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Film Review: Destroyer

“You Chose To Play Cops And Robbers. And You Lost…”

Ending the year as Queen of Atlantis in Aquaman, the ever reliable Nicole Kidman begins 2019 with a completely different and polar opposite performance as the Aussie takes the lead role in Destroyer, the latest feature from American filmmaker, Karyn Kusama, whose previous credits include the recent cult favourite, Jennifer’s Body, and the all-female directed anthology horror movie, XX. Part noir crime thriller, part sanctimonious art-house reject, Kusama’s latest is a particularly odd beast, a grungy, overly depressing character study which sees Kidman as LAPD detective, Erin Bell, a worn out, angst ridden alcoholic who stumbles across the death of an unidentified criminal and soon becomes entangled in a dark underground plot which sees the resurfacing of Toby Kebbell’s (Dead Man’s Shoes) murderous gang leader whom Bell previously infiltrated undercover many years previous. With many critics focusing on the transformation of Kidman in the lead role as the standout highlight of the piece, the fact that five minutes in I began to laugh at the awfulness of the Australian’s facial stiffness probably was a strange sign of things to come, and whilst Kusama’s latest features some bold attempts at greatness, Destroyer is ultimately a downbeat, overly plodding and uninspiring drama which dreams big but can only be classed as a unforgettable failure.

Utilising two different time frames to enhance and develop the background behind Kidman’s character, the contemporary setting sees her manage to strike a odd balance between an extra off The Walking Dead and Johnny Depp’s performance as James Bulger in Black Mass, with a gallon of rough edge makeup, a seemingly awful visit to some Sweeney Todd-esque barber and a leather jacket the standout elements of a performance which I’m sorry to report, just seems so superficial and phoney, the story just becomes irrelevant everytime Kidman appears on screen due to her image just coming off as too damn distracting. Whilst the first half of the narrative ultimately becomes too irritating to truly be engaged with, the second time zone in which we see a younger and less painted Kidman infiltrate Kebbell’s stone free gang of dangerous misfits is undoubtedly the more interesting of the two, particularly with the added charisman of Sebastian Stan (Avengers: Infinity War) as her partner in both undercover and romantic sense, who out of everyone in the entire film, was the most pleasing and interesting to be around and arguably could have been the focus of the movie in the first place. Stan aside, Destroyer also sees one of the most obvious miscasting decisions this year in the form of Kebbell as the mousy haired ring leader, a character as threatening as the unicorn from Despicable Me, whilst attempts at building wavering familial relations with a strange subplot involving Bell’s daughter and her asshole boyfriend fails to spark at all, culminating in a concluding monologue about parental responsibility and mountain climbing which nearly sent me straight to sleep. Ending with a Shyamalan sized twist which still has me wondering whether it was genius or actually quite ridiculous, Destroyer is one of the most depressing two hours you may spend at the cinema this year but hey, if you fancy being in the company of hateful characters for two hours, Kidman’s latest may be the exact medicine for you.

Overall Score: 4/10

Film Review: I, Tonya

“I Was Loved For A Minute, Then I Was Hated. Then I Was Just A Punch Line…”

Based upon the controversial and compelling career of professional ice skater, Tonya Harding, Craig Gillespie’s (The Finest Hours) Oscar nominated biographical drama, I, Tonya, featuring Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) in arguably her most fleshed-out leading performance yet, takes an impressive shot at attempting to gel together a mix of Scorsese inspired storytelling with a Rocky-esque tale of sporting success, and with the aid of a rockabilly jukebox soundtrack and eye-catching performances all around, Gillespie’s latest is a rousing, crowd-pleasing success. Utilising the form of retrospective interviews with each of the key players to unravel the exposition as the narrative evolves, I, Tonya benefits from a lightning quick editing pace straight from the outset, beginning with a young Harding as she is nurtured and raised by the steely-eyed harshness of Allison Janney’s (The Girl on the Train) LaVona Fay Golden as she begins her love affair with the ice and swiftly moving to the fruition of the relationship between herself and Sebastian Stan’s (Captain America: Civil War) Jeff Gillooly, one which proves central to Harding’s journey through both successes and life-changing failures.

Whilst the interview format does make it easy for Gillespie to cross over every avenue possible in terms of storytelling gaps, the constant switch from past to present does ultimately jar the pace of the movie come the second half, one which is too not exactly helped by the decision to include the breaking of the fourth wall at times which personally never really seemed to work to the film’s advantage, yet where the movie does succeed is in Robbie’s wildly comical and full blooded performance, one which utilises the scripts attempts to balance her love for the sport with the shocking depiction of domestic issues from both Janney’s chain-smoking mother figure and Stan’s abusive and deluded on/off love, and one which through the aid of digital effects and stunt doubles means that the physicality of the skating scenes are brilliantly orchestrated. Of course, with Harding’s biggest association being that of a rather violent moment of utmost craziness, the concluding act of the movie ruffles together elements of jaw-dropping stupidity, laugh out loud comedy and heartbreaking finality, and whilst Gillespie’s movie doesn’t exactly hit the heights of Scorsese-inflicted film-making it so obviously attempts to emulate, I, Tonya is a highly satisfactory and ludicrous tale of a fundamentally interesting public figure.

Overall Score: 7/10 

Film Review: Captain America: Civil War

“You’ve Operated With Unlimited Power and No Supervision. That’s Something The World Can No Longer Tolerate…”

Being in a time of comic-movie mayhem, where every year there seems to be more and more live-action superhero goodness, or blandness in the case of Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War, the third in the Captain America saga within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, could be forgiven as being just another piece of the everlasting jigsaw, an attempt perhaps to grab the cash while they can before the riskier projects come to fruition, particularly with the ambiguous Doctor Strange on the horizon, yet with a character list that basically includes almost everyone and anyone associated with the MCU, Civil War was an interesting case of whether one, it could be as poorly executed as BvS, a film with similar parallels in terms of plot and overarching themes, and two, whether the extensive cast list would endanger the film into becoming overtly baggy and long-winded. What a joy it was then to witness the best superhero movie of the year so far, with Civil War only continuing the promise of the Russo Brothers’ work on The Winter Soldier, with it being a marvellous thrill ride from start to finish, if not being as crisp and spellbinding as the previous entry on first glance.

What makes the film so great I hear you ask? Firstly, It’s cool. I mean ridiculously cool. A fanboy’s dream indeed featuring bad-ass coolness throughout. Acting? Superb and on point, particularly from Downey Jr, Evans and a stand-out newcomer Chadwick Boseman as the rip-roaring vigilante Black Panther whose brief back-story element leaves the standalone movie to do the hard work and for Civil War to show how brilliant he may become in the future. Action? Breathtaking, with the Russo’s having a clear and dedicated vision of attempting to make the fight scenes as realistic as possible with choreography that could make the creators of The Raid weep in joy. I mean seriously, both Captain America and The Winter Soldier in this were just rock solid to a laughable extreme that at times I just sat and gasped at the speed to which the action scenes took place. Clearly, someone at Marvel HQ had been watching Daredevil and thought, yeah, this is the direction we need to go. What a decision it is, with the ground-based fights making the last two Captain America’s arguably being the best in the series so far.

Although rather ironically, Civil War does feature plot lines remarkably similar to BvS, the connections between the two films stop there. This is how you make a superhero movie Mr. Snyder, this is true, full-blooded entertainment. Although slightly too long in places and the almost inevitable fact that some characters just some rather shoehorned in for the sake of it, particularly that of Paul Rudd’s Ant Man and Martin Freeman’s character, endanger the film in becoming not quite as good as The Winter Soldier, the film’s saving grace belongs to it’s final twist, one that was not given away so easy and one which created the real civil war between our two leads at the conclusion of the film after the comical, if rather splendid, battle between our two teams within the confines of a empty airfield. Captain America: Civil War does what it needs to do and does it superbly. Richly entertaining and breathtaking in places, the Russo Brothers have my complete and utter backing for the behemoth of a project which is Infinity War. Good luck to you gents, my faith is completely in you. And oh yeah, wasn’t Spider-man cool?

Overall Score: 8/10

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Quicky Review – SPOILERS

Captain America - Winter Soldier 1I have returned from the dark depths of university deadline season with only a few mental scars. So yeah, expect plenty of content over the next few weeks until I get slapped with another essay and a few exams…

Just a quick shout out, don’t go announcing a 3rd film before the 2nd has even released. You ruin it. So Friday we toddled into the cinema to watch possibly one of my favourite members of Marvel go kick some ass. Captain America is easily one of the most relateable characters within the Avengers with the strongest story so far.

Obviously, you would suspect by the title that the movie is about the Winter Soldier. If you’ve lived under a rock the past few months, it’s Steve’s (Chris Evans) best friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan), you know, the one who fell off the train in the last one. So it turns out he’s not dead and that the movie actually does fuck all with his character. He appears for snippets but in reality he has little change to the outcome of the movie and probably should have called the movie something a little more relevant. Yet, as a story, The Winter Soldier is substantial. Moments, which for any Marvel fans will sit them there in shock. So in reality, Hydra were never defeated. Taking Bucky and wiping his memory and using him as their bitch assassin. Now one of my big pet peeves with the story is that SHIELD sent in Black Widow but told her boyfriend; Hawkeye to do one. Now when it comes to do, Hawkeye is an Avenger and should have been involved!

Compared to other Marvel Avengers, Captain was raised in a war and naturally, you have to accustom yourself to killing some bad people. This has been acknowledged and it truly is brutal. Not smashing them with a hammer or punching them with a massive suit of armour, he’sCaptain America - Winter Soldier 4 got a fast pace that is rarely matched and the shift between him and shield is incredibly fun to watch. Then we have Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) who pretty much climbs all over assailants and then the brand new Falcon (Anthony Mackie) who kinda just shoots people while flying around with these bomb ass wings. However, I don’t think I could ever see Anthony Mackie in a different light after Pain & Gain’s titty milk moment.

I’m not going to bore you with talk of the acting or screen play. We all know that Marvel as a production company nail all the special FX and the actors are not just pretty faces. The Winter Soldier probably stands as one of the best single hero Marvel movie in many years. Even with a few moments that are a little unnecessary, the movie flows quickly with extravagant actions scenes which seem more realistic compared to Iron Man. Although Tony Stark and Hawkeye should have made an appearance, Captain America deserves an 8/10.

PS – Quicky review is to get back into the swing of things, plenty more content on the youtube channel or follow me Instagram and Twitter on the right of the page!

Captain America - Winter Soldier 2