I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, and not reviewed any movies for a few weeks (but have watched a couple – more on that below). Life gets in the way. Amongst other things, my focus has primarily been on my writing. Currently I have one novel published, Showdown In Los Angeles, and have been finalising the next three novels in the series, which I will publish over the next few months. My writing has been such a passion since I was young and I’ve written several stories, and these four I’m very proud of. I think they have good characters and some good situations, but the it the proof I’m sure for anyone interested will be in the reading. So by all means seek me out on Amazon, at the following link: Author https://www.amazon.com/stores/Craig-Micklewright/
As said I’ve also been watching a few movies. First off was Wes Anderson’s The French Despatch (Good+) that whilst visually as clever and as captivating as The Grand Budapest Hotel, with a similar structure, I didn’t feel the individual stories were as enjoyable or the characters as rich. However likes of Benicio Del Toro and Adrian Brody still proved enjoyable. Next up was Amsterdam (Good) an enjoyable crime farce starring Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, which was fun and had entertaining characters, but it’s story wasn’t very engaging. Still, not as awful as some critics may have you believe.
On the horizon, I am intending to catch up a few movies, and mainly intend to watch (and review) Park Chan-Wook’s latest Decision to Leave, which I recently purchased on Blu-ray. So hopefully look out for that. Until then I’m also contemplating a new writing project, see how that fairs.
Any movie about the ‘king of rock and roll’ for me is an enticing prospect. He lead a very colourful, demanding and extravagant life. When I heard Baz Lurhman, director of Strictly Ballroom and Romeo & Juliet was taking on the task, I thought… what a great fit. This stars Tom Hanks as Elvis’ long-time manager Colonel Tom Parker, who narrates the story, depicting Elvis’ life from his perspective.
Immediately Lurhman’s overwhelming style is showcased, and it takes some getting used to, with frantic edits, a rush of images & music. However once the movie settles into it’s story, I found myself getting absorbed. I’ve always appreciated Elvis’ music but watching this I discovered how little I really knew about him. Therefore this was an education. Lurhman for the most part sticks closely to the facts, whilst throwing in Colonel Parker’s observations for some artistic license. The movie delves into the prejudice & racial tensions of the 50s & 60s and much of the push back to Elvis’ style and charisma, whilst still showing his vulnerabilities and his personal battles. Austin Butler as Elvis is a revelation, capturing that cheeky sexiness but also delivering both the king’s on stage showmanship and his back stage struggles. He’s really excellent and at times uncanny. Less could be said for Hanks; one of my all time favourite actors who’s performance was a little too ‘caricature’ for my liking.
Overall, I found this a deeply fascinating, powerful and visually arresting portrayal of probably the most iconic musician of all time. This pretty much nails everything; the timeless music, the setting and especially the impact the man had on the world. A must watch.
Director James Cameron has a grand vision for his Avatar franchise. Despite the first movie being one of the highest grossing movies ever… numerous delays and over a ten year wait, it began to feel like we may never actually see what he’d been working. That wait is finally over. Set a number of years after the first movie, Jake Sullly (Sam Worthington) and N’tiri (Zoe Saldana) live a peaceful existence on the planet of Pandora raising their family, consisting of two sons, the daughter of Sigourney Weaver’s character as well as a feral human boy. That is until a new threat from the humans arrives, and Jake & his family are forced to either fight or flee.
Like the first movie, the story is simple yet effective. This time around there is an emphasis on family, race, and nature and it quickly became clear to me the movie is basically one big advert for conservation of the planet etc. not that far removed from David Attenborough documentary at times. However this is still a movie, and a James Cameron one at that – so the visuals, action and technology on display are in a word – stunning.
The CGI is more often than not, jaw-dropping. It’s a step up even from the last movie. Considering that came out in 2009, it still looks better than most movies. Cameron has this time used a high frame-rate technique that gives the movie a near 3D aesthetic, yet takes some getting used to (it’s also available in 3D). I’m not entirely sure it was necessary, but some of the grander moments do look amazing because of it. At 3hrs and 15 minutes yes, the movie is long but that’s because Cameron takes time to develop the characters and story for the first two hours, before delivering some bombastic action in an exhilarating, emotional and impressive final act. A movie that demands to be experienced on the biggest screen possible. A must see.
These days, the majority of animated movies are so beautiful looking that it’s easy to rate them all highly. So for me it’s a genre I’m particularly tough on. This latest Dreamworks effort follows a gang of career criminals; a sly wolf, a shark, a piranha, a snake and a tarantula. All creatures feared in society, so they find it easier to embrace being ‘bad guys’. However when their latest heist to steel a priceless award, goes wrong they’re given the opportunity to turn their lives around and go ‘good’.
This comedy-caper has a solid initial concept and is full of energy, action and personality. Voice acting is good, especially Sam Rockwell as the wolf. Add to this the slick, eye-melting animation, seemingly in that similar hand drawn meets CGI that worked so well in Spider-Man Enter The Spiderverse, and on paper this has it all.
However the script isn’t as sharp as it could have been, it leans a bit too heavily on the sentimental, and could have been a lot funnier. It’s never explained also, why animals live and talk like humans, alongside humans (!?). The villain is highly forgettable too. Overall well-made and fun, but not one to rush back to.
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