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The Dig (2021) Review

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The Dig

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Sex scenes & nudity
Cast:
Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty
Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown
Lily James as Peggy Piggott
Johnny Flynn as Rory Lomax
Ben Chaplin as Stuart Piggott
Ken Stott as Charles Phillips
Archie Barnes as Robert Pretty
Monica Dolan as May Brown
Director: Simon Stone

In the late 1930s, wealthy landowner Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) hires amateur archaeologist Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) to investigate the mounds on her property in England. He and his team discover a ship from the Dark Ages while digging up a burial ground.

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I first heard about The Dig on Netflix as it was one of their movies, it was a movie about digging up something important around World War II, but I wanted to watch because of the cast which includes Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes. Having finally seen it, I can say that it’s nothing that memorable and it’s mostly just okay, but for what it is, a British period drama based on a true story, it’s made fairly well.

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The script for The Dig is rather simple and it was a typical historical film based on a true story. There’s very little surprising or astonishing, and the character beats are predictable. It’s not that nothing of significance happens in this film considering the prospect of finding something important, as well as everything that the characters go through in their own lives. However the stakes feel pretty mild, The Dig is more of an easy, contemplative and laid back experience. It doesn’t try to be anything more than a simple story from the past, and to a degree I respect that. It does cover a real-life story that is interesting mainly for history and archelogy buffs. Even though I’m not an archelogy buff and it didn’t feel like much happened in the story, I thought it was compelling enough, and it had its emotional moments. During the whole first half, I was interested with the characters, and their storylines and how they developed. Where some problems start appearing is in the second half where it loses its focus once it expands beyond the main cast of Mulligan and Fiennes, Fiennes particularly becomes a secondary character. The second half overstays its welcome and introduces some unwelcome subplots, more on that later. Something that most viewers will feel is that the movie moves a little bit slower than it needed to. It certainly felt a little too slow for me to be completely gripped with the story. Some scenes feel unnecessarily long and drag on for quite some time, and despite an hour and 52 minutes not being an extremely long runtime, it does feel a little tedious at times. It certainly isn’t helped by the occasionally dragging pacing. The subplots introduced in the second half were a bit too much, one that comes to mind instantly was a love triangle subplot involving Lily James and Johnny Flynn. It didn’t really add anything to the story, just forced melodrama. After watching the movie I looked up what happened in real life and it turns out the film does take some creative liberties and particularly changes up some key details about the characters. Without getting too into it here, these decisions actually made the movie worse despite the intentions to make things more dramatic and interesting. Unsurprisingly, that aforementioned love triangle was one of the creative liberties taken, in fact much of what happened with Lily James’s character’s story in the movie didn’t happen in real life.

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The cast will be the main draw for most people who watch The Dig, and in fairness there are some really talented actors involved. The main cast are great with Ralph Fiennes as the weathered and capable excavator, and Carey Mulligan as the main landowner whose land is being dug up. Supporting cast was good including Lily James and Johnny Flynn, even the young actor who plays Carey Mulligan’s son.

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The direction from Simon Stone is also pretty good. First of all, it has some fantastic cinematography, really capturing the English countryside’s sights with its glorious wide shots and sweeping camera movements. It even felt like a Terrence Malick movie at times. The production values are strong with the set design and costume design capturing the time period well. Finally the piano score is great, dreamy and relaxing, it really matches the tone of the movie well.

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It does feel like some potential of the Dig was wasted considering the premise and story, and it’s a pretty forgettable movie unfortunately. However for what it’s worth, I think it’s a decent movie. The cast and the directing certainly elevate it quite a lot, and I’m glad I watched it. It is a movie that I would have playing in the background more than actively watching, but it’s an okay movie, and one worth checking out if you like the cast involved or if you’re interested in historical movies.

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.