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

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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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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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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Children of Men (2006) – Film Review

A clever, dark and very grounded sci-fi film, with ‘Children of Men’ director Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gravity, Roma) creates a truly memorable experience. As the film’s fresh take on the science fiction genre combines some great performances, alongside decent writing and some absolutely incredible cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, all alongside many scenes throughout the film being done completely within one single take.

The film takes place in the year 2027, in a world in which women have somehow become infertile, as former activist (Theo Faron) agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman across a war-ridden country out to a sanctuary at sea in order to save the human-race.

The narrative begins with a short peek into the grim world of the film, as our protagonist ‘Theo’ makes his way into a small café to grab a coffee. This soon leading onto a very shocking moment, which instantly establishes the tone of the film, and really helps give the audience a clear understanding of how these characters are coping with this reality. This soon lead onto the opening becoming very iconic in it’s own right (as well as my personal favourite scene of the film) and still feels very effective even today.

When it comes to the characters, all the performances throughout the film are pretty great, as every actor is really giving their all here regardless of the importance of their roles within the story. As Clive Owen, Clare-Hope Ashitey, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Caine, are all terrific. Julianne Moore as: ‘Julian’ in particular was a stand-out for me however, having some very memorable moments within only a short amount of screen-time. This is also one of the few films where I must really praise the extras, as many of the continuous takes are done using enormous amounts of extras, and from the foreground through to the background, there isn’t one out-of-place extra.

Every piece of the cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki throughout the film is nothing short of phenomenal, using hand-held camera to the best of it’s advantage. Many scenes are filmed from the perspective of the characters, placing the audience in their own tense scenarios. The dark grey colour palette of the film also lends itself well to the war-ridden country setting, as every location always feels rustic, dirty and lived-in. The original score by John Tavener is also effective, despite being used very sparingly throughout the film to further add to bleak atmosphere.

My only real criticisms with the film are related to the lack of character depth and the film’s overall pacing, as the pacing throughout the film is extremely slow, leading to many scenes feeling a little drawn-out at points. Despite this slow-pace sometimes adding to the building of tension, it feel mostly unnecessary for most of the film’s run-time. The lack of characterisation throughout the film is also a problem, as although a few characters do get some development, it’s usually few and far between, as I found myself finding more information about the characters online than within the film, luckily however, the decent writing does save this from being a huge issue.

Overall, ‘Children of Men’ is an exceptional piece of the sci-fi genre. Coming off as a very different approach than what you’d usually expect from a film such as this one, the film almost feels like more of an apocalyptic drama at points. But with a thought-provoking narrative, some amazing cinematography and fantastic cast, ‘Children of Men’ truly is a very enjoyable (if not a very bleak) piece of entertainment. An 8/10 for me, this film never fails to impress me every-time I revisit it.

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Nightcrawler (2014) – Film Review

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.

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