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Old (2021) Review

Old

Old

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, horror scenes & content may disturb
Cast:
Gael García Bernal as Guy Cappa
Vicky Krieps as Prisca Cappa
Rufus Sewell as Charles
Alex Wolff and Emun Elliott as Trent Cappa
Thomasin McKenzie and Embeth Davidtz as Maddox Cappa
Abbey Lee as Chrystal
Nikki Amuka-Bird as Patricia Carmichael
Ken Leung as Jarin Carmichael
Eliza Scanlen as Kara
Aaron Pierre as Mid-Sized Sedan/Brendan
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

A thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly reducing their entire lives into a single day.

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Old was one of my most anticipated films of the year. I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan, I know that his movies aren’t for everyone and there are a few of his films which don’t really work for me personally. On the whole though, I like his movies. There was a lot of mystery surrounding Old but I knew it was a thriller about aging set on a beach starring Thomasin McKenzie and Vicky Krieps, and it was directed by Shyamalan, so I was interested in how it turned out. I actually really liked it a lot.

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Some have described Old as being Twilight Zone esque and while I’ve never watched the show, I can kind of get what they mean. The plot is fairly straightforward and fairly predicable at times, but has a high concept that they take advantage of, the horror of inescapable aging. The movie is about time as to be expected, with plenty of themes about growing old, experiencing major moments in life in a short time, and effectively is a meditation on time despite being a thriller first and foremost. In most Shyamalan films there is a level of sincerity to how seriously they take the story, and that goes a long way here. The movie is a family drama, and while this dynamic and concept has been in many movies (including horror thrillers), it was handled quite well here. This is one of Shyamalan’s darkest movies, but it also has a lot of heart in it, and it nails the emotional aspect of the story. I face found the story gripping on the whole. In terms of issues with the writing, it does have Shyamalan’s trademark awkward and artificial sounding dialogue as expected. However at this point I accepted it as a Shyamalan thing, if you’re used to it from his other movies, then Old won’t be too hard to get through. The movie has this general level of weirdness to it but I find that it helps the movie have an off kilter feel to it. There are some moments which are funny but some of those feel intentional. I know that a lot of people will compare Old to The Happening, but the former definitely does things a lot better. The invisible horror certainly works a lot better in Old, perhaps because of the existential nature of the rapid aging in the movie. I will say that the tone is a little messy and all over the place. There is indeed a twist as to be expected from Shyamalan, and I think the twist is just okay within the context of the story, but it is one that I’ll need to think about. It does have a big exposition dump and an odd tonal shift that makes it feel out of place, otherwise I was fine with it.

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This movie has quite the talented cast, and I thought that everyone performed their parts greatly. The main family is greatly played by Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie. They had strong chemistry between them and they really felt like a family. The rest of the cast including Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung and Eliza Scanlen were also really good in their parts. The performances of the actors playing children who age up quickly (Wolff, McKenzie and Scanlen) particularly do very well at portraying older versions of the children while believably capturing the mentality of the younger people they were hours before. Vicky Krieps, Thomasin McKenzie and Rufus Sewell were the standout performances to me.

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M. Night Shyamalan’s direction is really solid, I think this is some of the best work he’s one on a technical level at the very least. He definitely excels at his smaller scale movies, and this is certainly one of his smallest movies, with it mostly taking place on a beach. Speaking of which, the setting of the beach was great and there were some stunning shots, and certainly a notable amount of use of blocking to hide certain things and capture characters’ perspectives. Shyamalan does a lot with the claustrophobia of the setting and being trapped there, much like how the characters feel. Most of the movie doesn’t have anything overtly violent but when it does, it is effective. There’s even a surprising amount of body horror and in those moments, Shyamalan lets it loose and gets more gnarly than I was expecting it too. Finally, the score works very well for the movie.

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I have heard some people say that Old is M. Night Shyamalan at his absolute ‘most’, and I can sort of see why. If you aren’t a fan of many of Shyamalan’s movies, there might be some aspects about it that might not work with you, from some clunky dialogue, weird tonal changes, and odd story and technical choices. However, I actually quite liked the movie and found it entertaining, the actors were great, I was invested in the story, and it was very well made. It is definitely a divisive movie, but I think it’s worth checking out. It is possibly among Shyamalan’s best films.

The Dark Tower (2017) Review

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Idris Elba as Roland Deschain
Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick, the Man in Black
Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers
Claudia Kim as Arra Champignon
Fran Kranz as Pimli
Abbey Lee as Tirana
Jackie Earle Haley as Sayre
Katheryn Winnick as Laurie Chambers
Director: Nikolaj Arcel

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, is locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), also known as the Man in Black. The Gunslinger must prevent the Man in Black from toppling the Dark Tower, the key that holds the universe together. With the fate of worlds at stake, two men collide in the ultimate battle between good and evil.

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I was curious about The Dark Tower. It’s based on the book series by Stephen King and with the additions of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, it had a lot of potential. I finally saw the movie and… it doesn’t quite live up to all its potential. The Dark Tower is overall just fine, the plot is somewhat okay, the action is mostly just okay, however its just not that interesting as a movie. With the exception of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, there’s not much reason to watch The Dark Tower.

I haven’t read the books so I can’t comment on how the movie translated the books, all I can comment on is how it is as a movie on its own. On its own it was very generic and weak overall. I could follow the story but I feel like this script wasn’t detailed enough, and I’m not just referring to the world. The characters aren’t given depth, the pacing was very off, the plotlines weren’t that interesting, everything is just a mess. I really didn’t care about what was going on, I was just following along, being mildly entertained at least. The third act does pick up and it is entertaining but maybe that’s just because it was the climax. This movie is 95 minutes long, which is incredibly short, however I still managed to feel quite bored. I have no idea what happened with The Dark Tower, it should have been something great but most of it is just rather mediocre and uninspired. It almost feels like the first draft of the script was used, instead of a proper and fully fleshed out script.

Idris Elba was great as Roland, the Gunslinger. He has a lot of charisma and was convincing at being such a badass with his guns. He elevated his role with his performance and he was enjoyable to watch. Matthew McConaughey plays the villainous Man in Black, and he is having an absolute ball. The character himself really wasn’t interesting, kind of a standard generic, evil villain. However McConaughey seemed to be putting everything into his performance, so he was at least entertaining and because of his performance, the role sort of works. Both Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are the best parts of the whole movie. The main character of the film is a kid played by Tom Taylor. The character is very uninteresting and doesn’t have much in terms of personality, but Taylor does try his best and does okay with the role. There’s not much to say in terms of supporting characters. Katheryn Winnick doesn’t get much to do and Jackie Earle Haley is laughably wasted, he gets a few short scenes and that is it.

There’s not much to say about the direction by Nikolaj Arcel, its passable but nothing special. Some of the CGI is fine, other parts looked quite fake. Most of the action is fine, surfacable, something you’d see in a passable blockbuster (such as The Dark Tower). With that said, there are a couple night-time action scenes and the lighting is so dark that quite often its hard to tell what’s going on. As previously mentioned, the final act is quite entertaining, and the action sequences plays a big part of it. The editing of the movie, specifically the scene translations were really jarring, though it may be just the script that caused the scene changes to feel jarring. The score by Junkie XL is pretty good and worked for the movie.

The Dark Tower had a lot of potential but it really didn’t deliver on that. Aside from Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, there’s not much reason to watch it. Sure the plot is passable, but its so weakly done and it is so hard to care about what’s going on. The movie isn’t even enjoyable in a ‘turn off your brains’ kind of way. The best way I can describe The Dark Tower is that its the kind of movie that you look down at your phone while it’s playing. You may occasionally look up at some entertaining bits, but most of the time, nothing on screen is interesting enough to keep you constantly engaged. Apparently some sequels are planned and I’m not particularly excited for them, if they are actually going ahead with them they will need to be a lot better than whatever this movie was supposed to be.

The Neon Demon (2016) Review

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Time: 118 minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, Horror, Sexual Material and Necrophilia
Cast:
Elle Fanning as Jesse
Karl Glusman as Dean
Jena Malone as Ruby
Bella Heathcote as Gigi
Abbey Lee as Sarah
Desmond Harrington as Jack McCarther
Christina Hendricks as Roberta Hoffman
Keanu Reeves as Hank
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles just after her 16th birthday to launch a career as a model. The head of her agency tells the innocent teen that she has the qualities to become a top star. Jesse soon faces the wrath of ruthless vixens who despise her fresh-faced beauty. On top of that, she must contend with a seedy motel manager and a creepy photographer. As Jesse starts to take the fashion world by storm, her personality changes in ways that could help her against her cutthroat rivals.

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The Neon Demon was one of my most anticipated films of 2016, this is the second film from Nicolas Winding Refn I’ve seen, after Drive. Drive was an absolutely fantastic film, I loved it, so naturally I was excited to see his upcoming film. After seeing this film, I have to say, I absolutely loved The Neon Demon. Visually stunning, excellently performed, everything here was great. Understandably, not everyone will like this movie, due to it not having a straightforward story and some of its weirdness will alienate some. I’m just glad I’m one of the people who loved it.28fc5711b37fcb526c803cf78b40972f[1]

There are a few things that you have to know before going in. This film is slowly paced quite a bit, part of that is due to the fact that The Neon Demon is also very artistic, with many visual sequences showing symbolism and metaphors. This really isn’t surprising as Refn is known for being more of a visual director. Although this film sort of has a plot, it doesn’t have a very straightforward story, there are many different ways to interpret this movie. This may turn off and come across as pretentious for some viewers, but I personally loved the story that Refn told. The last act is completely nuts, having a complete change in tone, turning into straight up horror. While that change was a little jarring, I loved the last act, even though at times it could get ridiculously over the top at times. I’ve also heard from many that this is Refn’s most disturbing movie yet, I’ve not seen Only God Forgives or many of his other films aside from Drive but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the case. I won’t say what happens in this movie to avoid spoilers (as I found many of them out before watching the movie), but let’s just say I can understand why this movie turned a lot of people off…

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The performances from everyone was excellent. Elle Fanning was really good in the role of the main character, she goes through a form of transformation in the film, and along with the visuals of the film from Refn, she conveys that expertly. All the supporting cast did great jobs as well. Jena Malone was a standout for me, there are certain stand out scenes that she’s involved with which (I won’t spoil) I have to say are very daring, she’s fantastic. Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee were really great as two of models who become jealous of Elle’s character. Keanu Reeves also plays a small part in the movie as the seedy hotel manager, he’s only in a few scenes but he still manages to leave an impression, it was a very different character for him to play.

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This film quite possibly has the best cinematography all year, which really isn’t surprising as it’s directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. I can’t really comment on whether its Refn’s best looking film yet (as I haven’t seen any of his films aside from Drive) but it looks so gorgeous. The use of colour also makes the film absolutely beautiful, visually this film is perfect. Also the soundtrack by Cliff Martinez is absolutely europhoric, memorable, it really added a lot of the movie.

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This movie really isn’t for everyone however, whether that be the lurid content, the slow pacing or the visual storytelling. If you want a more straightforward plot, this isn’t your film. For me though, The Neon Demon is one of my favourite films of the year. This film is a reminder that I really need to see more of Nicolas Winding Refn’s films, with this film and Drive, he’s already becoming one of my favourite directors.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Review

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Mad Max Fury Road

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and content that may disturb
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa
Nicholas Hoult as Nux
Hugh Keays-Byrne as Immortan Joe
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as The Splendid Angharad
Riley Keough as Capable
Zoë Kravitz as Toast the Knowing
Abbey Lee as The Dag
Courtney Eaton as Cheedo the Fragile
Director: George Miller

In the stark desert wasteland populated by a broken humanity driven with survival and the unending ravage for gasoline, a loner named Max (Tom Hardy) finds himself unwantedly caught in the middle of a chase while aiding the heroine Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and her female companions, she struggles to return to her homeland and escape the clutches of a ruthless dessert gang leader, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). With the harsh desert sands in front of them and marauders behind, only the maddest will prevail the storm.

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The Mad Max franchise has started having a huge following ever since its debut in the late 70s. After the last instalment (Beyond Thunderdome), it’s been 3 decades since director George Miller has created an entry in the franchise. I think all of us knew at least in the back of our minds that it would be good but not to this level of perfection. This is one of the best action movies I’ve seen in years. There are some people who are saying this is the best action movie of the decade, now that I’ve seen it, I can understand why. George Miller has created an action movie for the ages, that action movies nowadays should take cues from.

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You don’t really need to see the other Mad Max movies before watching this one. It might bring some things from Max’s past (involving his family) but that’s it. Some people say that this film doesn’t have any story but that’s not true. There definitely is story, it’s just done more visually and doesn’t require too much dialogue to show it. Now the first thing you need to know going in is that this film is insane, in many ways. Everyone in this movie is mad, even Max (hence the title) but a lot of what happens in this movie is crazy, for example there is a truck which has people playing drums and a guy who plays a guitar and fire bursts out the neck. At that point, you’ll probably be able to decide if this is a movie that you’d like to watch. This is a pure action movie and a great one at that.

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Tom Hardy was pretty good as Max and he is believable in his role. He doesn’t try to imitate Mel Gibson’s portrayal and really does well to make this character his own. Despite this movie being a Mad Max movie, Furiosa is as much of a main character as Max is. Charlize Theron is great as a main character and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in the movies to come. Other actors like Nicholas Hoult were also great and did add a lot to this film. The acting overall was pretty good and like most of the story, the actors don’t need much dialogue to carry out their great performances.

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These are some of the best action scenes I’ve seen in many years. The stunts are masterfully done, and it’s hard to imagine how George Miller and his team managed to make that happen. Most of the effects are practical and when there is CGI, it blends seamlessly into what was happening like Furiosa’s missing arm or a dust tornado. The soundtrack was also great and fitted the moments perfectly, as well as putting the film on an even bigger and grander scale.

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I was worried that this film would be 2015’s Edge of Tomorrow or Dredd, a movie that people would say is good but wouldn’t get enough attention. Fortunately it was announced recently that there will be a sequel, Mad Max: The Wasteland. If more action movies are like Fury Road, I think the future of action movies is looking a lot brighter. If you love action films, go as soon as possible to a theatre near you and see this movie, this is the action movie you’ve been waiting for. The rest of 2015 definitely has a tough act to follow and this is so far my favourite film of the year.