Tag Archives: 2019 movies

Dumbo (2019) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Holt Farrier
Nico Parker as Milly Farrier
Finley Hobbins as Joe Farrier
Michael Keaton as V. A. Vandevere
Danny DeVito as Max Medici
Eva Green as Colette Marchant
Edd Osmond as the motion capture of Jumbo Jr.
Alan Arkin as J. Griffin Remington
Creator: Tim Burton

Struggling circus owner Max Medici (Danny Devito) enlists a former star (Colin Farrell) and his two children (Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins) to care for Dumbo, a baby elephant born with oversized ears. When the family discovers that the animal can fly, it soon becomes the main attraction — bringing in huge audiences and revitalizing the run-down circus. The elephant’s magical ability also draws the attention of V.A. Vandevere, an entrepreneur who wants to showcase Dumbo in his latest, larger-than-life entertainment venture.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I heard some not so good things about the remake of Dumbo, and I was already pretty doubtful. While I haven’t watched the original Dumbo animated movie, I’m not a fan of the recent live action Disney remakes of their classic animated movies. So despite the talent involved, I was quite sceptical but nonetheless wanted to check it out. The remake of Dumbo turned out to be okay really, despite a lot of flaws.

The script is definitely the weakest part of the movie. It starts off very weak and takes a while to pick up. Although this movie has Dumbo as a big part of the story, the ‘heart’ of the movie is a father and two children, and their problems. Unfortunately, it feels rather hollow and tact on, what’s worse is that this plotline is essentially driving the first act, with Dumbo playing a small part in it. It does get better as it goes along, mainly from the moment where everyone sees Dumbo really flying for the first time. From that point to the end, it’s relatively decent. I wasn’t invested in the story or characters, but I was reasonably entertained for the rest of the runtime.

The main characters of the movie are played by Colin Farrell, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins, as a family. Farrell is a great actor for sure, but here he’s reduced to just moping around, and he was just fine at best. More focus is drawn to the kid characters, and unfortunately they aren’t that good. Hobbins doesn’t do all that much and just stands there, and Parker is written and directed so poorly, she delivers a bunch of bland exposition, even when she talks about she feels (she literally just says how she feels in a very monotone way). I can’t really blame either of the actors, because none of them are given good material to work with at all. Michael Keaton plays the villain of this movie, and he’s an over the top and one dimensional cartoon, he doesn’t bring down the movie though. The two actors that really stand out are Danny Devito and Eva Green. Devito does the same things as he does in most movies, but Green actually does very well in her scenes, definitely a highlight of the movie.

Knowing Tim Burton and his movies, it’s actually surprising how restrained he was with his direction here. It wasn’t as crazy and bizarre as any of his other movies (especially thankfully not like his Alice in Wonderland). It was at the right level for a Dumbo movie. On a technical level it was pretty good, from the cinematography, the production design, the visuals, the costumes, and the likes. The only bit here that feels like over the top Burton was Michael Keaton’s performance, and as I said before, that wasn’t necessarily bad. The visuals for the elephants, mainly Dumbo, were also quite good, even though he’s not a main character, he was handled quite well.

Dumbo 2019 isn’t bad but it’s not as good as it could’ve been, especially considering the talent involved. Tim Burton directed it rather well, Danny Devito and Eva Green shine, and it gets better as it progressed, but that’s it. It’s heavily worn down by bad writing, and it’s hard to get emotionally connected to the story and characters. Still, if you’re curious to check it out, I’d say that it’s worth a watch.

Angel Has Fallen (2019) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Gerard Butler as United States Secret Service agent Mike Banning
Morgan Freeman as President Allan Trumbull
Danny Huston as Wade Jennings
Michael Landes as Sam Wilcox
Tim Blake Nelson as Vice President Martin Kirby
Nick Nolte as Clay Banning
Piper Perabo as Leah Banning
Jada Pinkett Smith as FBI Agent Helen Thompson
Lance Reddick as Secret Service Director David Gentry
Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Authorities take Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) into custody for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). After escaping from his captors, Banning must evade the FBI and his own agency to find the real threat to the president. Desperate to uncover the truth, he soon turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name and save the country from imminent danger.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I really liked Olympus Has Fallen, it was a throwback to R rated action movies from the 80s like Die Hard and it was entertaining for what it was. I even thought London Has Fallen was okay enough, a noticeable step down from the first movie but I found some enjoyment in it. However I wasn’t exactly really excited for the follow up with Angel Has Fallen. Along with the second movie taking a noticeable drop in quality already, the new plot was quite different from the past two movies, and I was getting Taken 3 vibes from the third instalment, and that’s never a good sign. Having watched it, I can say that it was some dumb fun for 2 hours, probably a little better than I expected it to be.

Angel Has Fallen is another over the top action flick, with a plot that you’ve seen many times before and done better. It’s a different plot from what you’d expect from a movie in this series. This time its Gerard Butler’s Mike Banning being on the run after being falsely accused of trying to kill the president. The sudden change in the type of plot seems pointless but I guess it was a better decision then just doing the past two movies set in different cities. It’s rather predictable in plot and you can get a general idea of where it’s going pretty early on. For example there’s a shadowy secret villain presented during the movie, and it’s pretty easy to figure out who it is just through process of elimination. Still, it isn’t too much of a problem once you’re 30 minutes into it. Something that’s interesting is that they almost took like a Skyfall sort of approach with regards to how they treat the main character (if you know what I mean), I guess that’s at least something different that they’re doing with this movie in the series but it doesn’t add up to much really. Side note but for some reason it has a mid credits scene as a joke, and I don’t know why they included it.

Gerard Butler once again does pretty well as Mike Banning, he’s got a handle on this character as his go to action role. Seeing as how this is the third time he’s played him and he’s probably going to reprise his role multiple times, it’s working out for him. Morgan Freeman acts like Morgan Freeman here, he doesn’t even get much to do, despite being the president this time, he’s out of commission for most of the runtime. Nick Nolte plays Butler’s father and he was a standout in the movie whenever he was on screen. Danny Huston makes for a decent villain, his character is pretty one note and nothing special at all, but Huston elevates the role just a bit with his performance. Side note, no, Aaron Eckhart’s character who was the president in the previous two movies doesn’t appear here or isn’t even acknowledged, not a big deal but it was a little weird not having even a mention of him.

The direction by Ric Roman Waugh was fine for a standard action movie. The action is pretty standard but still entertaining. It’s nothing special and the action scenarios aren’t as extravagant as the previous movies, but on the other hand it’s didn’t fall into feeling a little lazy like London Has Fallen did at some point. Some of the CGI was pretty bad at times and could be a little distracting (mainly an early scene involving drones), but I’ve seen much worse.

Angel Has Fallen was what I expected, familiar, generic and pretty silly, but still entertaining enough for what it is. If you liked the other movies in the series then check it out for sure, you’ll no doubt have some fun with it. Otherwise you’re probably not going to get anything out of the third movie. If you haven’t watched the other movies and you’re still interested in it, you can jump right into this with no problem. Recently it was announced that there would be more movies in the Mike Banning/Has Fallen series. While I’m not overly enthusiastic by that proposition, I don’t mind it, they provide some brief entertainment for what they are.

Crawl (2019) Review

Time: 87 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & horror
Cast:
Kaya Scodelario as Haley Keller
Barry Pepper as Dave Keller
Director: Alexandre Aja

When a massive hurricane hits her Florida town, young Haley (Kaya Scodelario) ignores the evacuation orders to search for her missing father, Dave (Barry Pepper). After finding him gravely injured in their family home, the two of them become trapped by the rapidly encroaching floodwaters. With the storm strengthening, Haley and Dave discover an even greater threat than the rising water level — a relentless attack from a pack of gigantic alligators.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

When I first heard of Crawl I had no expectations of it whatsoever. From the brief glances I got of it, it seemed like a typical creature feature and I didn’t really look into it at all. I wouldn’t have checked it out except I was hearing is was actually pretty good, and it was indeed good, way better than I thought it would be.

Crawl is under 90 minutes long and it makes great use of that time effectively. It quickly sets up the relevant characters (which helps seeing as there’s mainly just 2), it puts them in the positions that they need to be and starts the plot off. The plot is also relatively simple, the main characters need to survive a flood and alligators, it knows what movie it is, and it greatly benefits from that. I also like how the alligators generally act like alligators, like they won’t attack unless there’s they see something, it’s not like they’re constantly hunting for the main characters all the time like a slasher villain or anything. The flaws in Crawl are just those that you’d expect from a movie like this, but there aren’t many. The plot is nothing special and doesn’t lead to much surprises, the dialogue is simple, and the character development is serviceable but nothing great. I’d make a comment about the realism (or lack thereof) if this was a movie that was aiming for realism in the first place. You’ve seen more over the top movies in the genre, but you do have to suspend your disbelief in some parts.

The main lead is Kaya Scodelario and she does quite well here, definitely working as a vulnerable but capable protagonist. Definitely would like to see her in more horrors and thrillers because she’s shown to be great in them. Barry Pepper played her father, and their dynamic is believable enough. There’s nothing to really say about the rest of the cast.

A big part of why this movie worked so well was the direction by Alexandre Aja, he did a good job at continuously raising the stakes and the tension as it progressed. So much of the movie looks practical, mainly the environments, especially the house that most of the movie takes place in. The alligators are obviously CGI but they looked pretty good, and they were ruthless and brutal adversaries for the main characters to go up against. It was actually more violent than I thought it would be, I thought it was a PG-13/M rated movie at first, but the R rating definitely helped the movie a lot. There are some jump scares for sure, but they are earned and quite effective, and not all of them were immediately predictable. The score by Max Aruj and Steffen Thum also does a good job at raising the suspense.

Crawl is nothing that great but it’s pretty good for what it is. Kaya Scodelario was a strong lead, it’s well directed, and it’s effectively suspenseful, thrilling and surprisingly brutal. Quite simply, it’s the best version of the movie it set out to be. It’s exactly the sort of movie that it looks like, and if that interests you at all, then definitely check it out.

Wild Rose (2019) Review

image[1]

Wild Rose

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Jessie Buckley as Rose-Lynn Harlan
Julie Walters as Marion
Sophie Okonedo as Susannah
Director: Tom Harper

Fresh out of prison, a Scottish woman (Jessie Buckley) juggles her job and two children while pursuing her dream of becoming a country music star. She soon gets her chance when she travels to Nashville, Tenn., on a life-changing journey to discover her true voice.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I only heard of Wild Rose very recently. The main reason I came to hear of it was that the most recent BAFTAs nominated and then awarded Best Actress to the movie’s lead actress Jessie Buckley. Looking into the movie, I heard that it was pretty good and so I decided to go see it for myself. It’s a decent movie for sure, with Buckley’s performance elevating it immensely.

wild-rose-02[1]

First and foremost, the story isn’t anything that you haven’t seen before. There’s nothing really bad about the movie but it does hit many cliché plot beats, and that could annoy some people who were hoping for something more fresh. It is quite enjoyable to watch though, and there is a heart behind it all as it also touches upon the idea of pursuing one’s ambitions, and the cost that comes with that. I will say that even if you’re not into country music, that won’t be a problem at all, you’ll be fine with it for this movie at least. At an hour and 40 minutes it goes for as long as it needs to be, although there are some times where the pacing drags and maybe it could’ve cut down up to 10 minutes from the runtime.

wildrose1-superJumbo[1]

Jessie Buckley is really the star of the whole movie and she does a fantastic job. Looking at the character of Rose-Lynn on paper, she needed to be played by someone who could’ve pulled her off. Rose-Lynn is very flawed to say the least and maybe even unlikable and unsympathetic, but Buckley still somehow manages to make you tolerate and even root for her at points, as she tries to achieve her dream. She goes on a standard character arc, but Buckley’s performance really elevated so much of the character and the movie. Her vocal performances of the music are fantastic as well, and it definitely makes sense knowing that she’s actually a professional singer too. Definitely expect her to be in a lot more movies after this. Julie Walters also does well in a supporting role as Rose’s mother, and she also gets some moments of her own to shine, especially with the scenes between her and Jessie. There’s also Sophie Okonedo who plays her role well as a rich woman that Rose-Lynn begins works for early on, and then has a friend in. There’s not much to say about the rest of the cast but they all play their parts well too.

film wild rose with Julie walters

Wild Rose is directed reasonably well by Tom Harper, it’s shot and edited well and all that. It’s not directed badly or even blandly, but it’s nothing special really, it feels like there could’ve been something a little more than what was given here. With that said, the cinematography during some of the performance scenes particularly stands out as being really good. The music was pretty good too, and it certainly helps when a lot of the songs are performed by Jessie Buckley, who as I said has a very strong and powerful voice.

CULTURED+VULTURES[1]

On its own, Wild Rose is a pretty decent movie. It’s directed pretty well, the script is good (if familiar), and features a couple solid supporting performances. However, it’s Jessie Buckley’s excellent star making lead performance that makes it one to definitely check out. It may not be something you haven’t seen before but it’s crowd pleaser, it’s got a lot of good things to it, and is worth seeing.

Child’s Play (2019) Review

Time: 90 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Aubrey Plaza as Karen Barclay
Gabriel Bateman as Andy Barclay
Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Mike Norris
Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky
Tim Matheson as Henry Kaslan
Marlon Kazadi as Omar
Beatrice Kitsos as Falyn
Ty Consiglio as Pugg
Director: Lars Klevberg

After moving to a new city, young Andy Barclay (Gabriel Bateman_ receives a special present from his mother (Aubrey Plaza) — a seemingly innocent Buddi doll that becomes his best friend. When the doll suddenly takes on a life of its own, Andy unites with other neighborhood children to stop the sinister toy from wreaking bloody havoc.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I was probably in the minority, but I wasn’t necessarily against a Child’s Play remake. I think the original movie from the late 80s is just fine, I didn’t find it scary in the slightest, it was rather silly, and the movie didn’t really do much for me, despite it being a horror cult classic. I wouldn’t say it’s bad but nothing particularly remarkable. With that said, the concept had potential, and a modern interpretation of the setup could lead to something. It was quite the surprise, I liked it more than I expected it to.

Whether you like or don’t like this new and different take on Child’s Play, at least they tried something different instead of repeated the same thing. It takes advantage of the modern technology that’s somewhat relevant to today (it’s not a remarkable satire, but it didn’t need to be). At times it’s so different you’d think that the concept should’ve been made as a completely different IP. It’s generally too over the top for its own good, especially with Chucky’s abilities (it’s especially silly towards the third act). With that said, it’s actually getting creative with the concept instead of just repeating the whole serial killer in a doll with a knife (or whatever other weapon) thing. Whereas the original can be over the top 80s horror, the remake is a lot darker. That’s not to say that it takes itself completely seriously all the way through, there’s dark comedy throughout, and much of it is very effective. At 90 minutes it’s the right length, never really dragging.

The actors generally do well, Gabriel Bateman plays the kid protagonist very well, he more than delivers on his role. Aubrey Plaza who plays the mother, and Brian Tyree Henry who plays the detective, have done much better work in the past, but nonetheless they add enough to this movie. The acting of Bateman’s friends on the other hand weren’t so great, nor did I feel like the characters were necessary for the movie. Brad Dourif’s voice had a big part in making the original Chucky iconic. This time, Mark Hamill provides the voice, and while you can definitely tell this is his voice, he does a good job with this new incarnation of Chucky. He nails the animatronic voice and then when he goes full on killer doll, he’s creepy and sinister. Design aside, if we talk about the new take on Chucky, personally I think this one is scarier. Instead of a human being stuck in a doll, a broken mechanical doll is more creepier to me. Maybe it’s just compared to what the original movie’s version was, especially with Dourif’s Chucky having a lot more of a personality (and with the comedy). With that said, in terms of quality I won’t compare them, both of them stand alone.

Lars Klevberg has directed this reasonably well, I liked the visual aesthetic, and it looked good overall. The scares really are typical of a horror movie, and are rather uninspired, there are also some bad fake jumpscares which feel completely unneeded. Now for the design of Chucky. It’s known that even the original Chucky looked pretty scary on its own as a genuine doll being sold to children. However this new design is even more demented looking, at times it’s intentionally scary, at others it comes across as creepy when it shouldn’t. One thing I will say though is that I like that it went the route of actually having animatronics instead of just using CGI, which you’d think a big budget horror remake to use. It’s considerably more violent than the original, with plenty of graphic and at times over the top killing scenes, at reaches the level that you’d expect (and/or hope).

The Child’s Play remake was better than I thought it’d be. The main cast is good, it’s mostly directed well, and the newer take is quite refreshing for this story. However I know that some people are really not going to like it. As you probably figured out, I like the remake more than the original. It’s nothing great but it’s okay.

Gemini Man (2019) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Will Smith as Henry Brogan/Jackson Brogan
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Dani Zakarewski
Clive Owen as Clayton “Clay” Varris
Benedict Wong as Baron
Director: Ang Lee

Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is an elite 51-year-old assassin who’s ready to call it quits after completing his 72nd job. His plans get turned upside down when he becomes the target of a mysterious operative who can seemingly predict his every move. To his horror, Brogan soon learns that the man who’s trying to kill him is a younger, faster, cloned version of himself.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Gemini Man was a movie I was cautiously optimistic about. It had a cast involving Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen and it was also directed by Ang Lee. However, it was a bit of an odd movie for Lee to be taking on, the director of Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi was taking on an over the top blockbuster that sounds straight out of the 90s, that probably would’ve starred Will Smith. It also turned out that this movie has been in development hell for nearly 20 years with multiple directors and stars set to star in this movie, before eventually being made with Lee and Smith. I didn’t watch the movie in cinemas, mainly because I didn’t hear some favourable things about it. Nonetheless I still wanted to check it out, and I ended up having a good time with it, despite all its problems, and there are many.

The script is definitely the weakest part of the movie. When you hear a director like Ang Lee taking on this movie, you’d think that he would do something special with it to elevate it above its premise. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much what you’d expect it to be, there aren’t many surprises to be had with the movie. First of all, it takes a while for the movie to become what you think it is. You might’ve seen the trailers, with a lot of heavy emphasis on Will Smith on Will Smith action. It’s not quite that movie, in fact the first time the two Will Smiths meet are probably at least 45 minutes into the movie, and that’s just the first encounter. With that said, the movie did pick up when that first encounter finally happened. The plot isn’t all that interesting, but you can follow along with it all right as a standard blockbuster. I’m not kidding when I said that when the third act of the movie concluded however, I was expecting the real climax to follow it up. The end despite its action was rather underwhelming, and I expected a much more satisfying conclusion.

Will Smith is in the lead role, and I think he performed his part pretty well. CGI aside, I thought he did a reasonably good job at playing the younger clone too. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was also good, she also got to take part in some action scenes, and was convincing in them. Benedict Wong didn’t really get to do much but he’s always good to see on screen. Clive Owen plays the villain of the movie, and watching the movie he actually fared better than I thought he would based on some of the reactions I read about him. However, he still was a typical villain and wasn’t all that impressive, even though Owen clearly tried with what he had.

Ang Lee is a great filmmaker, and he still does some decent things with this movie on a directing level. The action was quite good, and it was filmed in a unique way. Along with the idea of a younger Will Smith, a unique aspect on the technical side was that it was filmed at an extra high frame rate of 120fps. I don’t know if it was meant to be seen in 3D to experience anything, but I watched it in 2D, and as that I didn’t really notice anything, so I can’t comment on how well it worked (or didn’t). All the same the action is fast paced and entertaining. We should probably talk about the de-aging CGI on Will Smith to make his clone character look younger. In his first scene and last scene, he looked really off. Maybe I’m reading too deep into it, but maybe it’s because the scenes are quite bright and that usually made the CGI not look all that good. In between those scenes though, it works well enough. You’ve definitely seen better in other more recent movies like The Irishman or Captain Marvel, but it’s enough that you can accept that this is a younger Will Smith.

Gemini Man is the movie that it looks like from the trailers but it’s still a little entertaining. Despite the premise and director, it really doesn’t become much more than an average to decent action flick. It’s still reasonably fun to watch, it has its moments, and the cast are pretty good. It’s not going to rank amongst Ang Lee’s best movies by any means, but I think he still does some good things with it. If you want to be entertained by a simple action movie for 2 hours, Gemini Man fills that need okay enough.

Official Secrets (2019) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Keira Knightley as Katharine Gun
Matt Smith as Martin Bright
Matthew Goode as Peter Beaumont
Rhys Ifans as Ed Vulliamy
Adam Bakri as Yasar Gun
Indira Varma as Shami Chakrabarti
Ralph Fiennes as Ben Emmerson
Director: Gavin Hood

One day in 2003, in the lead up to the Iraq War, British intelligence specialist Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) receives a memo from the NSA with a shocking directive: the United States is enlisting Britain’s help in collecting compromising information on U.N. Security Council members to blackmail them into voting in favor of an invasion of Iraq. Unable to stand by and watch the world be rushed into war, Gun makes the gut-wrenching decision to defy her government and leak the memo to the press.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Although there wasn’t a lot of widespread attention given towards Official Secrets, I had been hearing a small amount of positive buzz for it. The premise certainly sounded intriguing, as was the cast assembled for it, so I was interested in checking it out for sure. Having finally seen it, I can confirm that Official Secrets is really good, a tightly directed political thriller, and I don’t know why it’s not receiving much more attention. Worth watching for sure.

Admittedly, Official Secrets starts off a little slow to begin with. It even takes a while for the information to leak and then be published in the story. From that point onwards however, the movie really picked up from being pretty good, to really good. It shows the perspectives of Katharine Gun, who leaked the information, as well as the journalists who break the news. As someone who never knew about this story, it was very interesting and most of all informative watching all of it unfold on screen. It is maddening watching this at times as you see what happened, as it should be given that this really happened in real life, and the story is told as honestly as possible. It’s quite easy for big budget political thrillers about real life stories like this to make up things about what happened just for dramatic purposes. However from what I can tell, it stays as true to the real life story as it possibly can. In the second half it becomes really tense, but it never overplays it, it feels very grounded in reality. Now it is definitely more informative than entertaining, while it’s not one of the most gruelling watches or anything, it’s not exactly fun to watch. But as that type of political thriller, it really succeeds well.

The talented cast all do a great job and are among the highlights of Official Secrets. The main lead is that of Keira Knightley, who gives one of her best performances of her career as Katharine Gun, she’s very believable in her role. However it’s not just her who works, the movie also has Matt Smith and Matthew Goode as journalists, Ralph Fiennes as Katharine’s new lawyer, Adam Bakri as Katharine’s husband, and others like Rhys Ifans and Conleth Hall. All of them play their roles believably, and they really added to the movie.

Gavin Hood directs this very well, it’s a great looking movie and it’s been put together solidly. As I previously said, the scenes of tension are quite effective, without being too overbearing and overblown. It’s all directed at the right level required for the story really, keeping your interest and attention without trying to make it flashy or pretty for the audience.

Official Secrets is one of the most overlooked movies of the year, and it really should be seen by more people. It’s directed and written well, the cast are great, particularly Keira Knightley, and it’s an important story that needs to be known and seen. Watch it for the performances at the very least. Definitely don’t miss it, and see it as soon as you can.

 

Frozen 2 (2019) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating:
Voice Cast:
Kristen Bell as Anna
Idina Menzel as Elsa
Josh Gad as Olaf
Jonathan Groff as Kristoff
Sterling K. Brown as Mattias
Evan Rachel Wood as Iduna
Aurora as The Voice
Alfred Molina as Agnarr
Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I remember when I saw Frozen back in 2013, while I wasn’t in love with the movie like a lot of people were, I thought it was pretty good. There have been talks about a sequel for a very long time (especially with all the acclaim and love it has been receiving), and it seemed to have taken them a while for it to happen. However, after 6 years it’s finally here. To be honest, I didn’t really care much about a sequel, I just wasn’t sure there was much that you could follow it up with. Still, I checked it out, and Frozen 2 turned out to be pretty decent and surprising.

One of the things that made me curious about Frozen 2 was some of the mixed or divided reactions to it, not to mention some comparisons to Annihilation of all movies. However it turns out that this comparison is quite apt and valid. Without spoiling anything, the plot of Frozen 2 is actually darker, more complex and larger scale, and goes to places that you wouldn’t expect it to go to, storywise and thematically. It was just a little confusing that the story went in that direction, especially the target audience of the first movie, but at the same time I guess I was interested in it, but I think most of that might have to be how unexpected it is. Looking back at it, it’s a little messy at points. I also didn’t like some of the things it does with some of the characters, mainly Kristoff and Olaf. Kristoff is pretty much only there to save Anna in dangerous situations (while doing the typical goofy trying and failing to propose all the way through), and Olaf particularly wasn’t nearly as funny here as he was in the first movie, he was more of a distraction more than anything. With that said, he does have a moment that was one the best parts of the movie. It’s generally entertaining to watch over its hour and 43 minute runtime.

Frozen 2 is directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, who made the first movie, and they did a pretty good job here too. I’d even say that it might be worth watching for the animation alone, it looks excellent throughout, even better than in the first movie. There are particularly some stunning sequences where the movie gets to show off visually. Might be worth checking out the movie even for that. As we all know, there were plenty of memorable songs in the original Frozen, from Let it Go, Do You Want to Build a Snowman, and so on. As for Frozen 2, the songs are mostly okay but very forgettable, which was quite disappointing, in fact the most disappointing part of the movie. I actually remember the scenarios of the songs more, and not so much the songs themselves. As for the voice cast, they’re pretty good, with the returning voice actors with Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff, as well as some newer voice actors like Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, and more.

Frozen 2 is relatively good, but it does have some problems holding it back, same with the first movie. Frozen 1 was fairly simplistic, but for what it is, it worked. Frozen 2 has a more interesting story and does some surprising things that I really liked, but the results weren’t always consistent in quality. As for which is better, they sort of balance each other out, and they’re sort of on the same level. If you liked the first Frozen, then it’s definitely worth watching the sequel, otherwise you probably shouldn’t bother with Frozen 2.

Judy (2019) Review

NZH0558406998

Judy

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Drug use & offensive language
Cast:
Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland
Finn Wittrock as Mickey Deans
Rufus Sewell as Sidney Luft
Michael Gambon as Bernard Delfont
Jessie Buckley as Rosalyn Wilder
Director: Rupert Goold

Thirty years after starring in “The Wizard of Oz,” beloved actress and singer Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) arrives in London to perform sold-out shows at the Talk of the Town nightclub. While there, she reminisces with friends and fans and begins a whirlwind romance with musician Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), her soon-to-be fifth husband.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I’m not too familiar with Judy Garland, I knew that she was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, that she was an actress and singer, and that she was in the 1950s version of A Star is Born. So a Judy Garland biopic sounded somewhat interesting to me at least. I first heard of this movie’s existence as basically Renee Zellweger’s vehicle for her second acting Oscar award, and it seems certain at this point that she’ll certainly nab the award soon. From the looks of things, Judy seemed like a rather typical and generic biopic on Garland, and unfortunately it is that, despite a good performance at the centre of it all.

merlin_161092122_de7336a9-b54e-46d0-a38a-72928a145c29-superJumbo[1]

I can’t speak as to the accuracy of the movie to what happened in real life. No matter how much or little accurate it is to true events however, it should be handled in a way that it’s able to work as a movie, and they didn’t seem to make it particularly interesting. As I previously said, Judy on face value looked very much like a typical music biopic, and one of those Oscar bait movies, unfortunately it’s both of those. It follows those familiar story beats, and ultimately feels more like a sad and safe tribute to Judy Garland instead of digging deep into her. While there are some issues that she’s dealing with and they are put on display in the movie, it feels like they are deliberately understating them, and not exploring her or them at all. While I knew more about Garland after watching the movie than before, I still feel like there’s a lot I really didn’t know about her. The most I got out of learning about her were in the few flashback scenes of her early in her career, and those were the most interesting parts of the movie. I know a lot of people really hate the use of flashbacks, but honestly a lot more of them would’ve considerably helped to show and reveal a lot more about her. Sadly much of Judy is mainly just showing her a year before her death, which isn’t necessarily bad but you’ve got to have something interesting to say or show about her if you’re going to do that. The end result is just showing her slow decline… and that’s it, not much exploration of her during this period and why things certain things are happening. You’d think that the movie would connect some of the few flashbacks to the events happening in the movie (present day in the story) in some way, but no. Not to mention it’s really slow. I don’t mind a slow moving movie as long as it has something interesting or compelling to show or say, but Judy isn’t any of that. Each scene on its own is fine, but when you’ve got all these bland scenes one after the other and at such a slow rate, it becomes rather tedious to watch. You get the feeling that this movie felt comfortable just sitting back and letting Renee do her thing, which is great for her but terrible for the rest of the movie. Even the attempts at emotion throughout just come across as hollow, and the melodrama and soap opera-ness became grating than actually affecting. The only time it even gets close to being somewhat genuine was a section with Judy and a fictionalised gay couple, which actually worked alright. Additionally the ending scene was among the best parts of the movie, it gets a little cheesy at a point, but honestly that’s still something compared to the rest of the film.

image[2]

Literally the only reason to watch the movie is for Renee Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland. She’s definitely throwing everything into this role and the movie very much relies on her performance. However, she unfortunately falls victim to the typical clichés that similar roles and movies have, with a different look, doing a different voice, having large emotional moments (leaving awards shows plenty of options of clips to pick for her Best Actress clip) and her character going through the same scenes that we’ve seen plenty of other movies do before. Now they very well may have happened in real life, but the writing lacks enough depth for it to feel genuine. Thankfully, Zellweger carries much of the movie and elevated it just a little bit. Had everything around her been a lot better, I’d probably go so far as to say that she’s incredible. She handles the singing side of things reasonably well too, she’s no Judy Garland, but not many people are. The rest of the cast aren’t lacklasture or anything either. They are decent, with the likes of Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon doing well in their respective roles.

fc184784cfe14e865de15e152a8ad7ad[1]

Much of Judy is directed okay but there’s nothing that stands out at all about it. Director Rupert Goold previously made True Story, a movie I thought was pretty good and also had more to it on the directing side compared to Judy. Nothing is necessarily bad here, it’s shot and directed reasonably well, on a technical level it’s all fine (the makeup on Renee to make her look like Judy Garland was great). However everything feels like it’s on complete autopilot, and lacks any kind of energy, with maybe the exception of the last scene.

judy-image-renee-zellweger[1]

There’s a lot of potential for a biopic of Judy Garland to be a fantastic movie from a biopic of Judy Garland, but the end result is bland, uninteresting, and not really that good. Even if you want to learn more about Judy, the film doesn’t explore her or really show enough about her for it to be satisfying. Not to say the movie doesn’t have its upsides, the acting is generally good, with the highlight being Renee Zellweger’s performance, and with her winning an Oscar, it might be worth checking it out for that. Beyond the acting however, don’t expect much more beyond that.

Pet Sematary (2019) Review

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Horror, graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Jason Clarke as Dr. Louis Creed
Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed
John Lithgow as Jud Crandall
Jeté Laurence as Ellie Creed
Hugo and Lucas Lavoie as Gage Creed
Director: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his neighbour Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unspeakable evil with horrific consequences.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Pet Sematary was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. It was an adaptation of a famous Stephen King book, I liked the actors involved that I recognised, and the trailers actually made this look pretty good and effectively creepy. Prior to watching this, I had started reading the book (and finished it later on after watching the movie), and I haven’t seen the previous adaptation from the 90s. Sadly I heard that the 2019 movie wasn’t so great, and aside from The Dark Tower was among the only recent Stephen King adaptations that wasn’t generally positively received. Still, I wanted to see it for myself. While I’m not sure that I’d say that it’s terrible, it’s certainly uninspired and underwhelming.

The story for the movie was a very mixed bag. Having read the book in its entirety, I can confirm that there are a number of changes to the story, even if the essence of the story is the same. However even early on, there was some odd changes. While it definitely doesn’t need to follow the story beat by beat, it almost feels a little rushed, for example with the way they introduce the Pet Sematary into the plot. A lot of the changes seemed to have been made to make it the most simplistic version of the story possible. There are also changes later in the story as well which are vastly different from both the book and the 1989 movie. In fact while there are some similarities, the third act is mostly different from the book. Now as for the third act changes, I guess they were fine and I didn’t have too much of a problem with them. However at the same time they really served no purpose outside of just being different from the book, or potentially making it easier to put in a conventional horror movie. I mentioned earlier about how it seemed like the movie was trying to rush through the plot. At the same time, the pacing can be really slow, even with a runtime of an hour and 40 minutes. It picks up in the second half in the story and pacing however. I liked the dark tone and a lot of the ideas, but the ideas are straight from the book, which did them a lot better. It feels so by the numbers and generic here. Much of the harshest of the events happens right at the end of the story, but in the second half there is a real sense of dread. In the movie however, you don’t feel anything like that. You feel empty, and unfortunately it’s not the good, unsettling and most of all intentional feeling of emptiness.

The cast do fine enough with Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, and others as the family, and they definitely try their hardest with what they have, but these characters are just not given enough things to do. They are barely characterised, and you just don’t care about them at all beyond the fact that they are our main characters. The standout of the whole movie was John Lithgow, who was great as Jud Crandall, an older man who knows a lot about the Pet Sematary. It was perfect casting, and he plays the role very well.

The direction is a bit of a mixed bag. On a technical level it’s fine, but they weren’t exactly utilised the best. The scares didn’t work at all and didn’t produce a reaction anywhere close to genuine terror. Weirdest of all, there were some fake truck jumpscares that would randomly happen, and although I know why they were in there, it just made it harder to take the movie seriously. Think of all the bad clichés that most average to bad modern horror movies have, Pet Sematary 2019 does many of those things. From the building tension music that eventually stops and then a scare happens, or when a character looks around, concluding that everything is safe, before turning around and something scary is right in their face. There are some technical parts that work alright. Church the cat was handled well, from cat actors, to the makeup used on them, basically what you’d imagine him being based off the book. Without spoiling anything, the whole thing involving the character of Zelda was effectively creepy.

There was a lot of potential with Pet Sematary, and the source material seemed like there’d be a lot to use (especially with the recent solid Stephen King movies with the likes of It, Doctor Sleep and others getting some good adaptations). But it’s just so generically done. Not to mention it’s ironically devoid of life. There are some aspects of the direction that are decent, I like some of the acting, and some ideas from the book which still work. However it’s not enough to save this movie from just being average. If you really want to watch it and you’ve got 100 minutes to kill, then maybe check it out for yourself.