Avengers: Infinity War

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MAvengers: Infinity War

Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Based on the Marvel comics by: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin, George Perez, Ron Lim, Steve Ditko, Joe Simon

Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (with input from James Gunn)

Produced by: Kevin Feige, Mitchell Bell, Ari Costa

Executive Producers: Victoria Alonso, Louis D’Esposito, Jon Favreau, James Gunn, Stan Lee, Trinh Tran

Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Mark Ruffalo, Karen Gillan, Tom Holland, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson.

Emerging a shaky shadow of my former self after watching the last tantalising scene following the credits for Avengers: Infinity War, I was reminded of some dialogue in one of my favourite films, The Princess Bride. The grandfather has been reading a book to his sick grandson who asks, “Who kills Prince Humperdinck? At the end. Somebody’s got to do it.” The grandfather replies, “Nobody. Nobody kills him. He lives.” The grandson replies, “You mean he wins? What did you read me this thing for?”

And that is exactly how I felt after seeing Avengers: Infinity War. Obviously I don’t want to spoil this film for other fans who have invested the last ten years of their lives building a sense of rapport and family around these Marvel characters across an 18-film arc, but to say I left the cinema feeling the opposite of uplifted isn’t giving too much away (hopefully). At least I wasn’t sobbing into my popcorn like some others in the packed audience.

The film opens fairly much straight after the last scene of Thor: Ragnarok, and from there the action and unfolding plot never let up. It’s safe to reveal that the main focus of the film is centred on the galactic overlord Thanos, who is after all six Infinity stones, whose combined power would allow him to unleash his insane plan across the known universe. Of course some of these stones are currently in the possession of a few of the Avengers, whose lives are imperilled as a result.

The Avengers try to prevent Thanos’ audacious plan from being realised, as we jump across continents on Earth and around far-flung locations scattered throughout the cosmos, re-meeting those heroes we have come to identify as our friends, the people in whom we have invested so much of our emotional energy. I’ve seen all 18 movies in this Marvel cinematic universe at one time or another but don’t consider myself an expert, but I found the plot reasonably easy to follow, and from the bits of exposition anyone not overly familiar with Marvel’s films should still be able to follow the main story line.

The film is awesome in the sense of being a major cinematic event, full of light, action, a majestic score, and breathtaking, incredible special effects, as well as a clever screenplay that ensures the characters get to interact with others, have a moment to shine, and plan their line of defence. The pace seldom lets up while the rare quiet moments between characters are welcome and genuinely heartfelt, their willingness to possibly sacrifice themselves for others is nobly heroic, while the snippets of humorous dialogue lighten the sense of impending gloom.

Even the CGI Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) is convincingly lifelike, unlike that Steppenwolf guy from the Justice League movie, so he’s not your typical 2D evil villain dude. The fact that I could even understand if not condone the rationale for Thanos’ actions speaks volumes for how well his character was developed and portrayed.

One critic thought the film was “funny”, but perhaps they were referring to some of the much-needed humorous exchanges, especially involving the Guardians of the Galaxy crew (whose dialogue was provided by GOTG director James Gunn), since this film overall was not funny in tone, but rather increasingly WTF? and emotionally devastating. If ever a film needed a part 2, this is it, so I hope Infinity War Part 2 is being made right now, otherwise “I will be seriously put out”, to quote Prince Humperdinck.

Rampage

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MRampage

Directed by: Brad Peyton

Screenplay by: Ryan Engle and Carlton Cuse & Ryan J. Condal and Adam Sztykiel

Story by: Ryan Engle, based on the video game Rampage

Produced by: Beau Flynn, John Rickard, Brad Peyton and Hiram Garcia

Director of Photography: Jaron Presant

Music is Composed by: Andrew Lockington

VFX Supervisor: Colin Strause

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

After an experiment in space goes wrong with the Subject destroying the spaceship and allowing canisters containing a genetically mixed pathogen to fall to the Earth – all hell breaks loose as animals’ breath-in the pathogen to exponentially grow into giant mutant monsters.

The focus of the story revolves around Primatologist Davis Okoy (Dwayne Johnson) who has a close relationship with an albino silverback gorilla named George.

So when George inhales the pathogen, it’s up to Okoy and genetic engineer, Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to save the once docile primate and find an antidote.

It’s a solid storyline written by Ryan Engle and based on the video game Rampage – with many of the crew from San Andreas (2015) collaborating again to create Rampage: the third film from Johnson, director Peyton and producer Flynn.

The music is also once again composed by Andrew Lockington, giving the same feel as San Andreas but instead of a disaster film we have a monster film with VFX supervisor Colin Strause returning to create the realistic monsters.

I have to say, as with all the action/adventure films, there’s always that added humour – the quips here a bit weak.

And alligators (one of the monsters) and crocodiles have two eyelids, not one as shown here.  I don’t know why I was particularly distracted by this oversight, probably because the effects were otherwise so realistic.

Seeing giant mutants tearing up a city is always fun to watch on the big screen – and the effects here were outstanding (except for that missing eyelid!).

And I couldn’t help but warm to George, the not-so-gentle giant.  A little like Primatologist Davis Okoy as the seeming gentle animal lover – who doesn’t get along with humans but loves animals because you always know where you stand and like George, he’s not always so gentle.

So, there were some good parts and some not-so-good making the film a little trashy, but good-trash.

As a side note, the humour in an action movie can make all the difference for me.  If there’s some surprising dark humour or a loveable funny character (George, here, I guess), it raises the film-going experience.

The action and effects were high quality here, I just felt the humour was a bit lazy.

Over-all, good fun on the big screen with Johnson firmly at the helm, this time his massive arms over-shadowed by his monster-friend George.

So you get the feel with muscled action, big crashes with explosions mixed with a bit of warmth and humanity: classic Johnson, but better than San Andreas because I like seeing giant mutant monsters tearing up a city.

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Tomb Raider

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MTombraider

Directed by:  Roar Uthaug

Produced by:   Graham King

Story by:      Evan Daugherty

Written by:   Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons

Costume Designer:    Colleen Atwood, Timothy A. Wonsik

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Kristin Scott Thomas, Daniel Wu.

The high voltage, energy tone of this movie is reimagined, tight, exhilarating and relatable.

Strange Days, Tomb Raider starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft opens with a hipster living, street smart, 21-year-old, bike courier.

Lara is a gutsy, vulnerable lead female action hero who delivers food and races the trendy high-octane streets of East London, kick boxing in her spare time and barely able to afford the rent.

This Lara lives in a tiny flat, stubbornly refusing the extraordinary wealth of her Croft inheritance with its English Manor and millions and millions of pounds.

But her fierce independence is just a mask, a mask to hide her vulnerability and pain. For to accept her inheritance, she would have to accept the death of her father, Richard (played by Dominic West), an eccentric global adventurer, who disappeared several years earlier.

The plot takes a fantastic turn when Lara is handed a puzzle box, just as she is poised to sign documents – under the watchful mother-hen one eye gaze of her Aunt Ana (played by Kristin Scott Thomas)- and acknowledge the official end of her father’s life.

Lara’s hands intuitively click open the puzzle, revealing a clue to her father’s fate – she is after all a Croft – and plummeting with her we dive into the unknown of an epic adventure to a fabled unchartered island, somewhere off the coast of Japan. On this island, a mythical 2000-year-old tomb, enshrouds a demonic Queen and a curse that will somehow wipe out mankind. A curse nobody wants to be near, but just like Pandora’s box, the curse is a rare commodity and is super attractive to those who wish to weaponize it.

Right from the start, the action is relentless and exhilarating.

In one of my favourite scenes, a hipster cycling pack – contemporary and diverse – there are no monochromatic, fluoro adverse sensible-lycra-clad-boys-club here – you swerve and fend from your seat, as the pack hunts its prey, upending the café strewn streets of East London. The thrill of the chase is urban, raw and real. I loved it.

The globe-trotting scenes are exotic and taut with tension. From London, to Junket leaping in Hong Kong, to an Island – somewhere off the coast of Japan – resplendent with a mummy’s tomb and even a WWII bomber carcase perched life-threateningly over impossibly high waterfalls.

Since 1996, Lara Croft as a lead female action figure has dominated pop culture and yes, I would love, along with thousands of other pop culture fans, love my avatar to have her skill set and physicality.

This is a new Lara Croft and following on from the success of Angelina Jolie as Lara, Alicia successfully claims her space, as Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.

Angeline Jolie as Lara has her Butler, her team, her robots to spar and train with and Croft Manor to train in. Angelina has been a Tomb Raider for a while and knows what to expect in a crypt or tomb.

Alicia as Lara is a mere fledgling, more ordinary person about to lead an extraordinary life – and so she captures us with her urban, girl-next-door accessibility, except for the fact that even when she’s smothered in pounds of 2000-year-old crypt dust she’s going to look like the statuesque kick ass action hero that she is.

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Ready Player One

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MReady Player One

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Screenplay Written by: Zak Penn and Ernest Cline

Based on the Novel Written by: Ernest Cline

Produced by: Donald De Line, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Spielberg, and Dan Farah

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, Hannah John-Kamen, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance.

Based on the dystopian world created in the novel written by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One opens in an overpopulated Columbus, Ohio, 2045.  A place where Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) wants to escape every chance he gets because he’s living in the Stacks… with his aunty and loser boyfriend… sleeping on top of the washing machine…

Wade thrives in the OASIS, a virtual universe where he feels alive, where as his avatar, Parzival, he has a chance to win the ultimate prize: control of OASIS.

When James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the brilliant and eccentric creator of OASIS dies, he leaves a parting gift to the world – the final game where any player can win.

Somewhere left in the game are three keys that when found lead to an Easter egg: whomever finds the egg first wins the game and control of OASIS, meaning half a trillion dollars and ultimately control of the world.

A high-stakes game that of course, has a villain: Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) head of operations of Innovative Online Industries, or IOI, and self-proclaimed colleague of everyone’s hero, Halliday.

To win the game is to win everything, and Sorrento plays to win with all the technology and army (AKA the Sixers) money can buy.  He’ll stop at nothing.  And against the young Wade Watts who’s all heart, it’s a David versus Goliath tale, set to an 80s soundtrack while featuring all the pop culture references associated with that time.

Ready Player One takes a new view of a classic ideal with Halliday, the old and awkward mentor that we love and admire; the want to be able to achieve anything as long as we work for it and want it bad enough; that love is there waiting for us if the time is right to take the leap; that with the help of friends (like the High Five) evil can be overcome…

Pretty cheesy stuff, and there’s a lot of those teen moments.  Yet, the struggles are hard-wired into our brain, so I couldn’t help but grin and cheer for the underdogs.

Add that action-adventure aspect with the riddles and search for keys in a computer game brought to life by three years of VFX work to get all the overwhelming detail right, you’ve got an entertaining film.

The highlight for me was the reference to Steven King’s, The Shining.  Most will find a reference to relate to; the 80s has something for everyone, but I found the scare-factor of The Shining and attention to the animation particularly impressive.  When inverted, into the ‘real world’, to laugh at the baddies getting their scare-on, it was brilliant: Stephen King, the ultimate equaliser.  There’s a reason I’m such a fan and hats-off to Spielberg for re-creating The Shining world so well.

But enough with the references ‘cause I’m grinning while I’m writing so I’ll end with: Ready Player One is a classic action adventure that felt unique by showing the past in a new light provoking a feel-good 4-star cheeky grin.

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Pacific Rim Uprising

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MPacific Rim Uprising

Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight

Screenplay by: Emily Carmichael & Kira Snyder and

Steven S. DeKnight and T.S. Nowlin

Story by: Steven S. DeKnight and T.S. Nowlin

Based on the Characters Created by: Travis Beacham

Produced by: Guillermo del Toro, Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni,

Cale Boyter, John Boyega, Femi Oguns

Executive Producer: Eric McLeod

Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona and Charlie Day. 

Pacific Rim Uprising is a visual immersive, escapist, global battle feast, packed full of 3D epic, mecha anime like, larger than Godzilla sized, Jaegar, super robots.

Piloted from within the skull of each Jaegar are a new generation of Jaegar pilots – who run like hamsters on a wheel, driving the Jaegars onwards to save our planet from even more gigantic, acid bleeding aliens, the monstrous ‘Kaiju.’

DeKnight may have had a focus group that picked out the best parts of action movies and married them together for Pacific Rim Uprising.

Armed with my 3D glasses and having never seen the prequel, I was captivated and transported.

The movie opens into a dystopian wasteland in Santa Monica – post-apocalyptic and peaceful – there is no Mad Max blood and guts here.

10 years after Pacific Rim, survival on the street in a post-apocalyptic world is for those with street smarts and Jake a once infamous soldier, our ambivalent hero, played by John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), chooses not to pay rent for the safety of a gated community but fend for himself in the ruins of a mansion on the outside.

Sure, his mansion comes with the gigantic carcass of a beast flattening his entire neighbourhood and he must steal Jaegar parts to supply an illegal Cyborg building trade: so long as he keeps away from the law or trading for what matters most-right-now, like handing over his luxury key cars for a bottle of tomato sauce.

When Jake is arrested for his criminal behaviour he is offered a lighter sentence, to man-up and resume his post at the Jaegar Academy, alongside Pilot Lambert(Scott Eastwood), he must train new Jaegar pilots to vanquish the Kaiju.

The characters are funny, likable and culturally diverse.

The Chinese characters are well drawn and the Mandarin spoken is substantial without feeling tokenistic.

DeKnight has drawn successfully upon influences from the 1986 movie Aliens, apparent in his settings, cast and monsters.

Aliens (1986) remains one of my top 10 movies of all time.

In the opening scenes, Jake uses a tracking device to locate illegal hardware – the tracking device has the same size, sound and movement sensitivity as that used in Aliens.

As Jake salvages, illegal Jaeger parts the spine like catacomb of machinery tunnels is reminiscent of the 1986 Alien nest.

An interior lift behind Liwen Shao(Jing Tian) at her headquarters is identical to the giant spinal cord of the 1986 Aliens.

The Kaiju bleed acid as do the aliens in Alien.

And of course, the name Newt, given here to Newton Geizler (Charlie Day) the name of the little girl, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) saves in Aliens.

Even Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) as the traditional obsessed scientist is not unlike the obsessed scientist Bishop of Aliens.

DeKnight transforms recognizable cityscapes into battlegrounds and engages a global audience. The Jaegar’s enormous size, unforgettable as they dwarf the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

As the skyscrapers of Tokyo are cleaved to shreds in a city-destroying battle scene, DeKnight magnifies the towering scale of his robots ensuring their hulk-like ground punches reverberate as a shadow presence throughout, making this a great movie experience.

12 Strong

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA15+12 Strong

Directed by: Nicolai Fuglsig

Screenwriters: Ted Tally, Peter Craig

Produced by: Jerry Bruckheimer, Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill, Thad Luckinbill.

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill, Rob Riggle, William Fichtner, Elsa Pataky.

12 Strong is a hero movie based on the true story of twelve soldiers, Green Berets known as ODA (Operational Detachment Alphas), volunteering to fight in Afghanistan after the twin towers attack on 9/11 (2001): the first soldiers to set foot on Afghani soil after the attack, a fact unknown at the time being an Army Special Forces team on a covert mission.

There’s some good action here, based on the 2009 bestseller written by Doug Stanton, Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. 

Unlike the majority of the patriotic, sickening over-dramatisation of Americans’ fighting in wars, 12 Strong focusses on the action in Afghanistan and the clash of cultures as Mark Nutsch, ODA-595 Special Forces Captain (re-named in the film as Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth)) leads a mission, Codenamed Task Force Dagger, to fight alongside the Northern Alliance: separate Afghani groups led by warlords who hate each other almost as much as they hate the Taliban. 

For any hope of gaining ground against the Taliban and Al Qaeda and to stop more attacks on American soil, team leader Captain Mitch Nelson must convince General Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban), a fierce warrior and warlord, to join forces; the only motivation to fight together being a common enemy.

Willing to assist the Americans from the ground, the Americans support from the sky with bombs dropped on targets from coordinates given by Captain Nelson. 

Set in the extremes of the Afghanistan landscape, with dust and snow and steep rocky mountains, movement is restricted to horseback. 

There’s something poetic about horses in battle; whether it reminds of wars in the past or the majesty of the animal, I could only wonder at the skill required to ride while under enemy fire from missile launchers and T-72 tanks and to shoot a machine gun with bullets whizzing by the horses ear; to control an animal usually frightened by loud noise and to stay the course without bolting.

But unbelievably, as General Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) states, Afghani’ horses won’t scare: they know the bombs are American.

12 Strong is a fascinating story shot beautifully with Nicolai Fuglsig making his feature film debut as director, his past as a photojournalist showing his experience in capturing war on film.  Up close and showing the ‘killer eyes’ of his cast, the action is taken higher with views from horse back galloping through explosions and fire. 

It’s a film full of heroism with careful casting – Chris Hemsworth showing the humility and bravery of Captain Nelson.  And yes, there’s always a bit of drama in these war-hero films, with Captain Nelson stating he refuses to write a death letter to his wife, left at home, ‘I made her a promise I was coming home.  I’m not writing a letter to say I broke it.’

And I thought, Oh no, another cheesy, self-congratulatory, family-plucking-the-heart-strings, indulgence – however when the men got to Afghanistan, the film ramped up into an action-packed, suspenseful, yet thoughtful story.  And Michael Peña as the Green Beret, Sam Diller, added some needed humour, keeping it real for those who don’t like too much drama.

The real interest of the film was the insight of this previously unknown story, by entering the Belly of the Beast to see the complicated history and terrible crimes already inflicted on the innocent of Afghanistan making 12 Strong not only an action film, but also an engaging story.

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The Mercy

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MThe Mercy

Directed by: James Marsh

Written / Produced by: Scott Z Burns

Produced by:  Scott Z Burns, Graham Broadbent, Jacques Perrin, Nicolas Mauvernay

Cinematographer: Eric Gautier

Starring: Colin Firth, Rachel Weisz, David Thewlis, Ken Stott, Jonathan Bailey.

Following his Academy Award® winning film, The Theory of Everything, James Marsh directs The Mercy, the true story of Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth) an ordinary amateur sailor, who one day decides to do something extraordinary with his life and compete in the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.

The premise of Crowhurst’s story played by Colin Firth and co-starring Rachel Weisz is compelling, packed to the rafters with the intrigue and plot twists of a fantastic and unforgettable story – “I am going because I would have no peace if I stayed.” — Donald Crowhurst.

The story of an amateur sailor in 1968, who one day – not unlike any other day, in his very normal life – decides to compete in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Yacht Race. Unlike any other yacht race, this is a yacht race to single handedly circumnavigate the entire globe without stopping, a race Crowhurst knows he is ill equipped to compete in, a race, he knows, he has no hope of finishing.

In order to save his family, their home and his dignity, he decides to cheat and lies to the world of his speedy and highly skilled progress.

However, my attention span and the downfall of Crowhurst’s quest, hopes and pursuit unravel from the onset.

Crowhurst sets off – on his impressive but unfinished trimaran yacht, the Teignmouth Electron. Behind him on the jetty he leaves his beautiful wife Clare (Rachel Weisz) their adoring children, and some – but not all –  crucial boat supplies and navigational instruments at their feet. After all we need some hope that this mild-mannered amateur may pull off a heroic feat and sail around the world buoyed on by our mighty hopes and dreams encased in a bobbing vessel that probably will not make it.

The story’s premise is great, the stuff of epic battles, think David and Goliath, frail man pitted against the wraths of nature and the might of the gods, surging imploding, cinema worthy oceans and death defying odds. But nowhere in this disjointed, paint-drying-slow action line, where scenes do not foreshadow or tighten the tension available in the raw and compelling truth of such a story, does this movie rise to its potential.

I crossed and uncrossed my legs throughout The Mercy, searching for the transported comfort and magical details of a story well told.

Director James Marsh and Screenwriter Scott Z Burns had no shortage of detailed research facts available, well documented in Crowhurst’s own diary entries and log entries, but this movie lacked vital details that would have made the storyline more cohesive, final draft worthy and movie screen ready.

Early in my writing career my writing mentor told me ‘you know your story but it is not translating onto paper or more importantly to your audience and that is what I believe, unfortunately, The Mercy suffers here.

Game Night

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA15+Game Night

Directed by: John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein

Written by: Mark Perez

Produced by: John Davis, Jason Bateman, John Fox and James Garavente

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemons, Danny Huston, Chelsea Peretti, with Michael C. Hall and Kyle Chandler.

What makes Jason Bateman such a good comedian is not what he does but the ridiculous that happens to him and how he takes it on the chin because what else is he supposed to do?  He’s relatable and a crack-up with no exception here as Max teamed up with his wife Annie (Rachel McAdams): it’s all about winning the game for this couple.

Except when it comes to playing against their neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemons): they were friends with his recently divorced wife, not creepy Gary.

Obsessed, the team/couple host a weekly game night with friends each with their unique relationship issues (bar Gary: not that he doesn’t have issues but because he’s not invited), each unaware that when Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) decides to host a Murder Mystery party, it’s not a game but a real kidnapping.

Brooks isn’t just the competitive and ‘most likely to succeed’ brother, he’s also a bad boy.

There’s always a feeling of a formula at play with these heart-felt, comedy, throw-a-bit-of-action-in-the-mix, movies.  Here, we have sibling rivalry, couple issues, the bond of friendship; conflicts overcome by the common goal of winning the game and saving the brother.

Directors John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein have teamed up before, Game Night being their second film as co-directors, following the comedy, Vacation (2015).   And like Vacation, there are some genuinely funny moments.

Gary-the-creepy-neighbour is a highlight and point of difference with his death stare and continued patting of his white fluffy dog reminiscent of the villain, Dr Claw petting his white fluffy cat in Inspector Gadget.

It’s the extra effort and detail that tickles.

And Max being the normal guy in such silly situations grounds the story while also making the film funnier.

Rachel McAdams can be hit and miss for me.  She plays such a wide variety of roles, from Spotlight to Dr Strange to True Detective 2 – an impressive performance of a dark and tortured cop  – to her role here, as the innocent, game-obsessed suburban wife; her character not the funniest but adding the cutesy aspect, provoking the required, Aww, response.

So, there’s attention to detail from a clever script with lines like, ‘You got the knife right in the bullet hole’ (ha, ha, cracks me up), a techno 80s-style synthesiser soundtrack to combine that action/comic flavour with a bit of added romance.

 

 

Black Panther

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MBlack Panther

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Written by: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole

Based on the Marvel Comics by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Produced by: Kevin Feige p.g.a

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis.

Growing up, black panthers were my favourite animal.  I remember whispering to my cat, asking to bring one of their cousins home for a visit.  Probably a good thing the wish never came true as a super hero I am not.  Nor have I been a big fan of super hero movies.  But Black Panther is a powerful and rich story that is beautiful and unique.

And yeah, there’s some pretty cool action as well.

The character, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) made his debut on film in, Captain America: Civil War (2016).

Well received, we now have the story of the Black Panther; a script based on the Marvel comics written by Stan Lee (who’s making a habit of popping up in films based on his characters) and Jack Kirby.

This is a story of T’Challa, the son of the African King of Wakanda who becomes the Black Panther after his father is murdered by Ulysses Klaw (Andy Serkis).

It’s a unique tale of the tribal nature of Africa combined with futuristic technology made from the hardest metal on Earth – Vibranium.  There’s also the mystical here with a black panther showing the Wakanda ancestors where to find the Vibranium, and how eating an herb of blue flowers enhances abilities making the Black Panther super-human.

See an informative and interesting article here describing the history of the comic of Black Panther written by: David Roach and Peter Sanderson.

Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed 2015), Black Panther the movie is filled with colour, expansive landscapes (Rachel Morrison) and strong, layered characters.

There’s a lot of elements brought together by an emotive soundtrack (Ludwig Göransson) that soars and causes that swelling in the chest you get when the characters are doing right no matter what the cost.

It’s not often you get such a visual, action-packed sci-fi that causes such an emotional response.

The politics and message of the film could have turned the tone saccharine, but the careful handling of director Coogler and strong acting from the cast made the message poignant and thought-provoking.

It was a pleasure to embrace the beauty of the colourful nation of Wakanda – the costuming (Ruth E. Carter) of the inhabitants also a standout.

And the layering of characters with good and bad in all; where people can be the products of circumstance, allowing an understanding of why people behave the way they do.  Where integrity and the strength and clarity to make the right choices are needed to make any change worthwhile.

There’s a reason this film has been so successful as the appeal is wide and the message runs deep.

What a fantastic story and what a successful adaptation to the big screen.

Black Panther is not only exciting and beautiful to watch, an emotional chord is struck, provoking thought of what it is to be human.

 

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: PG

Mary And The Witch's Flower
©2017 M.F.P

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Producers: Yoshiaki Nishimura, Will Clarke (English version)

Written By: Riko Sakaguchi, Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Based on: ‘The Little Broomstick’ by Mary Stewart (novel)

Starring: Hana Sugisaki, Lynda Freedman (English adaptation)

Pleasantly surprised. Fantastic storytelling, took me back to my childhood, back to the early days when I discovered films were a window into another world, an escape from reality.

The film’s story is based on a children’s novel The Little Broomstick, written in 1971 by the English author Mary Stewart, long before Kiki’s Delivery Service and the Harry Potter series. When I watched Mary and the Witch’s Flower, I did not know that, and even though I noticed certain similarities, to focus on these would not be objective nor fair.

I love Japanese animation and the word ‘love’ doesn’t even scratch the surface of what I feel about it. I grew up rewatching season after season of Dragon Ball and Captain Tsubasa to name a couple. Combine that with films such as Spirited Away (2001) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), and you’ll know what I mean. I had expectations, I won’t lie.

The storytelling is strong enough to fly high.  I was skeptic for about 30 seconds but then I was charmed. Popcorn in hand, I became a child again, sitting at the movie theatre and going along with Mary’s adventure.

Mary and The Witch’s Flower is much more than an animation based on a book. It all started when producer Yoshiaki Nishimura was charmed by one bit of dialogue that he read in the original story: “And it wouldn’t be right to use the spellbook to unlock the front door, either. I’ll do it the way it’s used to, even if it does take longer…”

Set in a magical world, Mary goes through many fun and scary adventures filled with heart-beating excitement, thrills and suspense, flying the skies and travelling beyond the clouds. After these dazzling adventures, Mary finds herself without any magical powers, only a simple broom and a single promise she made. This is when Mary discovers the true strength within her.

Unusual harmony with one musical instrument is heard throughout the film. It is the sound of the stringed percussion instrument called the hammered dulcimer. In search of an uncommon musical instrument to set the tone for the entire film, producer Nishimura learnt from animation director Isao Takahata, about the hammered dulcimer, Nishimura decided to make it the central instrument for the film.

After leaving Studio Ghibli at the end of 2014, Yoshiaki Nishimura established his own animation studio on April 15, 2015. The origin of the studio’s name, ponoć, comes from an expression in Croatian meaning “midnight” and “the beginning of a new day”. The current film Mary and The Witch’s Flower is Studio Ponoc’s first feature animation, and involved a large number of creators and staff from Nishimura’s days at Studio Ghibli.

The attention to detail throughout the film makes me excited about what’s to come from the new-born Studio Ponoc, where talented artists and creators who worked on past Studio Ghibli productions have come together to work on director Yonebayashi and producer Nishimura’s newest work.

If I were you, I would be keeping an eye out for them. I know I will.