Gurrumul

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: PGGurrumul

Written and Directed by: Paul Damien Williams

Produced by: Shannon Swan

Co-producers: Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Mark T Grose, Michael Hohnen

Score by: Michael Hohnen, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Erkki Veltheim

Indigenous Liaisons: Susan Dhangal Gurruwiwi, Johnathon Yunupingu, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

Interviewees: Susan Dhangal Gurruwiwi, Michael Hohnen, Mark T Grose, Daisy Yunupingu (dec), Djuŋa Djuŋa Yunupingu, Terry Nyambi Yunupingu (dec), Erkki Veltheim, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.

On the 25th of July 2017, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu passed away, aged 46.

In Yolngu lore the name, image and voice of the recently departed is retired from all public use.  A very rare exception has been made by Gumatj and Gälpu clan leaders for this film.

Three days before his death, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu approved this film. It remains unchanged since this time.

All I could feel watching the life of Gurrumul was thankfulness.  To have a door opened into his world was an experience full of wonder; like a light was shone on a culture unseen or misunderstood.

Gurrumul is more than a documentary about music or a musician – the film gives insight into the Yolugu culture.

Growing up in the Galiwin’ku community on Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land, Gurrumul became the highest selling Indigenous artist in history.  Gurrumul is a documentary about his rise to fame and how the meek was able to travel and reach out with his music to touch people around the world.

Gurrumul was born blind.  Living in a community filled with music and ceremony, Gurrumul embraced singing and the guitar (beautifully played even though held up-side-down), because it made him happy.

His family felt bad for him because they thought he could never travel far from home.  But never underestimate.

With the help of Michael Hohnen and Mark Grose and their record label, Skinnyfish Music, Gurrumul became a household name.  But it was more than the music that held Michael and Gurrumul together, they became close friends – they became brothers.

It was hard going for Skinnyfish Music, dealing with an artist who refused to speak, where English was his fourth language.  It wasn’t about the fame or the money – it was about keeping the stories of his life alive.  There had to be something to resonate, to have meaning, otherwise – what’s the point?

It’s so refreshing to see someone who values the land, the animals in it; family and keeping the knowledge of the world and why we’re in it, alive.

Gurrumul’s aunty speaks about death, about life – where does it start?  Where does it end?

Watching Michael try to explain to the media in interviews what the saltwater crocodile means to Gurrumul – that it isn’t an animal to represent his people – that he is the saltwater crocodile, was amusing and fascinating.

It’s such a gentle unfolding I didn’t realise how strong the rising of emotion in response to the purity of his voice, the calling in the telling of his story in song.  Even in a different language I could still feel the meaning.  I’m getting teary writing about it.  Not from sadness but the exposure to such honesty of feeling.

There’s a brilliance in showing Gurrumul within a world so different to his own: being away from family, not speaking about himself – always Michael speaking on his behalf – because the Indigenous don’t speak about ‘l’, it’s always, ‘we’.  So, to leave on his own to go solo was a huge step.  But his to take; his life to share.

To have the opportunity to experience the world of Gurrumul, to be allowed into his community; into the life of such a private man from such a secluded community was to have my eyes opened (including that saltwater croc second eyelid!).

And the warmth of Michael and the team who put the documentary together have shared of piece of themselves for others to also see and enjoy.

A truly rewarding experience.

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Sherlock Gnomes

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: GSherlock Gnomes

Directed by: John Stevenson

Screenplay by: Ben Zazove

Produced by: David Furnish, Steve Hamilton Shaw, Carolyn Soper

Executive Producer: Elton John

Voices provided by: Emily Blunt (Juliet), Johnny Depp (Sherlock Gnomes), James McAvoy (Gnomeo), Michael Caine (Lord Redbrick), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dr Watson), Maggie Smith (Lady Blueberry).

With a vocal cast of A-grade actors most other films can only dream about, those entertaining garden gnomes are back in a sequel to the 2011 animated comedy Gnomeo and Juliet, which borrowed freely from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Sherlock Gnomes, the 3D computer-animated comedy sequel, you guessed it, uses a lot of the ideas and characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic crime sleuth Sherlock Holmes, along with his partner Dr Watson and nemesis Professor Moriarty, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of garden gnomes.

Since the first film the gnomes have been forced to relocate to a new garden in London, where Juliet is so focused on getting everything sorted out or tidied that she has little time for Gnomeo, who tries to keep the romance alive in their relationship.

This situation helps to emphasise the importance of not taking what you have for granted, with Gnomeo and Juliet’s relationship subtly mirroring that of Sherlock and Watson, although the latter relationship is not romantic but more a partnership based on friendship and intellect. It takes a major threat to make Sherlock appreciate Watson’s equal contribution to their crime-solving escapades.

Adults accompanying their children don’t miss out entirely on being entertained, as there are plenty of references throughout the film to classic Sherlock Holmes stories and characters, not that the mostly young audience will be aware of this!

While this film has a fairly straight forward plot, what distinguishes it from other animated fare is the way it doesn’t dumb down the clues, which are quite complicated for Sherlock Holmes to figure out, ensuring audiences are kept engaged and guessing throughout its entirety.

Children will be entertained by the colourful and varied inanimate objects that come to life, and how they interact with each other. The backgrounds are beautifully realised and the animation of the characters is suitably cartoonish as one would expect. The film is quite fast-paced and seems to cram a lot of action, plot and subsidiary characters into its running time, so at least it doesn’t drag.

The catchy soundtrack music is provided by Sir Elton John, the executive producer, who also sings some of the songs, along with other artists who do cover versions from some of his extensive catalogue.

I haven’t seen the first film, but I gathered from my young companion’s comments that unlike Gnomeo and Juliet, which was apparently light and fun with some nice puns and an entertaining supporting cast, Sherlock Gnomes is darker, with less use of the supporting cast from the previous film and more focus on solving the crime, fixing mistakes and renewing relationships that are endangered. Younger viewers may find some of the scenes slightly scary, such as those involving the gargoyles (which look large and menacing but whose personalities balance out their appearance) or Moriarty’s penchant for destroying garden ornaments (although this is never done on screen).

While this film is obviously aimed at a young audience, the presence of such skilled vocal talent, along with lots of sly references to Sherlock Holmes, will hopefully ensure that adults will be entertained as well and not feel punished by having to sit through this animated offering.

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Truth Or Dare

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MTruth Or Dare

Directed by: Jeff Wadlow

Screenplay by: Michael Reisz and Jillian Jacobs & Chris Roach & Jeff Wadlow

Story by: Michael Reisz

Produced by: Jason Blum

Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Sam Lerner, Hayden Szeto, Landon Liboiron, Sophia Taylor Ali, Nolan Gerard.

Like the college students who thought it was a good idea to go to Mexico, party-on and pick up a stranger (Carter (Landon Liboiron)), to follow said stranger out to the middle of nowhere to an abandoned convent to play, Truth or Dare – I’m sure the premise of making a movie based on a deadly version of Truth or Dare seemed like a good idea.

But the story just did not hold up.

There was some shocking horror in the film – as one-by-one the group of friends who seemed like they’d be friends-for-eva were forced to play the game, or die: coupled-up Penelope (Sophia Taylor Ali) and Funk (Nolan Gerard) the beauty and the doctor (AKA the alcoholic and the drug dealer), Ronnie (Sam Lerner) the duffus who was the only genuinely funny one out of the them all; super cute lover-boy, Lucas (Tyler Posey) and girlfriend Markie (Violett Beane) forming a love triangle with best buddy and main character, Olivia (Lucy Hale), destined to be the beard of gay buddy Brad (Hayden Szeto): it’s a classic teen formula of kids on vacation that goes horrifically wrong; I hate to say it, reminding me of the Final Destination franchise.  The bad late ones.

The idea of a trickster demon, Callux, possessing the players making them play either Truth or Dare and digging under the belly to secrets and hidden humiliations of the kids should have been interesting, but I lost interest because the characters seemed soft: the lead-up to each character forced to take their turn weak because the dialogue didn’t stand up so the actions weren’t believable.

With new horror films pushing the boundaries of the genre, Truth Or Dare felt like a repeat of what’s been done before, even a backward step because previous releases like Scream or Final Destination felt fresh.

Sure, the idea of Truth or Dare was new, but there was too much going on to make the most of the idea – and the many complications of the many relationships felt superficial ‘til in the end, it was hard to believe any of it:

‘You’re such an idiot.’

‘What can I say, you do that to me.’

It was a push to get to the end.  And watching, you could feel the drifting.

Cut the whole story in half, spending more time on half the characters would have made a better film as there was good material and good ideas but truthfully, in the end, you couldn’t dare me to believe – wow, see how bad?!

I would have thought killing off annoying college students would have been more fun – it wasn’t.

The Party

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA15+The Party

Written and Directed by: Sally Potter

Produced by: Christopher Sheppard, Kurban Kassam

Cinematographer: Alexey Rodionov

Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer, Cillian Murphy, Kristin Scott Thomas and Timothy Spall.

The Party is a film filled with cynical wit as newly appointed Shadow Minister of Health, Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) celebrates her new post by hosting a party.

Bill (Timothy Spall), husband and long-time supporter sits in a daze with a glass in hand as each guest arrives: best friend April (Patricia Clarkson) and her New Age partner, Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), lesbian couple Martha (Cherry Jones) and Jinny (Emily Mortimer), newly pregnant, and the handsome financier, Tom (Cillian Murphy) – all sitting on their own agenda as a constant barrage of political and social standpoints are thrown around the room building to their very own announcements.

A film of contrasts, and not just because the entirety is shot in black and white, but because of the contrast of ideals and personalities.  Even the music played on the turntable by Bill is a bizarre backdrop and soundtrack to the emotive tension in the lounge room; tragedy and trauma played out to the rumba and reggae creating the ridiculous and send-up to all the seriousness discussed from life expectancy related to economics and class rather than diet and exercise – a statistic Janet and husband Bill have always agreed upon – to the question of life after death.

The setting of the film is the house of Janet and Bill – there’s no hiding as each character is forced to face the crisis looming in each relationship: the dying academic, the cheating wife; each person intellectualising their emotion into a rational argument all to the sound of Bill’s insistence of playing record after record, his need for music a compulsion to express.

This is a film driven by dialogue, and the set was created and shot on stage like a play where each character slowly unravels as each reveals the next revelation – the story’s interest in the layers of rationale used as self-protection being pealed away to show the raw human hiding underneath; argument and ideals and political stances made as an adult only to show the child still hiding underneath.  Except for April.  Now a cynic.  Janet asks her best friend, ‘Have I been emotionally unavailable?’

Of which April replies, ‘It’s not a productive line of thought’.

There are so many subtle moments that got me giggling.  Small details like Bill sitting confused, a glass of red in one hand and the celebratory glass of champagne in the other.

It’s sad, it’s tragic.  And the understanding of what we cling to, to keep our ego’s intact, is examined and oh so very funny.

Writer and director Sally Potter (Orlando (1992)), states she wrote the script with an awareness of the absurdity of human suffering; the highlight for me April as she cuts through any emotion with her scathing, but not to be taken personally, remarks aimed at revealing the true and rational perspective with her unblinking eye, ‘You’re a first-rate lesbian and a second-rate thinker.’

To which Martha, Professor of Women’s Studies replies ‘April, Really.  I am a professor. Specializing in domestic labour gender differentiation in American utopianism.’

‘Exactly,’ says April.

Left with nothing unnecessary for the story to come full-circle in 71 minutes, The Party is a clever film that takes you into the claustrophobic world of relationships in crisis viewed through the lens of a political satire; the most selfless of the group the coke snorting soulless financier, Tom – now that’s cynical.

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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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Abracadabra

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: 18+Abracadabra

Director/Writer: Pablo Berger

Produced by: Pablo Berger, Ignasi Estapé, Mercedes Gamero, Mikel Lejarza

Music by: Alfonso de Vilallonga

Cinematography by: Kiko de la Rica

Starring: Maribel Verdú, Priscilla Delgado, Antonio de la Torre, José Mota, Quim Gutiérrez, Joep Maria Pou, Javier Anton and Rocίo Calvo.

Language: Spanish with English subtitles.

If it was a choice between an egotistical, abusive and dismissive husband or a loving, appreciative but crazy murderer, who would you choose?

Abracadabra is kind of a love story, if you can call the choice between a chauvinist and a murderer romantic, mixed with weird humour and eye-brow raising moments of blood and drama and fantasy.

After Carmen (Maribel Verdú) with daughter, Toñi (Priscilla Delgado) finally drag husband and father, Carlos from watching the football to a wedding, they wonder why they bothered when he continues to listen to the football match with headphones shouting, Yes !!! right as the priest asks if anyone contends this most romantic and completely loved-up couple from marrying (their current feeling expressed in precious promises the complete opposite to Carmen and Carlos).

The wedding reception show-cases Pepe (José Mota), the mighty hypnotist, (and obsessed with the sequined, gorgeous but somewhat gaudy Carmen) daring an audience member to volunteer.  Carlos doesn’t like the way Pepe looks at his wife, so volunteers confident in his domination over the powers of the eye-lined hypnotist, Pepe.

While mocking the powers of Pepe an opportunistic ghost possesses Carlos changing him from macho-nasty to doe-eyed lovely, breakfast-in-bed included.

When Carmen and daughter Toñi realise it’s too good to be true, the last straw his greeting of Pepe with a kiss and hug, they consult the mighty Dr. Fumetti (Joep Maria Pou) to find the truth of who inhabits the body of Carlos.

And on the story goes, reaching into the bizarre with a flavour of comedy that held the film from falling into a complete mess of over-dramatisation.

It was those subtle details that were funny: the vibrant white of Dr. Fumetti’s teeth while posing as a dentist; the frothing and spitting of the real estate agent to re-enact blood spurting as a mother’s head was sawn off by the hand of her schizophrenic son… I love a bit of dark humour and there were many moments well executed (ha, ha!) by the cast.

If you don’t like funny-strange humour, then stay away.  The film was also melodramatic with emotion shown with that, hand to mouth, Oh! face, often.  But as the film plays out there was a bit of lead in the story.

An interesting movie experience into the unexpected and absurd, with the drama of weddings and unrequited love and madness that was surprising and silly, pushing the suspension of belief as the script skipped across disaster by keeping the underlying humour present in those unexpected and bizarre details.

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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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The Death Of Stalin

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MA 15+The Death Of Stalin

Directed by: Armando Iannucci

Produced by: Yann Zenou, Laurent Zeitoun, Nicolas Duval Adassovski, Kevin Loader

Based on the comic books: THE DEATH OF STALIN by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin

Original screenplay by: Fabien Nury

Written by: Armando Iannucci, David Schneider and Ian Martin

Additional material by: Peter Fellows

Starring: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, Paul Chahidi, Dermot Crowley, Adrian Mcloughlin, Paul Whitehouse and Jeffrey Tambor.

The poster for, The Death Of Stalin warns: ‘A Comedy of Terrors’ –  I should have realised a film based on the days in the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death had senseless murder and mayhem.

I’m not saying there’s gratuitous blood and guts, but the ridiculous behaviour of those in power – Stalin’s Politburo including the security forces of the NKVD and The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs – who rape and murder while patting each other on the back astounds and at times, tickles:

‘When I piss I always try to make eye contact with an officer,’ says Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor) to Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) while peeing against a tree. ‘It ruins their day’.

The majority-rules-group-mentality spearheaded by the iron fist of Stalin unravels when he dies.  The fear felt by his people shown by the hesitation in speech, the inability to come to his aid when he strokes-out on the floor in his own ‘indignity’ because the soldiers are too scared to check what that thud on the floor actually means: What if nothing’s wrong?

So the soldiers wait until morning, safeguarding Stalin’s dying brain, waiting for the housekeeper to arrive with his morning tea.  All based on fact.

Writer-director, Armando Iannucci has created a dark satire that turns the facts into something so terrifying and ridiculous it’s funny.

Once Iannucci was on-board, the cast came together starring the likes of, Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin and Maria Yudina as the concert pianist, Olga Kurylenko: a solid cast working a dynamic script, much like the beloved communist dictum of a working machine focussing on the whole rather than its parts.

Although the decision was made to allow each actor their own native accent (rather than speak with a Russian inflection), it’s difficult to highlight any individual as they were all different yet essential in the ridiculousness of their nature: from the sad clown Malenkov who knows he’s way over his head as Stalin’s Number 2 (girdle included), to the sociopathic tub of evil genious, Beria (Simon Russell Beale), to Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi) who could make Stalin laugh; notes taken every night by his faithful wife, drunken quotes read in the morning to remember topics that worked to those that didn’t to CAAAAA: the sound of a throat being cut.

In other words, he’s on, The List.

The Death of Stalin is gallows humour with the back and forth of words spoken with a blank face changing the meaning so it was more about the way the words were spoken and how best not to get caught saying them.

I expected a laugh-out-loud comedy but the truth of evil doesn’t allow for that; it’s hard to let go of the terror.  Instead, there’s a quick brilliancy; a film of dialogue that could be played out on stage including gems like, ‘Can you ever trust a weak man?’

The film tickled with subtle comment by walking the fine line between the seriousness of committing mass murder against the humour terror brings when people are behaving at their evil worst.

With so many layers it’s a film I’d watch again.

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.

Human Flow

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MHuman Flow

Director:  Ai Wei Wei

Producers: Andrew Cohen, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyerman

Writers: Chin-Chin Yap, Tim Finch, Boris Cheshirkov.

Human Flow is a visual experience to be endured. A journey for the soul. A glimpse into the duty of care, and lack thereof, affecting our societies.

Forgotten places and forgotten faces reach out and I struggle to remain seated. To comprehend the magnitude of what film director Ai Wei Wei intended. The camera remains. Lost souls stare onto it, onto the abyss. Dignified, proud, hopeful. Despite everything.

Statistics and news headlines appear. Foreign voices makeshift the background. Subtitles demand the attention of the viewer. Everyone must seat and watch. There is no easy way out for us as there is no easy way out for the millions of refugees stranded across the globe.

Oceans of humanity flow, stretching as far as the next border, people like waves reaching for the coast, seeking relief after a long journey. Aerial views of makeshift camps. Tents set along trains never to halt. People resting on the side of the road. On the verge of tears. Vulnerable to disease, under the elements, moving ever forward with their loved ones. All borders shutting down.

The system collapses, numbers increase and countries build fences and walls with money that could be used in so many other ways. No questions are asked or aid provided. Left behind, human beings facing the most inhuman conditions in the history of our race.

Those who are victims of the circumstances, run for fear of persecution. Those who pushed them into exile remain immune. Those who watch, what are we? What am I, but a privileged voyeur? A far removed entity able to switch off my screen at any given time. Sheltered, fed, safe. Free. Ashamed of myself as I type these words. Dreading the moment I move onto the next thing, and forget.

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