Test your film knowledge with fifty questions from a variety of iconic films, all with varying difficulties. Available via this link to Kahoot!
Challenge your family and friends for the best experience.
Test your film knowledge with fifty questions from a variety of iconic films, all with varying difficulties. Available via this link to Kahoot!
Challenge your family and friends for the best experience.
Personally, I feel this year in film has been a bit of a mixed-bag, as while I do feel we’ve had our fair share of great films this year, I also feel we’ve had plenty of disappointing entries as well. Obviously I haven’t seen every film this year, and I will most likely update this list as time goes on. But for now, in no particular order, here’s my thoughts on a variety of films I saw this year.
Without a doubt one of my favourite films of the year: ‘Joker’ directed by Todd Philips (The Hangover, Old School, War Dogs) is an interesting take on the comic book genre. Focusing more on being an engaging character piece with themes of untreated metal illness rather than your usual barrage of CGI action and explosions, all shown through some beautiful cinematography and an eerie original score.
Director Rian Johnson proves himself a brilliant filmmaker once again after his smash-hit: ‘Looper’, as although I personally wasn’t a enormous fan of: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’. I knew this director had talent elsewhere, and this was proven to me by ‘Knifes Out’. A hilarious and clever twist on the classic murder mystery, with some great performances from the huge cast, plenty of plot twists and a well-written narrative. I feel you’d struggle not to enjoy ‘Knifes Out’.
Standing out mostly for the fantastic performances from the all-star cast of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, director Noah Baumbach takes on this wonderful story of a couple broken apart by relationship troubles and long distances. Which despite the filmmaking not be anything outstanding, still manages to be engaging, emotional and very enjoyable from start-to-finish.
Easily one of the worst films I’ve seen this year, ‘The Silence’ directed by John R. Leonetti, mostly known for the awful: ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Wish Upon’. Is another generic horror with weak performances, dreadful CGI effects and a plot which feels as if it’s been ripped straight from: ‘A Quiet Place’ released back in 2018.
Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari)
After directing one of my favourite films of 2017: ‘Logan’, director James Mangold now takes on the real-life story of the creation of one of the fastest race cars ever built in order to win the iconic: ‘Le Mans ’66’. Featuring some excellent performances from main cast in addition to some great cinematography and high-fueled racing scenes, ‘Le Mans ’66’ is a true thrill-ride of a film.
Toy Story 4
‘Toy Story 4’ is definitely one of the most disappointing films of the year for me, as the original ‘Toy Story’ trilogy is (in my opinion) near perfect, and this film seems to do nothing but continue the story for the sake of it. As although the animation is incredible throughout the film, and the performances and original score are also pretty great, the narrative and character-arcs simply let the film down, and make it the weakest of the ‘Toy Story’ series for me.
I Am Mother
This slick science fiction thriller had me excited for quite sometime leading up to it’s release. However, when I eventually watched: ‘I Am Mother’ I found myself a little disappointed. As the beautiful visuals and solid sci-fi soundtrack are sadly let down by a drawn-out and sometimes bland story. As while not boring by any means, I felt the film was a bit of wasted potential overall.
It: Chapter 2
Director Andy Muschietti returns to once again bring the demonic clown: ‘Pennywise’ to life in this sequel to the ‘It’ remake from 2017. This time around however, I personally found the film to be a bit of a let down. As although there were plenty of entertaining scenes and great character moments throughout the film’s extremely long run-time, there were also plenty of ridiculous moments alongside the barrage of enormous CGI monsters.
Going off the initial reviews, I originally had high hopes for: ‘Crawl’, hoping it would be an extremely tense, edge of your seat kind of experience. But unfortunately, the film felt like a mostly standard thriller by the end of it’s run-time. Having nothing more than a few tense scenes and a couple of effective jump-scares to make up for it’s weak CGI effects and mostly dull characters.
While definitely not on the same level as many other of director Danny Boyle’s films, ‘Yesterday’ was still a pretty entertaining feel good comedy which I felt had an enjoyable up-beat tone, and enough likable characters to carry it through many of it’s cheesy moments and sometimes overly predictable story.
This year’s first entry from the usual barrage of pointless live-action Disney remakes: ‘Aladdin’ is exactly what I expected it to be. The classic story most know and love but incredibly dulled-down, trying to capture the adventure of the original film through an enormous amount of CGI visuals, nostalgia and a new cast lead by Will Smith which are all rather bland.
Despite ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ not quite being the hilarious, gory and extremely weird horror/comedy I was initially hoping for, in addition to going off the back of director Dan Gilroy’s other film: ‘Nightcrawler’ (which is one of my all-time favourites). I still found the film interesting enough throughout it’s story to keep me watching, despite it not being overly memorable in it’s entirety.
Marvel finally bring their enormous franchise of superhero flicks to an end (for now that is) with ‘Avengers: Endgame’, a blockbuster spectacular which gives many viewers the conclusion they’ve been desiring for many years, and although it isn’t one of my personal favourite Marvel films, I enjoyed: ‘Avengers Endgame’ for what it was. As the film provides some endings for characters alongside plenty of comedic moments, fan service and thrilling action set pieces.
Dolemite Is My Name
Based on the real-life story of Rudy Ray Moore, Eddie Murphy makes his awaited return to film after a long break. As this brilliant comedy/drama makes all the right moves to keep it’s audience engaged within it’s story through plenty of humour, style and emotion throughout it’s run-time.
Jumanji: The Next Level
A sequel to ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ from 2017, as well as the original ‘Jumanji’ from 1995. ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is very similar to the previous instalment in regards to it’s tone and story (with some elements mixed-up of course), and despite some humour and story moments going a little too over-the-top for my taste. The film is still enjoyable enough for those seeking another fun family adventure from this franchise.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Unable to actually decide what I thought of the film initially, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ is a true mixed-bag of a blockbuster, having some fantastic monster action with flawless CGI effects and a surprisingly ranged colour palette be completely bogged down by weak characters, cheesy moments and at points, a very messy story.
Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood
Director Quentin Tarantino returns to the sliver screen once again with ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’. Bringing us a slight subversion of some of his usual film tropes, to focus more on a story of a man seeking his return to fame in Hollywood, all shown through some beautiful cinematography and an excellent 1960s soundtrack.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
In another one of this year’s biggest disappointments, ‘John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum’ is the third entry in the ‘John Wick’ series. Which sadly, leaves a lot to be desired, as many of the trilling and well-executed action scenes are dragged down by a messy and uninteresting story, as well as a variety of out-of-place comedic moments.
Star Wars – Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
Arguably the most disappointing film of the year for many, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ attempted to close the enormous legacy of the ‘Star Wars’ saga, which unfortunately failed quite miserably. As overly fast pacing and a messy narrative didn’t save the film despite it’s fun moments and exciting action scenes, further proving that this franchise needs a short rest before it’s inevitable return.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Most likely my favourite Marvel film of this year, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ hardly breaks new ground when it comes to superhero flicks. But the main cast’s great performances mixed with plenty of exciting action and a surprisingly interesting antagonist, leave ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ an enjoyable and mostly faithful comic book adventure for the iconic web-head.
The Lion King
The second of this year’s live-action Disney remakes: ‘The Lion King’ directed by Jon Favreau, is definitely one of the worst in my opinion, as although the film’s CGI visuals are nearly flawless, the film simply lacks any of the charm, heart and overall personality of the original film. Resulting in the remake being nothing more than an overall boring experience.
Although the film is help-up by some strong performances and some interesting ideas, ‘Little Monsters’ never manages to break the structure of your usual zombie film. Coming off as an occasionally fun yet mostly bland horror/comedy, which is just as predicable as it is dull, despite many of it’s decent comedic moments.
While I personally didn’t dislike ‘Serenity’ as much as many others, the film still suffers from a variety of issues. As director Steven Knight attempted to achieve something very different with this film, which at some points works quite well, and at others doesn’t work at all. As many of the unusual performances and can really drag down the film’s great cinematography and editing.
One of the most bland Marvel films I’ve seen for a while, ‘Captain Marvel’ focuses far too much on pushing on themes of strong female empowerment that it forgets to actually create a likable protagonist or an interesting origin story, making the film overall feel simply forgettable than anything else.
Zombieland: Double Tap
Surprisingly, ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ was far more enjoybale than I was initially expecting. As while not as memorable as the original film for me, there were more than a few moments of humour between the excellent cast that had me laughing, despite the film’s tone going even more over-the-top than before.
Iconic director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street) returns to bring us another tale of crime and regret with: ‘The Irishman’, and while the over three hour run-time can definitely make the film drag at points, the brilliant performances and phenomenal filmmaking are sure to keep those paying attention engaged for the majority of the film’s run-time.
Director Jordan Peele’s follow-up to his 2017 smash-hit: ‘Get Out’, was a far cry from excellent for me. As despite the brilliant reviews, I personally found the film’s story to be bloated with rushed ideas and ridiculous scenes, all adding up to a horror flick that placed more focus it’s themes than it’s narrative. Resulting in a film which was just as inconisitant with it’s tone as it was with it’s story.
The latest superhero to get his own remake is the iconic: ‘Hellboy’, with the remake this time falling far, far from the mark. As a ridiculously messy story mixed-with poor CGI effects and dreadful comedy, leave the film pleasing no-one, despite David Harbour’s decent performance as the horned hero.
Made to appear as if it was filmed entirely within one shot, ‘1917’ is a brutal, gripping and engaging story involving two soldiers who set-off in a race against time to save thousands of men from a doomed battle, and while not flawless, the film is definitely impressive for both it’s narrative and filmmaking.
Heartfelt, emotional and brimming with comedic charm, ‘Jojo Rabbit’ is another one of my favourites from this year. Being a completely different take on the war genre by giving the audience a new view of the events of the second World War All under the excellent direction of Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok).
From Lakia animation studio, the production company that brought to life many of my favorite stop-motion animated films, such as: ‘Coraline’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ comes another fun family adventure. Shame this one couldn’t have done better at the box office, as the film is wonderfully put together, featuring plenty of humorous moments alongside the great voice acting and beautiful animation.
Ready or Not
One of the most surprising films of the year for me, ‘Ready or Not’ may have your usual cliché plot for a modern-horror, but somehow the film manages to carry it through. Managing to be extremely funny, gory and fun throughout the majority of it’s run-time.
The long-awaited sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s classic: ‘The Shining’, ‘Doctor Sleep’ attempts to continue the story of the ‘Overlook Hotel’, and does so with mixed results. As although the film does pay plenty of the respect to the original film, I couldn’t help but feel the film doesn’t stand on it’s own very well, having a mostly average story with some pretty bland characters alongside.
After many poor attempts at comedies in recent days, Adam Sandler gives one of his best performances in years with: ‘Uncut Gems’, portraying a shady jeweller who’s actions and consequences carry the film from start-to-finish, despite some shaky cinematography and an unusual original score.
Although I quite enjoyed: ‘Hereditary’, director Ari Aster’s other film from 2017, ‘Midsommar’ was most certainly not for me. Feeling far too pretentious at points with a slow paced narrative and weak characters, the film’s unique ideas and decent visuals couldn’t save from becoming the boring mess it ended-up.
The Kid Who Would Be King
A decent fantasy adventure for families, ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) definitely has some areas in need of improvement. As the film is full of cheesy moments and a very unfitting original score, despite it’s pretty engaging story and overall fun tone.
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.
Held-up by an incredible performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘Nightcrawler’ is a visually beautiful and very tense thriller from director Dan Gilroy. Focusing on the life of a freelance journalist who ends up falling deeper and deeper into a world of greed and accomplishment, as the film is gripping from start-to-finish (as well as being one of my personal all-time favourite films) and overall ends-up being an amazing experience any film fan is sure to enjoy.
When ‘Louis Bloom’, a con-man desperate for work, muscles his way into the world of Los Angeles crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story, determined to rise to the top regardless of competition or even morals.
The film does a brilliant job of blending a narrative of what the life for a freelance journalist is actually like, as well as focusing on the more personal story of ‘Louis’ at the same time, with both of them fitting the dark tone of the film extremely well. This alongside the exploration of the city of Los Angeles gives the film a great personality, as the film explores every seedy corner of the city, always using real locations over any visual effects unlike many other modern flicks.
Jake Gyllenhaal also gives one of the best performances of his career here, coming off as a creepy, sly and selfish character who excels at his work, yet despite being mostly unlikable. He still manages to be an engaging protagonist mostly through his charisma and intelligence, even as he descends further and further down the line. Riz Ahmed also portrays ‘Rick’ within the film, ‘Louis’ underpaid and underappreciated partner who is almost his complete opposite in many ways. These two alongside the supporting cast of Rene Russolate and the late Bill Paxton are all brilliant.
The cinematography by Robert Elswit is some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in a film in a long-time, utilizing an enormous amount of varied shots, including a large amount of wide and mid shots, which are always a joy to see, with the film always using it’s cinematography to increase the amount of tension or drama that’s on-screen. The film also makes great use of it’s dark blue and orange colour palette as well as large amounts of street lighting, which both definitely help give the film a distinct visual flare and make many of the bright colours stand-out amongst the darkness of Los Angeles at night.
This is also backed-up by the calming and yet also still eerie original score by James Newton Howard, and while perhaps not incredibly memorable on itself, I do like this composer for much of his previous work (The Sixth Sense, King Kong, I Am Legend) and the soundtrack here does back-up the film pretty well for the majority of it’s run-time, aside from the occasional track which can come off as slightly cliché.
Another element of the film I really enjoy is it’s grasp on realism, as although I’m no expert in regards to the world of crime journalism. The film never really seems to go beyond believability within it’s story, even when the story begins to enter more dangerous territory for it’s characters. One element of the film that didn’t really exceed my expectations however, was the film’s editing. As although the editing throughout the film is decent, I was never overly impressed by it, as I always felt it was one of the few areas of the film which could’ve been slightly improved.
In conclusion, ‘Nightcrawler’ still retains it’s spot on my favorites list, with it’s amazing cinematography in addition to the pretty fantastic original score and performances throughout. The film has a lot to offer, and I’m still thrilled the film came out as well as I did. Easily a 9/10 for this one, both for it’s filmmaking and it’s appeal, I’d recommend you’d give ‘Nightcrawler’ a watch or two without a doubt.
There are many beautiful shots in film, combing amazing cinematography, with an attractive colour palette and some excellent lighting. Many shots can become truly iconic on themselves, even telling the story of a character or location purely through the visual. Here are a few of my personal favourites…
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
The Matrix (1999)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Revenant (2016)
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Don’t Breathe (2016)
American Beauty (1999)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The Shape of Water (2017)
American Psycho (2000)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The Road (2009)
Life of Pi (2012)
Fight Club (1999)
The Shining (1980)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)
From the writer of: ‘Sicario’ and the director of: ‘Starred Up’, ‘Hell or High Water’ is a tense crime film which feels like more a traditional western on a first watch, mostly through it’s great use of it’s cast, fantastic original score and classic setting. The film being a heavy slow-burn for the most part, as the story builds up for most of it’s run-time, eventually leading to it’s intense climax. Which despite being short, does feel satisfying to watch, the entire film overall is truly a brilliant example of a ‘modern-day western’.
The story focuses on a divorced father and his ex-con older brother as they resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas. Robbing as many banks as they can all across the county, while remaining one step-ahead of the authorities that are hunting them down.
On my first viewing, the film felt very similar to the Coen Brother’s ‘No Country for Old Men’ (which the film seems to be heavily inspired by). As the story is very engaging and surprisingly also has a nice blend of dark comedy mixed in with a lot of the drama and tension. Not really focusing on action, the film spends more time building up tension and atmosphere. Near the end of the film however, we do see some action, which is relativity well done and does feel very grounded.
Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gill Birmingham all give fantastic performances here, and keep the audience engaged throughout the run-time, which is even more impressive when you look further into their characters. As I personally feel their characters could’ve done with a little more development, as they do get bits and pieces but nothing really major, and the lack of any kind of character-arc for Chris Pine’s character: ‘Toby Howard’ really irritated me. However, the rest of the writing here is pretty great for the majority of the film.
The cinematography by Giles Nuttgens is one of the better aspects of the film, really utilizing the location of Texas for it’s isolation and beauty. Usually then switching to more chaotic hand-held camera movement during the few action scenes, which I think works effectively. However, I do feel the cinematography could be improved, as there weren’t a large amount of shots I was incredibly impressed by throughout the film.
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are responsible for the original score, which is possibly my favourite element of the film, really adding to the modern western feel the film is going for, as well as backing up many of the more emotional or tense scenes. The soundtrack here is definitely one of my favourite elements of the film, the film however also makes great use of various songs. Having a variety of country songs play over different scenes throughout the film, setting the tone and atmosphere very quickly, as well as establishing the film’s setting early on.
‘Hell or High Water’ is an effective crime thriller and modern-day western, for any classic western fan I would say this is a definite watch. As for more causal viewers, I could see the slow burning pace being a bit of a turn off, despite it being used to build tension effectively. Backed up by it’s great cinematography and original score, the film makes up for it’s lack of character depth and exciting action in the long run. I’m gonna give ‘Hell or High Water’ a solid 8/10.
Truly a visual treat when it comes to the film’s lighting and attractive colour palette, ‘Don’t Breathe’ is the second big-screen outing for director Fede Alvarez after directing the extremely gory: ‘Evil Dead’ remake. As this incredibly tense story makes great use of it’s single location, while simultaneously keeping the viewer engaged with a variety of close-calls and it’s brilliant cast.
Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a elderly blind man. However, the three of them soon discover he may not be as helpless as he first seems.
This simple yet unique plot is surprisingly effective in creating many eerie scenes, as the film uses it’s single location to the best of it’s advantage. Utilizing the tight corridors and dark rooms of: ‘The Blind Man’s house at every opportunity, giving the characters plenty of extremely close encounters with the blind old man. Even holding their breath at points so he can’t hear them breathe, as the title of the film implies.
Stephan Lang of: ‘Avatar’ fame, portrays a character only ever-known as: ‘The Blind Man’, and he does a phenomenal job of it. Giving the audience an almost sympathetic view of the character through his portrayal of him, despite him still being incredibly intimidating and very creepy every-time he is on-screen. The rest of the cast of Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto also do a brilliant job as the young group of thieves, making the audience sympathise with them despite their awful actions and only small amount of characterisation.
The cinematography by Pedro Luque, is decent the film but nothing phenomenal. As aside from the occasional shot, the real visual flair of the film is the beautiful lighting and colour palette as already mentioned, from dirty blues and greens, to bright oranges. Each location and time of day is always given it’s own unique look, sometimes even replicating what the audience is feeling at that point, whether that is fear or relief, depending on what point of the narrative we are.
Roque Baños, same composer as the ‘Evil Dead’ remake returns to work alongside Fede Alvarez, as he creates a memorable horror score. As the original score helps to build-up an eerie atmosphere, and really lends itself well to the personality of the film, which does truly feels like this is a passion project from director Fede Alvarez. As he brought over producer Sam Rami from the ‘Evil Dead’ remake to help fund this small-budget horror/thriller.
When it comes to the run-time, ‘Don’t Breathe’ is actually quite short. As the film doesn’t seem to want to overstay it’s welcome, as many horror flicks can suffer from over doing their concepts (therefore making their ideas less creepy/interesting by the end of the film). Luckily, ‘Don’t Breathe’ avoids this, aside from one short scene near the film, which I feel drags on for slightly too long. As if it would’ve cut-off a few seconds earlier I feel it would’ve been far more effective in regards to the story, but this may just be a personal preference.
In conclusion, I really enjoy: ‘Don’t Breathe’, as this original and extremely tense film is a pleasure to watch everytime it’s on. As aside from my issue with the ending, as well as maybe some more entertaining deaths for the characters, I have very few issues with this one. As Stephen Lang leads a great cast with a mostly simplistic story, which somehow still becomes one of the most memorable horrors/thrillers I’ve seen for a while. A high 8/10 overall from me, I personally am really looking forward to what else this director has up his sleeve, horror or not.