Deadpool (2016) – Film Review

Extremely meta, violent and hilarious from start-to-finish, ‘Deadpool’s first on-screen appearance is exactly what hardcore fans of the character would want from their favourite potty-mouthed anti-hero. Made on a lower-budget than the most superhero blockbusters, ‘Deadpool’ manages to avoid the problems that may come from this by having a ‘different’ kind of appeal.

With an original story mostly focused on ‘Deadpool’s origin story, with the wisecracking ex-mercenary volunteering for an experiment to save his life, only to soon become superpowered and immortal… but also very ugly. As the film then follows on to modern-day as he sets out to track down the man who ruined his good-looks, and execute his revenge.

Despite the narrative being very simple, the story is actually surprisingly effective. Giving the audience plenty of exciting action scenes, whilst still delivering a decent romantic sub-plot between ‘Deadpool’ and his girlfriend: ‘Venessa’, even giving the anti-hero a character-ark by the end of the run-time. Ryan Reynolds, who portrays the character of ‘Deadpool’ extremely well, also had a hand in the production process, being a producer on the film and having a big impact on the writing and story elements, and I definitely feel he is a big reason why the film works as well as it does, as it’s clear that Ryan works very well with director of the film: Tim Miller (Love, Death + Robots). The rest of the cast are also decent in their various roles.

The cinematography by Ken Seng is nothing spectacular, but it does have it’s moments. In a similar way to the editing, the cinematography can even be used for a little gag at various points within the film. The original score by Junkie XL (most known for his work on Mad Max: Fury Road and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice) really helps back up the exciting over-the-top tone of the film, combing a rock-like soundtrack with small almost dubstep like elements.

The film also delivers on plenty of the meta jokes fans would expect from this character. Having many references to Ryan Reynolds past career choices, other characters from the Marvel universe, and even past iterations of ‘Deadpool’ himself. Of course, due to the film’s smaller budget, the film can have some distractingly rough visuals. Having many scenes with tons of CGI action, along with explosions and gore effects. You can sometimes be taken out of the film through the overuse of these visual effects. However, on a more positive note, having a smaller budget than most superhero flicks is also often used for short gag by ‘Deadpool’ himself.

Of course, with a character as loud and over-the-top as ‘Deadpool’, it’s always possible that not everyone would find the character so likeable and funny. Sometimes the bombardment of humour can be overwhelming, and in large doses I could see ‘Deadpool’ being very irritating for some. This is really one of the only complaints I have with the film however, and after watching this film’s sequel: ‘Deadpool 2’. It’s fair to say I found myself missing the original, purely for it’s originality and structure.

In conclusion, ‘Deadpool’ delivers on what everyone would expect to see from a film like this. It’s not perfect of course, but the film is always very funny, gory, exciting and charming throughout. Not landing every joke, but making the audience burst into tears with every comedic line that does. A great comedy/comic book story and a solid 8/10, I really hope films like ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Logan’ keep being made in upcoming years. As with the oversaturated superhero genre we have today, it could really do with some more variety.

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Get Out (2017) – Film Review

Comedian and actor Jordan Peele tests his hand at directing for the first time with this intelligent thriller, with a very original story and some great performances. The film is a definite step-up for Blumhouse Productions usual standard for films. However, while many people think this film is phenomenal, I personally don’t agree. As I do feel there is more than a few areas in need of some improvement.

The story begins when a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, until his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches an extreme boiling point. Leading ‘Chris’ to believe more sinister forces may be at work there.

As already mentioned, the film’s narrative is very original, and any originality in film I will always appreciate. However, although originally pitched and advertised as a horror film. ‘Get Out’ is really anything but. Having many inclines of comedy mixed with a few tension-filled moments here and there. The film is entertaining, but not really eerie or frightening in the slightest. Which is why I believe the film is now classed as a thriller rather then a horror by most.

Although the writing in the film may not lead onto many terrifying moments. Jordan Peele does balance the comedy very well, in addition to building up an engaging mystery throughout the run-time. Obviously with a plot such as this one, there is also an enormous amount of social commentary underneath the main story, and while I did find most of this commentary very interesting and thought-provoking (as the film brings up some very relevant issues in our society today). I also found it be very distracting at points throughout the film, being a little too on the nose for me.

By far, the best aspect of the film me for are the performances by the cast, Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are all exceptional. Daniel Kaluuya as the protagonist: ‘Chris Washington’ in particular. Mostly known for his roles in: ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘Black Panther’. He gives a very ranged performance here, and manages to create a very likeable character within only a short period of time. Sadly though, not all of the supporting cast level up to this standard. Combining these great performances with the effective writing also allows the script to place many little clues and hidden meanings within the dialogue itself.

The cinematography by Toby Oliver is also a great aspect of the film, creating many interesting shots and really making use of the large open spaces most of the film takes place in. Especially in the opening scene of the film, which is very well-executed and really helps set-up the narrative yet to come (along with being my personal favourite scene in the film).

Personally though, I’m not a huge fan of the original score by Michael Abels. The entire soundtrack sounds very strange to me, and although unique, it can come off as very distracting and out-of-place during many scenes within the film. Also only a small complaint, but I do also feel the film could do with a little more colour grading at points. As the bland colour palette can sometimes make a few of the shots look very dull.

In conclusion, ‘Get Out’ is a decent thriller. The performances and cinematography here are definitely very impressive, and easily some of the most brilliant aspects of the film. But I do still feel the lack of an eerie atmosphere and an impactful score really don’t help the film. Along with this, I also do feel some elements of the film come off as oddly comedic when they weren’t quite meant to be. Overall a 7/10, while nothing amazing, it definitely has it’s moments, and I would say it’s a solid watch if you enjoy the occasional thriller.

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Bumblebee (2018) – Film Review

Serving as both a prequel to Michael Bay’s ‘Transformers’ franchise as well as a kind of soft-reboot for the film series as a whole, ‘Bumblebee’ is a fresh take on the sci-fi/action film series. But going off the back of it’s amazing reviews and director Travis Scott’s other film: ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ on my initial watch, I was expecting a little more.

On the run from his alien home-world: ‘Cybertron’ in the year of 1987, ‘Bumblebee’ manages to find refuge through a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Where  ‘Charlie’, on the edge of turning eighteen and trying to find her place in the world, discovers him, battle-scarred and broken.

While definitely an improvement over Michael Bay’s various attempts at the shape-shifting machines, the film isn’t anything outstanding. Mostly been a very comedic sci-fi action adventure with a few emotional moments thrown in. This version almost seems to be leaning more towards the iconic cartoon series from 1984 to 1987, as many of the ‘Transformer’s designs are ripped straight from the TV show with even a few small cameos from beloved characters.

The action in the film is fun for the most part, not simply being another constant barrage of explosions and actually trying to utilize the various ‘Transformers’ abilities in different ways. However, it still doesn’t quite reach the level of fun the original cartoon series had, always feeling a little toned down. One compliment I can give the film however though, is the comedy. Again whilst not landing every joke, the film does have it’s fair share of funny moments. Which did give me a little chuckle at times, and not simply just a sigh or a cringe as many of Michael Bay’s poor attempts at humour did.

Hailee Steinfeld and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. both portray young characters who attempt to help ‘Bumblebee’ finish his mission throughout the film, and while their characters only really get a basic amount of development. They are likable and serve their purpose within the story. A member of the cast I wasn’t aware of at first however, was the infamous John Cena. Who actually portrays one of the main villains of the film, aside from the ‘Decepticons’ themselves. Who I just couldn’t take seriously, not only because of his ‘meme’ status, but also due to his simply ‘meh’ acting throughout.

Due to the great lightning and colour grading, this easily the most visual impressive entry in the blockbuster franchise. Ditching the Michael Bay dirty blue and orange colour palette in exchange for more of a summer-like feel. These colourful visuals also help make up for the cinematography by Enrique Chediak, as although it’s not bad by any means, the cinematography is mostly generic for an action flick like this.

The original score by Dario Marianelli is your generic score for an action flick, with some heroic tones alongside it. The soundtrack isn’t really anything memorable, and despite also not being anything amazing, I think I still prefer the original score for the 2007 ‘Transformers’ film by Steve Jablonsky. Which has since gone down as the main theme for the ‘Transformers’.

It’s definitely a pleasant surprise to have a entry in the ‘Transformers’ franchise that isn’t simply just explosions and loud noises from start-to-finish, with a great visual appeal and plenty of humour throughout, I could see most having a lot of fun with this film, especially families. However, it might be that I simply don’t have a huge love for these characters, but I although I found it enjoyable whilst watching, it wasn’t super memorable for me personally. A decent 6/10 overall.

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Attack the Block (2011) – Film Review

From producer Edgar Wright and director Joe Cornish (The Kid Who Would Be King) comes a violent, thrilling and exciting sci-fi spectacle. With only a small budget, the film manages to create an incredibly entertaining film with a variety of brilliant effects. All equalling to a super enjoyable British thrill ride.

The story focuses on a teenage gang in South London as they defend their block of flats from a deadly alien invasion after they fall from the sky in large meteorites. With a plot as inane and unusual as this, it’s fair to go into the film with ‘different’ expectations.

Despite being a simple science fiction thriller, the script is not only tense at points, but it can also be funny and even thought-provoking at times. Having themes of racism, crime and abandonment. Most of the action in the film is also very well done, not being overly edited, or shot with too much hand-held camera (unlike many action films or thrillers today). The film also manages to keep a really fast pace throughout, only ever having small breaks in between action scenes to develop the characters and give the audience a quick breather.

The main gang of teenagers are portrayed by John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones and Simon Howard. Who I think all do a great job acting like a rebellious group of London teens, having many funny moments playing London ‘chavs’, without taking their portrayals a little too far. Jodie Whittaker (Black Mirror, Doctor Who) also appears in the film, as young woman who gets mugged by the group, and while she is less interesting, I still felt she really helped give the audience more of a perspective throughout the story. Even Nick Frost gets a small appearance as ‘Ron’, a drug supplier who has many hilarious moments.

On a rewatch I also noticed the cinematography by Thomas Townend is surprisingly well-done, while I wasn’t expecting to be terrible by any means. It isn’t nearly as bland as I remembered it being, utilizing many different shots in both the action and non-action scenes. The cinematography also benefits many of the various effects in the film, both practical and CGI. The film’s effects still hold up today and work very well within the narrative, even many of the gore effects for various character’s death scenes are still impressive, and remain shocking to me even now.

The original score by Steven Price is another element of the film I really enjoy, combining a decent sci-fi soundtrack alongside a almost hip-hop like beat works really well with the idea of the inner London city clashing with outer-space. I personally believe this to be one of his most underrated scores right to next his original scores for both ‘Fury’ and ‘Gravity’.

Personally I think the only really weak element of the film aside from a few slightly cheesy scenes, is the sound design. As although I like the various noises of the alien creatures and I think it goes along with their amazing designs really well, there are a variety of other sounds I simply feel don’t fit with their placement in the film. Whether that’s because they feel out-of-place or simply come off as a little cringy at points.

‘Attack the Block’ is simply awesome, it remains a very exciting film from start-to-finish. Knowing exactly what it is whilst not afraid to push itself ever so slightly further to elevate above other films in it’s genre. While I don’t think the film is perfect by any means, and I don’t believe the sound design could be improved. ‘Attack the Block’ is still a solid film. A high 8/10, definitely give this underrated film a chance if your interested.

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The Thing (1982) – Film Review

One of John Carpenter’s many horror classics, and one of my all-time favourites. ‘The Thing’ is a violent, eerie and creative sci-fi body horror icon. I personally this is one of Carpenter’s best films, as the film always uses isolation and paranoia to it’s best extent, never failing to keep you on edge and invested throughout the entirety of it’s story and run-time.

The story focuses on a research team in Antarctica when they discover a lost dog traveling across the snowy plains, only to soon find themselves hunted by a deadly shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of it’s unfortunate victims.

With the film actually being a remake of the classic: ‘The Thing from Another World’ from 1957, I would actually say this is one of the rare times that a remake is better than the original. Very similar to film’s such as: ‘Alien’ or ‘The Fly’, ‘The Thing’ also has a slow beginning, using it’s opening to build tension and character before the film descends into the gory chaos.

Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, David Clennon and the rest of the cast are all decent, while Kurt Russel’s character: ‘MacReady’ is easily my favourite simply due to his charisma, non of the cast are terrible by any means. However, I do feel there are too many characters within the story, as it can get confusing at many points as to which character is wrapped up within their large fluffy coats. I understand we need a high-body count for a film like this (which is the reason for the lack of development for many of the characters) but I simply just find it a little too easy to get lost at points.

As the film takes place in an extremely isolated location and features a creature that can morph into any character, the film never fails to keep the viewer on constant edge. Alongside the setting, one of the best elements of the film is the paranoia the film builds up. As any of the characters could be infected with the creature, we never known who is going to be the unfortunate victim, and who is the killer. John Carpenter didn’t even tell the actors on whilst set during filming.

All of the creature effects throughout the film are completely practical, giving the amazing creature designs true life by many of them being puppets or costumes rather than CGI like most modern-day films. These effects truly create some very memorable scenes, as make-up artist Rob Bottin (Robocop, Innerspace, Total Recall), truly did some of his best work on ‘The Thing’. The cinematography by Dean Cundey is decent but nothing amazing, placing more of an emphasis on the practical effects. However, many of the still camera shots due help with the building of tension and isolation of the location.

The original score (surprisingly not composed by John Carpenter himself) is by Ennio Morricone, but suitably does feel like a traditional Carpenter soundtrack and builds and tension filled atmosphere as soon as the opening begins. While maybe not as iconic as other Carpenter scores such as: ‘Halloween’ or ‘The Fog’ etc. The score is still brilliant in it’s own right, and truly sets the tone for the film.

All together ‘The Thing’ is a phenomenal entry into the genres of science fiction and horror, truly being an iconic staple of what to expect from an alien film from then on. From it’s building of tension to the outstanding phenomenal practical effects as well as the constant threat we feel whilst watching, almost placing us into the shoes of the characters themselves. Soon going on to be a true sci-fi/horror classic and becoming one of the best remakes to ever grace the sliver screen. A solid 9/10 overall.

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Man of Steel (2013) – Film Review

One of the most iconic and beloved superheroes of all-time, ‘Superman’ comes to life on the sliver screen once again. This time from director Zach Synder, a director I’m not particularly fond of due to his weak focus on storytelling and over-reliance of action and attractive visuals. Unfortunately, ‘Man of Steel’ is still no exception to this.

This retold origin story focuses on ‘Clark Kent’ (Superman), an alien who as a child was evacuated from his dying world: ‘Krypton’ and soon arrived on Earth, where he begin living as a normal human under his newly found parents. But when survivors of his alien homeworld invade the planet, he must reveal himself to the world.

The main issue that I have with this film is that the filmmakers seem to not understand the character of ‘Superman’, as the entire film is extremely bleak, dull and boring. As well as there actually being very little heroic acts throughout run-time. Almost the complete opposite of the original ‘Superman’ film from the 1970s. This is even seen in the colour grading, as the film mostly uses a dark blue and grey colour palette. When your superhero protagonist is supposed to be a symbol of hope and heroism, this is definitely not the way to go.

However, the film’s action also doesn’t help. As the action in the film ranges from extremely entertaining at points, as the superpowered characters battle brutally for the fate of the planet. To sometimes be incredibly overwhelming, with constant explosions going off and CGI buildings being destroyed left and right. Many of these action scenes don’t even feel real due to the enormous barrage of CGI visuals we get within them.

Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Russel Crowe all give decent performances throughout the film, but sadly they never really elevate to anything above acceptable. Henry Cavill is likable enough as the protagonist but I always found Michael Shannon‘s villain: ‘Zod’ far more interesting. As he does a great job giving his character a motivation despite how sinister it may seem, as well as making him extremely menacing, very similar to his character in ‘The Shape of Water’ in many ways.

The cinematography by Amir Mokri is very generic cinematography for a blockbuster action film. Having far too much hand-held camera at points as well as shaking around constantly and utilizing many quick cuts during the action scenes, making them even more difficult to follow. The film also uses many artificial zooms when ‘Superman’ is flying through the sky, which I personally think looks terrible. 

The original score by Hanz Zimmer is easily my personal favourite element of the film, while being nothing new for this composer. Hanz Zimmer really brings his ‘A’ game here, and creates an exciting and up-lifting score which sometimes really makes-up for the lack of heroism and use of bright colours in the film. I would say this soundtrack is up there as one of my favourite scores by Hanz Zimmer for sure, even playing over my favourite scene in the film, when ‘Clark Kent’ learns to fly as ‘Superman’ for the first time.

‘Man of Steel’ is a bit of a mess of a superhero film, it almost feels more like a ‘Batman’ flick for most of it’s run-time. Relying very heavily on a dark colour palette and a bleak more ‘realistic’ feel. Alongside the generic cinematography and bland acting. The original score, a few actions set pieces and the occasional attractive visual is really all the film has to offer to superhero fans. Hopefully this iconic superhero will have his chance to grace the skies with another outstanding instalment soon, as for ‘Man of Steel’? It’s a disappointing 4/10 overall.

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Pyewacket (2018) – Film Review

From director: Adam MacDonald (Blackfoot Trail) ‘Pyewacket’ is a very character-focused indie horror. The film mostly being a small-scale narrative, having a very refreshing look and feel for a modern-horror, complete with an eerie location and a brilliantly tense atmosphere. Containing very little jump-scares or gore, more in favour of eerie silence and well-written dialogue.

For the most part I would say this approach to horror is very effective, the film flushes out it’s characters very well, with the story focusing entirely on a frustrated, angst-ridden teenage girl (Leah) as she awakens something in the forest near her home when she naively performs an evil ritual in an attempt to kill her mother.

Although I’m not a huge fan of jump-scares, and I do very much appreciate the film’s draw towards more creating atmosphere. I do feel one or two scattered throughout the film wouldn’t have done any harm, as I feel they would’ve done a great job of scaring the audience when they least expect it and would’ve broke up some scenes of tension nicely. The film does succed in creating tension in other ways however. As Adam MacDonald manages to incorporate darkness extremely well throughout the film, using dark lighting and colour grading to focus on the audience’s paranoia of what lurks in the dark corners of the screen. However, the scenes are never overly dark to the point of obscuring the audience’s view, and this works very effectively.

Nicole Muñoz portrays the main protagonist: ‘Leah’, as a mostly unknown actress, Nicole does a fantastic job of playing an angry teenager dealing with a broken family. Laurie Holden from ‘The Walking Dead’ is also surprisingly good as her mother. I never really cared for her character in that TV show, believing her to be very annoying and unlikable. But it’s clear to me now that this was mostly an issue with the writing and not with her performance, as here she really does a great job with her character.

Alongside the use of darkness and great performances, the film also has amazing cinematography by Christian Bielz. As the film always uses the camera to the best of it’s advantage to create fear and tension. One shot in particular was a fast-paced P.O.V. shot, which reminded me heavily of the classic ‘Evil Dead’ films, and really sent a shiver down my spine when it first encounters one of the characters. The original score by Lee Malia unfortunately is nothing too memorable, mostly being a cliché horror soundtrack with the odd emotional tone mixed in. 

My main issue with the film is the pacing, as the film is actually a slow-build, it can sometimes drag. The film mostly does a good job at keeping the audience invested with that brilliant horror atmosphere and great character drama. But some of the scenes set at ‘Leah’s’ high school can really feel very bland and drawn-out. Especially when you compare these scenes to the scenes in the forest surrounding ‘Leah’ and her mother’s home. As these are always brimming with tension and are incredibly fun to experience.

Alongside this, without ruining anything, the ending of the film is also very memorable. As the film truly leaves the audience on a dark and shocking note, which is sure to stick with you long after the credits have rolled, and genuinely helps the film become far more of a standout when compared to similar film’s in it’s genre.

‘Pyewacket’ is probably not one of my favourite all-time horror flicks, however it is one I would recommend to most. Although the slow-pace and lack of jump-scares may frustrate some viewers, the film does build up an amazing atmosphere, with great performances from the small cast and some decent dialogue to back it up. The film isn’t perfect but it does mostly contain what I personally desire from a modern-horror film. A 7/10 overall, I think ‘Pyewacket’ is a great watch for a ‘different’ kind of horror fan.

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