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Bad Education (2020) Review

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Bad Education

Time: 108 Minutes
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Frank Tassone
Allison Janney as Pam Gluckin
Geraldine Viswanathan as Rachel Bhargava
Alex Wolff as Nick Fleischman
Rafael Casal as Kyle Contreras
Stephen Spinella as Tom Tuggiero
Annaleigh Ashford as Jenny Aquila
Ray Romano as Big Bob Spicer
Director: Cory Finley

The beloved superintendent of New York’s Roslyn school district (Hugh Jackman) and his staff, friends and relatives become the prime suspects in the unfolding of the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in American history.

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I heard of Bad Education a little while ago, it is an HBO movie about an embezzlement scandal that takes place at a school with a cast featuring Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney and Ray Romano. However, what really got my attention of this movie is that it was directed by Cory Finley, who made the great Thoroughbreds some years ago. Bad Education didn’t disappoint, it was greatly written and directed and everyone performed their parts well.

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Bad Education is based off a true story, and while I wasn’t familiar with the real-life details, it definitely was an intriguing story which made for an interesting and entertaining movie to watch. The script from Mike Makowsky was great and felt quite fresh, with some naturalistic dialogue, the tension being raised over the course of the movie, and the third act really delivering. The movie also does feel quite grounded and real, which worked to its benefit. It’s darkly comic too, balancing comedy and drama with its distinct tone. On top of showing things going on behind the scenes at the school with the teachers involved, it also shows it from the perspective of a student (played well by Geraldine Viswanathan) who exposed the embezzlement scandal publicly, and I thought that aspect was handled well too. We do get a little bit of her home life and motivations but it does feel like they could’ve afforded shown more of it. Speaking of things they could’ve added, for as great as it was, I think the third act could’ve been a bit longer and less rushed. Additionally, some storylines could’ve had a little more time spent with them so they felt a little more complete (especially Allison Janney’s who mostly vanishes from the movie once her story is done in like the first half). Bad Education is just under an hour and 50 minutes, and while it’s generally paced well, I think an additional 5-10 minutes would’ve made it a little better. These are minor complaints however.

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The performances are great and really carry this movie, everyone brought their A game to their parts. Leading Bad Education is Hugh Jackman, who is truly outstanding in this movie. He was perfect for this sort of role as a beloved and likable superintendent of the school, and he actually sort of gets you to root for him even though he’s doing illegal things in the movie. You can really understand his perspective and why he does what he does. All in all, I’d say that it’s one of Jackman’s all time best performances, and given his career that is saying a lot. The supporting cast all perform greatly too, including Allison Janney, Ray Romano, Geraldine Viswanathan, Alex Wolff, and Rafael Casal.

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Bad Education is directed well by Cory Finley, with this and Thoroughbreds, he’s shown himself to be a more than capable filmmaker. His new movie isn’t quite as overtly stylised as his first movie, but it’s nonetheless filmed very well, especially considering that it is a TV movie. It’s shot very well, the visual presentation added a lot to the general feel of it. I liked the use of music too, especially the score from Michael Abels.

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Bad Education was a really solid and grounded crime drama. It’s directed well, the script is great, and there’s some great acting from its talented cast. Definitely watch it when you get a chance. I’m really looking forward to seeing more movies from Cory Finley, he’s shown himself to be a real talent to watch with his two films.

Harsh Times (2005) Review

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Harsh Times

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Contains violence,offensive language and drug use
Cast:
Christian Bale as Jim Davis
Freddy Rodriguez as Mike Alonzo
Eva Longoria as Sylvia
Tammy Trull as Marta
Director: David Ayer

Jim (Christian Bale) is a Gulf War veteran and he believes it is his sworn duty to protect Americans by policing the streets of Los Angeles. His dreams are shattered when he is rejected by the Los Angeles Police Department leaving him and his Mexican paramour in the lurch. Jim is soon offered a position in the Department of Homeland Security leading him to recruit his unemployed best friend Mike (Freddy Rodriguez) to carve a path of devastation across the city.

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Harsh Times was the only film from David Ayer I had yet to see. Although I know that much of the reception to much of his films has been mixed, I like most of Ayer’s other movies (with a couple of exceptions) and I’m a fan of Christian Bale, so I was looking forward to seeing what it would turn out to be, I wasn’t sure what to expect really. Harsh Times was reasonably okay, and I liked watching it, even with some of its glaring issues.

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The script is really the biggest issue of Harsh Times, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. You notice pretty early on that the dialogue is not exactly the strongest. I’ve noticed that in a lot of his written movies (with the exception of Fury, End of Watch and Training Day), the dialogue wasn’t all that great. That aside, it’s also not a movie where it’s easy to get invested in the characters. That’s mainly because there aren’t many (if any) morally good or likable characters in the movie, especially not Christian Bale’s character of Jim. They didn’t stop me from following it while watching it, but I never felt that close to the characters. I can definitely tell that it might turn some people off from it, but it didn’t affect my experience too much. At under 2 hours, it kept me reasonably interested from beginning to end.

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Christian Bale is an incredible actor, and while I wouldn’t rank his work here among his best performances (maybe just outside of the top 10), he’s still great here. While he could easily be an annoying character to have to follow (and with some not so good dialogue), Bale makes him work. He’s driving so much of the movie and holding things together. It may be well worth seeing Harsh Times just for his performance. Freddy Rodriguez was also good as the co-lead, who has almost as much screentime as Bale. The two of them are very convincing as friends, they share some great chemistry. They particularly gets to have some emotional moments towards the end. There isn’t much to say about the rest of the cast, but brief appearances from the likes of Terry Crews and J.K. Simmons were nice to see.

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David Ayer directed Harsh Times well, for a debut movie effort, he did a pretty good job. It’s not amazing, but it works well enough right for this story. It’s not a great looking movie by any means, but that sort of works for the gritty tone and story of the film. There is some slightly annoying editing when it comes to Bale’s character having some breakdowns. I get the point of them, and you don’t really see too much of it, but the way those moments were handled just felt a little over the top.

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Harsh Times is another David Ayer movie which works just fine. I thought it was pretty decent, Ayer directed it well enough, and the story was enough to keep me watching from beginning to end, even if I wasn’t invested in the characters all that much. It does have its very notable flaws however, mostly with regards to the script, and it isn’t one that you must go out and see immediately. However, I think it still might be worth checking out for Christian Bale’s performance at the very least.

Moonlight (2016) Review

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Moonlight

Time: 111 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes
Cast:
Trevante Rhodes as Adult Chiron/”Black”
Ashton Sanders as Teen Chiron
Alex Hibbert as Child Chiron/”Little”
André Holland as Adult Kevin
Jharrel Jerome as Teen Kevin
Jaden Piner as Child Kevin
Naomie Harris as Paula
Mahershala Ali as Juan
Janelle Monáe as Teresa
Director: Barry Jenkins

A look at three defining chapters in the life of Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes), a young black man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to manhood is guided by the kindness, support and love of the community that helps raise him.

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I remember watching Moonlight in the lead up to the Oscars, I thought it was great, and it had the biggest surprise of all that night when it ended up winning Best Picture, it was quite a big deal. With that said, I didn’t remember a lot of it from my first viewing, and I definitely needed to watch it again. It definitely improved a lot on a repeat viewing, and I can now confidentially call this a fantastic film that deserved all the acclaim that it had received.

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This movie is broken up into 3 parts, showing 3 stages of lead character Chiron’s life. The first part is him as a child, the second is him as a teenager, and the third is him as an adult. All three of these parts were quite different from each other, yet consistently great, there wasn’t one part that felt particularly weaker than the other (although the third part was a little slower). It is so engaging seeing Chiron make all these discoveries about himself and grow as a person. It’s very well written by Barry Jenkins, the dialogue is fantastic, it felt absolutely real. That’s really the biggest takeaway of this movie that I got, it all felt real and genuine. Now I’m not particularly big on coming of age stories, I have enough trouble emotionally connecting with most movies, and coming of age movies particularly don’t really work for me (probably mainly because most of the apparent appeal is being relatable and I just can’t relate to most of their stories). However this easily ranks amongst this subgenre, especially and recent years. I think most people can connect with Chiron and his story, and that is really a testament to the writing.

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The three actors who played Chiron (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) were fantastic. They all captured this character perfectly at the different stages of his life. Something I heard about is that they didn’t base their performances on each other, giving their own interpretation to the material they gave, and I think that added a lot. The supporting cast was also great. Naomie Harris was really good as Chiron’s mother, and the rest of the cast that includes Janelle Monae and Andre Holland also do their parts. The standout though was Mahershala Ali, who is easily one of the best actors working right now. He wasn’t in the movie a whole lot, but he left a real impression in his scenes, especially in the scenes with Alex Hibbert as the younger. Even when he’s not in the movie, you felt his presence throughout the rest of the film.

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Director Barry Jenkins absolutely delivers here, this is his sophomore film, and his work here is excellent. This movie is smaller and independent, and you can feel that through and through, and it was to its benefit. The cinematography by James Laxton was beautiful, not one shot or camera move felt out of place, and the lighting and the use of colour is just stunning to watch. There are so many memorable scenes and images that really stay with you long after seeing the movie. A lot of the time, there weren’t any soundtrack or music, and that helped to invest you even more into the story and the movie. It made it all feel even more real, and much easier to be invested in it all, whether that be with ambient sounds or silence. The score by Nicholas Britell when present though, is excellent and impactful, and really added to the film a lot. The editing also deserves a lot of credit, making many of the moments even more impactful.

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Moonlight is such a fantastic movie and deserved all the praise. The performances, beautifully written story and incredible direction all comes together to a profoundly moving coming of age tale that definitely ranks among the highlights of films from that decade. If you haven’t already, definitely check out Moonlight when you can.

Justice League: Theatrical Cut (2017) Retrospective Review

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Justice League

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
J. K. Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon
Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf
Amber Heard as Mera
Joe Morton as Silas Stone
Director Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon

Fuelled by his restored faith in humanity, and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists newfound ally Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly-awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes in Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the Flash (Ezra Miller), it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

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Note: Most of this review is written at a time when the Snyder Cut (or director’s cut) of Justice League wasn’t announced.

Justice League was my most anticipated film of 2017, and when I first watched it I was slightly disappointed at the results but I still enjoyed it. As time went by however, it really got worse, and I really needed a rewatch to be sure what my final thoughts on it were before I never see the movie again, it just took me a while to get around to that. Now I had been intending for this review to be released much later on but as it turns out, the Snyder Cut was announced to be coming in 2021, so there was no better time for my to release this review. The theatrical cut of Justice League isn’t one of the worst movies I’ve seen by any means, but it’s among the most crushingly disappointing ones, so much potential and talent cut down and thrown away, and the end product isn’t even fun in a so-bad-it’s-good way, it was just sad to think about.

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To get this out of the way, for those who don’t know, during production director Zack Snyder was replaced by Joss Whedon, who would be filming the reshoot. While it was being said that Whedon would be directing pretty much as Snyder for some additional scenes, it really turned out to be an attempt to completely reshape the movie, with some very bad results. The story itself on paper sounds fine but it needed a lot more fleshing out, the final product at best reads like a very rough first draft. There’s a lot here that was very clearly cut out, and indeed I get the impression that they cut down the movie to its simplest form and reshot some of the scenes that remained. There are some moments where the characters just deliver so much explanatory exposition about everything, their current states, their origins, what they have to do and the like, all of that they just briefly mention and never talk about again. It’s like they’re compensating for all the scenes they cut out basically delivering the same points. From what I can tell, the movie was going to be longer and explore each of the characters a lot more, and tell their stories in a more naturalistic and less rushed way. WB seemed to want to brighten up Justice League quite a bit, and you can feel that throughout, everything feels off. It’s not just that Justice League has problems, the final product is very bland, it’s not even that entertaining or interesting. From the beginning it is already pretty rough, from that opening cell phone footage of Superman, to the Batman scene that just felt really off, it wasn’t starting off so well. Now the opening credits sequence set to “Everybody Knows” was legitimately good, but after that it reverts back to being not so good. The rest of Justice League until the climax jumps between having good moments and bad moments, but over time the movie just gets worse. The movie also doesn’t flat out doesn’t address things set up from Batman v Superman, most notably the Knightmare sequence. Even people who were confused by the significance of that scene might’ve been willing to wait for Justice League would bring it all full circle and give an explanation… but that was never addressed here.

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I guess since I talked about the scenes that were removed, I should talk about the additional scenes that Joss Whedon inserted. Whedon seemed to want to add humour to everything, and it’s just unfortunate that the humour here is terrible. Fun fact, the first Batman scene where he uses a criminal to bait a Parademon, that was directed by Joss and was a somewhat okay directed scene. However, it was originally shot to be very comedic, and even WB had to come in and reign him in. Some of the dialogue and moments are so horrendous that I couldn’t believe it actually made it into the theatrical release. There is a scene with Martha Kent and Lois Lane, where Martha says that Clark called Lois the “thirstiest young woman he’s ever met”, somehow managing to be by far the worst line in the movie, and that’s saying a lot. There’s also a scene where Flash accidentally falls onto Diana’s breasts, and you know it’s a Whedon reshoot as it resembles that scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron where Mark Ruffalo falls on Scarlett Johansson in the same way. While I’m not a massive fan of Whedon, he’s done so much better in the past that it’s a little astounding that somehow almost everything new he added was bad. So many of the reshoots were also unnecessary. One was the first scene between Barry Allen and Bruce Wayne, that scene seemed to have largely played out the same way as the original, but for whatever reason at the end Barry starts going on this tangent about brunch or something, very clearly a reshoot so as to add a joke, and an unneeded one at that. Another instance was the random focusing on a Russian Family in the area the parademons are located (also the location of the climax), and I just have no idea why we kept seeing what was happening with them. It seemed like they were placed in the movie just so they could be there for The Flash and Superman to rescue on screen, but they really didn’t need to establish them this early on even if they wanted to do that.

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This movie has such a large and talented cast, and most of them managed to be misused. There is a lot to talk about with the characters and actors, so I’ll start with the supporting cast. J.K. Simmons was a great pick for Jim Gordon, while I would’ve liked to have seen more of him, he served his purpose well enough. Shame we’ll never see him reprise his role. Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth is also once again a delight, despite all the changes that happened in the movie, I had no problem with him or the way he was utilised. Billy Crudup makes a brief appearance as Barry Allen’s father, his scene with Ezra Miller’s Barry early on is legitimately good, and I hope Crudup returns for The Flash movie. Connie Nielson also reprised her role as Hippolyta, Diana’s mother in one of the better scenes of the movie, while she’s like in only two scenes at most she did pretty well. The rest of the supporting cast had issues though. Zack Snyder in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman (the Ultimate Edition at least) made Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, a prominent part of the plot. With all the cutting done here though, all she’s left to do is to be there for Superman to see her, so that he could stop being crazy. Justice League is the debut of Mera, played by Amber Heard. While she wasn’t going to have a big role, it seems that they cut down scenes with her. The end result didn’t give Mera the best impression. Thankfully Aquaman gave audiences a much better impression of her, and showcased her a lot better. Ciaran Hinds plays the villain of Steppenwolf and a lot of people really thought he was terrible. I actually ended up liking Steppenwolf more than most people, I don’t think he’s one of the worst comic book movie villains like a lot of people found him. However, he’s not that good of a character or villain either. The thing is, outside of some cliché villain lines and some horrible CGI, the individual scenes with him aren’t bad. The problem is that all the development and depth with him is just missing. Hinds prior to the movie talked about how Steppenwolf was different as a villain, and he had a certain way of playing him. It’s not surprise that after the movie was released, he was unsatisfied with the end product, particularly with how pretty much all of his backstory was removed. There is something I realised while watching Justice League for the first time. Unless you are at least aware of some comic book knowledge about Steppenwolf, Darkseid, the parademons and Apokalips, you have no idea what’s happening with them. Steppenwolf at one point in one of his speeches says “for Darkseid” but the general audience doesn’t know who that it, or even necessarily that he’s referring to a person and not a planet or whatever. For all the exposition that the reshoots dump out, they never really gave them a solid explanation outside of a vague description.

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I’ll talk about the League itself, from best to worst, in terms of who comes across the best. First of all Cyborg played by Ray Fisher was actually quite a surprise. Fisher added a lot with his performance, and the CGI on him didn’t distract too much (only occasionally). There was also his connection with his father Silas Stone, but it also seems like their scenes together were changed, maybe in an attempt to lighten the movie up. Like with a lot of the movie, he’s held back from much of his arc being removed from the movie. It’s a shame that I’m not sure if we’ll ever see him again on screen. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is also good, though at a lower level compared to her previous appearances. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman really doesn’t get much to do here, having some of the same problems as the rest of the league with their arcs not being fleshed out or their origins just briefly explained. I’m just glad that Momoa at least got his own movie to show off his potential. Ezra Miller is a very talented actor, but his Flash seemed to be really negatively affected by reshoots. Since Barry Allen seemed to be quite comedic for the movie to begin with, it seemed they leaned in heavy with this and made him even more hyper, comedic and over the top. As I said he did have a really good scene with Billy Crudup, and it was a genuinely heartfelt scene, so he can definitely work in the role. However for the most part, he’s reduced to just being the comedic relief, and I really hope his solo movie (if it ever gets released) shows him off a lot better.

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Now for the two of the League that fare the worst, Batman and Superman. Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio were going to take Batman in a less dark direction compared to Batman v Superman and they even said this. It didn’t seem enough, as the reshoots seemed to redo a lot of his original scenes. Even though he wasn’t going to be as dark as he was in BvS, apparently Batman in this movie was originally supposed to be on like a suicide mission, so they had a strong intention of where to take him. WB and/or Joss Whedon however didn’t just trim off some edginess or darkness, they flat out removed almost all of it. What we are left with is a Batman that is not dark at all. He’s not quite George Clooney Batman but he’s definitely in Val Kilmer territory, but actually he’s worse because even Kilmer’s version at least acknowledged that Bruce Wayne was quite a dark individual. Going from BvS to this, he just feels very off. Affleck in the Snyder footage looks like he’s playing his part fine enough. In the Whedon footage however, he either looks like Ben Affleck playing himself saying the lines or just looked really unhappy and doesn’t want to be there (which is very likely the case). Honestly the way he sometimes acts in some of the reshoots is like he’s acting in a Late Night Talk Show skit for Justice League, rather than the actual movie itself. It was a real shame that this would be the last time we’ll be seeing him as Batman.

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Henry Cavill’s Superman is really divisive but I really liked him in the previous films. Justice League’s Superman annoyed me even when I first watched it, and that’s still the case now. Now I should get something out of the way, my primary issues have got nothing to do with the CGI on Henry Cavill’s face. Honestly, I’d rather Snyder’s Superman with a weird CGI face than the Superman we got with the face looking fine. It’s pretty clear that WB removed almost all of Snyder’s footage of Superman, I’m pretty sure there’s like 2 scenes of Snyder’s Superman, and that’s not even including the two deleted scenes. This doesn’t just feel like an attempt at being like Christopher Reeve’s Superman, this flat out feels like a mockery of that version, being overly cartoonishly cheesy and silly. I know a lot of people thought his past two movies that he was stiff, but he felt more human and grounded in those movies. However, I didn’t like him here, he seemed so unnatural and forced, he seemed like what many haters of the Superman character think he’s like. Even the Superman on the Supergirl tv shows fared better. In short, he’s pretty much the Superman that some of the detractors of Snyder’s Superman wanted him to be, happy, quippy, with no conflict and with not much personality or character beyond that whatsoever. Also on a lesser but still disappointing note, when it comes to showcasing his powers, he doesn’t seem like he’s directed by Snyder, you don’t really feel the weight of his power, he comes across as a little more cartoonish. Last point about this Superman, at the end of the movie he pretty much saves everything. The whole thing about the League is that all of them are needed to come together. It seems that originally Superman would be the last necessary addition to the team that’s enough to stop Steppenwolf and save the world. However with this Superman, he probably would’ve been able to solve everything himself. This makes the tagline of one of the posters “You can’t save the world alone” rather silly looking back at it. Maybe the saddest part about all of this is that despite all the changes made to Superman here, it’s still not enough to get people on board with Cavill’s version, I’m not even sure if we’ll see his Superman on the big screen again in any format.

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You can blatantly see the differences between Zack Snyder’s direction and Joss Whedon’s direction on screen at many points. Some of the action was pretty good, but other aspects of the direction held it back a little. In terms of the best sequences, one of them was seeing the Amazons fight against Steppenwolf. Even though the Steppenwolf CGI looked iffy, it showed off both his power and the Amazons skills. Also the flashback showing mankind, Amazonians and Atlantians fighting against Steppenwolf, even though it was brief and no doubt cut a lot of things, was good to see. I did like seeing certain things on screen, like I liked the way they showed off The Flash with his speed.

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The CGI goes from looking actually pretty good, to looking so incredibly awful, the look of the movie was inconsistent. Even at its best, there was always something off, like they deliberately tried to brighten up the look of the movie. An example was the fight between the Justice League and Superman, the way the background looked and the windows particularly really did seem like it took place at night but they just brightened everything up. I would also bring up the moustache debacle with Henry Cavill but it’s been talked to death so I won’t bother. Its far from the film’s biggest problems. Despite some of the CGI not looking so good in the first two acts, it’s the third act where it takes a massive downgrade and looks downright ugly. There are glimpses from the trailers of the third act that made it into the movie, and they didn’t have this horrible red filter over everything, it only looked dark. If it the previous acts didn’t make Justice League a disaster, the climax certainly made it. It is worth noting that this is one of the most expensive movies ever made, that money didn’t seem to have gone to good use. The third act apparently was almost entirely reshot and looking at the results, it definitely looked that way. If they really wanted to have extensive reshoots, and changing pre-existing scenes, they should’ve moved the movie back many months, that way that would give them enough time to do all the reshoots and also have enough time to get the effects all under control. But alas, instead we get an incredibly rushed film. I was one of the only people leading up to its release rooting for Danny Elfman to deliver a good score for Justice League after replacing Junkie XL but I was completely disappointed in it. Even if the movie wouldn’t necessarily be made better by it, it could’ve at least elevated the movie but it’s so generic. Elfman when it came to his score talked about how he’s using John Williams’s Superman theme and his own theme for Batman, and they do make an appearance in the movie at brief moments. Unlike some people I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, the problem is that his score literally doesn’t have anything else to offer. It probably would’ve been better if he literally just took the score from his Batman and Donner’s Superman and just played it because at least they’d be more memorable than whatever he was trying to make here. It is worth noting that Elfman also straight up ripped off the theme of The Flash from the tv series The Flash on the CW, it’s so incredibly lazy. Also what Elfman did with Wonder Woman’s theme, especially in her introduction in the Bank scene, is absolutely atrocious. It’s like someone was parodying Wonder Woman and made some incredibly basic theme to somewhat resemble it.

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Now I think some people are wondering about how good the movie could be had it all been under Snyder. I’m of the mind that Snyder’s version would’ve been a lot better, but even a complete Joss Whedon Justice League movie would’ve been better than what we got here. You can feel this real laziness when it comes to some of the reshoots by Joss, and I feel like even he wasn’t satisfied with his work here. I’m not saying that everything Zack would’ve done with the movie would’ve been gold or anything. Originally this movie was going to be in two parts, but the first part would end by having Darkseid kill Lois and setting the chain of events in the Knightmare timeline, seemingly setting the stage for Part 2 to be something like Avengers: Endgame. While that idea is bold, it’s understandable why WB weren’t so hot on it, and Snyder and Terrio compromised for a straight forward Justice League, however one that was worldbuilding, expansive and epic. From the leaks and unfinished footage that we got, it would’ve at least been a lot more interesting. That said, now we know that the much desired Snyder Cut is coming to HBO Max. Not only will it be all from the original director, he’ll be releasing it much more of it, around 4 hours as opposed to the length that he’d no doubt have to cut it down to if the final theatrical cut was his. I won’t go into too much depth about what will be in this new version here, but essentially Zack and a post production crew will finish off his cut, and will shoot some additional scenes. Snyder had said that what made it into the theatrical cut was like 25% his, and that this new cut will be a completely different experience, and I don’t doubt that.

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The theatrical cut of Justice League is one of the most disappointing movies I have ever watched. It’s by no means one of the worst comic book movies ever made, but it is so incredibly lacklustre. However the Snyder Cut turns out, I don’t know if we’ll be getting any future Justice League movies, for a while at least, and it led to a number of negative things happening with the DCEU. Actors leaving, characters probably not going to appear again on screen again, and so many changes made. If anything can come from this, hopefully WB has learnt their lesson of not cutting and interfering, but then again that’s what I thought Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad would’ve taught them. I can’t even muster up any hate for this movie, it’s just disappointing and sad to watch and think about. With that being said, I don’t see the upcoming the Snyder Cut not being supremely better and at least make Zack Snyder’s DCEU trilogy feel complete and satisfying.

Top 15 Tom Hardy Performances

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I haven’t made a list ranking an actor’s best performances yet, and with Tom Hardy’s latest movie Capone out now, I decided that I’d make my first list on him, given that I’ve seen much of his most well known movies/shows.

Hardy’s career was slowly building up in the late 2000s in independent movies like Stuart: A Life Backwards and Bronson, but today he’s a well known name, playing iconic roles like Mad Max, Bane, and Venom, as well as starring in critically acclaimed films like Inception, Dunkirk, and The Revenant. He’s known as one of the best actors working today and for very good reason, usually managing to be one of the best parts of every movie he’s in, no matter how good or bad the movie is. A transformative and exceptional actor, he was the perfect choice for my first list ranking an actor’s performances.

Honourable Mention: Farrier – Dunkirk

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Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk isn’t really known as an acting movie, it’s mostly just its characters trying to survive all the way through, but the cast were nonetheless all around great in their parts, with Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy and others giving some commendable performances, and that extends to Tom Hardy too. Hardy’s face is (unsurprisingly) covered up for the majority of the movie in the role of a fighter pilot in one of the three main storylines, but he worked well even just when it came to acting with his eyes. It’s a real credit to Hardy that he manages to convey so much with so little, but that’s something that can be seen in almost all of his performances.

My review of Dunkirk

15. Ricki Tarr – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has an incredibly stacked cast, with the likes of Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, John Hurt and other well known and great British actors, all of whom play their parts very well. That includes to Hardy in a minor but notable role as a former spy, who potentially has some information about a potential Russian mole inside the British Intelligence Service during the Cold War. Ricki Tarr is just one of many important players in the movie that the audience has to keep track of in this very complex story, but Hardy also does a lot in his screentime, making himself stand out amongst heavyweights like Oldman.

14. Eames – Inception

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Christopher Nolan’s excellent Inception features an all star cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and more, and they all work in their respective roles. With there being such a large cast, it could’ve been easy for Tom Hardy’s character of Eames to just be forgotten, even if that role play a notable part in the story as an identify forger as part of the heist in planting an idea inside Robert Fischer’s (Cillian Murphy) head, in a attempt at a near impossible process known as Inception. However, Hardy did so much in this movie to make him memorable even among A listers like DiCaprio, he brought such a presence and charisma to every scene that made him quite a memorable on-screen character. The Dark Knight Rises might’ve been where his career really picked up, given that’s when he played a Batman villain, but Inception was really where most audiences had their first look at how great Tom Hardy is as an actor (aside from Star Trek Nemesis maybe).

My review of Inception

13. Forrest Bondurant – Lawless

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Lawless is a movie that at times comes close to greatness, but yet is quite far away from reaching that level. With that said, one thing that could easily be said is that the acting was good from everyone. Tom Hardy was one of the highlights among the cast unsurprisingly, playing the leader of the Bondurant brothers, bootleggers in the prohibition era who find themselves up against a sadistic and relentless Deputy Sheriff played by a villainous Guy Pearce. Hardy doesn’t really speak much, and grunts a lot (as per usual for him), but he still has quite the effective screen presence. Lawless is very much is very much more focused on Shia LaBeouf’s character and not Forrest, but Tom Hardy nonetheless impresses in his role, and his presence added a lot to the movie.

My review of Lawless

12. Al Capone – Capone

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The most recent entry on this list is probably Tom Hardy’s craziest and most polarising performance to date. As the infamous gangster in the last year of his life, Hardy does the most amount of acting in a single role, and he’s undoubtedly going over the top. From the makeup that makes him look like a zombie to the incredibly raspy voice that makes him sound like a demon rather more than a man suffering from illnesses, you can see why not everyone was on board with his performance here. Indeed, the movie does have some unintentionally hilarious moments related to him, but his acting definitely works better when watching it in the film itself. After a while I got used to his performance, and I do think he’s really good here. Tom Hardy really sells Al Capone (or “Fonzo” as people in the film call him) slowly deteriorating, seeing hallucinations, and ultimately declining. Although I think that the movie had some interesting ideas, it wouldn’t have worked without a strong actor in the lead role, and Hardy is engaging and has a massive screen presence at the very least. While it has a ton of issues, I do think Capone is worth checking out for Hardy’s performance alone, it’s fascinating to watch if nothing else.

My review of Capone

11. Alfie Solomons – Peaky Blinders (2014-????)

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Peaky Blinder is a tv series (not the only one that’ll be mentioned in this list), and while I haven’t reviewed any of the show, I’ll openly say that I’m a big fan of it, and it’s well worth a watch for sure. Tom Hardy’s character of Alfie Solomons is very much a supporting player in the show, and while he plays a notable part of the plot, he’s not quite as central as much of the main cast. Hardy however makes himself known as one of the highlights among its stacked cast. As the leader of a Jewish gang, he has such an incredible screen presence, every acting choice he makes is just so effective. He’s hilarious, he has some of the best lines of the entire show, and he steals every scene from every other actor in the same scene. Considering the cast of excellent actors involved in the show with the likes of Sam Neil, Adrian Brody, and more, Hardy still comfortably stands as one of the best performers on the show. Despite being a criminal and even betraying lead character Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) more than a couple of times, Alfie remains a fan favourite of the show, and much of that credit goes to Tom Hardy’s scene stealing performance.

10. Max – Mad Max: Fury Road

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Mad Max: Fury Road is rightfully recognised as not only one of the best action movies of recent years, but also one of the best action movies of all time. Playing such an iconic character is quite a big task for any actor, especially one made famous by Mel Gibson of all people. Still, Hardy was more than up to the challenging task. Granted he doesn’t speak much, and indeed it felt like it was more the movie of Charlize Theron’s Furiosa’s more, but he was effective nonetheless, doing so much as the titular anti hero with very little. Despite Fury Road mostly being car chases and a whole lot of (great) action, character motivations, emotional resonance, and a compelling story isn’t lost in the movie, and that extends to Hardy’s Max too, despite the lack of lines he gets. At this time there is some uncertainty as to the direction of the future Mad Max movies, but I’d be up for whatever director George Miller does with them, especially if Hardy still get to be a part of that.

My review of Mad Max: Fury Road

9. Bane – The Dark Knight Rises

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Following up Heath Ledger’s iconic turn as The Joker is a big task for any actor playing the villain of the next Batman movie, and while most agree he’s not quite on that same level, Hardy’s Bane is nonetheless great and memorable. Granted considering the portrayal of Bane in Batman and Robin, there wasn’t any way to go but up when it comes to on screen portrayals of the iconic Batman villain. With that said, Hardy’s Bane works as an intimidating and powerful foe for the lead hero to combat. Hardy’s face is completely covered up for about 99.5% of the movie, and yet delivers such an iconic and memorable performance, from his incredibly emotive facial expressions, to his iconic and greatly imitated (also admittedly sometimes later dubbed) voice. Tom Hardy’s physicality was believable and he seemed very convincing as someone who could hold his own against the Batman, but his acting with some larger than life moments like the speeches were also effective, leading to some truly memorable moments for him. Even though his face wasn’t really shown, this is the first iconic role which became attributed to Tom Hardy.

My review of The Dark Knight Rises

8. James Delaney – Taboo (2017)

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TABOO — “Episode 1” (Airs Tuesday, January 10, 10:00 pm/ep) — Pictured: Tom Hardy as James Keziah Delaney. CR: Robert Viglasky/FX

Not many people have seen the first season of Taboo, even if they may have heard about it at one point. It has its fair share of issues, but I think it’s worth a watch, a slow burn show that had me interested throughout, with the direction, the production design, and especially the acting being particularly great. Hardy in the lead role of James Delaney is exceptional, grounding much of the film, and has immense screen presence that creates an even darker and more sinister atmosphere. Even if audiences might not be sure about the story of the show, he nonetheless absolutely captivates viewers as the mysterious character. It’s been a few years since the first season of Taboo, and I do hope we get to see a second season soon.

My review of Taboo Season 1

7. Bob – The Drop

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The Drop is already quite an underrated movie, and the same goes to the acting which is great, with good performances from the likes of Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini. However, this really is Tom Hardy’s movie through and through. Hardy’s performance is incredibly subtle, probably the most subtle of his career. He plays this soft spoken, unassuming and naïve bartender, certainly not one the intimidating badasses that you might have seen some of in his other movies. However it’s an incredibly powerful performance, much of it due to his facial expressions and reactions, conveying so much with very little. Watch The Drop when you can, not only does it feature yet another great Tom Hardy performance, but it’s also a good movie in itself.

My review of The Drop

6. Reggie and Ronnie Kray – Legend (2015)

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Legend is quite a flawed movie, I probably liked it more than most people, but it could’ve been better considering all the talent involved. The acting was pretty good from everyone, but it’s of course the dual performances from Tom Hardy as both Reggie and Ronnie Kray that stands out, and was really the main selling point behind the movie. Trick shot filmmaking aside, Hardy plays each role very differently, bringing both roles to life very believably, and making each character distinct, with Ronnie Kray being particularly more psychopathic and unstable than his older brother. Legend may be a mixed bag of a movie, but it’s nonetheless worth seeing it for Hardy’s work.

My review of Legend

5. Tommy Conlon – Warrior

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Warrior was way better than it had any right to be, it was yet another sports movie about fighting, but at its core it was a story about a broken family. Part of what made it work so well were the performances, especially with the three main actors in Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, and Hardy. As an Iraq war veteran returning home and deciding to fight in a local fighting tournament, Hardy is believable in his role as Tommy Conlon, both inside and outside the ring. His performance is absolutely electric, raw, and top notch from beginning to end. Additionally, his interactions and dynamic with both Edgerton and Nolte felt very real, which was really needed for this story to work as more than just another fighting movie. Warrior definitely deserves a lot more attention and is really worth seeing, especially for the performances, Hardy’s being one of the standouts.

My review of Warrior

4. John Fitzgerald – The Revenant

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The Revenant is in my mind is Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s best film, it’s an incredibly ambitious film that’s a technical achievement, directed excellently, gorgeously filmed, and is an effectively brutal and haunting movie. While much of the acting could’ve been swallowed up by the technical prowess and scale from Iñárritu, the cast work well incredibly well, and Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter also deserve praise for their work in supporting roles. While much of the praise was heaped on Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar winning performance (acclaim that was well deserved), Hardy’s work as the antagonist was just as impressive, and I can’t really disagree with those who say that he gave the better performance. A trapper who betrays DiCaprio’s lead character of Hugh Glass, Fitzgerald was an effectively hateable character, and Hardy not only played him perfectly, but he elevated the role too. During his scenes, you get a peak into who the character is, with him essentially being a survivor at his core and not just a classical evil villain that he looks like at first, and much of that is because of his acting. He’s an absolute scene stealer, you can barely even recognise him in the role. Rightfully earning his first Oscar nomination for his performance here, Hardy once again showed himself to be a force to be reckoned with in front of the camera.

My review of The Revenant

3. Stuart Shorter – Stuart: A Life Backwards

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Most people don’t know really about this BBC tv movie, even with the likes of future stars Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch leading it but it’s well worth the watch. It’s a good movie in itself, an emotionally honest movie that is really worth checking out, but Hardy’s work as the titular role is truly extraordinary and the best part of the movie. This remains Hardy’s most difficult role to date, playing a complicated person with a lot of issues and a dark past. Even though you can clearly see that you’re watching Tom Hardy and he hasn’t physically transformed like in The Revenant or Bronson, he feels like a completely different person, and he was beyond exceptional. Definitely find a way to check this movie out, it’s worth it for Hardy’s performance alone.

My review of Stuart: A Life Backwards

2. Ivan Locke – Locke

Locke is a movie that heavily relies upon its leading man, with Tom Hardy being the centre of this story, and really the only actor who you only see on screen. Hardy might have some voices to play off with the likes of Andrew Scott, Olivia Colman and more, but that’s all he has, otherwise he’s just acting by himself in a car. The plot of Locke doesn’t sound very compelling by itself, a guy making phone calls in a car, but it’s actually a really good movie, especially considering its premise. Writer/director Steven Knight did some very effective work with both the script and direction, and deserves a lot of credit for pulling it off, but Locke wouldn’t have worked as well without an excellent leading actor, and Hardy really brought it. You are mostly just watching his face from start to finish and he carries it exceptionally. It is such a subtle and complex performance, and I definitely wouldn’t disagree with anyone who say that this is Tom Hardy’s best acting work to date. There are moments where Hardy isn’t even playing off anyone and is just speaking to himself or isn’t saying anything at all, and he’s just incredibly natural. There’s not a single moment here that Tom Hardy dramatically ‘acts’ in a showy way, he perfectly plays the role in a genuine way. Locke is a good movie in itself, but it owes much of its success to Hardy’s excellent performance.

My review of Locke

1. Charles Bronson – Bronson

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It was very hard deciding which of Tom Hardy’s top 2 performances should be in the number 1 slot, both were very different kinds of performances, but both excellent nonetheless. In contrast to his performance in Locke, his work in Bronson is completely showy, and that was perfect for this movie and role. Now much of what made the movie work was split between two aspects, one is Nicolas Winding Refn’s direction, making this an unconventional biopic that’s far from being normal or boring. The other half is Tom Hardy as real life criminal and prisoner Charles Bronson, who is nothing short of fantastic. Physically he absolutely transforms but even that aside it’s an incredibly transformative performance that you don’t even see in his other roles (maybe a little bit in Ronnie Kray in Legend). He’s full with this electric energy from beginning to end, he’s charismatic, scary, hilarious, and has the screen presence to carry the entire film. While Refn’s storytelling and direction certainly made Bronson stand out as more than just another biopic, it wouldn’t have worked as well as it did had it not been for Tom Hardy’s phenomenal performance.

My review of Bronson

What are your favourite performances from Tom Hardy?

Capone (2020) Review

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Capone

Time: 116 Minutes
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Fonse
Linda Cardellini as Mae
Matt Dillon as Johnny
Al Sapienza as Ralphie
Kathrine Narducci as Rosie
Noel Fisher as Junior
Director: Josh Trank

The 47-year old Al Capone (Tom Hardy), after 10 years in prison, starts suffering from dementia and comes to be haunted by his violent past.

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I was curious about Capone, it had been announced and made a while ago, and finally we get to see what it is. Fonzo (retitled to Capone for commercial purposes)) would be director Josh Trank’s next movie after Fant4stic, a movie that was infamously known for having a lot of studio interference. Trank had a lot to prove after that, and decided to set his sights on a movie about Al Capone in his last year of his life. With him having made like 1.5 movies, I was expecting something more conventional, but it turned out to be something quite different. The response to the movie has been rather mixed, but I’m glad to be on the side of people who liked it.

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There’s a lot of things that you need to know before watching Capone. First of all, despite the title, don’t expect a full on Al Capone movie. I heard that Josh Trank had issues with renaming Fonzo to Capone, and watching the movie I can see why. Along with the lead character generally being referred to as “Fonze” or “Fonzo” over the course of the movie, with the new title, it really gave the impression that this would be at the very least a straightforward biopic. It’s a biopic in the loosest sense of the word, as I said earlier it is about Capone’s last year of his life as he is suffering from dementia and syphilis, and that’s pretty much all that happens in that movie. There’s a subplot whereby Al Capone hid some money and forgot where it was, and another where the FBI is surveying him because the suspect that he might be faking his illness, but those are only small parts of the plot. For a movie that’s seemingly intended on being more psychological than a full on biopic, those aspects feels tact on, however I know that it was needed as that probably what happened in real life. Probably my biggest disappointment of the movie is that while it does have some unusual stuff, it does feel like it is consciously partly a biopic, and does at times seem to be going through the motions to meet that. Those previously mentioned subplots feel obligatory, as it’s pretty clear that Trank is a lot more interested in other aspects. Capone suffers from hallucinations, and storywise that interested me the most in the movie. There is a specific section around halfway through that was the highlight, as Capone goes through an extended nightmare/dream sequence that is something straight out of a haunted house movie like The Shining or something.

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Another thing that is worth noting is that it is a slow movie and not a lot happens, although I was still on board throughout (that first act does drag quite a bit however). It’s not particularly pleasant to watch either, the very few scenes of violence that are there are brutal, and you are basically watching the main character succumb to dementia further over the course of the film. So for those hoping for a straightforward biopic of Al Capone, there are no doubt other representations of him on the big screen that might better suit what you’re looking for. If you want to know more about him this certainly isn’t the movie for you. Now the question is what the point of the movie is. If it’s to watch a man who has done horrible things being haunted with such things while suffering from illnesses, then Trank succeeded in that, but otherwise I’m not really sure. What kept me on board for the whole thing was the directions that he decided to take the movie. If it was meant to be a character piece or something, I feel like it was missing something. We see him declining, and we see some visions of what happened while he was in his prime, but we don’t really learn anything about him at the same time. Nonetheless it was interesting to watch.

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The acting is generally quite good. The supporting cast is good with Jack Lowden, Noel Fisher and Kyle MacLachlan doing well in their smaller roles. Linda Cardellini and Matt Dillon were the standouts among the supporting cast. Dillon makes the most of his screentime as an associate of Capone, and Cardellini provides the closest thing to an emotional centre of the movie as Capone’s wife, which was needed considering who the protagonist of the whole movie is. However it is absolutely the Tom Hardy show, and he gives his most insane and crazy performance of his entire career as the title character, and that’s saying a lot considering he was in Bronson and Venom, I can certainly say it’s the most acting he’s done in a single performance. Before watching the movie, there was a couple of clips I saw before the movie that certainly gave me pause, he was unintentionally hilarious in them, and he’s kind of like that throughout much of the film. It works better when you watch the movie in its entirety. However it still takes you a while to settle in, especially with the makeup making him look like a demonic vampire and his voice sounding like a mix of Donald Duck, Nick Nolte, and Danny Devito’s The Penguin. Some of his outbursts still were unintentionally funny, but it worked better in the weird tone of the movie. Overall while I can say that I liked his performance, his over the top ‘acting’ moments didn’t work quite as well as the comparatively ‘quieter’ moments for me. He is definitely putting everything into this performance (for better and for worse) and was one of the stand out parts of the film.

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I already knew this from his work on Chronicle, but Josh Trank has shown himself to be a capable director. It’s shot and filmed well generally, but for the most part the technical side is just competent and nothing special. Interestingly, the editing is done by Trank of all people, no doubt wanting to ensure that he wouldn’t be caught in another Fant4stic situation. With that said, it is a little disjointed, and while I get that part of it was purposeful with this being from the perspective of a man slowly losing sense of everything, I’m not sure that was necessarily intentional all the way through. Where the film shines is when it leant into the weirdness, mainly with the hallucinations and dream sequences. The aforementioned dream scene halfway into the movie was a shining aspect, and had Trank committed to more of those sorts of scenes, I think that it could’ve been better.

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Capone won’t work for all people, in fact it won’t work for most people. There are aspects that are unpolished and messy, it might be too gross and gnarly for some people, and I don’t think it quite sticks the landing in what Josh Trank intended. However, despite its flaws I think the movie is decent. The acting is good, with the performance from Tom Hardy being a highlight, and I liked the places that it was taken. As weird as the movie got at points, I kind of wish it went further, as those were definitely the best parts of the movie. What this shows is that Trank has a talent and a vision, and Chronicle wasn’t a fluke. I’d love to see what he does next, especially if he’s not tied down with adapting anything this time.

The King’s Speech (2010) Review

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The King's Speech

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains offensive language
Cast:
Colin Firth as King George VI
Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue
Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth
Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII
Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill
Derek Jacobi as Cosmo Gordon Lang
Jennifer Ehle as Myrtle Logue
Michael Gambon as King George V
Director: Tom Hooper

King George VI (Colin Firth) tries to overcome his stammering problem with the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) and makes himself worthy enough to lead his country through World War II.

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Despite being an Oscar winning film, The King’s Speech has been given quite the bad rap, ironically it’s because of that. It earned many of the Oscars, including Best Picture, over so many other movies like The Social Network, Inception and Black Swan. Many weren’t happy that this was the movie that won over those films. While I understand many of these reactions, The King’s Speech on its own is pretty good.

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To keep it simple and straightforward, I’ll treat this movie outside of the fact that it won Best Picture, or mention The Social Network, Inception or Black Swan for the duration of this review, which is something that reviews of this movie nowadays can’t stop doing. The King’s Speech is a historical biopic, and the summary of the movie looked pretty boring at first, but thankfully it has a pretty good script. Now part the story is more than likely fictionalised and isn’t completely true, but that’s pretty typical of movies like this, and I don’t think that the inaccuracies would be particularly egregious. This movie is more focussed on George’s speech impediment and him trying to work through it with his speech therapist, rather than the royal family and his role in it, and that is actually to its own benefit. It does have its particularly ‘Oscar moments’, mainly towards the last act, but didn’t take away too much from the rest of the movie. The story plays out pretty much exactly how you’d expect it to, but it had enough going on and enough energy to keep me reasonably interested for the duration of the runtime.

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The acting in this movie is amongst the best part of the movie, if not the main reason to see it. Colin Firth is really great as King George VI, and it’s not just a baity or showy performance like it could’ve been. Firth’s stutter could’ve easily been a gimmick or have been a caricature of people with stammers, but he and the film pulls it off perfectly, and he makes it feel genuine. As good as the rest of the cast and movie is, it wouldn’t work nearly as well without Colin Firth’s outstanding performance at the centre of it. Geoffrey Rush is also good as the speech therapist that George sees to help with his stutter. Firth and Rush are great together on screen, and their interactions are ultimately the driving force of the movie. Other supporting actors like Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce also play their roles as well.

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Tom Hooper directed this reasonably well, and on a technical level is pretty solid. It’s well shot, the score by Alexandre Desplat is pretty good, and the production and costume designs reflect the time period and location appropriately. However it’s very clear that this wasn’t going to be the highlight of the movie, and so I didn’t pay it that much attention.

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I wouldn’t say that The King’s Speech is great, but it is a pretty good movie for what it is. It is definitely better than how it sounds at first, but not enough to make it that memorable. However it’s a solid enough movie, with some great acting, particularly a career best performance from Colin Firth. I do think that it is worth watching, just make sure to not going into it seeing it as a Best Picture winner or anything like that.

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) Review

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Resident Evil Afterlife

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Ali Larter as Claire Redfield
Wentworth Miller as Chris Redfield
Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker
Boris Kodjoe as Luther West
Kim Coates as Bennett Sinclair
Sergio Peris-Mencheta as Angel Ortiz
Kacey Clarke as Crystal Waters
Spencer Locke as K-Mart
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

In a world overrun with the walking dead, Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues her battle against Umbrella Corp., rounding up survivors along the way. Joined by an old friend, Alice and her group set out for a rumored safe haven in Los Angeles. Instead of sanctuary, they find the city overrun with zombies, and a trap about to spring.

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After three Resident Evil movies, the director of the first movie Paul W.S. Anderson returns to the series to deliver on the fourth entry. While Afterlife is enjoyable, with some generally good action, it’s certainly the least interesting of the series. It comes with the expected flaws, and there’s not really much of a plot. With that said, I still enjoyed Afterlife quite a bit for what it is.

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There’s really nothing to say about the plot, even less so than the previous movies. It’s actually a pretty straightforward movie, and it really just feels like a bunch of action scenes connected by a thinly drawn plot. While I get that many of the other movies are like that too, they did a much better job at hiding it than here. The horror aspect was most present in the first Resident Evil movie, the other movies following that had less horror, but it was still a noticeable part of the movies. With Afterlife however, the horror aspect was sort of in the background, it is first and foremost an action movie, that happens to have some horror in it.

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Milla Jovovich returns in her role of Alice, and once again does pretty well, especially in the action. Ali Larter also returns as Claire Redfield and is also pretty good. Those two are the highlights of the cast, the rest range from bad to being fine. Wentworth Miller is also included in this movie as Chris Redfield, and he was alright. Albert Wesker has been recast from Extinction (the previous Resient Evil movie), this time being played by Shawn Roberts, and he gets more presence and screentime in the movie as the main antagonist this time round. Now again I hadn’t played the Resident Evil games that have him in them, but from the vague knowledge I have of him, he’s blonde guy with sunglasses who has superpowers, is like super enhanced and can fight very well. That’s pretty much how he is in this movie, and nothing more, a pretty generic, if passable villain.

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This is Paul W.S. Anderson’s return to the Resident Evil movie series since the first movie, and while I wouldn’t quite say it’s a triumphant return, he still does some good things with his direction. Visually, this movie actually looks really good. The opening credits scene starts off the movie on a very high note, and even the first action sequence is pretty enjoyable to watch. The Resident Evil movies ever since Apocalypse have been action based, but they really made a big lean on the action in this movie. The first action scene starts off with a bunch of Milla Jovovich clones, as I said, it is very entertaining, but I think that’s where the movie might’ve peaked. There are also a lot of slow motion in the action, and while that could be fun to watch at points, it could get a little cartoonish and silly. There’s particularly a scene involving a big undead person with a giant axe, which while it was stunning to look at, bordered on parody with the amount of slow motion used, as without it the scene would’ve been only like a minute long. This movie was definitely filmed in 3D, with all the things flying at the camera, but it’s not the worst case of that type of movie I’ve seen. The CGI is pretty average, hasn’t aged well from 2010. Tomandandy provides the score, and it certainly made the movie much better, especially when it came to the action scenes.

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Resident Evil Afterlife isn’t one of the better movies in the series but isn’t the worst either. It’s essentially a bunch of action scenes strung together by a vague plot. It has some enjoyable aspects to it for sure, a couple of the actors are good, and many of the action scenes are entertaining and stunning to watch, even if they’re a little too over the top for their own good. If you don’t like the other Resident Evil movies, you definitely won’t like this one. But if you made it this far in the series, you might as well check out Afterlife too.

Bronson (2009) Review

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Bronson

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Michael Gordon Peterson/Charles Bronson
Matt King as Paul Daniels
James Lance as Phil Danielson
Amanda Burton as Charlie’s mother
Kelly Adams as Irene Peterson
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

In this drama based on a true story, there’s no one tougher or more brutal in the English penal system than prisoner Michael Peterson, aka Charles Bronson (Tom Hardy). First incarcerated after robbing a jewellery store, the married Bronson is sentenced to seven years. But his incorrigible, savage behaviour quickly gets him in trouble with guards, fellow inmates and even a dog. The only place where Bronson can’t do any harm is in solitary confinement, where he spends most of his time.

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I remember when I was going to watch Bronson for the first time. I liked director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, and I really liked Tom Hardy as an actor, and it runs out I liked Bronson too. It is for sure one of Refn’s more ‘accessible’ movies (at least when compared to the likes of some of his other movies like Only God Forgives). Having seen it for a second time, I probably like it even more now, a truly bizarre movie in the best possible way, directed greatly and with one of the most impressive performances I’ve seen at the front and centre of this film.

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Bronson is quite the unconventional biopic, its subject is Michael Peterson, also known as Charles Bronson, who is often called the most violent prisoner in Britain. However, Refn’s take on the story isn’t straightforward or what you’d initially expect. First of all, it doesn’t even remotely attempt to paint a sympathetic picture of the character/person, and much of the storytelling is from Bronson’s perspective. In the first 5-10 minutes you pretty early on get a sense as to what kind of movie it is. There are some moments where we get to see Bronson’s more vulnerable side, mainly in the second act. At the same time however, it doesn’t try to explain Charles Bronson, rather letting the audience make up their own answers for him. Bronson is greatly written too, quite entertaining, and even has a fair share of dark comedy in there too. Much of the movie reminds me of A Clockwork Orange, from the style to some of the way certain scenes were handled. As far as issues go, there are some pacing issues towards the second act. Without giving too much away, it’s not quite as outrageous or filled with violence as the first act, but in general you really feel it slow down suddenly, and even some of the energy died down noticeably. Now I still liked the second act and there’s a good reason why the pacing was that slow considering that part of the story, but it’s worth pointing out nonetheless. Bronson is about an hour and 30 minutes long, and that was about the right length for this movie.

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This movie surrounds the character/real life person of Charles Bronson (the criminal, not the actor of course), and so much of the film heavily relies on the actor playing the titular role. Tom Hardy (who wasn’t such a big name just yet back in 2008) did such a fantastic job in the role. This could very well be Hardy’s career best performance, and knowing much of the work he’s done, that’s saying a lot. He’s full of energy, he has the physicality, he’s charismatic, he’s scary, and has such a powerful screen presence that carries much of the movie. He’s incredibly electric and a force of nature in this, you definitely don’t see Hardy at all in this role, moustache aside. Surprisingly, he also portrays Bronson’s emotional side very convincingly too, painting a picture of a man that’s a little more than just violent and insane (even if it’s not neatly laid out what kind of person he is). He really does capture this real life person incredibly well. The rest of the actors in the supporting cast do play their part well, but it is the Tom Hardy show.

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Nicolas Winding Refn’s direction is nothing short of exceptional, much of how he told the story is why this movie works so well. It’s an absolutely stunning looking movie from beginning to end, and unsurprising considering this is Refn, especially when it came to the use of colour. It’s not just the cinematography aspect of the direction that’s great, a conventional biopic it is not. The mix of narration and fourth wall breaks from Hardy’s Bronson works perfectly. In much of the movie he’s talking and performing to a stage audience (mostly shown in the first act). That sort of dies down a bit after the first act, but it nonetheless makes quite the impression. The music choices worked very well for the movie too.

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Bronson is an entertaining and unconventional ‘biopic’, wonderfully directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, but its backbone is Tom Hardy as the titular character, who is absolutely tremendous in the role. I’m not sure that it is for everyone, but I thought it was great. Hardy’s performance alone makes it a must see.

The Aeronauts (2019) Review

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The Aeronauts

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Felicity Jones as Amelia
Eddie Redmayne as James Glaisher
Phoebe Fox as Antonia
Himesh Patel as John Trew
Vincent Perez as Pierre Rennes
Director: Tom Harper

In 1862 headstrong scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) and wealthy young widow Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) mount a balloon expedition to fly higher than anyone in history. As their perilous ascent reduces their chances of survival, the unlikely duo soon discover things about themselves — and each other — that help both of them find their place in the world.

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I heard about The Aeronauts for a little while, before going into it I knew it was Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones returning as an on screen duo 5 years after The Theory of Everything, and that it had something to do with floating in a balloon. There’s a lot here to like, but it’s held back by certain elements, and it could’ve been a lot better.

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Easily the weakest part of the movie is the script. It starts off very rough as it rushes towards the scene main characters leaving on the balloon, with no context or setup whatsoever as to what’s happening. Now the context is then provided through flashbacks, however that’s one of the biggest problems of the movie (if not the biggest), it’s so reliant on flashbacks. When we are on the balloon, The Aeronauts excels, but it comes to a halt every time it does a flashback for both of them back on land, and there’s a lot of them. There doesn’t even seem to be much point in having a narrative structure this way, the flashbacks don’t add anything to the movie. There’s even some scenes showing Felicity’s character being conflicted about whether she’ll even go on the trip, but there’s not even much point given we already know what she decides, not to mention she’s not even a real person, so you can’t put these scenes’ inclusions up to historical accuracy. That’s the other thing too, despite this being advertised as based on true events, don’t look too much into it for historical accuracy. While some parts are accurate like the fact that Eddie Redmayne’s character of James Glaisher did go up in a balloon with someone, that someone wasn’t Felicity Jones’s character of Amelia Wren, in fact she never existed in real life. Come to think of it, embracing it as an inspired but deviating take on the real life story would’ve helped the movie immensely. The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long, which is a good enough length for this story, although the flashbacks did seem to make it feel longer. Outside of the flashbacks, the script and characters did feel fairly weak on their own, merely passable enough.

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The duo performances of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are good and work rather well for the movie. Felicity Jones is really the star of the show, one of the highlights of the whole movie. I like Eddie Redmayne, and I liked him here, but if you’re not a fan of his acting, you’re still not going to like him here because he does the similar acting style.

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The Aeronauts directed quite well by Tom Harper. I also saw Wild Rose, and while his work on that was decent, he gets to show off a lot more here. The period of 1860s England is really captured well here, the production design, costumes, etc, all of it really fitted the story and setting. The visuals are great too, and of course it’s mainly to do with the scenes up in the balloon. There are some tense and thrilling scenes during those segments too, and they were filmed very effectively. I can only imagine they were something to really watch on the big screen. The score by Steven Price is also quite good and fits with the movie quite well.

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The Aeronauts had potential and indeed they deliver on some of that, however the script unfortunately drags down the movie considerably, especially with the use of flashbacks that only hinder the film. With that said it has some good elements to it that might make it worth checking out, from the duo of Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, to the visuals and the direction. The movie is only 100 minutes long, so if you’ve got that much time to spare, The Aeronauts is a decent enough watch.