I’ll certainly go on record as saying the first Conjuring movie is one of the best horrors of recent years, and it’s follow up wasn’t too shabby either. Set in the same universe, the Annabelle movie so far has passed me by, Luke warm reviews and generally ‘meh’ word of mouth not helping matters. However I had heard this follow up was meant to be superior, so I thought I’d give it a chance.
Set some time before the events of the original movie, this has a group of orphans coming to live at a house in the middle of nowhere (of course). The ageing couple that run the house however hide their own tragic history following the death of their daughter twelve years previous. However it’s not long that things start to go bump in the night, mystery surrounds the reclusive wife and there’s a closed off room that certain girls should not go poking their noses into.
A solid premise, a creepy location and inquisitive young girls in night gowns wondering around creepy corridors in the dark. Yes it’s rather familiar stuff and pulls out many a horror movie trope. However it’s also a movie that wears its clichés like a badge of honour, delivering effective scares and plenty of freaky imagery and nail biting atmosphere that I found genuinely unnerving. The mostly young cast do a fine job especially lead girl Talitha Bateman and with several nods to both The Conjuring movies this was the whole package. It gets pretty messed up and nasty towards the end and I left the cinema fairly shaken but thoroughly entertained. A small tie in with the last movie ends things on somewhat of a ‘ok..er, what?’ and for a movie labelled ‘creation’ it’s still a bit of a mystery just what Annabelle’s origins are – but otherwise I still got a kick out of this.
In 1940 WWII, allied troops stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk are slowly and methodically evacuated using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. … whilst at the same time fearing an imminent attack.
Now I can’t say I am all that familiar with the historical aspects of this based-on-true-events depiction, so came into this blind with only the prospect of it being directed by Christopher Nolan getting me all that excited. I’d say at this stage he is one of the best directors around and for me has crafted some incredible cinematic experiences. So trying his hand at a war movie … well, someone take my money! So we get the expected awe-inspiring photography and Nolan’s usual reliance on actual practical effects where clearly no expense seems to have been spared … and when we have areal dog fights or capsized ships it’s a sight to behold I can tell you. Sad then that the surrounding events didn’t engage me as expected, not help by strangely bland characterisation that even names like Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy fail to elevate.
Told through the eyes of several characters; a young lad who jumps aboard a boat setting sale to bring aid to the stranded soldiers at Dunkirk beach, a wet-behind-the-ears soldier at the beach who finds himself in a group of scared soldiers trying to find safety, and Tom Hardy’s spitfire pilot … this delivered a few powerful moments of dread and excitement but is ultimately let down by a trying to be clever, non-linear structure that’s at first not apparent – resulting in confusion. Add to this a relentless over-dose of orchestral music that is tie-one’s-stomach-in-a-not intense even during relatively mundane moments and I began to think Nolan was trying to hide the fact he didn’t really have much to say. It’s an event in WWII history that was significant, but the depiction we get here made it feel like just another day in the war (apparently thousands lost their lives, not that you see much of that).
WWII caused a horrific time in world history and several movies have brought that home and showcased courage under impossible odds much better (Saving Private Ryan). So… maybe go see this for a bit of a history lesson and some admittedly stunning visuals. Stay at home if you’re expecting much else.
Following an invasion of their home by a military force, ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) vows revenge and sets off to hunt down Woody Harrelson’s ruthless Colonel with a small group of fellow apes. Along the way they stumble upon a young mute girl who may be evidence of a mutated strain of the disease that has already killed off most of mankind.
A decidedly strange experience. I went into this with very high expectations and have to say what I got was a different movie than I was anticipating. It has the word ‘war’ in the title but it’s not the humans vs. apes smack down the last movie set us up for. Instead it explores an on-going conflict set at ‘war time’ between said apposing military force and the still attempting to live in peace apes. However what we do have is once again a movie with a great deal of heart, some very touching character moments, themes of loyalty, family and friendship as well as a little comic relief in the form of an ageing lone ape who turns up half way through. We get a lengthy prisoner-of-war sequence that is brilliantly played out with echoes of The Great Escape, and some decent action although nothing on par with the last two movies. This one’s less about explosions and spectacle and more about the search for a safe haven and a potential future, even if that future is hopeless for humans. As a conclusion (?) to the trilogy, it feels a tad uneventful and drags in places, and that ending was rather a damp squib.
Yet for fans like myself this is still solid entertainment. It’s superbly acted with again top marks going to Serkis, whilst Harrelson delivers a fine villain. It’s also absolutely stunning to look at (can these apes get any more real?) aided by plenty of personality and bags of emotion. I just suppose by a third movie, I was expecting more not … less.
I went into this fairly blind. I knew it was directed by Edgar Wright, who’s style had impressed me with movies like Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Shaun of the Dead, and well… who doesn’t enjoy a good car chase movie?
Relative new-comer Ansel Elgort plays a young guy who works as a getaway driver for Kevin Spacey’s heist planner, and has to work with a variety of violent crims along the way. The thing is, he happens to have a bad case of tinnitus following an accident and resorts to playing his iPod to drown out the ringing (good way to make it worse, mate). This unusual spin on a tired formula has a likeable lead performance, a gentle slow burning love story involving a (very) cute waitress and several heart-in-mouth action sequences involving some damn fancy driving. So this delivers as a fast, fun and frantic ride but what does it bring to the table we haven’t seen before? The inclusion of music ranging from Motown to jazz is an interesting idea and has some of the action and gun fights even playing along to the tunes – albeit only marginally successfully. Thing is the music itself isn’t that memorable and when it really should have stood out, the other sounds, like gunfire and tires screeching, drowned out what is actually being played (including a near inaudible ‘Brighton Rock’ by Queen).
Thankfully the script is sharp and often funny, and the central love story is engaging with Ansel good as the lead (although his frequent dancing and bopping gets a little silly). Also turns from John Hamm, a scene-stealing Jamie Foxx and of course Spacey are all on-par. Oh and Edgar Wright sure can film action, with lots of clever, ultra-stylish imagery making every sequence explode. So all in all this was a fun …ride, but what originality it tries to inject ultimately left this feeling overly familiar instead. One to check out though.
Despite many people’s misgivings about Batman V Superman, few could argue that Gal Gadot’s sensual Wonder Woman was a particular highlight. Her appearance kept viewers eager for more, and so we have this origin story that focuses on how Diana (who funny enough is never referred to as Wonder Woman) came to be involved in a mission during (interestingly) the first world war. Quickly we’re introduced to Diana’s fantasy world of Amazonian warrior women and a loose connections to Greek mythology. There we have ConnieNielsen (Gladiator) as the reining Queen and also Diana’s mother, as well as the queen’s gutsy sister played by Robin Wright (House of Cards), who despite seemingly a departure for the actress, proves a good fit. However their peace is soon interrupted when an American pilot Chris Pine (Star Trek) crash lands at their shore, and Diana comes to his aid.
This plays mostly like a fish-out-of-water adventure with some well observed comedy and sharp dialogue, helped immeasurably by the chemistry between Gadot & Pine who spark wonderfully off one another. The WWII backdrop also means we get plenty of action and thrills within a fun ‘dirty dozen’ escapade. When Diana gets to kick ass too, its a sight to behold, superbly choreographed and well, she’s very appealing to the eyes (where did they find this beauty?). The movie is a tad over-long and degenerates into typical over-powered villain verses overpowered hero showdown, and well some of Wonder Woman’s super-human powers aren’t fully explained (she can easily toss a tank aside with one hand). Add to this an avalanche of CGI where some acrobatics began to look a bit cartoonish once people are flying around left right and centre.
However this has it where it counts; with colourful characters that work well with each other, a decent script with plenty of humour and some excellent set-pieces. DC seem to have turned a corner with this one, so on such evidence, I can’t wait for Justice League!