Clash of the Titans (2010) – Film Review

In this modern remake of the 1981 classic, ‘Perseus’ takes on a variety of gods and monsters in this somewhat fun, yet still very generic and sometimes even over-the-top recreation of the original story. As this time around, director Louis Leterrier focuses more on action and enormous CGI spectacle than ever before.

When ‘Perseus’ the demi-god son of: ‘Zeus’ finds himself caught in the middle of a war between gods and mortals, in which his mortal family are killed. He gathers a war band to help him conquer the mighty ‘Kraken’, ‘Medusa’ and ‘Hades’, god of the underworld.

Going off the negative reviews from both critics and audiences, I wasn’t expecting much from ‘Clash of the Titans’ on my initial watch. However, I was surprised to find the film is mostly entertaining, as although there isn’t much substance to this remake, I still find it to be a somewhat exciting action flick, having plenty of creatures and adventure throughout it’s run-time despite it’s various flaws. This may also be due to my fondness for Greek mythology however, as I’ve had an interest in this element of fantasy/history since I was young.

Although there aren’t any particular stand-outs when it comes to the cast, Gemma Arterton, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Mads Mikkelsen and Jason Flemyng all do a decent job throughout the film. However, Sam Worthington who portrays the protagonist: ‘Perseus’ I personally found to be one of the weakest elements of the film, as despite him having a number of a large roles in huge blockbusters such as: ‘Avatar’, ‘Terminator: Salvation’ and ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ in the past, he has always seemed extremely bland to me, never really coming off as anything other than a generic action hero with little charisma, and ‘Clash of the Titans’ is unfortunately no exception to this. 

The cinematography by Peter Menzies Jr. is also quite bland, as although I do appreciate the lack of incredibly shaky hand-held camera shots during many of the action scenes. Many of the shots throughout the film are usually very standard, as the cinematography never really attempts to enhance the visuals or make use of the story’s impressive and unique locations (aside from the occasional wide shot).

One very bizarre element of the film is definitely the original score by Ramin Djawadi, as although some tracks sound perfect for a fantasy epic such as this one. Other tracks almost sound as if they’ve been performed be a rock band, making them feel incredibly out-of-place within the film’s time-period. The soundtrack actually does work quite well in my personal favourite scene of the film however, as the scene set within ‘Medusa’s lair uses the score to build tension and atmosphere surprisingly well.

The CGI effects throughout ‘Clash of the Titans’ are definitely one of the film’s better aspects, as regardless of whether it’s being used for creatures, gods or locations, the visual effects always look great. However, this is also partially due to the designs of many of the creatures within the film, as the designs manage to perfectly blend the appearance of modern-day monsters mixed with classic Greek mythology. This also lends itself effectively to many of the various action scenes throughout the film (this obviously being the film’s main draw) as the action throughout the narrative is mostly pretty solid, making great use of the various different creatures abilities and always placing ‘Perseus’ in different dangerous scenarios.

Overall, I found ‘Clash of the Titans’ decently entertaining for what it was, which is essentially is nothing more than your usual action blockbuster with some Greek mythology thrown-in for good measure. As while the film is successful for what it sets out to do, the film does fall flat in many other areas, from Sam Worthington’s dull performance, to some of the weak writing and unusual original score, I feel only people truly interested in Greek mythology could get something out of this one. But with all that in mind, ‘Clash of the Titans’ still isn’t the worst remake I’ve ever seen, and is most likely a low 5/10.

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We’re the Millers (2013) – Film Review

Even with a mostly standard plot for a comedy flick, I ended-up enjoying ‘We’re the Millers” more than I initially expected. As the entire cast (especially Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston) have excellent chemistry with each other, resulting in the majority of the humour throughout the story working quite well, despite the film having a few noticeable flaws throughout it’s run-time.

When a middle-aged pot dealer is tasked with moving a huge shipment of weed into the United States from Mexico for a large pay packet, he puts together a fake family of various people he knows from his flat in an attempt to make it over the border.

Comedy as a genre has always been very opinionated, as everyone obviously has their own taste when it comes to what they find amusing. But for the most part, I would say enjoyed the humour throughout the film, as aside from a few moments where the joke was simply one character saying something disgusting or incredibly stupid out loud to another group of characters (as I personally find this kind of comedy a little lazy) I do think most of the jokes land. However, I also feel a few more jokes hidden within the background of shots would’ve also added to the film in more ways than one.

Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts and Will Poulter all portray random people thrown together in the hope of creating this false family, and I would say they work well together throughout the film. Always coming off as a very dysfunctional yet still likeable group, with all of the cast portraying very different personalities without losing any comedic timing.

While the film does have the occasional appealing shot, the cinematography by Barry Peterson isn’t anything spectacular, as the film has mostly generic cinematography for a comedy. However, the original score by Ludwig Göransson and Theodore Shapiro is definitely one of the better elements of the film, as the soundtrack fits the tone of the film perfectly, and always manages to feel interesting enough to be somewhat memorable. Considering the first composer has worked on films such as: ‘Creed’ and ‘Black Panther’ in the past however, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

My main criticism of the film is the overall lack of jokes or comedy set pieces based around the idea of the characters being a fake family, as although there is a few jokes throughout the narrative based around this idea, I never quite felt the film made full use of this concept, and usually just fell back onto your usual comedy writing. I also personally felt the film’s pacing is far too quick, as the film almost rushes through scenes within the story in order to quickly get to another gag, rather than having them happen alongside each other. In addition to this, I also felt more focus on some of the more emotional or serious scenes could’ve really helped build-up tension and make the story more engaging.

In conclusion, ‘We’re the Millers’ is pretty decent overall, as while I don’t think the film is fantastic by any means. I enjoyed myself with this simple comedy for what it attempted to be, as although I still think the cinematography and some of humour could be improved, I found the film to be a mostly entertaining ride and a pretty easy watch due to it’s fun story and brilliant cast, and more than likely the film is probably a 6/10.

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Jurassic Park (1993) – Film Review

One of Steven Spielberg’s most iconic and beloved films of all-time, ‘Jurassic Park’ based on the science fiction novel by Michael Crichton, is a classic from many people’s childhoods including my own. From it’s incredible practical and CGI effects which still hold-up today, through to it’s memorable characters and beautiful original score by John Williams. The film is a true joy to experience for all ages.

On the tropical island of: ‘Isla Nublar’, ‘John Hammond’ has become the first man in history to bring back an extinct species with genetically engineered dinosaurs. But when a tropical storm wipes out the island’s main security systems, his newly invited guests are thrown into peril amongst the prehistoric creatures.

Not only does ‘Jurassic Park’ have an extremely fun and original narrative when compared to many films before it, but the film is also very important when it comes to CGI effects, as Spielberg and his team we some of the earliest filmmakers to explore the idea of computer generated imagery and implement it into film. As Spielberg initially wasn’t impressed with many of the stop-motion effects which had been shown to him up to that point, and surprisingly, many of the visual effects throughout the film are still quite impressive, even by today’s standards for CGI.

The entire cast of ‘Jurassic Park’ are truly brilliant, as Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck and of course, the outstanding Jeff Goldblum who portrays: ‘Dr. Ian Malcom’ (possibly his most popular character) are all excellent in their respective roles, and despite each character not getting an enormous amount of development throughout the story, all the characters still manage to feel very varied and memorable. However, my only real issue with the film does relate to the characters, as there has always been a few scenes throughout the film where characters seem to make ridiculous decisions for no apparent reason, and while this isn’t a major problem, it can be a little irritating on rewatches.

The cinematography by Dean Cundey is unfortunately one of the weaker aspects of the film, as although the film isn’t lacking in attractive or iconic shots. The cinematography is mostly very standard for the majority of the film’s run-time, with many of the film’s most memorable shots being mostly due to the film’s practical dinosaur effects.

Probably one of the most recognisable soundtracks in history for film fans, the original score by John Williams is simply incredible throughout the entire film. Having a great blend of beautiful calming tracks in addition to many tracks that help build tension, the soundtrack is truly something to be admired, with the tracks: ‘Welcome to Jurassic Park’ and ‘Journey to the Island’ being my personal favourites.

In addition to the CGI visual effects, Stan Winston, most known for his work on iconic films such as: ‘Predator’, ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ and ‘Aliens’. Created a variety of practical effects for the film, as Spielberg wanted every close-up with the prehistoric creatures to be a practical animatronic, all of which of course are completely life-size and look outstanding, this is even more impressive when considering some of the issues the filmmakers ran into when it came to the rain during the ‘T-Rex Paddock’ scene (my personal favourite scene of the film). As the Tyrannosaurus Rex animatronic would constantly break down due to enormous amount of water it absorbed, usually having to be wiped down between takes.

Personally, I don’t have many issues when it comes to the original ‘Jurassic Park’, as the film is nearly perfect in many ways for me. As a few unbelievable character choices and some small plot holes don’t take away from what is still an exciting adventure filled with great performances, some fantastic practical and visual effects as well as much more. ‘Jurassic Park’ is a film for the ages, and I definitely agree it deserves it’s place among the most iconic films of all-time. Overall, a solid 9/10.

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Halloween (2018) – Film Review

A direct sequel to John Carpenter’s original 1978 classic: ‘Halloween’, this sequel ignores all the other entries in the franchise in favour of a new story set forty years later. As Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the iconic character of: ‘Laurie Strode’, now much older and wiser, and while definitely a decent attempt at continuing the ‘Halloween’ series, the film is still far from perfect.

‘Laurie Strode’ confronts her long-time foe: ‘Michael Myers’ once again, as the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago, now begins a new massacre after his recent prison escape. Although the film’s narrative does have some interesting ideas, the film always felt a little too familiar to me, as I usually found myself correctly predicting what was around the next corner.

The film is directed by David Gordon Green, mostly known for his drama: ‘Stronger’. A film I did quite enjoy, and although you can tell he does have a passion for this original ‘Halloween’ whilst watching (as he clearly has an understanding of what made the original work so well) I still feel a better director could’ve been chosen. As at points the direction in the narrative does seem to be slightly lacking, and with his previous work in mind, it’s clear that he doesn’t specialise in horror.

It is great however to see Jamie Lee Curtis back as her classic character once again, as she really excels in showing how ‘Laurie Strode’ has been effected by those horrific events many years ago. Alongside the rest of the decent cast of Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton and especially Haluk Bilginer as: ‘Dr. Sartain’, who I was initially concerned would be nothing more than another ‘Dr. Loomis’ type character, but did actually end-up going in a very different direction.

The cinematography by Michael Simmonds is nothing outstanding for the majority of the film, however it is decent when combined with the dark lighting throughout, especially anytime ‘Michael’ is on-screen. Another strong element of the film is the wonderful original score by John Carpenter, his son Cody Carpenter and Daniel A. Davies. As although the soundtrack does slightly rely on tracks from the original film, there is plenty of new score here as well. Proving John Carpenter is brilliant at his craft once again, with the tracks: ‘The Shape Hunts Allyson’ and ‘The Shape Burns’ being some of Carpenter’s best work for a long-time in my opinion.

One of the strongest elements of the film for me are definitely the kills, as it’s clear the filmmakers got very creative with the ways ‘Michael Myers’ disposes of his victims, usually creating very memorable scenes with some fantastic practical gore effects included. I also felt the film represented the iconic slasher very well, as ‘Michael Myers’ is always intimidating through his movements, ‘Michael’ even manages to steal the film for me by being the main focus of my personal favourite scene of the film, as ‘The Shape’ stalks his way through Haddonfield’ with sinister intentions, all completed within a single take.

As the film is produced by Blumhouse productions, we unfortunately also get the usual pandering to younger audiences you’d come to expect by now. As the film is littered with jump-scares throughout the run-time, with little attempt to build an eerie atmosphere or large amounts of tension. In addition to this, the writing throughout the film is decent when it comes to characters, however the film also attempts comedy at a few points. Usually resulting in many cringy lines of dialogue and many out-of-place jokes, including one scene with a babysitter in particular, which goes on for far too long.

In conclusion, ‘Halloween’ is mostly enjoyable, but with a lack of originality, some cheesy lines and forced comedy (not to mention it’s reliance on jump-scares) the film is more than likely a low 7/10. I do hold the original film in high regard of course, it being one of my personal favourite horrors, but the film is definitely on the higher end of classic horror sequels for me.

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The Conjuring (2013) – Film Review

From director James Wan (Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious) comes another modern-horror based on real-life events, this time focusing on one of the many cases of: ‘The Warrens’ set in the year of 1971, and while the film does succeed more so than many other modern-horrors (soon leading the ‘The Conjuring’ to become an enormous horror franchise). The original film still does suffer from a variety of issues, which leads it to become more forgettable than anything else by the end of it’s run-time.

The story focuses on paranormal investigators: ‘Ed’ and ‘Lorraine Warren’ as they attempt to help a family who are bring terrorized night after night by a dark presence within their farmhouse, but soon the abnormities begin to increase as: ‘The Warrens’ investigate the sinister history behind the family’s new home.

While more enjoyable than a large number of other modern-horrors as already mentioned, I wasn’t overly invested in the film’s story. As although the film is effective in some areas, in others the film simply doesn’t stick the landing. Feeling mostly like your standard horror story without ever delving too deep into the characters or time-period. As despite a few thrilling scenes with the sprits themselves, I always felt a slightly more character driven narrative would’ve benefitted the film overall.

The cast is definitely one of the film’s better aspects, as Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga do have a decent amount of chemistry together as the married paranormal investigators: ‘The Warrens’. Lili Taylor also does a decent job as the family’s concerned mother, especially further into the film as the story becomes more intense. Unfortunately however, Ronald Livingston who portrays the farther of the family, is easily the weakest actor within the film, as he never really seems overly panicked or scared of these paranormal events, regardless of the scene (which becomes especially clear nearing the end of the film).

The cinematography by John R. Leonetti is definitely an improvement over his previous work on the ‘Insidious’ series, as the film does have a few appealing shots here and there despite never really being anything exceptional. The film does however make great use of P.O.V. shots during some of the tense scenes at night, placing the audience in the position of the characters themselves, which I personally found very effective.

Although not quite as memorable as some other modern-horror soundtracks, the original score by Joseph Bishara isn’t completely forgettable. As the score does help to build tension during quite a few scenes, as well as also back-up some of the emotional moments between characters (as short as they may be).

I was also surprised to learn that the film doesn’t entirely rely on jump-scares, as although they are present within the film, ‘The Conjuring’ does feel more focused on creating an eerie atmosphere and having many creepy visuals throughout. Rather than the usual bombardment of jump-scares, which was definitely a breath of fresh air. One element I thought was a little weaker than some of James Wan’s other films was the design of the ghosts themselves, as the design of the sprit haunting family’s farmhouse is one of the most generic and dull designs you could think of when it comes to creating a horror antagonist. Especially when compared to the very memorable designs of the ‘Insidious’ franchise.

While ‘The Conjuring’ does have some great elements, and at least attempts to create something different from typical horror. I never really felt the film exceled in any particular area, as the majority of the film felt mostly very bland to me despite it’s decent cast and creepy atmosphere in some scenes. Overall, a 5/10 for ‘The Conjuring’, as while there are definitely worse modern-horrors, I feel there is also much better out there.

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ParaNorman (2012) – Film Review

From Lakia animation studios, the production company behind many beautifully animated stop-motion flicks such as: ‘Coraline’, ‘The Boxtrolls’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ to name a few, comes another mostly enjoyable creepy family adventure, thanks mostly to some fantastic stop-motion animation as well as it’s great cast. Even if the film may not be as entertaining as some other films from Lakia’s animated line-up.

Norman Babcock’ is a misunderstood boy who can speak to the dead, but when ‘Norman’s estranged uncle tells him of an important ritual he must perform in order to protect his home town: ‘Blithe Hollow’ from a centuries-old witch’s curse. He must take on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups in order to stop the curse from destroying everything he’s ever known.

The weakest element of the film for me is unfortunately the story, as although the idea of having a young boy who can see ghosts is a decent idea in itself, almost serving as: ‘The Sixth Sense’ for families in a way. The rest of the narrative never reaches the eerie tone of: ‘Coraline’ or the fun of: ‘Missing Link’, with the film even attempting to have a few emotional scenes, but most of them fall a little flat, mostly due to never truly having the impact they need. The humour throughout the film is mostly decent however, as whilst not every joke lands, the majority of them do, and the film usually has comedy for all ages, despite a few jokes going on for far too long.

Kodi Smit-McPhee does a pretty solid job as: ‘Norman Babcock’, as well as Tucker Albrizzi, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and John Goodman. However, my personal favourites of the cast have to be Anna Kendrick and Casey Affleck as: ‘Courtney’ and ‘Mitch’ without a doubt. As the two of them portray two weak-minded teenagers helping ‘Norman’ on his paranormal adventure, with ‘Courtney’ clearly having an interest in ‘Mitch’ which he is completely oblivious too.

Tristan Oliver handles the cinematography throughout ‘ParaNorman’, which is definitely a weaker element of the film, as the cinematography simply backs-up the animation rather than doing anything incredibly interesting with the shots, there still is the occasional pleasing shot however, and the cinematography does display many of the miniature sets very well.

The original score by Jon Brion is very reminiscent of classic 1980’s horror flicks, which is suitable considering the film’s opening scene has the protagonist ‘Norman’ watching a classic zombie film, and while the soundtrack isn’t incredibly memorable on itself, it works well enough in the film to increase some of the comedy and atmosphere when it can.

Unsurprisingly, the stop-motion animation is phenomenal throughout the film. As every character and miniature set looks incredible, having a creepy and exaggerated yet still appealing look. All with smooth motion similar to any other animated story, CGI or not. In the few short instances were CGI is used within the film however, it’s normally used to great effect, usually to simply improve the visuals rather than taking the emphasis away from the animation itself.

So despite the film not quite managing to have an incredibly memorable story for the majority of it’s run-time, I would say I enjoyed myself. As although ‘ParaNorman’ still isn’t my favourite of Lakia’s film line-up, as I personally feel there isn’t many areas the film overly succeeds in. The film is decently entertaining for the most part, and I’d say it’s probably a low 7/10 overall.

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Ready Player One (2018) – Film Review

A triumphant return back to the sliver screen for iconic director Steven Spielberg, this time taking on an adaptation of the science fiction novel: ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline. The film manages to capture that classic Spielberg atmosphere, alongside some fun visuals and action scenes. As well as many, many appearances and references from/to beloved characters and properties from all types of media, the film overall building-up to being a mostly entertaining family adventure.

When the original creator of a virtual reality world called the: ‘OASIS’ dies, he makes a posthumous challenge to all ‘OASIS’ users to find his golden easter egg, which will give the lucky finder his entire fortune as well as complete control of his virtual world.

With the film being set half in the real world and half set within virtual reality, I was initially concerned that I would get dragged out of the film due to an overuse of CGI effects. However, the film proved me wrong here, creating computer generated characters that could emote nearly as much as the actors portraying them. As the CGI and the over-the-top character designs creates an intentional clear difference between the two realties through it’s visuals, insuring the audience doesn’t become confused (which is actually played with later-on in the film’s narrative).

Mostly known as: ‘Cyclops’ in the new incarnation of the ‘X-Men’ series, Tye Sheridan does a decent job at portraying the likeable protagonist: ‘Wade Watts’. Alongside Olivia Cooke as his love interest: ‘Samantha’ as well as Simon Pegg as: ‘Ogden Morrow’ with Ben Mendelsohn and T.J. Miller as the antagonists. With every member of the cast doing pretty decent job considering their extremely weak characters, as every character we meet throughout the run-time is mostly one note. Being nothing more than your traditional hero or villain etc. But this might still be enough for some.

Although an enormous amount of the cinematography by Janusz Kaminski is very impressive, having a large amount of moving shots soaring through the breathtaking world of the ‘OASIS’, It’s difficult to judge it in it’s entirety. As the majority of the camera work is obviously CGI, due to a large amount of the film’s story being set within the computer generated world, as when we cut back to ‘Wade’s true reality, the cinematography is mostly quite bland. I do appreciate the dark colour palette however for when the film takes places in the real world, as it contrasts extremely well with the incredibly colourful visuals of the ‘Oasis’.

Despite the original score by Alan Silvestri not being one of his best, as the soundtrack isn’t nowhere near as memorable as: ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Predator’ or ‘Back to the Future’ (which there is actually a little audio throwback to) the score is still decently effective, and does sound subtlety classic Steven Spielberg.

The main element I take issue with throughout the film is the some of the weak writing throughout, as although not awful, in addition to the weak characters. The film is also full of cheesy moments and clichés. Many have also taken issue with the enormous amount of characters from other media thrown into the film, with most seeing it as pandering and meaningless. However, I personally don’t agree with this, as this aspect is also in the original novel and adds to the idea that truly anything is possible within the virtual world. Personally, I feel these flaws are definitely most made-up for by the brilliant action throughout the film, as every action set piece from the opening race scene through to the ending battle is all pretty creative, and very enjoyable to watch.

‘Ready Player One’ definitely has it’s faults, but I’d say the film is still a decent addition to Steven Spielberg’s line-up of family flicks, as while not on the level of: ‘E.T’ for example, I did find the film mostly enjoyable from start-to-finish. As aside from some weak characterisation and some cheesy scenes, I’d recommend a trip into the ‘OASIS’ for this exciting sci-fi/fantasy odyssey. In conclusion, a decent 7/10.

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