Film Quiz – Test Your Film Knowledge

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.

Link: https://create.kahoot.it/share/joe-baker-reviews-film-quiz/b59322c6-64a1-4bbc-ac79-db83cf6ab3b0

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) – Film Review

Based on the romantic novels by E. L. James, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was the first instalment of the now enormous franchise, and despite me definitely not being the film’s target audience, the film itself is a near complete disaster in regards to both it’s writing, and it’s filmmaking. As unless your looking for a weak romantic story with bland acting, uninteresting characters and one of Danny Elfman’s weakest original scores to date. This is not the film for you.

When literature student: ‘Anastasia Steele’ goes to interview billionaire: ‘Christian Grey’, she discovers an attractive yet troubled man, soon leading her to discover more of herself, as she later desires to be with him, despite his stalker-like tendencies.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is one of those few films that turned itself into a successful series purely though pulling in it’s specific type of audience. As the film doesn’t really have much to offer besides the occasional sex scene or romantic moment, which really left me wondering what many viewers actually got out of the overall experience, as take those elements away, and the film truly has very little left, and I can’t really say I feel the need to continue on through the franchise after watching this first instalment.

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan portray the main couple of the film: ‘Anastasia Steele’ and ‘Christian Grey’, with the supporting cast of Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle and Victor Rasuk. All of which give very dull performances throughout the film, especially with the lack of characterisation between them other than ‘Christian’s (overly dramatic) backstory. This is also where one of my biggest issues with the film comes into play, as Jamie Dornan as: ‘Christian Grey’ could easily be seen as a dangerous psychopath throughout the film, as his performance genuinely gave me a feeling of unease whenever he is on-screen. Unfortunately however, I don’t feel this is what the filmmakers intended, and I couldn’t help but think of the huge shift in tone if ‘Christian Grey’ was older and less attractive.

Seamus McGarvey handles the cinematography throughout the film, which despite not being anything incredibly impressive, the film does have the occasional pleasing shot throughout it’s run-time, this also applies to the lighting throughout the film. However, this doesn’t improve the film much overall, as the writing within: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is without a doubt one of it’s worst aspects. Resulting in many scenes becoming unintentionally hilarious or extremely cheesy, especially when the film is attempting to catch the viewer off-guard with it’s dialogue.

Despite being a composer I usually adore, the original score by Danny Elfman is also very bland, as the score throughout the film always feels out-of-place and isn’t memorable in the slightest. The film also uses a variety of songs throughout it’s story, many of which being remixes of modern pop-songs, which again, usually don’t fit the tone of the film even remotely.

Although only a small element, one slightly redeeming aspect of the film I actually did enjoy is the film’s colour palette, as throughout the narrative a variety of locations are given grey walls and floors, with ‘Christen Grey ‘ also wearing grey clothes alongside some other grey-coloured furniture within his apartment. All of which play into the theme of: ‘Christian Grey’ being in constant control. But going by the rest of the film, this was more than likely accidental.

In conclusion, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is a film that will only appeal to the audience that has most likely already seen the entire trilogy, as the dull performances, awful writing and forgettable original score all leave the film with very little to offer. As the intense sex scenes and decent cinematography/lighting simply isn’t enough to carry the film through, resulting in a film that doesn’t really even understand what it’s purpose was to begin with. Overall, a 2/10. Definitely give this one a miss, as this boring experience simply isn’t worth it’s run-time.

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Hacksaw Ridge (2016) – Film Review

Serving as both an intense war film as well as the real-life biography of Desmon T. Dos, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is an Oscar nominated film which deserves much of the praise it receives. As a stand-out performance by Andrew Garfield alongside the attractive cinematography by Simon Duggan, the film truly creates an amazing and very emotional experience for any viewer.

Based on the real-life story of World War II American Army Medic, Desmon T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa. Who (despite push-back from his superiors) refused to kill, and soon became the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a single shot on the battlefield.

Directed by Mel Gibson, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is most effective for displaying war at it’s most brutal, never turning away from the graphic violence and horrific destruction World War II inflicted on many people’s lives, and while the film can sometimes go a little too far when it comes to it’s gore (feeling a little tasteless and over-the-top at points). I did find ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ more engaging than many other similar films within the war genre, and the grim atmosphere the film presents is sure to keep any audience member on the edge of their seat.

The main cast of Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths and Luke Bracey are all phenomenal, with Andrew Garfield in particular giving a fantastic performance as Desmon T. Dos, never failing to portray him as a likeable and brave man thrown into the dark side of war. However, the film also features some extremely odd choices when it comes to the supporting cast, as Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington both portray strict war-camp generals. Which despite them both being fairly decent in their roles, their characters could’ve definitely been better cast.

Although the cinematography by Simon Duggan isn’t incredible throughout the film’s run-time, the film does have a variety of pleasing shots, in addition to the film using hand-held camera techniques to increase the feel of the violent chaos of war. Unfortunately however, despite not being used very heavily throughout the film, the shots involving CGI that we do see throughout the narrative could definitely do with some improvement. As the CGI effects for the film’s battleships and fiery explosions can look a little unusual when compared to the time-period accurate battlefront.

The original score by Rupert Gregson-Williams is one of the stronger elements of the film however, as the soundtrack helps to build tension and atmosphere throughout the story, in addition to being surprisingly memorable for a war film. Personally though I felt the score never quite managed to build tension as well as the score for: ‘Dunkirk’ from 2017, or had the huge emotional impact as the original score from the iconic: ‘Saving Private Ryan’. Which stopped the soundtrack from reaching the heights it truly could for me.

One area of the film I feel is very underappreciated is the make-up and costume design, as every horrific injury seen throughout the film always look very realistic and extremely painful, whilst every costume always feels very accurate to the film’s time-period, almost making the film feel as if the production took place during World War II itself. These elements also help make-up for some of the weak writing early-on in the film, as whilst the film’s writing isn’t awful by any means, a large amount of the dialogue could be seen as a little cheesy when it comes to developing the film’s characters.

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ overall is one of those films that might not be perfect in it’s execution, mostly as due to it’s variety of small issues within the writing, gory violence and supporting cast. But all of these problems are mostly minor when compared to the remainder of the film. As the film’s tense war-torn atmosphere on-top of the memorable and charismatic performance by Andrew Garfield, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is a film I feel many should see at least once, an is a solid 8/10 for me.

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Kong: Skull Island (2017) – Film Review

Jordan Vogt-Roberts directs his first major film with ‘Kong: Skull Island’, another remake of the classic monster, this time however, with a different time-period and some very impressive visuals. All equaling to a film which is pretty fun overall, despite still being filled with a variety of issues throughout it’s run-time.

Shorty after the Vietnam war in 1973, a team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, soon venturing into the domain of the mighty ‘King Kong’, and must fight their way through an onslaught of dangerous creatures to escape the deadly: ‘Skull Island’.

Just from a quick glance at the film it’s very obvious that the film takes heavy inspiration from the iconic war epic: ‘Apocalypse Now’. Which is by no means a bad thing, as the visuals are definitely one of the better elements of the film, as they really add to the 1970s time-period and enhance the experience of what could’ve been your standard bland monster blockbuster.

The all-star cast of Thomas Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Toby Kebbell and my personal favourite John C. Reilly, are all decent in their roles despite the characters not being given much depth beyond a few short scenes, as due to the huge size of the cast, many characters become simply clichés and not much more. Aside from Samuel L. Jackson and John C. Reilly’s characters, who both play into the theme of going mad after war, which I personally found very interesting and wish the film explored further. Rather than focusing on some of the awful comedic moments the film tries to cram into the story.

The cinematography by Larry Fong is one of the weaker elements of the film, as although there are plenty of attractive shots throughout the story, this is mostly due to the film’s excellent use of it’s ranged colour palette and CGI effects. The original score by Henry Jackman however is one of his better scores in my opinion, as throughout the narrative the soundtrack always adds to the adventurous tone of the film, using tribal drums to add to every encounter with ‘Kong’. The film also uses a variety of songs from the 1970s to further push the time-period, and while this sometimes works effectively, it can also feel very forced at points.

Throughout the film the CGI effect look pretty great (as similar to many of the other films within this new franchise of monster flicks) as ‘Kong’ always feels very imposing and powerful, with every detail from his scars to his hairs looking phenomenal. Despite the film’s use of slow-motion making the film feel very cheesy during some of the action scenes. This also goes for many of the other creatures throughout the film, as ‘Skull Island’ is brimming with a variety of unique monsters, my personal favourite being the sinister: ‘Skullcrawlers’, ‘Kong’s adversaries on the island.

The main issue I took with the last remake of the iconic monster before this one, that being Peter Jackson’s ‘King Kong’ from 2005, was the overly long run-time. As for some reason the film was over three hours long with mostly nothing but constant CGI effects and action scenes throughout it’s run-time. However, ‘Kong: Skull Island’ succeeds here, as the film is much shorter and utilizes quick pacing to always keep the story moving.

Overall, ‘Kong Skull Island’ is pretty enjoyable, as while filled with a variety of problems, mosltly in reagrds to the film’s characterisation and weak story elements, the film still manages to be exciting through it’s great use of CGI effects and some thrilling action scenes, all backed-up by a great original score and an intresting use of the 1970s time-period. A low 7/10 for ‘Kong’, in need of improvement for sure, but you can still get something out of this one.

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This Year in Film (2019) – Film List

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.

Joker

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.

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Knifes Out

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’.

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Marriage Story

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.

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The Silence

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Crawl

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.

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Yesterday

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.

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Aladdin

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.

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Velvet Buzzsaw

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.

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Avengers: Endgame

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Little Monsters

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.

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Serenity

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.

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Captain Marvel

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.

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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.

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The Irishman

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.

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Us

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.

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Hellboy

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.

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1917

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.

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Jojo Rabbit

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).

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Missing Link

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.

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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.

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Doctor Sleep

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.

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Uncut Gems

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.

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Midsommar

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.

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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.

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The Christmas Chronicles (2018) – Film Review

From director Clay Kaytis (The Angry Birds Movie) and producer Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) comes another Christmas family adventure with ‘The Christmas Chronicles’, and while the film may be nowhere near as memorable as many other festive classics. I can still see the film being a mostly entertaining ride for families and younger viewers alike.

When brother and sister: ‘Teddy’ and ‘Kate Pierce’, are left alone on Christmas Eve, they devise a plan to catch ‘Santa Claus’ on camera, which soon turns into an unexpected journey that most children could only dream of. As they manage to hop aboard ‘Santa’s sleigh and join him on his task of delivering presents all over the world.

Although the two films do differ from each other in many ways, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this film and ‘The Santa Clause’ from 1994. As both Christmas flicks focus on characters going on a magical adventure with ‘Santa Clause’, with them usually having strong themes of family and belief throughout. However, ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ also does seem to focus more on exciting action set pieces.

While Judah Lewis and Darby Camp portray the siblings decently well throughout the film (aside from the occasional line of dialogue) Kurt Russell is without a doubt the stand-out of the cast, as he brings his usual charisma and talent to create a fresh and memorable portrayal of Saint Nick himself. This is dragged down by the film’s characterisation however, as both of the siblings are pretty bland and dull from start-to-finish.

The cinematography by Don Burgess is also mostly generic throughout the film, usually serving it’s purpose without drawing the audience’s attention away from the action on-screen. Speaking of which, the action scenes throughout the film are handled surprisingly well. From the fast car chase through the streets of Chicago, to ‘Santa’s sleigh soaring through the night sky. The weak CGI throughout the film can detract from some these scenes however, with ‘Santa’s elves in particular having some very distracting visual effects at points.

The original score by Christophe Beck is decent overall, as while not incredibly memorable, and many could see it as slightly weaker when compared to many of his other soundtracks such as: ‘The Muppets’, ‘Frozen’ or ‘Ant-Man’, the score does have a festive and pretty up-beat tone throughout the film’s run-time.

My main issue with the film is the film’s overall cheesiness, as although the film does avoid the occasional Christmas film cliché. The film is still brimming with cheesy lines and scenes throughout the film’s narrative. However, I found this to be a problem mostly around ‘Santa’s elves, as not only did these characters have an awful new redesign, but they seemed to be purely used for the sake of being cute. I also couldn’t help but think the film could’ve been improved if directed by Chris Columbus, as although director Clay Kaytis doesn’t do an terrible job by any means, I feel the director of: ‘Home Alone’ (a true classic for many) could’ve definitely made the film better for what it was.

Overall, ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ is a mostly fun adventure for a film night on Christmas Eve, as while the story isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Kurt Russell’s memorable performance mixed with some entertaining action scenes and a very festive atmosphere all result in the film being a decent watch, as well as a low 7/10 all together.

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – Film Review

Many years after the original: ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise ended, the series was rebooted in it’s entirety with a new ‘Planet of the Apes’ trilogy, with these films almost serving as prequels to the original films despite being set within their own timeline. ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ was the first of this new series, and surprised many people on it’s initial release.

When a substance designed to help the brain repair itself and cure Alzheimers gives advanced intelligence to a chimpanzee named: ‘Caesar’, he soon begins to enhance other apes in order to lead an ape uprising through the city of San Francisco.

Although I was never an enormous fan of the original: ‘Planet of the Apes’ film, as I was always familiar with the sci-fi classic purely through it’s iconic plot twist near the end of it’s narrative, I personally feel that director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist, The Gambler, Captive State) did a pretty great job overall. As despite the film having plenty of sci-fi elements throughout it’s story, the film is mostly grounded in reality, focusing more on being a tense thriller with small elements of science fiction scattered throughout.

Andy Serkis takes on the difficult role of portraying the completely CGI protagonist: ‘Caesar’, and does a superb job of it. As he manages to capture the movements and mannerisms of an ape perfectly through motion-capture (which is even more impressive when considering that the film was one of the earliest to use a motion-capture set-up on location) all whilst insuring the audience sympathises with: ‘Caesar’. In addition to Andy Serkis, the rest of the cast of James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow and Brian Cox are all decent in their roles, despite the film having the occasional cliché line of dialogue for most characters.

The cinematography by Andrew Lesnie is visually pleasing for the most part, having a variety of attractive shots as well as having plenty of movement especially when following the apes sprinting or climbing. The way many of the shots are also framed further feeds into the theme of man controlling nature (which is present throughout the film). Many of the scenes set within the ape sanctuary also link back to this theme, including my personal favourite scene of the film: ‘Caesar Speaks’, which is executed perfectly.

Despite the later films in the trilogy being composed by the fantastic Michael Giacchino, the original score by Patrick Doyle is decent throughout the film. As while it definitely doesn’t have a variety of memorable tracks, the soundtrack does back-up many of the action scenes and more emotional moments quite well. I also thought the sound design throughout the film helped add to the film’s realism, mostly through the enormous amount of ape roars, squeaks and grunts.

The CGI effects throughout the film still hold-up surprisingly well, as although the visual effects have definitely aged since the film’s initial release in 2011, and the CGI visuals are for sure the weakest when it comes to the entire trilogy. The visuals effects are still heavily detailed and feel very real when placed into their locations, which is lucky, as if not, I do feel the weak CGI effects could’ve possibly derailed some of the excellent performances from the cast. Aside from the flaws already mentioned with the visual effects however, the action scenes throughout the film are handled pretty well, as many would probably know this film mostly for it’s action set piece on San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ may not be the best film within the new trilogy, but it defeintly is a very solid start. As although the visual effects are lacking at points, the great cinematography, decent original score and brilliant motion-capture backing-up Andy Serkis’ outstanding performance, all leads this initial entry to be a solid 8/10 in my opinion.

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