Tag Archives: Jack Reynor

Midsommar (2019) Review

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, sex scenes, drug use & suicide
Cast:
Florence Pugh as Dani Ardor
Jack Reynor as Christian Hughes
William Jackson Harper as Josh
Vilhelm Blomgren as Pelle
Will Poulter as Mark
Director: Ari Aster

With their relationship in trouble, a young American couple travel to a fabled Swedish midsummer festival where a seemingly pastoral paradise transforms into a sinister, dread-soaked nightmare as the locals reveal their terrifying agenda.

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]

The delay on this review warrants an explanation. For many, Midsommar has already been released months ago. However for whatever reason, it took A24 a really long time to release it here in New Zealand, surprising considering that Hereditary (another A24 and Ari Aster directed movie) released here around the same time as everywhere else. So there was an absurd wait for it to come to cinemas here, and as of this moment I’m not even sure if it’ll ever come. The wait was bad enough, but it also seemed like plenty of people were just willing to post screencaps and spoilers about it with no filter whatsoever. So I pretty much knew most of the movie weeks before going into it, so that could be why a lot of the more ‘shocking’ parts really had little to no impact on me. So if at points I sound rather bitter throughout the review, that’s probably why.

Midsommar was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. All I really knew about it was that it is the next film by Ari Aster, who directed Hereditary, which was in itself quite a great horror movie and one of the highlights from 2018. Midsommar was definitely an interesting change in terms of concept, it’s surrounding people who go to a Swedish cult and I was interested in it. As the movie released in most places and time passed, I just wasn’t that hyped for it. Admittedly it’s likely to do with the aforementioned fact that I was spoiled. Nonetheless I got onto watching it as soon as I could watch it in a quality that wasn’t cam footage. I’ve finally seen the movie, and let’s just say that I have some conflicting thoughts about this movie.

Unlike plenty of people who have absolutely no consideration for others, I actually don’t want to spoil this movie for anyone, as it’s probably better experienced going in not knowing too much. So for those who haven’t been spoiled yet, this review is completely spoiler free. I’m fully aware that there is a director’s cut, I don’t know the differences between the cuts since I haven’t seen that version just yet. It’s going to be a while before I watch that however, it’s nearly 3 hours long and I don’t know if I’d be up for that. The theatrical cut is 2 hours and 30 minutes long, and I already had a hard time getting through all of that. The first 20 minutes is quite slow, and already it didn’t start off the best. It takes its time really building up everything or even getting to the primary location of the movie. I didn’t necessarily want it to be rushing through the plot, but I did want it to pick up the pace a little bit. It feels incredibly drawn out, even after it starts getting really ‘wild’ after the first hour. It’s got some horror, but it’s not horror in the traditional sense of a lot of jumpscares and the like. Hereditary was much more of a horror movie than Midsommar, so don’t expect to see similarities in the scares department. That’s not to say that the movie considerably improved when I viewed it as a drama instead of a horror movie however. The movie also has a surprising amount of comedy, and I can at least say that when present it was done well. So if you’re wondering why certain moments appear more comedic than scary, chances are that it was intentional. This movie like Hereditary was about grief, but whereas I felt that movie did it well, Midsommar did it to mixed results (no spoilers). The movie also sort of about toxic relationships, it establishes what direction it is going in but it sure takes it’s time telling it, with not much interesting stuff in between. Some thought has been put into aspects of the cult, but its rather 2 dimensional typical cult stuff. It’s really like you’ve seen similar things like this before. Sure there are some intentionally weird moments I guess, but again I wasn’t invested enough in the characters or the plot to be affected by or care about it. The ending is something that people are conflicted about. Given some of the reactions (because again some people on social media couldn’t just hold back on talking about the ending), I feel like some people are interpreting it wrong. While I’m fine with it, it’s nothing that I loved or anything, it was just like “well, I guess the movie is over”. Though my reaction is probably more to do with the rest of the movie than the actual ending. Now for the inevitable question, did knowing what was going to happen affect my experience? I did know in fact what was going to happen, but given that the movie was 2 hours and a half long, I expected much more to happen in between these moments. However that’s not the case, I could sum up the plot in about a few sentences and the amount of depth with the plotlines in that summary is about as deep as the actual movie goes. Yes the movie has stuff about bad relationships and grief/trauma, but it doesn’t really do anything with them. Not to mention waiting around for certain plot points to occur made the experience somehow even more tedious.

The acting was quite good. The highlight is Florence Pugh as the lead character, easily the closest thing to a complex character in Midsommar. She does display a wide range of emotions, and is really good in the movie. The rest of the characters aren’t really given much in terms of depth. Jack Reynor plays the boyfriend and he does very well, but he more than the rest of the cast really suffers most from not having enough material to work with (though I did hear there’s more stuff with him in the director’s cut). The rest of the cast including Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper and Vilhelm Blomgren were also good.

Ari Aster has definitely continued to expand his talent since Hereditary, going from a movie with a darker pallet to a much brighter one, and usually set out in the open where everything can be seen. There’s a lot of detail put into the location, costumes, production design and the like. It’s very well directed and a really good looking movie overall. If you have a weak stomach you might not be able to handle it, as there is some gore. With that said, none of it actually affected me or really disturbed me, it was sort of just there. The movie at times really seemed like it was trying to be disturbing, given the times it sometimes cut back to the moments of gore, but it didn’t make it any scarier to me. I wasn’t even really unnerved by the movie on the whole, I was just watching what was happening. I guess credit to Aster for only having one jumpscare throughout the whole movie.

Midsommar is a movie that I have some very mixed thoughts on. The direction is pretty good, the acting is great, and some of the ideas did have potential. Even though I don’t dislike the movie however, I do have my issues. The movie is drawn out throughout it’s very long runtime, fails to interest, doesn’t really deliver on the themes it attempts to have a commentary on, and at times was a real chore to get through. Despite its length, it really explores so very little, it made me wonder why this movie even existed. It’s actually quite disappointing to me, I really thought I would like it a lot more. I might need to watch Hereditary again to see if that movie still holds up on a second viewing. Perhaps the director’s cut fixes some of the issues I have, but given the drawn out pacing and the length, let’s just say it’ll be a while before I get around to it. I honestly can’t guarantee whether you’ll like Midsommar or not, even about whether you liked Aster’s previous movie or not. I have seen people who hate Hereditary love this movie, and vice versa. So quite simply, if you’re interested in seeing it, then check it out for yourself.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018) Review

Time: 104 Minutes
Cast:
Rohan Chand as Mowgli
Matthew Rhys as John Lockwood
Freida Pinto as Messua
Christian Bale as Bagheera
Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan
Cate Blanchett as Kaa
Tom Hollander as Tabaqui
Andy Serkis as Baloo
Peter Mullan as Akela
Naomie Harris as Nisha
Eddie Marsan as Vihaan
Jack Reynor as Brother Wolf
Louis Ashbourne Serkis as Bhoot
Director: Andy Serkis

Human child Mowgli (Rohan Chand) is raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh rules of the jungle, under the tutelage of a bear named Baloo (Andy Serkis) and a panther named Bagheera (Christian Bale), Mowgli becomes accepted by the animals of the jungle as one of their own, but the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) doesn’t take a liking to him. But there may be greater dangers lurking in the jungle, as Mowgli comes face to face with his human origins.

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]

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (originally titled Jungle Book: Origins) was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. With the direction of Andy Serkis, the involvement of actors like Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett, but most of all a darker and more accurate to the source material adaption of Jungle Book, I was curious about the movie. While not quite great, Mowgli is a solid movie that’s well worth the watch.

It’s difficult to talk about this movie without mentioning Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, which was pretty much a direct live action adaptation of the animated movie. I will be making some comparisons between the two but I will refrain from talking about which version I prefer. Ultimately both versions are great for what they are. Although I never read the original Jungle Book stories, from what I can tell Mowgli is a much more accurate adaptation of it. The movie is much more darker and while it doesn’t necessarily creep into R territory, there are definitely some scenes that a lot of children will be scared by. That’s not to say that there aren’t some light moments, its just that you won’t see Baloo signing “Bear Necessities” or anything like that. The characters are also rather different from what you remember in the previous Jungle Book movies. For example, Baloo is a grumpy bear who lived closely with the wolves with Mowgli grows up being mentored by him instead of encountering him for the first time during the story, and Kaa isn’t really a threat to Mowgli. The events and focus of the story are a bit different as well, while Mowgli meeting other humans played a small part in the other versions, here it plays a more larger part. So for those who wonder whether it’s just the same movie with a dark filter, it’s not. The movie is an hour and 45 minutes long and from start to finish I was actually liking it quite a bit. This doesn’t necessarily make it better than Favreau’s version but I really liked the dark tone that they went with, and the darker and scarier moments feel earned and not forced at all. The one thing with the story that I didn’t like so much is that it has a very abrupt ending, just a scene or two more and it would’ve improved it much more.

First of all worth talking about when it comes to acting is the titular Mowgli, played by Rohan Chand. Much of this movie relies on him being great and he really was. He was great at the very physical scenes and he was also great at the more emotional parts of the role. There is a reasonably large talented cast involved in the motion capture as well. The cast includes Eddie Marsan, Naomie Harris, Peter Mullan, Tom Hollander and Jack Reynor who are all great. However some stood out more than others. There is Christian Bale as Bagheera, with a bit of different take on him, who’s great. Appearing in front of the camera as well as behind was Andy Serkis who plays Baloo. Again, different take on Baloo and Serkis is an expert when it comes to motion capture, so it’s no surprise that he’s great here, a real scene stealer. Benedict Cumberbatch already played a motion capture role with Smaug in the Hobbit movies and here also plays Shere Khan. Whereas Idris Elba in Favreau’s Jungle Book was an intimidating and menacing force to be reckoned with, Cumberbatch’s feels like a monster or a demon, who is made all the more threatening by his voice. I do wish that we got a little more of him though but he owns every scene that he’s in. Cate Blanchett as Kaa was great. They seemed to have taken inspiration from Favreau’s Jungle Book by having Scarlett Johansson voice Kaa instead of a male actor, and both versions actually worked well with this. However Mowgli’s version works much better for the sheer fact that we get Kaa for more than one scene. We don’t get a ton of her but she steals the scene when she appears, and Blanchett’s voice adds so much to her, giving Kaa a sort of mysterious presence.

Andy Serkis handles this movie well as director and it really looks visually stunning. Unlike the 2016 Jungle Book movie, Mowgli uses motion capture. This makes the characters appear more expressive and really enhances the performances of the actors, and as I said before the performances are great. Most of the time it is great, however there are some character designs which look bizarre and don’t work at all with some of the animals. The lighting compared to The Jungle Book from 2016 is darker but it works for the tone of the movie.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is solid but I can understand why it was put on Netflix. It was only released a couple of years after the last Jungle Book adaptation, and also it was quite dark, which would no doubt mean that it wouldn’t have that much interest from the general audience. I personally found it to be a well made and different take on the familiar story, and is worth seeing at the very least for the visuals. No matter your thoughts on other The Jungle Book movies, I do recommend at least checking out Mowgli.

Detroit (2017) Review

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast
John Boyega as Melvin Dismukes
Will Poulter as Philip Krauss
Algee Smith as Larry Reed
Jacob Latimore as Fred Temple
Jason Mitchell as Carl Cooper
Hannah Murray as Julie Ann
Kaitlyn Dever as Karen
Jack Reynor as Demens
Ben O’Toole as Flynn
Nathan Davis Jr. as Aubrey
Peyton Alex Smith as Lee
Malcolm David Kelley as Michael Clark
Joseph David-Jones as Morris
John Krasinski as Attorney Auerbach
Anthony Mackie as Greene
Director: Kathryn Bigelow

In the summer of 1967, rioting and civil unrest starts to tear apart the city of Detroit. Two days later, a report of gunshots prompts the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Army National Guard to search and seize an annex of the nearby Algiers Motel. Several policemen start to flout procedure by forcefully and viciously interrogating guests to get a confession.

full_star[1] 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]

I’ve been meaning to watch Detroit for a while. With a talented cast that included John Boyega and Will Poulter, as well as it being directed by Kathryn Bigelow, there was a lot of potential, especially with it being based on true events that took place during the Detroit Riots of the 60s. I also heard some pretty good things about it. Detroit was really impactful and was really great overall, it is a credit to the great performances and Bigelow’s fantastic direction.

Before you watch the movie, you should know that despite the title, Detroit isn’t about the Detroit riots, it mostly takes place in the Algiers Motel during the Detroit riots. The opening of the movie was a little questionable, with a lot of backstory dumped through the use of a very out of place animation. Detroit is around 2 hours and 20 minutes long, which was a little too long. I get that the first act is meant to set up events and the third act is supposed to conclude these events but they did feel a little stretched out. However, I will say that maybe it’s because I expected almost all of the events to just take place at the motel, it takes over 40 minutes for the events of the Algiers Motel incident to actually start. The second act is definitely the strongest act of the whole movie, from start to finish it has you riveted. You really feel right there where everything it is happening, it is very intense and can be really hard to watch (which it should feel).

Acting from everyone is fantastic. John Boyega once again proves himself a talent to watch, here he plays as a cop who has to almost be neutral when all these events are going on, he gives a very subtle performance and he deserves a lot of praise for his work here. The actors who played the real life people in the hotel like Anthony Mackie and Jason Mitchell were good, out of all of them Algee Smith was the stand out. The actors who played the cops like Jack Reynor were also great. Will Poulter is the stand out performance however, stealing the show from absolutely everyone as a racist and violent cop who really takes charge during the whole incident. He really deserved more recognition for his performance, if all you know Poulter from is as the kid from Narnia 3 and Maze Runner, that will change after watching him in Detroit. He was intimidating and scary at times but he also felt uncomfortably real, Poulter was a real screen presence. Definitely deserves a lot of praise, really everyone really deserves a lot of praise, they all gave great performances that added to the film.

Kathryn Bigelow is a great director and once again she brings her A game here. She brought to Detroit her shaky cam from her previous films Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker and it works here (more so than other movies with shaky cam) because it adds to the movie. You really feel like you are there when all the events are going ahead. The cinematography also supports everyone in this movie. Bigelow also does very well at making sequences feel uncomfortable and tense and she doesn’t hold back at all. Honestly much of the credit to this movie’s success should go to her, she did great work here.

Unfortunately, not enough people saw Detroit, given its box office failure. It’s a real shame because most people missed out on a great movie. There were some incredible performances and Kathryn Bigelow directed this very well, creating an riveting impactful film. It’s a tad too long and I wouldn’t say that it is as great as some of Bigelow’s other films like Zero Dark Thirty or The Hurt Locker but all in all it is really good. It’s not an easy watch, and I don’t see it having much rewatch value but I do recommend giving it one viewing at the very least.