Tag Archives: Anya Taylor-Joy

The New Mutants (2020) Review

MOVIE REVIEW 'THE NEW MUTANTS'

The New Mutants

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language & horror
Cast:
Blu Hunt as Danielle “Dani” Moonstar/Mirage
Maisie Williams as Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane
Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana Rasputin/Magik
Charlie Heaton as Samuel “Sam” Guthrie/Cannonball
Henry Zaga as Roberto “Bobby” da Costa/Sunspot
Alice Braga as Dr. Cecilia Reyes
Director: Josh Boone

Five teenage mutants – Mirage (Blu Hunt), Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Sunspot (Henry Zaga) and Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy) — undergo treatments at a secret institution that will cure them of their dangerous powers. Invited by Dr. Cecilia Reyes to share their stories, their memories soon turn into terrifying realities as they start to question why they’re being held and who’s trying to destroy them.

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I remember when The New Mutants was announced and when the first trailer came out. I was interested with it being set in the X-Men universe (from 20th Century Fox) but what made it stand out was focussing on new characters for the cinematic universe, and having an emphasis and focus on horror. It seemed that there was some genuine interest by many people in this movie. As it turned out however, it got delayed 4 times, having been set for release in 2018 and 2019 previously. With it finally coming out in the worst year possible in 2020, along with all the prior delays leading to all its built up interest decreasing, not many people bothered to watch it when it was released in cinemas. It did take me a while to get around to watch it, but I ended up liking it despite its issues.

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The script has quite a lot of problems. The plot is very familiar, generic and predictable, with very few surprises. The pacing was also weirdly rushed at times, and that’s considering that the movie is roughly 90 minutes long. There’s some awkward dialogue that probably could’ve been cleaned up with further drafts. There are some tonal inconsistencies, as The New Mutants struggles to be both a coming of age and a horror movie, and the two styles aren’t blended well. The most annoying aspect is that it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, and plays things way too safe. There are references to aspects of the X-Men universe but its mostly standalone. I’m not quite sure how its supposed to fit into the X-Men timeline but that’s not really one of the many standout issues for me. It is worth noting that the movie was intended to be part of a trilogy, which isn’t coming anymore. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some bright spots. Some moments and sequences worked well, there’s some nice and interesting concepts present, and I did like the small-scale stakes despite the large climax at the end. It also really benefited from its character driven approach, but it could’ve been handled better. The first act was alright for me if slowly paced, although I was still on board. The second act is where the movie is at its strongest when it is focusing on these characters and their interactions as they are trying to deal with their traumas and pasts. Definitely the strongest part of the movie. The third act is a bit of a jumbled mess as it gets into the climax, and it felt repetitive. It does feel strange that this is essentially the ending of the X-Men universe as done by Fox, as it was the last of their movies to be released.

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5 main leads in Blu Hunt, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga and Anya Taylor-Joy give it their all in playing their comic book characters, and their chemistry together was quite good. Blu Hunt is decent in the main role of Dani/Mirage but is outshined by much of the other characters. There were mainly two actors among the 5 who stood out the most. Maisie Williams works quite well as Wolfsbane, and her romance with Dani is surprisingly well handled and the chemistry between her and Hunt is convincing. Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana/Magik was the other stand out performer. I will say that the racist comments the character gives towards the main character is quite unnecessary and out of place (even if it’s meant to further show her as being a bully towards her), it doesn’t really add anything. That aside, Anya plays the role very well and is especially great in the climax.

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The directing by Josh Boone is a bit of a mixed bag. Occasionally there is some good imagery and sometimes its shot rather well. Also, I do like that the whole movie is set at this one hospital. On the whole though, the technical elements aren’t anything special. The visual effects aren’t that good, especially in the climax. There are some horror aspects but not as much as that first trailer showed it to be. It really seemed like they didn’t want to commit to these aspects, and if they did it certainly would’ve given the movie a more distinct style and made it work a lot better. The action in the third act was entertaining but nothing memorable. The editing can be very rough at times, and you get the feeling that some of it was changed during the years of all the delays.

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The New Mutants was much better considering everything from constant delays to possible editing changes. I like the character driven approach, the performances and some of the ideas. With that said its definitely got some problems, from the writing, directing, editing, tonal consistencies and most of all its wasted potential. Check it out if you’re curious but you’re not missing much if you miss it.

The Queen’s Gambit (2020) Review

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The Queen's GambitTime: 393 Minutes
Cast:

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon
Isla Johnston as young Beth
Bill Camp as Mr. Shaibel
Moses Ingram as Jolene
Christiane Seidel as Helen Deardorff
Rebecca Root as Miss Lonsdale
Chloe Pirrie as Alice Harmon
Akemnji Ndifornyen as Mr. Fergusson
Marielle Heller as Mrs. Alma Wheatley
Harry Melling as Harry Beltik
Patrick Kennedy as Allston Wheatley
Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Townes
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benny Watts
Marcin Dorociński as Vasily Borgov
Director: Scott Frank

Set during the Cold War era, orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) struggles with addiction in a quest to become the greatest chess player in the world.

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I was quite interested in The Queen’s Gambit. The main reason was Anya Taylor-Joy being cast in the lead role, she’s one of the best up and coming actors working today, and I’m always interested in whatever projects she takes on. Additionally, a mini series about chess sounded quite interesting. I had high hopes for The Queen’s Gambit and it turned out way better than I thought it would. It is an excellent miniseries, well made on every level, and with another great lead performance from Anya Taylor-Joy.

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The Queen’s Gambit consists of 7 Episodes ranging from 45 minutes to just over an hour in length. That’s pretty short as far as shows go, but it was the perfect length for this story. None of the episodes or moments in those episodes felt like they were filler. A lot happens in each episode too, even the episodes that aren’t an hour long. The first episode doesn’t feature Anya Taylor-Joy as lead character Beth Harmon outside of the opening scene, as it’s mainly Beth at age 9 when she’s at an orphanage and learns about chess. While that episode is pretty much just her at the orphanage, it is nonetheless a very important episode with plenty of things that it sets up for the rest of the show to continue on with. I’ll say that if you watched the first episode and weren’t as engaged as you would’ve liked to have been, the second episode is definitely where things advance a lot more, as it moves beyond the orphanage. I won’t give too much story details beyond that, but I’ll say that it’s very engrossing watching the lead character, the places she goes and everything she goes through. You’re really engrossed into what’s happening over the course of the story, the characters are well realised, and Beth’s story is quite compelling. The Queen’s Gambit is actually based off a fictional novel, but if I didn’t know that going in, I would’ve thought that it was a biopic, that’s how well made the show was. When it comes to chess, you don’t need to be an expert on chess in order to love the show. The Queen’s Gambit doesn’t even try to really explain the whole game to the audience, and that works. You can still follow along with what’s happening with no problems. Additionally, I’ve heard that a lot of chess experts has said that the portrayal of chess in the show is very accurate, so take that how you will.

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The acting is great by everyone. Anya Taylor-Joy gives one of, if not her best performance yet as Beth Harmon. She really portrays this complex character very well, it’s such a nuanced performance that conveys so much with very little. She definitely makes it convincing that she’s a genius level chess player, who is going through lots of issues throughout the show. Also, Isla Johnston deserves some praise as the younger version of Beth (mainly in the first episode). The supporting cast are all great too. Marielle Heller plays Beth’s step-mother, and that relationship between the two was one of the biggest surprises, as it went in a different direction from what I expected from it. I know of Heller as the director of The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me and It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, but she’s shown here that she’s great at acting too and shares great chemistry with Taylor-Joy. Other performances such as Bill Camp as the janitor who teaches Beth chess, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Harry Melling and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as other chess players also add a lot to the show.

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Scott Frank directed all the episodes of the show, and he did a fantastic job with them. It’s an incredibly well shot show, the cinematography is great, and so is the production and costume designs. The costumes that Anya wears in the second half of the show particularly stand out. It really does well at placing the show in the time periods of the 50s and 60s. Chess is a big part of the show as you can tell, and that aspect is portrayed very well. Even the visuals of chess on the ceiling that Beth occasionally imagines in her head could’ve come across as a bit cheesy but actually ends up working. The editing is excellent too, not only working to make the chess matches thrilling and suspenseful, but also keeping the flow of an episode going. Everything that’s in each of the episodes actually has a reason to be there, while not feeling way too trimmed down. One of the aspects that really stood out to me early from even the first episode was the score from Carlos Rafael Rivera, which was really great and fitted the show perfectly.

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The Queen’s Gambit is an enthralling show with a great and entertaining story, and is incredibly well made. Acting across the board was also all solid but it’s Anya Taylor-Joy who stands out, giving another fantastic and compelling lead performance. This show was one of the biggest surprises from 2020, definitely worth checking out as soon as you can.

Emma. (2020) Review

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Emma (2020)

Time: 124 minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Nudity
Cast:
Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse
Johnny Flynn as George Knightley
Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse
Mia Goth as Harriet Smith
Miranda Hart as Miss Bates
Josh O’Connor as Mr. Elton
Callum Turner as Frank Churchill
Rupert Graves as Mr. Weston
Gemma Whelan as Mrs. Weston
Director: Autumn de Wilde

Following the antics of a young woman, Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy), who lives in Georgian- and Regency-era England and occupies herself with matchmaking – in sometimes misguided, often meddlesome fashion- in the lives of her friends and family.

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Emma was one of the movies from 2020 that I was rather looking forward to. I’m not familiar with the novel it’s based on (or really any Jane Austen novel), however I liked the cast involved (with the likes of Anya Taylor-Joy, Mia Goth and Bill Nighy involved), and from the looks of the trailer, it looked quite good. While I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in beyond what it’s based on, I thought Emma was quite good, and I had some fun with it.

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While I’m not familiar with Jane Austen’s original novel, it seemed to have been adapted very well for today’s audiences here. The script is well written, very witty and snappy, and the dialogue is particularly great. The tone is handled well also, it’s very humorous (and most of the movie is generally comedic) but also quite heartfelt. One problem with the movie is that although the runtime is just over 2 hours long, it feels just a little longer than that, and that’s due to the pacing. You are still into the movie throughout, but occasionally there was the feeling that it dragged a little bit at certain points. That didn’t prove to be too much of a problem though, I was generally entertained by the movie.

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The cast all work really well in their roles, and are among the highlights of the film. Anya Taylor-Joy is in the lead role of Emma Woodhouse, and she gives an absolutely wonderful performance. She’s incredibly charming, yet doesn’t shy away from the more selfish aspects of the character, and really grabs your attention every time she’s on screen (which is pretty much almost the entirety of the movie). The supporting cast with the likes of Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner and others work as well, also giving some solid performances. Among them however, Goth was the standout for me, she’s perfect in her role, and is definitely a ‘different’ character that we’re used to seeing her playing (considering the number of gothic and horror movies she’s starred in recently). She and Taylor-Joy particularly shine in their scenes together, sharing some excellent chemistry.

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Emma is the debut film from director Autumn de Wilde, and her work here is impressive for a first movie. On the whole, it’s outstanding on a technical level. Visually it’s stunning, and the use of colour was really effective, it was absolutely gorgeous to look at. On top of that, the costume designs and the production design are amazing, which you’d expect from a period piece movie, but nonetheless is great impressive to see. Much of the movie is very stylish (more so than you’d expect it to be really), but it’s done in a way that suits the material.

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Emma is quite good for what it is, and I generally had a good time with it. It’s entertaining, written and directed well, visually colourful and stunning, and the cast all round is great, especially Anya Taylor-Joy and Mia Goth. I’m not sure what people who have read the books will think about this adaptation, nor can I say how well it has adapted the original book to the big screen (or how it compares to previous adaptations), but I enjoyed what I watched. Definitely give it a watch whenever you get a chance to see it.

The Witch (2016) Review

Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, horror & content that may disturb
Cast:
Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin
Ralph Ineson as William
Kate Dickie as Katherine
Harvey Scrimshaw as Caleb
Ellie Grainger as Mercy
Lucas Dawson as Jonas
Director: Robert Eggers

In 1630 New England, panic and despair envelops a farmer (Ralph Ineson), his wife (Kate Dickie) and four of their children when youngest son Samuel suddenly vanishes. The family blames Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the oldest daughter who was watching the boy at the time of his disappearance. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, twin siblings Mercy (Ellie Grainger) and Jonas (Lucas Dawson) suspect Thomasin of witchcraft, testing the clan’s faith, loyalty and love to one another.

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I remember watching The Witch for the first time a few years ago. It’s really not a movie for everyone, and while I didn’t love this movie (at least yet), it had a lot of admirable elements to it that were really worthy of praise, particularly its direction, performances and how it differs from most horror movies today. With writer/director Robert Eggers having another movie coming out later this year (The Lighthouse), I decided to rewatch The Witch. On a second viewing, I appreciated the movie much more, and it’s probably one of my all time favourite horror movies of all time now.

For those expecting a traditional horror movie, The Witch is very slow paced. Maybe it’s because I saw the movie again knowing what was coming, but it wasn’t as drawn out as I thought it was when I rewatched it. It makes sense given that it’s around 90 minutes long, and it makes great use of that valuable time. It may take a while for the especially grisly things to occur, but it already has an eerie and suspenseful vibe early on. Like with other horror movies, I wasn’t particularly scared (at this point a horror movie not scaring me doesn’t necessarily make a horror movie bad), but the scares are legitimately great. The Witch goes for the more creepy and unsettling route instead of just going full out with gore and jump scares, even though those appear here at some point. Actually watching it the second time I could appreciate how effective it was. While it’s a horror movie, The Witch is also a family drama, touching upon topics like religion (and more which I won’t get into in this spoiler free review). Eggers clearly has done his research on the 17th Century time period and religion, and it really paid off. The dialogue for one is authentically ‘old fashioned’ and very well written, there’s not many movies I can think of released recently that can pull it off. The Witch also has one of the best horror movie endings I’ve ever seen, I can’t exactly explain why it’s so fantastic, but it’s something to do with lead character Thomasin’s story over the course of the movie, and how it ends up with her.

Anya Taylor-Joy is fantastic here as the main character of Thomasin, the daughter of the family. This was actually one of her first roles in a movie and she was great, and of course her work here would deservedly propel her onto more high profile movies. The rest of the movie’s limited cast were great as well. Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson play the rest of the family and they all do a great job (Ineson especially). The performances all feel authentic, increasing the horror even more and they also make the old language dialogue work.

Robert Eggers has done such a great job directing this for a first film, I can’t wait to see what he does for The Lighthouse. This film is shot very well and the production design was truly great, the whole movie is really based in and around the woods in 1630s New England, and it places you right there with the characters. It’s such a bleak and dark looking movie, really making you feel unsettled even in the moments when nothing is really happening (yet). Making the film feel even more creepy is the subtle but great score by Mark Korven.

The Witch is definitely not for everyone. It doesn’t have many (if any) jump scares so its not a typical horror flick, it’s slow paced and it’s very unique. However, I do regard it as one of the best horror movies released in recent years, and it’s a strong contender for the best. It’s directed incredibly well, the cast give some really great performances (particularly Anya Taylor-Joy), and it’s effectively creepy and horrifying throughout. If you like horror movies I highly recommend that you check it out as soon as you can.

Glass (2019) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & content that may disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde
Bruce Willis as David Dunn/The Overseer
Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass
Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke
Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph Dunn
Charlayne Woodard as Mrs. Price
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

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Glass was one of my most anticipated films of 2019. While M. Night Shyamalan has the reputation of being a polarising and hit or miss director, his work on Split was great and one of the most stand out aspects about it was the twist at the very end which indicated that the movie was set in the same universe as Unbreakable. Unbreakable is often hailed as one of Shyamalan’s best films, and seeing him expand on that universe was exciting. Naturally the third and final film of this trilogy had a lot of anticipation behind it, and upon its release, it has been receiving very divided reactions. Having seen it myself though, I’m on the side that loves it, and it just gets better the more I think about it.

While I guess you could watch Glass without watching the other movies, you’ll really only get the full experience if you watch both Unbreakable and Split. If you’re not that interested in these movies, I don’t think you’ll be as invested in Glass as others. Something that should be noted is that this is not a superhero movie. While Unbreakable is sort of a superhero origin story and Split is sort of a supervillain origin story, this trilogy is meant to be a take on superheroes, not necessarily meant to be superhero movies. Because of that, it tends to subvert and play around with a lot of superhero movie tropes, and I really liked that. Glass’s genre and tone is a mix of Unbreakable and Split, but it leans more towards the Unbreakable side. There are a few thrilling scenes but most of the movie is slow paced and smaller scale like Unbreakable, and I loved Unbreakable. There is a lot of dialogue in the movie and going into it knowing that, I really thought it was good and I was invested in the conversations. The movie also doesn’t get as big as some may think. The trailers do oversell the scale of the movie, it really is a small scale and enclosed movie, and I’m glad that it doesn’t get absurdly over the top. There will be some things in the third act that are going to divide some people, I personally really liked where he took it, even if I really wasn’t expecting that at all. It is clear whatever the case however that the direction that Shyamalan took the plot was his plan, it’s not a studio mandated decision or anything, this is what he wanted to do with the story. As for the writing itself I really liked it. It does have the typical writing of Shyamalan, both the good and bad. By the bad I mean that there’s some occasional lines of dialogue which don’t sound human at all, but I’ve become used to seeing that from Shyamalan. In terms of problems I had, the first thing that came to mind was that the second act at times could drag. I wasn’t necessarily bored and I was invested throughout, but I did feel it slow down a little too much. With that said, Unbreakable had more pacing problems than Glass. I feel like I’ll need to watch Glass again to be sure how I feel about it, however my instant reaction after watching it was loving it.

Much of the returning cast from Unbreakable and Split are back and they all do great jobs. Bruce Willis reprises his role as David Dunn from Unbreakable but he wasn’t as prominent as I thought he would be. He was sort of in the forefront earlier on and then gets less screen time over time. With that said it worked for the movie, he was still present in the plot and it was nice to see him again. It’s also the best performance that Willis has given since Looper, he really does seem committed to the role. Also returning is Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr Glass. It was surprising that despite his name being the title of the movie, for a while he doesn’t do much. Even when he showed up in the first half, he was just there, not even saying a single word. It’s really the second half where he is more in the forefront and Jackson absolutely kills it. It’s been 19 years since we’ve seen him in this role and he is back with the same level of dedication and still feels very much like the same character, albeit more certain in his beliefs about superheroes. James McAvoy as Kevin Wendall Crumb/The Horde however was the standout of the entire movie, no surprise really. While David Dunn is in the forefront in the first half while Elijah Price is in the background, as well as vice versa for the second half, Crumb and his other personalities were consistently present throughout. McAvoy was fantastic in Split but he’s even better here. While his character’s split personality wasn’t necessarily a gimmick in that movie, it was quite reliant on it. In Glass it feels like his characters are even more fleshed out and McAvoy just transforms into each of them with ease (sometimes jumping between them in the same shot), convincingly making them feel like distinctly different people. While the personalities we see most are Hedwig, Patricia, Dennis and The Beast, we do see appearances from the personalities in Split, as well as a bunch more new personalities. I’m not sure how you’ll feel about the overall movie but I’m pretty sure that everyone will be able to say that James McAvoy did a phenomenal job, because he really did. An addition to the movie is Sarah Paulson in the role of a psychiatrist trying to convince the main 3 characters that they aren’t superheroes. Paulson is a very talented actress but was often underutilised in some movies, often in minor supporting roles. In Glass she is in a supporting role but she really shines in her role and has a lot to work with. Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard return as their characters, with Anya as Casey Cooke (the surviving kidnapped girl from Split), Spencer as David’s son, and Charlayne as Elijah’s mother. They aren’t in the forefront and maybe weren’t super essential to be in the movie but they fit well in the story and played their parts well.

I’d go so far as to say that this might be the best directed film by M. Night Shyamalan, he does some great things here. The cinematography is immaculate and the visuals are great, particularly the use of colour. This is not an action movie but there are a few action scenes. It’s nothing great but it was more than I was expecting from the movie, and worked quite well. The music by West Dylan Thordson (who made the score for Split) was great. There are also callbacks to themes from Unbreakable and Split and they are very effective.

Glass isn’t going to work for everyone, as evidence from the very polarising reaction from both critics and audiences. If you’re not invested in the Unbreakable/Split stories in the slightest, there’s probably not going to be much point watching Glass. However I personally loved what M. Night Shyamalan did with this film. His direction of the movie is his best work yet, the performances are great (particularly James McAvoy) and as unexpected as it was, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to what Shyamalan started with Unbreakable. I think I will need to rewatch it at some point as there was a lot to take in, and my opinion on it could change. However the more I think about it, the more I loved it.

Marrowbone (2018) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
George MacKay as Jack Marrowbone
Anya Taylor-Joy as Allie
Charlie Heaton as Billy Marrowbone
Mia Goth as Jane Marrowbone
Matthew Stagg as Sam Marrowbone
Kyle Soller as Tom
Nicola Harrison as Rose Marrowbone
Tom Fisher as Simon Fairbairn
Director: Sergio G. Sánchez

Three brothers (George MacKay, Charlie Heaton, Matthew Stagg) and a sister (Mia Goth) have just lost their mother. After her death they fear to be separated, so to protect themselves and prevent this from happening they decide to flee to an abandoned farm, a place that is not what it seems, because it hides a dark secret between its walls.

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I had been meaning to watch Marrowbone for a while. It’s a horror movie starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton and Mia Goth and is written and directed by the person who wrote The Orphanage (a horror movie I heard is good that I haven’t seen yet). With all that, it really interested me despite some rather mixed reactions to it. Marrowbone is a rather solid horror drama which actually really works quite well, more so when you understand what kind of movie it’s aiming to be, and in that it really succeeds.

Marrowbone is just under 2 hours long and I was pretty interested throughout. I think something that some people will not expect is that it’s more of a drama than a horror and is a bit of a slow burn. I had a feeling going in that it wasn’t going to be a jumpscare fest or a typical horror movie, so I was fine with that. So yeah, go into Marrowbone expecting a drama with horror elements. I will admit that I spoiled a big part of the movie for myself while watching it (looked up ahead at the plot by accident), that being like the last scene of the movie and thus a big twist. I will say however that watching the movie knowing this, I can say that it was done rather well and it didn’t feel overly predictable, yet it makes sense and doesn’t cheat the audience at all. With that said, there are some bits to it that do indicate which direction the movie is moving towards, and some bits that seem completely obvious, so you might be able to figure it out. Also there was a minor aspect of the movie that I found a little hard to buy happening in real life, it’s not completely impossible, just rather unlikely.

The cast is all great in their roles. The main cast is the family, which are made up of George MacKay, Charlie Heaton, Mia Goth and Matthew Stagg, with all of them doing a great job. Their characters aren’t particularly developed (for the most part) but their performances more than made up for it, elevating their parts quite well. Also by the end when certain things are revealed, I think the lack of character depth was okay. There’s also the addition of Anya Taylor-Joy (no stranger to horror movies) who as usual adds quite a lot to every movie that she appears in. She’s very much a supporting character but she’s really good when she’s on screen.

Sergio G. Sanchez is the director and as I said earlier, he’s at least familiar with horror movies and you can feel that watching the movie. It’s quite a good looking movie, the cinematography is good and so is the production design, everything feels appropriately in the 1960s. The scares didn’t really scare me at all, there’s quite a few jumpscares in the movie but it doesn’t really get that annoying. Marrowbone doesn’t really create a lot of tension throughout the movie, though when you consider the story in its entirety, it’s not that big of a problem (unless you’re expecting a pure horror movie). However there is some very effective tension made when it comes to a chimney in the movie.

Marrowbone isn’t quite what I and other people have expected it to be, but it really worked for me. The performances are great and it’s well directed and the story is really solid. I know that some people are rather mixed about it but I really do recommend checking it out sometime if you’re okay with watching a film that has some horror aspects to it.

Thoroughbreds (2018) Review

Time: 92 Minutes
Cast:
Anya Taylor-Joy as Lily Reynolds
Olivia Cooke as Amanda
Anton Yelchin as Tim
Paul Sparks as Mark
Francie Swift as Mrs. Reynolds
Director: Cory Finley

Childhood friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) reconnect in suburban Connecticut after years of growing apart. Lily has turned into a polished upper-class teenager who has a fancy boarding school on her transcript and a coveted internship on her resume. Amanda has developed a sharp wit and her own particular attitude but all in the process of becoming a social outcast. Though they initially seem completely at odds, the pair eventually bond and hatch a plan to solve both of their problems.

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Thoroughbreds was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. There was quite a lot of buzz for it already but with Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke and Anton Yelchin involved, I was especially hyped for it. Thoroughbreds had actually been out for quite a while in other countries but for some reason didn’t come to New Zealand cinemas. I finally found a way to watch it and having seen it, I can say that it lived up to the hype. Thoroughbreds is a unique and darkly comedic thriller that is really effective and deserves more love and attention.

The script by Cory Finley was originally written for the stage and you can definitely feel that, from the movie being very dialogue driven, to the staging of certain scenes, and it the fact that the movie has title cards separating the film into chapters. Admittedly the movie is a little slow at first but that’s really the only criticism I have. Thoroughbreds is a dialogue heavy movie and the dialogue itself is sharp, strong and really works. It is also a darkly comedic movie, so it’s entertaining despite it being about two girls plotting to murder one of their stepfathers. The script is very well written overall by Finley. Thoroughbreds is about an hour and 30 minutes long, which was a good length overall, aside from the early moments I was fully into the movie.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke were absolutely fantastic as the leads, they share perfect chemistry. You really buy them as estranged friends reconnecting, with both of them being similar but different to each other. Cooke’s character doesn’t feel anything and is borderline sociopathic and Taylor-Joy’s character is a narcissist who isn’t quite how she initially appears. It’s interesting watching these characters interact, as they reveal hidden layers of themselves and change over time. While Cooke initially is more the standout at the beginning, as the film progresses Anya really shines as we see more layers to her character and when she makes certain decisions. It’s the little the little subtleties that she shows that particularly makes the performance work so well. The supporting cast are quite good but the stand out is Anton Yelchin. This is sadly the last performance of his career, and honestly this might one of his best performances, he stole every scene he was in. Here he plays a low time drug dealer who Anya and Olivia’s characters blackmail, and Yelchin is very funny and he plays his role so well. He is very much a supporting actor, and you don’t see him a ton, but he was nonetheless great in all of his scenes. All 3 performances were excellent really.

Cory Finley did pretty well for a directorial debut. The cinematography is sharp and really is great. At times the way its staged does almost make it feel like a play, which makes sense considering how the script was already written. The soundtrack is full of beats and other weird noises which only builded up the tension and vibe of the whole movie. As the film continues on you can really feel the tension growing, which of course is helped by the script, dialogue and performances.

Thoroughbreds has a great script, fantastic performances from Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke and Anton Yelchin and is a solid directorial debut by Cory Finley. I feel like this little unique movie will become more beloved as it gains more attention. At the moment I think it’s one of the best films of the year and I definitely think that it is worth checking out.

Morgan (2016) Review

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Kate Mara as Lee Weathers
Anya Taylor-Joy as Morgan
Toby Jones as Dr. Simon Ziegler
Rose Leslie as Dr. Amy Menser
Boyd Holbrook as Skip Vronsky
Michelle Yeoh as Dr. Lui Cheng
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr. Kathy Grieff
Paul Giamatti as Dr. Alan Shapiro
Director: Luke Scott

Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a bioengineered child who began walking and talking after one month of existence, exceeding the wildest expectations of her creators. When Morgan attacks one of her handlers, a corporate troubleshooter (Kate Mara) visits the remote, top-secret facility where she’s kept to assess the risks of keeping her alive. When the girl breaks free and starts running amok, the staff members find themselves in a dangerous lockdown with an unpredictable and violent synthetic human.

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Morgan was a movie that I was curious about, mostly with the cast involved with Kate Mara, Rose Leslie, Toby Jones and many others, it looked like it had a lot of potential. However, as well know, potential doesn’t always guarantee greatness and that was certainly the case here. Morgan really wasn’t all that great, but I don’t think its as bad as some people have made it out to be. It is rather underwhelming however.

This movie didn’t really capture my interest, it moves at a slow pace. It’s also predictable for at least the very least the first two acts, anything you’d expect to happen does happen. We’ve seen so many movies about humanity creating life and that life becoming dangerous, and Morgan doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. This movie had so much opportunities to do something different. It would’ve been nice to see something unique, at least the very least for the third act. Changing up the direction of the climax or going in depth with the questions that the film raises would’ve been better. However the third act here is a typical sci-fi thriller ‘outbreak’ sequence that we’ve seen so many times before. I also found it difficult to care about what was going on, its hard to really care about any of the characters because they weren’t really that fully fleshed out or developed. There is a twist that happens, even though I wasn’t really expecting it, the overall effect was deflated because I wasn’t invested in the characters or story at all.

As I said, the cast involved is great, but most of the actors really don’t get used to their fullest potential. Kate Mara is the lead character and she does a commendable job here, the problem is that her character is just so uninteresting and poorly characterised. Her character really needed to be something more interesting and layered, its unfortunate that the lead character seems to have the least characterisation out of all the main characters. Most of the cast with Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook and others are good but aren’t utilized to their fullest potential. Paul Giamatti’s inclusion in the film was pretty much pointless, he was fine in his scenes but he was used so little it’s a wonder why they even bothered. There was really two actresses who stood out to me, one was Rose Leslie, who managed to add something to her performance that most of the cast wasn’t able to. And the other was Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular character of Morgan. She manages to convey both a childlike innocence as well as dangerous instability. Those two had a believable relationship because of Taylor-Joy’s and Leslie’s chemistry.

I liked most of the direction from Luke Scott. This film generally has a good look, it is very well shot and it really makes you feel enclosed in this environment and facility. With that said, there are a couple of fight scenes and they are cut and edited so poorly, I mean this is borderline Taken 3 editing.

Morgan is a disappointment considering all the things it had going for it. The movie doesn’t really do anything that you haven’t seen before with this type of plot, its hard to care about anything that’s going on and it really doesn’t live up to any of its potential. The performances (especially from Anya Taylor-Joy and Rose Leslie) and some of the direction is good enough for me to consider this to be a somewhat okay movie. But this movie could’ve and should’ve been so much better than it actually turned out to be.

Split (2017) Review

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Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror and content that may disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke
Betty Buckley as Dr. Karen Fletcher
Haley Lu Richardson as Claire Benoit
Jessica Sula as Marcia
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being. Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Ana Taylor Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

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Split was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. M. Night Shyamalan has been starting to make a comeback with The Visit and from the trailers, Split looked like it has a lot of potential. James McAvoy particularly looks like he was going to give a tremendous performance. Having seen Split, I can say that M. Night Shyamalan is officially back. This film was so great, with great acting, excellent direction and a mostly riveting story. Although it’s not quite the level of greatness of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, Split comes very close. It has some issues but the pros absolutely outweigh the cons.

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I will say that the first act of this movie is a little weak. It just didn’t really have me riveted all the time, the dialogue felt a little awkward at times and it was just okay overall, though McAvoy kept me interested enough. By the second act however, I was incredibly invested in what is going on. Shyamalan keeps everything riveting. Shyamalan in his films often makes the mistake of just having character spurt exposition, telling the audience information. Save for one scene with Betty Buckley in a Skype conversation, Shyamalan handles the information distribution a lot better, giving little tidbits of info, trusting the audience to follow along. This movie has a surprising amount of comedy, most of the time it works. A lot of it is about how odd and strange the situations are, which I like, Shyamalan knows that a lot of the film can be a little weird and he has fun with it. One other thing to note is that Anya Taylor Joy’s character does have some flashbacks to her past. While I understand the importance of them, I felt like they could’ve been done a little better. They felt mostly out of place and the choice of flashbacks could’ve been better. Now this film mostly is realistic but at a point it goes in a ‘different direction’. You really have to just go along with this direction, even if it feels jarring. The ending for me made this direction make sense. This ending of the movie is going to divide some people. I personally think it’s amazing. Let’s just say that if you’re a fan of Shyamalan’s earlier work, your mind will be blown. However it’s understandable that many people don’t understand the meaning of the ending. If you watch Split and don’t get understand it, just look it up.

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This is the best performance I’ve ever seen James McAvoy give. He had to portray 9 (of the 23) personalities, all with unique quirks, mannerisms and aspects to them. Not only that but he had to make it all feel real, not just cartoony and crazy. Sometimes during one shot he’d change from one to the other and you can really tell when this happens, all the personalities are very distinct. This couldn’t have been easy to pull off. There’s particularly one scene in the third act which really shows how fantastic of an actor he is. Definitely one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time. Anya Taylor Joy was also incredible as the main girl Casey. As previously stated, her character has a backstory, a pretty unfortunate backstory to say the least. Without revealing anything, Anya was very convincing as her and it was easy to follow her character. Betty Buckley plays Kevin’s psychiatrist and she was also great, especially in her scenes with McAvoy. If there’s any weak parts in terms of acting, it’s the other kidnapped girls. They weren’t horrendous but they are like typical horror movie girls, there wasn’t anything really to them.

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The cinematography is fantastic but that’s not surprising, since Shyamalan brought on the Cinematographer of It Follows. So naturally it looks great. The music by West Dylan Thordson was also really effective. Shyamalan really knows how to make situations creepy and unsettling, despite some issues in the story, I can’t really say at any point in the movie the direction faltered because it doesn’t really. This film has many legitimately scary moments, and went further than I thought it would.

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Now as I said this movie does have some problems with regards to its story really in the first act. However, all the positives of the film are so great that I almost forget about these issues. Everything from the acting, direction and most of the story made this such a surprising and great movie. And let’s just say that after the ending, I’m hyped for M. Night Shyamalan’s next project. However this movie is not really for everyone, just a heads up.