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.

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.

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.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: GThe Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature

Director and Co-Writer: Cal Brunker

Producer and Co-Writer: Bob Barlen

Screenwriters: Scott Bindley, Cal Brunker, Bob Barlen

Producers: Harry Linden, Jongsoo Kim, Youngki Lee, Li Li Ma, Jonghan Kim, Bob Barlen

Starring: Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Katherine Heigl, Jackie Chan, Bobby Moynihan, Gabriel Iglesias, Bobby Cannavale, Jeff Dunham, Peter Stormare and Isabela Moner.

Cal Brunker wanted to make A Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature, bigger and more fun so he took the most loved elements of the first movie and mixed nuts and drama with the deft flick of an artist’s eye to bring to life a little band of insurgent parkland animals, a corrupt greedy human oppressor -and turn it into a visually stunning action packed sequel.

 Stuffed on a fast food supply of nuts from the abandoned basement of Nibbler’s Nut Shop, Surly and his animal friends Andie (Katherine Heigl), stray pug Precious (Maya Rudolph) Buddy (Tom Kenn) live happy, lazy and fat in nut luxury without a survival worry in the world.

Nut feasts of every kind are just one furry paw breath away from the hunter gatherers. But their lifestyle of easy pickings ends explosively one night as the nut shop comes tumbling down in a gas explosion.

Unbeknownst to the animals their survival problems are just beginning.

Surly discovers that the local Mayor, a corrupt self-serving meanie Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan), plans to get rich by bulldozing their beloved Liberty Park and ripping it apart turning it into a hellish carnival ground full of decrepit rides bought on the cheap.

The animals strike back when they team up with some muscle in the adorable fluff ball form of a tough city mouse and Kung Fu master Mr. Feng and his army of displaced mice. Mr Feng has one outstanding flaw, he absolutely loses it when you call him cute.

Mayor Muldoon brutally enlists pest exterminators to exterminate Surly and his friends. Mayor Muldoon has a pint-sized weapon of his own, his daughter Heather – an armed brat with psychopathic urges, a tranquillizer gun and itching trigger finger.

Heather delights in doing horribly wrong things to animals if she can just get her hands on them.

All appears lost as the animal’s face hunger, homelessness and destruction by a predator they are not equipped to battle

What can go wrong is what makes this film so right for its target audience.

A simple movie with big themes: inclusion, diversity, unity, purpose and quest and we we’re cheering the little guy all the way.

Cal Brunker injects the drama with ever higher stakes with the completely unexpected plot twist of my favourite character, Surly’s best friend a non-speaking rescue rat named Buddy (Tom Kenny).

In his scraggly body Buddy the silent heroic outsider captured my heart as he faces off against the destructive power of corrupt human greed.

Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature is a thrilling ride with unexpected plot twists.  At one moment I sat misty eyed with shock in the cinema with my 11-year-old daughter, My thought at that moment was, ‘this can’t happen in a kid’s movie!’

As I watched this movie with my daughter I was given the gift of escaping into the movie with the eyes of a child.

My daughter loved A Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature.

The Nut Job 2 draws you into an enormous canvas of animated movie magic. There is enough colour breathing escapism, relentless slapstick smiling animal chaos and rocket fueled action married with characters we care about that makes Nut Job 2 a perfect school holiday movie.


GoMovieReviews Rating:


Directed by: Jennifer PeedomMOUNTAIN

Music by: Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra

Words by: Robert Macfarlane

Narration by: Willem Dafoe

Principal Cinematography by: Renan Ozturk

Sound design by: David White

Edited by: Christian Gazal and Scott Gray

Produced by: Jennifer Peedom and Jo-anne McGowan

Filmed in: Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, France, Greenland, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland, Tibet, USA.

This is a film about mountains, from the need of humans to dominate, to the terrible beauty, destruction and indifference of creation: Mountain is a reminder of how small we truly are.

I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions from: a state of relaxation, my eyes drinking up the beauty of the slow evolution of story, the film opening on breathtaking panoramas of mountain peaks; to my heart pounding as I watched the madness of people leaping and skiing and bike riding and base jumping from awesome, vertigo inducing heights while the climber smiles as he hangs from the tips of his fingers, the expression both beautific and insane.

Arrogance crumbles when confronted with the immovable yet breathing life of the earth.  We’re just a speck in comparison, to the timelessness of the mountain, just a tiny speak. MOUNTAIN

Sometimes it’s just so good to take humans out of the equation – yet, Mountain is about the fascination humans have of the serene, cold, majestic indifference of nature.

Living in a world of increasing, mad-made controlled comfort, some crave the risk that’s been taken from our everyday lives – to go seeking for that feeling of being alive because at any moment the earth may fall, the vertigo may win, the avalanche may swallow and the oxygen might run out.

How do you make a documentary about mountains?

How do you show the phenomenon of nature?

Mountain is a symphony of poetry, imagery and sound.

Richard Toretti, the artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra collaborated with director, Jennifer Peedom to put together this memorable documentary.

And I use the word collaboration as Mountain is equally weighted between the senses with the soundtrack given as much weight as the words and cinematography.  A concept called synaesthesia that fascinated Richard, where the stimulation of the sense leads to another becoming more acutely attuned.

The soundtrack consists mostly of classical, a point of difference as most of the adrenaline-fuelled high stakes mountain sports are usually backed by punk rock.  Yet, the classical really highlights the majesty of the mountains.MOUNTAIN

And the combination of sound and stomach clenching cinematography creates a thrill as people fly down slopes or jump into the air 1000s of feet above the earth, death defying leaps, where there really must be an element of insanity, to even think, yet, it’s not about thinking, it’s about feeling alive.

Yet, there’s more to this film then just the stimulation of the senses.

Director, Jennifer Peedom who previously won world recognition after the release of the documentary, Sherpa (2015), also touches the idea of the change in the challenge of mountain climbing: the climb becoming a wait-in-line scenario rather than an adventure, where the real risk is taken by others like the Sherpas.  Yet, the controlled destruction sometimes slips from mans’ grip.

Hence the fascination.

‘Danger can hold terrible joys,’ says narrator, Willem Dafoe, quoted from a book written by Robert Macfarlane.

This is a beautiful moment in the film, one of many, with skiers drifting through powdery snow, weaving between the pines to the sound of a Beethoven symphony.

The thread that binds the film is poetics from Robert’s book, ‘Mountain of the Mind’: an exploration into the concept of the sublime.

‘In the branch of philosophy know as aesthetics the sublime is a quality of almost overwhelming greatness and magnitude’.

And in this modern world it is just so refreshing to be reminded of this greatness of nature.

A wonderful escape and reminder that the earth breaths, Mountain is both inspiring and thought-provoking = Food for the soul.