Justice League

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MJustice League

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Screenplay Written by: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon

Story by: Chris Terrio & Zack Snyder, based on characters from DC, Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Produced by: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg and Geoff Johns

DC Super Heroes: Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and Ray Fisher as Cyborg

Also starring: Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta and Joe Morton as Silas Stone, and expands the universe by introducing J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf, and Amber Heard as Mera.

Based on characters from DC comics, Justice League is a team of superheroes brought together by Wonder Woman and Batman to fight against the world’s old nemesis, Steppenwolf.

Previously conquered in the ancient past by the Amazons, the inhabitants of Atlantis before the city sunk into the sea, and even the gods; they all fought side-by-side to stop the warlord from Apokolips from taking over the world.

Now, Steppenwolf has returned with an army of parademons (think a cross between an insect and vampire) to claim what he believes is rightfully his.

After seeing Wonder Woman in the recent film set during World War I, Justice League is present day – depicting an, approaching-middle-aged Batman and the ageless yet, powers-unseen-by-the-public, Wonder Woman.Justice League

Now that Superman is dead, the population is grieving and unable to see any hope for the future – chaos is gaining power as the people sink into darkness with newspaper headlines asking, Why are all the superheroes disappearing?  With Prince and David Bowie pictured alongside Superman.  Which I thought was quite clever, but also depressing, right?

I was also beginning to think the film was going to be a history lesson into each character.

Yet, the introduction of: Aquaman, shown to be just as strong on land as under water; Flash, the hero in training and Cyborg, a biomechanic meta human (and a new addition and update in the current techi-driven world), was necessary and brief.  And somewhat offset by the antics of Flash, adding some light humour to the mix.

The story could have gotten messy trying to give weight to each hero, but it worked.

Each character had their own personal conflict to conquer, giving the film layers beyond action.  And I could feel the humanity of Batman, not quite metahuman, his self-professed only super power being rich.

The need for this super-powered Justice League team fighting together stems from the power of Steppenwolf – the super villain.

The film flashes back to the past, giving Steppenwolf backstory, yet I wanted more grit, more than just another villain wanting to conquer worlds.  I would have also liked to have seen more of his home world of Apokolips…  But I had fun watching this film.

Gal Gadot has continued to shine as Wonder Woman and the sparks of humour from Ezra Miller as Flash were funny.

I wasn’t blown away, but Justice League was a fun ride – more of Aquaman in the water next time!

Suburbicon

GoMovieReviews Rating:
SuburbiconRated: MA 15+

Directed by: George Clooney

Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen, George Clooney and Grant Heslov

Produced by: George Clooney and Gran Heslov

Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Oscar Isaac.

Director George Clooney has collaborated with the Coen brothers (No Country For Old Men) to package together one dark, tasty treat.

This is a story that could only be set in the 50s.  A setting I initially found off-putting, the feeling the formula of 50s dark comedy already been done.  But I was pleasantly surprised by the clever script and how the 50s attitude was used to create a rising tension and darkness of bigotry and racism in the story.

Suburbicon explores the real America, back then, the racism and petty nature of society hiding behind perfect houses, set hair and freshly mown lawns.  The idea of a suburb is a new-found way of living – affordable post war housing built outside of the city where families can grow with kids hanging out with the neighbours and everyone’s safe and secure and the same.  Until the Mayers move in.

Based on the true events that unfolded in Levittown, Pennsylvania in 1957, where William and Daisy Meyers became the first African American family to move to the town, only to be subjected to 500 people yelling abuse on their front lawn, complete with the hanging of Confederate flags and a burning cross…Suburbicon

Suburbicon builds on the tension; cracks begin to form in the community, with well-mannered folk becoming increasingly agitated by the presence of the family.

And then, Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) and his family, Rose (Julianne Moore), her twin sister Margaret (also Moore) and son Nicky (Noah Jupe) are tied up and robbed in their own home – something must be done.

The Lodges are a seemingly normal family with twin sister Margaret visiting often to help Rose who’s wheelchair bound after a vehicle accident.

And I use ‘seemingly’ as the story of the film is the depiction of the family unravelling as the robbers, Louis (Alex Hassell) and Sloan (Glenn Flesher) return to pressure Gardner causing the film to turn in dark and completely unexpected ways.

This is a surprisingly violent film but made in such a way that the shock is funny.Suburbicon

It’s a dark film, that clever script and direction using that 50s flavour to show the violence like an old-school detective movie with images of shadows and jagged edges of broken glass instead of blood and guts.  The soundtrack also adds to that crime/detective flavour.

But there’s much more here than a cloak and dagger crime story.

The audience is shown life from the way the son, Nicky, sees the world.  Like the innocence of childhood is the only normality in the story.  And this is beautifully shown in the friendship between Nicky and the Mayers son, Andy (Tony Espinosa).

Add the well-balanced pacing where each twist and reveal is shown with dead pan delivery, I couldn’t help but appreciate the timing and cleverness of the script.

The Snowman

GoMovieReviews Rating:
The SnowmanMA15+

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson

Based on the Book by: Jo Nesbø

Screenplay by: Hossein Amini and Peter Straughan

Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Piodor Gustafsson, Robyn Slovo,

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg with Val Kilmer and J. K. Simmons.

Waking up from another bender, lead detective, Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender), needs a case to distract him from drinking.

When he receives a disturbing letter signed-off with a picture of a snowman, he may have found the case.  And as the film continues and the bodies pile up, Harry’s eyes become clearer.

Based on Jo Nesbø’s global bestseller, the attempt to condense, ‘The Snowman’ into a film was not entirely successful.

There’s so much going on in the film that I have to say, my confusion grew as the film continued.The Snowman

The inclusion of so many characters, like Rafto (Val Kilmer), another disgraced drunken detective and Mathias (Jonas Karlsson) a detective thrown in the mix for reasons unknown led to time wasting red herrings.

Which is a pity because the main storyline was good.

But without the depth of character given in the novel, a lot of time was spent scratching my head asking, Why?

An avid fan of the Jo Nesbø novels, I was excited to see his story come to life on the big screen.  And Michael Fassbender suited the role of Harry, if not better looking and smaller than imagined from the text – he was a sincere brute, playing the damaged sincerity of a complicated man perfectly.

I also liked Rebecca Ferguson as the junior recruit, Katrine Bratt.

However, the rest of the cast felt superficial with so many and so little backstory.

The English language used, instead of the novel’s original Norwegian, followed on like the book being translated, so I didn’t mind as that’s how I read the book.  Another successful example being the English version of Wallander, set in the original series’ native Ystad, Sweden, yet the characters speaking in English…

The setting of The Snowman was filmed entirely in Norway with the snow falling and the vast landscape keeping the feel from the novel authentic.

Director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) has used that feeling of vast space and isolation to build the creepy feeling of The Snowman watching.  But that’s as creepy as the film gets.

The Snowman didn’t live up to expectation because the momentum and therefore suspense was lost by trying to fit too much into the story.

I liked Fassbender as Harry, the setting was beautifully captured, and the story was good.  But could have been much better with a more focussed plot.

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The Girl With All The Gifts

GoMovieReviews Rating:
MA15+The Girl With All The Gifts

Directed by: Collie McCarthy

Adapted from the novel, ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’, Written by: Mick Carey

Music Composed by: Cristobal Tapia de Veer

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Glenn Close, Paddy Considine, Sennia Nenua, Fisayo Akinade, Anthony Welsh.

After recently starting to watch, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016) and stopping after 15 minutes because I was just so sick of zombies, I surprised myself by taking in, The Girl With All The Gifts.

With Glenn Close starring and my avid love of thrillers, I thought the film looked good.

It made sense to me, fungi infecting the population and turning humans into blood thirsty beasts.  It’s the need for protein that turns the Hungries into killers.

And as, War Of The Worlds has shown us, and frankly this last flu season, it’s the micro-organisms and shown here, the fungi (not a micro-organism, but you get the drift) that will win in the end…

So, the premise of the film was interesting.The Girl With All The Gifts

The film begins with children, about 10 years old, being wheeled into a makeshift classroom, strapped to a wheelchair, wearing matching orange tracksuits.

The soldiers who transfer them from cell to classroom are obviously scared of the kids, yet, Melanie (Sennia Nenua) is a kind and polite, extremely intelligent school girl.

Until she’s hungry and can smell flesh.

After the compound’s attacked by seemingly endless hungries, Melanie’s favourite person and teacher, Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton), along with Dr Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close), Sergeant Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine), and soldiers Kieran Gallagher (Fisayo Akinade) and Dillon (Anthony Welsh) escape, to the outside world, back to London to wait for rescue.

Scottish director, Collie McCarthy (Outcast (2010), Endeavour (TV series, The Girl With All The Gifts2012) has brought a UK flavour to the film which is a nice change from the saturation of the American zombie takeovers, setting the film in London with native accented characters.

And there’s some good acting here – Glenn Close, who can do no wrong, brings a solid performance as the villainous researcher.  And young Sennia as Melanie holds her own as the hybrid fungal/human creature.

But it was difficult to take the hungries seriously when the fungus growing over their faces looked like green fur.

The infected blew the suspension for me – the hungries not always believable, so after the strong opening, the film waned.

There is some blood and guts for the those who like a bit of gore mixed with suspense.   And a few light moments to break the tension.

I appreciated the thought put into the script with some new ideas making the film more than just another zombie movie.

So, not a brilliant film, but worth a watch.

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Good Time

GoMovieReviews Rating:
MA 15+Good Time

Directed by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Written by: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie

Produced by: Sabastian Bear-McClard, Oscar Boyson, Jean-Luc De Fanti, Terry Dougas, Paris Kasidokostas Latsis

Composer/Soundtrack: Oneohtrix Point Never

Cinematographer: Sean Price Williams

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Ben Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tahliah Webster, Barkhad Abdi, Buddy Duress.

The Safdie brothers (Josh and Ben) return with their fifth feature film, building on their gonzo-style street films with Official Selection and winner of the Cannes Soundtrack Award, Good Time.

And I was hooked from the opening scene.

When Nick Nikas (Ben Safdie) is questioned by a psychiatrist (Peter Verby), you can tell there’s something not right with Nick.  He’s slow.  But asking for word associations for, ‘water and ‘salt’, the sadness and beauty and insight into the always lost but understanding all the same was given when Nick makes the association with the sea while tears run down his cheeks.

Then his brother, Connie (Robert Pattinson) bursts into the room, dragging his brother from a place that’s making him cry – it’s wrong to take Nick from a place trying to help him, but he does it for all the right reasons.  It’s love.

Connie’s not a bad guy, he just does bad things.  He wants his brother to feel what he feels.  Good Time

Sharing the experience of robbing a bank seems easy.  Connie’s smart.  Street smart.  He can manipulate others to get what he wants.  He’s bad because he’s misleading but Connie doesn’t want to hurt people, he just wants to help his brother making the character all the more believable because people aren’t purely bad or purely good, there’s always that somewhere in-between.

After Nick gets caught by the police, Connie has to come up with ten-thousand dollars to get him out on bail.  And he knows there’s only so many times Nick can change the TV and annoy the other inmates before he gets beaten to death.  So there’s desperation to get that $10K.  Nothing good comes from desperation.Good Time

Good Times felt like real life – a moment-by-moment record of controlled chaos.  Like life, sometimes there’s just no time.

Decisions are made in the moment to try to get through and survive.  The raw nature of the film reminding me of Oscar winner, ‘Moonlight’.  But I related more to the 90s vibe here.

I enjoyed seeing Robert Pattinson embrace his role, the Safdie brothers pushing that Brooklyn element of the film.

Ben Safdie and Pattinson wrote letters to each other for weeks as Connie and Nick, discussing their lives in character to develop the relationship between the two brothers to translate onto the screen.

People will go to see Pattinson in a new role but the stand out for me was Ben Safdie as Nick.

And the soundtrack has to be commended.

The more I get into film the more I understand the integration of image and sound to give the story its emotional landscape.

Sound can give so much more than words.

Here, the thought of the ocean began the emotional tone of the film which continued with the soundtrack.

Daniel Lopatin who records under the name Oneohtrix Point Never has created an electronic-based score with the film ending with a song recorded in collaboration with Iggy Pop.

Add the dialogue, sometimes written just before recording, the film had a chaotic feel, making the fiction truthful – believable because only real life can be that strange.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from the Safdie brothers.

Good Time had balls with a dash of genius.  And it wasn’t a harsh ride.  It just felt honest.

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American Assassin

GoMovieReviews Rating:
MA 15+American Assassin

Directed by: Michael Cuesta

Produced by: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Nick Wechsler

Screenplay by: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz

Based on: ‘American Assassin’

Written by: Vince Flynn

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, Taylor Kitsch, David Suchet, Navid Negahban, Scott Adkins and Charlotte Vega.

In the same vein as previous characters adapted for on-screen action-thrillers, Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne, American Assassin is based on a series of action-thriller novels written by Vince Flynn, featuring Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien): a tortured soul out for revenge.

Training and fighting to kill the terrorists responsible for the death of his fiancé, Rapp is eventually recruited into the CIA by Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) to become part of an elite black ops outfit under the guiding, unwavering, cold hand of legend, Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton).American Assassin

Although a later book in the series, production decided on, ‘American Assassin’ as this shows the origins of Rapp and how he became such an angry, one-man terrorist killer.

There’s a familiar feel to the classic formula of the CIA super-recruit. And I’m a big fan of action-thrillers.  But the character Mitch Rapp didn’t have the same humanising warmth as Jason Bourne (Matt Damon).  Rapp is such a hard, angry, focussed young buck, that the film became twee at times with borderline over-acting from O’Brien.

Michael Keaton has the military bearing and intensity needed for the role of trainer, Hurley.  And the fight scenes and bloody bits (spraying into the camera at times) are all believable, giving the film the action-thriller title it deserves.

Yet, there’s just so much macho going on here.American Assassin

The villain, Ronnie, AKA, Ghost (Taylor Kitsch) was the softer of the assassins, to the extent I was tempted to root for him!

Director, Michael Cuesta previously directing, Kill The Messenger (2014) and TV episodes from the likes of Homeland and Dexter, gives American Assassin that dry, flat, violent feel without humour.  This is a serious movie.

And without the colourful Michael Keaton (although kept on a short leash), the film would have been relentless.  As is, I still felt myself drifting with the overdose of action so I lost interest as the film progressed.

Add some of that cheesy attitude of blind-sighted need for domination with exclamation from the soundtrack, I got put off, the suspension of belief wavering, so when Deputy Director Irene Kennedy kept calling Mitch Rapp, ‘Rapp’, I started to cringe.

So, better than Jack Reacher (particularly the first!) but not as good as Bourne.

IT

GoMovieReviews Rating:
MA 15+IT

Directed by: Andrés Muschietti

Produced by: Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katsenberg and Barbara Muschietti.

Screenplay: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman

Based on the novel by: Stephen King

Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer and Nicholas Hamilton.

Something sinister is going on in the small town of Derry.

Kids are going missing.  Too many kids.

The story begins with Bill Denbrough’s (Jackson Robert Scott) little brother disappearing – first Georgie, then lots of kids.  Sometimes a chewed-off arm is found, most of the time they’re just gone.

IT follows a gang of outsiders self-named, The Losers’ Club, losers because what they have in common is they’re all bullied by, The Bowers Gang.

We all know how cruel kids can be, but Henry Bower and his cronies are the type who start off torturing animals to graduate to full-blown psychopaths.IT

Bill is haunted by his missing little brother, so the summer after Georgie goes missing, The Losers’ Club band together to try to find out why all the kids of Derry are disappearing.

The quest becomes a waking nightmare as the gang follow an ancient horror down the sewers to find a monster literally feeding off the fear of children: Pennywise, the Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgård).

IT (2017) is the second film translating Stephen King’s novel of the same name from page to screen.

I was terrified when I watched the original, IT (1990), back in the early nineties.  But after a re-watch, I took the horror-thriller off my recommended list as the film didn’t date well; the idea still there but the effects contrived and no longer believable.IT

The film here, directed by Andrés Muschietti (Mama (2013)) is a faithful adaptation, once again, holding onto the ideals from the novel – the perspective from that awkward in-between age of childhood to coming to grips with adolescence and all that goes with it: puberty, love, outgrowing parents, and trying to figure out right from wrong while dealing with the cruelty that is other people when you’re an outsider.

There’s a warm honesty to King’s writing, particularly when from the perspective of kids, hence the horror of being right there with them when battling the monsters.  And the casting translated that authenticity well (hats off to, Rich Delia, the casting director).

My favourite parts of the film were the coming together of The Losers’ club: motor-mouth Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhand), the hypochondriac, Eddie Kospbrak (Jack Dylan), Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis), the girl of the group and the bravest of the them all, the loner book-worm Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the African American home-schooled out-of-towner, Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) and OCD Stanley Uris (Wyatt Oleff) – all courageous in their own way.  And the humour and chemistry of the gang was a genuine pleasure to watch.

The foundation of the story was watching the kids fight the terror of their own nightmares embodied in the clown that is Pennywise.  And here the story was successful.

The horrors that come, and there are many, are unique and surprisingly different to the first adaptation.

This is not a replica.IT

Unlike the novel (and original film), where the beginning of the story is set in the 1950s, IT (2017) begins in the 80s, giving that, Stranger Things (2016) vibe with the 80s outfits and soundtrack revolving around the comradery of outsiders coming together as a gang to battle something other-worldly.

But l wasn’t as absorbed and therefore as scared during the confrontations with Pennywise, as it felt like a succession of scary bits rather than a slow build of fear.

Pennywise became more present as the film progressed, with some clever inclusions into the day-to-day, but it’s just so difficult to translate that subtle Stephen King-esq creeping feeling…

What I found more scary was the psychopathic people – the bullies and the adults in the film who were just, wrong.

I felt the scary Pennywise bits could have been paced differently, perhaps less being more.

But overall, a quality horror-thriller with good bones – looking forward to what’s next, from The Well…