Tag Archives: Kaya Scodelario

Crawl (2019) Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) Review

Time: 108 Minutes
Cast:
Zac Efron as Theodore “Ted” Bundy
Lily Collins as Elizabeth “Liz” Kendall
Kaya Scodelario as Carole Ann Boone
John Malkovich as Judge Edward Cowart
Jeffrey Donovan as John O’Connell
Angela Sarafyan as Joanna
Dylan Baker as David Yocom
Brian Geraghty as Dan Dowd
Jim Parsons as Larry Simpson
Haley Joel Osment as Jerry Thompson
Director: Joe Berlinger

A courtroom frenzy ensues and sweeps 1970s America when a young single mother (Lily Collins) reluctantly tips the attention of a widespread manhunt toward her longtime boyfriend, Ted Bundy (Zac Efron).

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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was a movie I was curious about. With it being a movie about Ted Bundy, and with the cast involved (especially with Zac Efron playing Bundy) I was interested, but wasn’t really sure how the movie would be. Having seen it, I can say that the performances were very good and it was kind of interesting to watch, however doesn’t quite reach its fullest potential.

First thing to note is that the director Joe Berlinger directed earlier this year Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, a Netflix series about Ted Bundy. I’ve never seen it but it seems that the film is helmed by someone who knows a lot of the subject matter. It is worth knowing going in that Extremely Wicked is mostly a court case sort of movie, and the court case scenes start much earlier than expected. You don’t actually see Efron’s Bundy kill anyone (for the most part), you do hear about some of his crimes but that’s it. The first half of the movie was alright, as it shows Ted with his girlfriend Liz as suspicions about him being a serial killer build up over time. I did feel like it dragged a little bit and didn’t have me fully invested. The second half is where the movie picks up, as it heads towards the main court case, with John Malkovich as the judge and Jim Parsons as the prosecutor. From there it’s much more interesting to watch what is happening. The thing that probably let down the movie mostly was the weak script. I think one of the biggest problems is that the movie from the beginning seems to intend on seeing Bundy through his girlfriend’s perspective. However, he gets arrested pretty early on and we don’t really get to spend much time with the two of them together before or during this period, and the movie breezes right through it. The second half of the movie almost abandons this approach, with the majority of it being a bunch of court cases and then once in a while cuts to Liz hearing about what’s going on. It’s like they really didn’t know what approach they should take and so tried to do everything. A lot of people were worrying that the film was going to glorify Bundy but I’m not sure how anyone could think that after watching the movie. In fact, I think it played much of the movie way too safely, like it deliberately feels caged in and restricted to avoid controversy. As I don’t know much about Ted Bundy, I was reasonably interested watching the movie but come to think of it I don’t think I’ve learned a whole lot more about him than I did before watching it. I feel like people who already know a lot about him or have watched The Ted Bundy Tapes won’t get anything more out of it, outside of the acting.

Zac Efron gives his career best performance as Ted Bundy, he is great here. Efron effortlessly conveys Bundy’s charm and you can see why so many people could be tricked by him and got away with so much. The first half of the movie you really just see Efron’s charismatic side and it’s a while before you really get to see the darker aspects. In the second half though you really get some glimpses of Bundy’s more serial killer side, even without showing any killings on screen, and he’s excellent in the last 20 minutes. I do feel like Efron wasn’t really able to fully embody Bundy as the movie only shows certain sides to him. It was good for what we got though, and at the very least it shows that Efron is more than up to the task for playing much more challenging roles. Lily Collins was also really good as Bundy’s girlfriend Liz and considering that the character really wasn’t handled the best in the story, Collins elevated the role with her performance. It’s a little difficult to buy their relationship as in the early stages of the movie, their moments together are just shown in montages and we don’t really get a chance to see it unfold, so some of the relationship isn’t fully convincing. Not that they have bad chemistry or anything, both of them work together on screen well, it’s just that we didn’t get enough of it. The rest of the cast, which consists of Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment and more also played their roles well.

Joe Berlinger directed this movie fine enough, there’s nothing wrong with how he handled the movie, the cinematography, editing and all the rest are competent enough, just nothing special or noteworthy worth mentioning.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a decent enough movie but isn’t as great as it could’ve been. The movie didn’t seem to know what angle it was going to take on the story, whether it be from the perspective of the girlfriend or to be a court case movie, and it’s a little messy all round. Weak script aside, from what I can gather, you’ll get a lot more out of it if you don’t know a lot about Bundy beforehand, as it doesn’t show or reveal a whole lot about him. As someone who really didn’t know much about him beforehand, I liked it but I can see how others didn’t get much out of it. With that said, it does pick up with the second half, and Efron and Collins give some really good performances and I think that’s enough to make the movie worth watching. If you have Netflix and you are curious about it, then definitely give it a watch.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains supernatural themes & violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
Javier Bardem as Captain Armando Salazar
Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner
Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth
Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs
Golshifteh Farahani as Shansa
David Wenham as Scarfield
Stephen Graham as Scrum
Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa
Director: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Thrust into an all-new adventure, a down-on-his-luck Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) feels the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost sailors led by his old nemesis, the evil Capt. Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it, he must forge an uneasy alliance with a brilliant and beautiful astronomer (Kaya Scodelario) and a headstrong young man in the British navy (Brenton Thwaites).

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I really didn’t know what to expect going into this movie. I don’t have strong memories of the previous Pirates of the Caribbean movies but I do remember liking the first three and finding the fourth to be mediocre. I wasn’t really looking forward to the fifth instalment, it’s been 6 years since the last film and it seemed tired, forced and it felt like an unnecessary cash grab. Also the marketing wasn’t that spectacular. The only thing that looked somewhat interesting was Javier Bardem as a villain. But out of morbid curiosity I decided to check out the fifth instalment, and to my surprise this movie ended up being better than I expected. I was for the most part entertained throughout, with all the elements of an above average action movie. It’s still got its fair share of flaws however.

movie felt long, which is odd considering that this movie is around 2 hours 10 minutes long, making it the shortest Pirates of the Caribbean movie to date. After a couple of great opening scenes, the first act is quite slow. The segment where the main three characters (played by Depp, Thwaites and Scodelario) are stuck on land early in the movie really drags. It was also at the first action scene with Jack Sparrow that I noticed an immediate problem (and not just Jack Sparrow/Johnny Depp himself), the comedy was rather weak. In fact all things considering, this might actually be the least funniest Pirates movie, it tries so hard to be funny but it just ends up feeling kind of awkward. However the underlining and the main problem with the movie is that it is a little hard to care about what is going on. The only character I had sort of any interest in was Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), he was the best character in the entire movie. Salazar (Javier Bardem) was an effective, entertaining and creepy villain but has simplistic and typical motivations, Henry and Carina (Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario) are okay but their motivations and characteristics are rather bland and uninteresting. And Jack Sparrow is handled the worst out of the main characters, he’s only involved with the story because Salazar is after him and he’s sort of forced into pairing up with Henry and Carina but aside from that, it feels like he doesn’t belong in the movie. Jack doesn’t have any sort of arc or story in this movie, it feels like he was written as a supporting character but put in the role as the main character. So why do I like this movie despite all it’s problems? Maybe its because its been many years since I’ve seen the previous Pirates movies so I just saw this instalment as an simple action adventure movie, the story is minimal and simplistic, same with the character motivations, but it’s enough to keep the movie rolling and it was enough for me to be reasonably entertained by it. This movie does seem to tie up everything with many of the characters in the franchise (no spoilers), almost as if it’s the last film in the series, and while it should’ve been a better conclusion, I’d be fine if this really is the last Pirates movie. With that said, it does have an questionable end credits scene…

I have mixed feelings on Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in this movie, this is the worst I’ve ever seen Jack Sparrow in a Pirates movie. In the first act he was just completely drunk, completely unfunny and unlikable and that’s it. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnny Depp was just being drunk during these scenes. Over time he did get better, occasionally displaying hints of the Jack Sparrow we all know and love. But he still feels like a caricature of what Jack Sparrow really is, though I’m not even sure that it’s Depp’s fault. Brenton Thwaites plays Will Turner’s son and Kaya Scodelario plays a character named Carina, those two are the Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann replacements in this movie. The problem with them wasn’t their acting, they certainly tried as hard as they could to be great and they definitely have a lot of talent, but their characters weren’t that interesting. They do have motivations which are passable but that’s sort of it, these characters are written quite blandly. Javier Bardem was one of my favourite parts of the movie. He’s creepy, entertaining and completely chewing the scenery and he does really go over the top especially with his character being dead but I felt that it worked for the movie. However there’s not much to his character, just another villain wanting revenge against the main character, I like his backstory but aside from that there’s not much to him. Another one of my favourite parts was Geoffrey Rush who reprises his role as Barbossa. Unlike all the other characters, Barbossa had some sort of a story arc and it’s done quite well. I didn’t really have any problems with him. David Wenham is here as a British Royal Naval officer who comes into conflict with the main characters but is ultimately wasted, it’s almost laughable how useless and pointless his character is. There were also cameos from Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, which were nice to see. Oh, and Paul McCartney shows up in this movie for a brief moment, for some reason. It was a rather random cameo.

The action scenes were nice to watch, with them being quite over the top and were very entertaining. However there really wasn’t much tension in these sequences because we don’t care about the characters or their motivations. The climax itself is fine but was oddly enough brief and a little underwhelming. The CGI for the most part worked well, even the CGI on the dead people were done well. However at times it did have some occasional moments when there was CGI overload and some aspects looked a little fake. The soundtrack by Geoff Zanelli was really good, it really added to the film, especially with Salazar’s theme.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was better than I thought it would be. Maybe it’s because I just saw the movie as a simple dumb action flick, so I could look past many of the issues: it has simple characters, a revenge driven, scene chewing villain, over the top action, it was just an over the top action movie. On top of that, there are no other blockbusters about Pirates, so it is rather refreshing to see one in cinemas. There are many flaws, obviously, but this movie has just enough good parts about it to be entertaining.

The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials (2015) Review

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Maze Runner; The Scorch Trials

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Dylan O’Brien as Thomas
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt
Ki Hong Lee as Minho
Kaya Scodelario as Teresa Agnes
Rosa Salazar as Brenda
Jacob Lofland as Aris Jones
Giancarlo Esposito as Jorge
Aidan Gillen as Janson
Dexter Darden as Frypan
Alexander Flores as Winston
Barry Pepper as Vince
Lili Taylor as Mary Cooper
Patricia Clarkson as Ava Paige
Director: Wes Ball

In this next chapter of the epic “Maze Runner” saga, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers face their greatest challenge yet: searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization known as WCKD. Their journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces and uncover its shocking plans for them all.

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I wasn’t very impressed with 2014’s Maze Runner, I thought it was quite predictable and I didn’t really care about what was going on, although it did have some good elements, such as the action and some of the performances were good. With Scorch Trials however, the Maze Runner franchise looks to be on the improvement. It still has its problems with its characterisation and character development, as well as having a lot of plot holes but I have to give credit to the people involved for creating an improved sequel.

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Like with the first Maze Runner I didn’t really follow the story that well but I could just go with it. There are still plenty of plot holes, most of them come from the previous film’s ending, that being I’m pretty sure that WCKD (not a very subtle villainous corporation name by the way) could test children more easily by testing them in smaller rooms and not build giant mazes that would be more time and money consuming. The characterization like in the first film wasn’t that strong, I didn’t feel like I knew any of the main characters, except for Thomas but even then you don’t really learn much about him. The movie also did feel a little long at 2 hours 15 minutes, there were a few moments in the final act that they could’ve ended the film and I think that would’ve worked better. And yes, this film does have the type of ‘there’s going to be another one’ ending, like the first film’s ending, however it’s not as bad here.

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Dylan O’Brien and the rest of the cast do a good job. I felt that I didn’t emphasise enough in my review of the first film that the cast did a good job, it’s just that the characters they played weren’t that interesting. I actually started to slightly care about the characters, which was a huge improvement over the original where I didn’t care at all what happened to them. I thought that Aidan Gillen and Giancarlo Esposito were great additions to the franchise (though that’s partially because Gillen is in Game of Thrones and Esposito is in Breaking Bad). I do genuinely think they did great jobs with what they had to work with and I’m looking forward to see them in the sequel.

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The film looked quite good and had some great cinematography, especially with its action scenes. The action scenes, like in the previous film was great and again are the best part of the movie. The zombies (I don’t remember what they are called in the movie) in the first half looked practical and real, and I thought they were quite effective. However in the second half, they swapped them for CGI, and I didn’t really understand why, it did sort of take me out of the movie.

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Although I wouldn’t call this film great, I will say that it was surprising and better than I thought it would be. This movie was definitely better than the first film, probably because it already had ‘established’ characters and the plot seemed to be moving forward faster. Maybe the next and final sequel might actually be great and even if it isn’t, it’s at the very least the first young adult franchise to not have a last instalment that’s broken into 2 parts, I’ll give Maze Runner credit for that.

The Maze Runner (2014) Review

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The Maze Runner

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] ViolenceCast:
Dylan O’Brien as Thomas
Kaya Scodelario as Teresa
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Newt
Ki Hong Lee as Minho
Will Poulter as Gally
Patricia Clarkson as Ava Paige
Director: Wes Ball

Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in “The Glade” for three years, trying to find a way to escape through the Maze that surrounds their living space. Then a comatose girl arrives with a strange note (Kaya Scodelario), and their world begins to change.

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Young adult book adaptations seem to be all the rage now, with franchises like Harry Potter and Hunger Games. However as more of these franchises came out, I’ve been less and less interested like with Divergent and now Maze Runner. However, even Divergent, which is a series that I consider to be just okay, still manages to be better than The Maze Runner. The upcoming movie titled the Scorched Trials has potential to be better than this film but we’ll just have to see. The Maze Runner despite having great action scenes and an interesting premise has one dimensional characters, a surprisingly uninteresting and predictable story, and I didn’t really feel for any of the characters. It’s around this point that I’m starting to feel sceptical about any young adult adaptations.

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For a movie about teenagers stuck in an isolated location, I wasn’t really invested in the story. It didn’t help that this movie was so predictable, and a mystery movie shouldn’t be predictable. A big part of it is that it has so many clichés, many of them are in young adult book adaptations, I could probably list the entire review with them if I wanted. The only young adult cliché that isn’t repeated here is the love triangle. What really fails the movie is the ending as not only is the ending pretty much “There’s gonna be another movie” but it just makes no sense when you find out what happened and why the characters are where they are.

In this image released by 20th Century Fox, Dylan O'Brien appears in a scene from "The Maze Runner." (AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Ben Rothstein)

One of the biggest failures of this movie are the characters. The actors hold up pretty well but they play some of the most one dimensional characters I’ve seen in a movie. Dylan O’Brien plays a generic hero whose only characteristic is that he’s heroic and we also have Will Poulter, whose job is to be the generic bully (but actually has more to work with than the other actors). Also the girl played by Kaya Scodelario is supposedly an important character but once she comes into play, her importance disappears in the next scene. Eventually we do find out her significance but that’s really done as backstory, she doesn’t do anything of significance. I don’t really remember any of the characters other than those three previously mentioned. I didn’t really feel like I knew the characters, so when some of them are being killed off, I didn’t feel anything for them.

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The effects and action scenes are the best part of this movie. Everything looks on a grand scale and the film is (fortunately) well shot and made the scenes really intense. Also the actors do actually sell the action scenes quite well, that’s sadly the best they did in this movie.

The Maze Runner, 2014

The Maze Runner was one of the weakest young adult adaptations I’ve seen but it’s not bad. I’m still hoping that the series can improve because I wasn’t very impressed by its first film. Even Divergent for all its faults had good acting and some three dimensional characters. Even if the story wasn’t riveting, it was still more interesting than Maze Runner’s. I’ve heard the books are great but judging the film as a film, it’s not that great. I just hope that the sequels finally get it right.