY? You could have easily just asked for Billy Connolly to be in the film directly, yet instead, Mr Jackson or whoever believes his voice is all that is needed and a computer generated version is much better. No. The over-use of CGI also results in the film looking like a video game in some occasions, with some scenes looking like they have been lifted from last years’ Shadow of Mordor. Other minor problems included Orlando Bloom looking very scary as a post-plastic surgery looking Legolas, some cheesy love-in moments, and an overall sense of repetitiveness during the titular battle.
In conclusion, The Battle of the Five Armies has rounded off the middle-earth saga in a solid, yet strangely unspectacular fashion, featuring a brilliant opening scene as well as a stand-out performance from Armitage, weakened by an over-reliance on CGI and a feeling of repetitiveness throughout the battle sequences. Farewell Middle-Earth. It’s been emotional.
Overall Score: 7/10
Hello to anyone subscribed, checks back or any other form, I’d just like to say that I have been busy procrastinating a report of mine and lost a lot of motivation to do any work. If you’d hit one of the multiple links to around the page, you can get notifications of when I post new bits of just take a look into the incredibly mundane life of mine!
Moving on to the actual meat of this post. Finally, after a year, the next instalment in The Hobbit series has finally arrived. Pumped up with the exciting news of Legolas coming back and busting some Orc butts, I was thoroughly prepared for moments of badassery and witty commentary. However, that is for a little later. My hopes were high for this movie. I have even put off releasing a “Top 5 of 2013” list until this was released. Unfortunately, it was a wise decision. My expectations had clouded me and left me grasping for more meat on the apparently succulent bones.
Getting right too it, one of my annoyances was the year gap between the movies. If you don’t have the time to re-watch the previous films in a series, it’s no easy feat to remember where exactly it all left off. But ignoring this fact, it is very easy to get into the swing of things when the travellers didn’t actually get very far. Considering that the story is no considerable difference in the movie apart from them FINALLY making it to the mountain of the Dwarven kingdom and the introduction of a few new characters.
The new/returning characters are really good to see. They hold enough screen time to really illustrate their stories and build upon their roles. Hopefully, it will continue into the next instalment as some characters were unfortunately lost in the mix and easily forgotten when you’re jumping from 4 or 5 different locations. My personal favourite from the Lord Of The Rings series is and will always be Legolas. He is wise, courageous and generous to those around it. Surprisingly, he holds more of a grudge on the outside world and orcs. Appearing distasteful at the thought of dealing with matters that do not concern his people. Coldly indifferent and yet struck by love for Tauriel, of which she is not permitted to react to by his fathers orders.
The elements really do show a much darker side to him. Something a little more raw and interesting, especially when moments refer to Gimli (Having not met until the Fellowship of the Ring, Legolas makes a joke about one of the dwarves son who is Gimli!). Now obviously, Legolas is not at the forefront of the movie, although he is a bit of a gimmick to draw in more sales, we do see this for other characters. Smaug; the giant ass dragon that is reputedly voiced by none other than Cumberbatch. I use the term reputedly for many reasons, one being that they did so much work to his voice, it sounded NOTHING like him. Genuinely, I couldn’t tell it was him. If I had to pick out of a list, I would have picked the hulking great big dude with the awesome moustache, not the lanky, fairly intelligent (I presume) Mr Cumberbatch with the face of a babies ass. Ben, as I shall now call him, also voiced the Necromancer, who also sounded nothing like him! Once again, as we see with Legolas, he is very much a tool to draw in money to fund Peter Jackson’s need for overpriced cameras.
On the topic of overpriced cameras, which I would like but can’t afford but would kindly take to any offer that chooses to come my way, WHY THE HELL ARE YOU USING GO PRO’S!? I shit you not, a sequence which involves a lot of water, some barrels and general chaos was plagued by disgusting shots that dives under the surface with a lacking resolution and quality compared to the rest of the entire film! A big budget movie can afford something far more advanced than a GoPro. Don’t let a boy do a man’s job. I’m also incredibly shocked by a lot of the CGI. At points, it was saddening to watch. Nothing fit into place and never reflected the light and surrounding effectively, thus making them obscure and vividly annoying. It’s easy pickings but could have been avoided easily. It’s almost as if they handed me a fish on a silver platter and begged me to slap them with it because they have some kinky fetish. The rest of the footage was half decent and the CGI that went into Smaug was fairly impressive. Shame it was never transferred equally.
Now to the cast! We have a really big range of stars that perform their roles brilliantly. No qualms can be brought against them. Although he held little screen time, Luke Evans (Bard/Giroin) was a possible favourite of mine. He maintains an air of mystery that I hope is explored in the next film. Stephen Fry pops in for a short role, completely juxtaposed to the Fry we know and love. A pig of a man, driven by greed with an unkempt moustache and wardrobe to boot. It’s great to see him play someone vile for a change compared to the typically nutty guy who is always on the good side. According to IMDB, even Stephen Colbert made an appearance as is rumoured for the next film too.
The question to be asked about the Lord Of The Rings franchise is what draws us too it? The magical world?, an exciting story?, or just pure action? Personally, I feel it’s always been the perfect combination between all points and the action was always something that excited me. Vast battlefields and skirmishes across middle earth. The brilliantly choreographed fights that built upon elements of light hearted humour in a dark world in some of the most aggressive wars. We still have elements of the epic fights and action with the comic relief within them but we also have to deal with much slower action. The cause, blame and my hatred falls upon 3D. Because fast images in 3D will cause motion sickness and can’t be viewed easily, the scenes have to be longer to counter this issue. This also causes another issue. I prefer 2D. I tend to despise gimmicks and my beloved Hobbit has been tainted by it, marginalising those who watch it in 2D who notice the loss in pace.
Finally, one last point. If another movie ends with a cliff hanger as big as this, then demands we wait a year until the next part, I may have to sue for emotional compensation. I think my overall score for it will be a 7/10. I didn’t want to be so brutal but I can’t agree with the IMDB public vote on this one. There were too many issues for me to simply ignore.
So, yeah. Tell me what you thought of it in the comment section and if you could subscribe or share this about, it would be much appreciated!
As far as stories go, The Worlds End is quite an outlandish tale. A typical alien invasion uncovered by the most obtuse group of people on a weekend of downing pints across 12 pubs, or as they call it – The Golden Mile. Throughout this, Simon Pegg causes endless amounts of trouble and uncovers this invasion. Thus leads to them trying to complete the Golden Mile while staving off the hordes of “Blanks”. It sounds fairly straightforward, yet the character back stories are fairly complicated. These backgrounds really affect each other and cause endless amounts of trouble, one of which that is most notably is Gary King’s (Simon Pegg) drinking problems.
As a comedy, it was fairly good. A collection of jokes which made you giggle and a few made the cinema roar with laughter, yet nothing hugely substantial. The other side of the coin is the action portion of the film. It is dramatically sped up and it easily noticeable, but it is aggressive, full on and just great fun. It’s also nice to see that Nick Frost played a different style of character in this instalment. Starting off as a dead beat ass with no job and no life causing controversy among the group in Shaun of The Dead, following it up with a dead beat cop with little understanding of full on police work but a love for violence to end up as a non-alcoholic whose life appears well and is still a strong, tank of a man. Speaking of actors, the rest of the fairly large cast acted extremely well and it was a present surprise to find out the Pierce Brosnan had a role within the story for a few scenes.
Visually, there are very little special effects apart from the occasional face lighting up, a piece of modern art and a large incident at the end, so for what it is, they are good and stage effects and lighting were executed perfectly, especially at the end with a haze of oranges, blues and blacks that filled the screen and wisp gently across. The music and sound side was also very good. I’m still trying to locate the trailer music for its massive bass drops, but the music kept an powerful roar throughout, that set scenes up perfectly.
As a part of a trilogy, it is certainly the weaker of the bunch. It wasn’t as stupid and over the top as the rest of the trilogy and appeared the action side of the story took a lot of the priority and then a few inner squabbles between the group that took the movie from comedy to a drama. I do recommend you see it and many of you will enjoy, but I think it shall get a 7/10. It’s funny but takes itself a little too seriously at points and could have done with a few more jokes. Sorry for another quicky review but its been a a few late nights and early mornings!
(PS – It uses the word C**T. If you don’t like this, you may have a little trouble dealing with the movie.)
Trailer Analysis: The World’s End
“Analysis is probably a better phrase about what I’m writing about rather then review”
So here it is, the final movie of Edgar Wright’sCornetto trilogy “The worlds end”. If you haven’t seen the other two, I really recommend you do, both “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot-Fuzz” are amazingly entertaining and damn right hilarious.
“20 years after attempting an epic pub crawl, five childhood friends reunite when one of them becomes hell bent on trying the drinking marathon again. They are convinced to stage an encore by mate Gary King, a 40-year old man trapped at the cigarette end of his teens, who drags his reluctant pals to their home town and once again attempts to reach the fabled pub, The World’s End. As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realise the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind’s. Reaching The World’s End is the least of their worries” (The World’s end official Facebook page)