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Film Review: Passengers

“There’s A Reason We Woke Up Early…”

If ever were a movie to put off its’ audience by sheer propaganda-esque exploitation, then Passengers is it, a movie advertised within the inch of its’ life within every single cinema screening over the past four months or so, and a movie which seems to be once again a case of revealing too much to be a true success as a two-hour spectacle instead of a two-minute preview. With two of most bankable acting talents at the moment leading the way in the form of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, Passengers, directed by Morten Tyldum of The Imitation Game alongside a story by Prometheus and Doctor Strange screenwriter Jon Spaihts, is a traditionally cheesy sci-fi romance, one which gains kudos for attempting to subvert its’ narrative giveaways within its’ trailers with a nice juicy twist to get the film going, but ultimately succumbs to its’ fundamental 12A-ness and becomes yet another flashy yet forgettable piece of cinema.

Following in the footsteps of Allied recently, a similarly forgettable tale which just happened to feature top-end A-List actors, Passengers suffers primarily from a saccharin-sweet filled narrative at its’ core, one which above all, results in the concluding act of the movie being one hard not to shout “Cheese!” at, with a cliched resuscitation scene being the heart of such of a problem. Whilst Lawrence and Pratt have some decent on-screen chemistry, the absurdness of their celebrity appearance throughout the movie (Not one pixel of make-up is out of place) creates a difficulty in taking in the apparent science fiction notions the film attempts to lay on its’ audience, with obvious nods to Interstellar, Alien, Solaris, Moon and even The Shining putting the film in danger of being just a reel of scenes from better and more memorable productions. Whilst there are a wide range of issues with Passengers, the inherent friendliness makes it somewhat suitable for this particular period of the year, yet its’ plain-sailing approach sadly just won’t make it past the month as something memorable, a shame when considering the talent on display. Also, what was the point of hiring Andy Garcia? HE DOES NOTHING. Merry Christmas.

Overall Score: 5/10

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