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Film Review: The Current War

“I’m Working On Something Now, Something So New That The World Will Never Be The Same…”

Filmed and completed almost two whole years ago, with the original release date back in 2017 shelved following the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal and the subsequent MeToo movement, The Current War finally hits the big screen after being acquired and released by Lantern Entertainment, an American film studio who purchased all assets owned by The Weinstein Company as the disgraced company fell into liquidation following their owner’s high profile fall from grace. Directed by Texas-born filmmaker, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, whose previous works include the overly kooky, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, and directorial credits on both episodes of Glee and American Horror Story, The Current War attempts to dramatise the titular battle fought by both Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse during the latter stages of the nineteenth century, as each attempt to outwit each other and become the leading light of electrical power across the globe. With very little background noise or press following closely behind it, it seems fair to say that The Current War is the kind of movie which Lantern Entertainment feel the need to let loose just for the sake of it, with the main goal of course being to recoup a slender amount of financial reward after the cost to make it, yet much in the same way Billionaire Boys Club came and went like a fart in the wind after the similarly troubling Kevin Spacey allegations, Gomez-Rejon’s movie feels rather icky and strangely enough for a film without electrical power, staggeringly lifeless.

Central to the film’s array of issues is its’ central narrative, one based upon a screenplay from American playwright, Michael Mitnick, who seems to have been catching up on the back catalogue of Christopher Nolan by producing what can only be described as a monumental bore of a story, a cheap, Nolanized knock-off which attempts to recreate the fast-paced, engaging storytelling Nolan does so well, yet forgetting to include any sort of pace or engaging, meaty plot whatsoever, resulting in the cardinal sin of watch checking only five minutes in. With the film clocking in and just under two hours, it’s fair to say that The Current War only works as a medicinal prescription for prolonged sleep deprivation, a laborious, yawn-inducing borefest which wastes good acting talent including the likes of Michael Shannon, Tom Holland and Katherine Waterston, whilst reasserting the notion that Benedict Cumberbatch is quickly becoming the most typecast actor in the acting business today, with another leading role which leans heavy on the intelligent, sarcastic know-it-all characteristic and less on the sympathetic nice guy, akin to other historical figures the Brit has played in the likes of The Fifth Estate and The Imitation Game. Add into the mix woozy, sanctimonious camera work from Chung Chung-hoon who seems to think he’s the reincarnation of Kubrick alongside simply awful time-hopping editing and The Current War is the first movie in a good while to be so awfully dull, I began to worry for the future of cinema as we know it.

Overall Score: 3/10

Film Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

“I Don’t Think Tony Would’ve Done What He Did, If He Didn’t Know That You Were Going To Be Here After He Was Gone…”

With Avengers: Endgame managing to tie up a decade’s worth of multi-layered storytelling with enormous success, with the recent re-release clearly a marketing tool to make sure Marvel’s gargantuan epic finally knocks Avatar off the top spot for highest grossing film of all time, the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home this week is arguably one of the first MCU films to carry with it a heavy sense of superhero fatigue, particularly with Endgame still taking up cinema screens across the globe, and one which follows on from the high watermark of what audiences now come to expect from releases within its’ respective cinematic universe. Acting as a sequel to both 2017’s Homecoming and Endgame, Far From Home sees Jon Watts return to direct Tom Holland’s portrayal of the friendly neighbourhood wall crawler for a film which although feels very familiar, is a sweet, thoroughly entertaining and highly comedic chapter in the Marvel universe, a move which sees young Peter Parker attempt to come to terms with the loss of Tony Stark/Iron Man by venturing upon a school trip in which his only goal is to build up the nerve to finally unleash his feelings on the zany MJ. Whilst a road trip without the sight of digitally designed mayhem would have been a bold choice indeed to follow on from Endgame, Far From Home of course features enough web-slinging and superhero goodness to make every MCU fan more than happy, and with such a likeable cast and sharp, clever dialogue, Watts’ movie shows there is still an abundance of life in the old Marvel movie making machine yet.

With an opening act which attempts in a hilarious cliff notes format to present the aftershocks of the events of Endgame, where those not affected by the so called “blip” have of course moved up in years whilst the returned have stayed the same, Far From Home successfully manages to blend the “Spidey” sensibility of Peter Parker attempting to balance the responsibility of a superhero with the wishes of a teenager as seen before in the likes of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, a movie which still remains top of most people’s favourite wall crawling live-action feature, and thanks to a deliciously engaging script, Holland’s performance is a tornado of teenage angst as he is constantly interrupted by Samuel L. Jackson’s returning Nick Fury and co. in order to aid Jake Gyllenhaal’s (Nocturnal Animals) Quentin Beck against the forces of “The Eternals”, even when asking out Zendaya’s (The Greatest Showman) MJ is the most important task in his life. As for Gyllenhaal, the multi-talented cinematic legend does begin somewhat awkward in a role of which an actor of his pedigree tends to avoid, particularly after the non-existent success of Prince of Persia, but as the movie’s central, and somewhat expected for those familiar with the Quentin Beck/Mysterio character, twist finally arrives, the American is allowed to breathe, turning a somewhat ordinary antagonist into one of the more memorable MCU villains, one which taps into previous Gyllenhaal roles, particularly his full-on level of unhinged madness within the superb Nightcrawler. With a runtime slightly too long and a concluding act which is hard to distinguish between other MCU chapter conclusions, Far From Home is an excellent Spider-Man film and a very good MCU story which takes on the heavy task of following on from Endgame and passes with just enough success.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

“Can’t You Just Be A Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man..?”

As we all are well aware, with great power comes great responsibility, and although it only seems like yesterday when the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire led Spider-Man films graced the big screen, here we are this week with the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the sixteenth film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring Tom Holland in a leading role which swiftly follows on from the likes of Maguire and Andrew Garfield after his cameo appearance within the superbly entertaining Captain America: Civil War. Perhaps not holding as much expectation as other MCU entries, Homecoming’s main reason for existence arguably rests on the shoulders of young Holland, with his own feature film giving him utmost freedom to exact his own take on the character of Peter Parker to a larger extent than was offered back in Civil War, and with the rather unknown figure of director Jon Watts at the helm, Homecoming could be regarded as a much more experimental MCU than one might first expect. With a charming lead performance from Tom Holland, an excellent villainous turn from Michael Keaton and enough jokes to poke fun at so many so-called contemporary comedies, I’m happy to report that Homecoming is a crowd-pleasing success, if suffering from a slight linger of cliche and a strain of superhero fatigue.

Forgetting any means of backstory and heading straight into a mildly trained Peter Parker, Homecoming mixes the 80’s sensibility of movies such as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, with the latter making a brief appearance halfway through the action, with the flashy, sharp-witted action that has come to encompass many Marvel releases, and with Tom Holland, his youth and puppy-esque, wide-eyed curiosity is arguably the most definitive version of Peter Parker to date. Although sometimes the performance does become slightly grating, with the Aaron Sorkin-esque way in which his lines are spoken come across too fast at times to keep up, the innocence of youth is effectively balanced by the faux leather wearing Vulture, a villain who not only is one of the more memorable of the entire MCU, actually has a deep sense of characterisation and is welded effectively into the narrative enough to feel for for both his actions and the actions of the titular hero. Whilst the overall narrative is somewhat disposable and highly obvious at times, the array of side-splitting jokes and flashy secondary characters keep the film entertaining enough to just deserve its’ two hour plus runtime and with a sequel destined to arrive in the near future, Homecoming is indeed an effective reboot of the Spider-Man franchise.

Overall Score: 7/10