Tag Archives: Lily James

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.

The Dig

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.

Yesterday (2019) Review

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Himesh Patel as Jack Malik
Lily James as Ellie Appleton
Kate McKinnon as Debra Hammer
Ed Sheeran as himself
Director: Danny Boyle

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter in an English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James). After a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, Jack becomes on overnight sensation with a little help from his agent.

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I heard about this movie for a little while, what I knew was that it involved The Beatles and had Lily James. It feels like a strange movie for Boyle to make, yet from the trailers seemed like a simple but fun movie to watch. Having seen it, it’s definitely not one of his better movies, and it doesn’t even have the same energy displayed in the trailer. Yet it is enjoyable for what it is, I had a good time watching it.

Yesterday isn’t really great and has some issues. There isn’t a lot of depth given to the story, though I wasn’t expecting much really. As it turns out, The Beatles aren’t the only thing that disappeared from history. With that said, there is no explanation as to why they disappeared from existence, nor is there any explanation for why the main character is like the only person to remember them. The movie also doesn’t really take advantage of the premise, it’s like you could swap The Beatles with any iconic music group like Queen or The Rolling Stones, and would basically get the same effect, outside of some different references. It’s very clear that the romance is the focus, and in that most of the movie works fine enough, it’s just that it feels very familiar and simple. The movie certainly works a lot better when viewed as a romantic comedy, so definitely go into it expecting that. It’s got a light tone and is perfectly watchable, though at a little under 2 hours feels slightly long.

Most of the cast play their roles very well. Himesh Patel is the lead in this movie, I’ve never seen him in anything else and this appears to be a breakout role for him, he plays the role really well. Lily James shines as always, the two of them share good chemistry, though we don’t really see enough of them together. Ed Sheeran is in the movie as himself for more than just a cameo, he’s actually a noticeable part of the plot. Let’s just say that if you don’t like him then I don’t think you’ll like the amount of screentime that he gets. Kate McKinnon’s character is a very cartoonish agent who’s only interested in money and all that, but McKinnon elevates the role quite a bit and manages to make her work and genuinely entertaining whenever she’s on screen.

Danny Boyle is directing, and you really get the feeling that he’s really limited by the whole romantic comedy genre. It’s about as well directed as it could possibly be and he does his best to add some of his style to the movie. We only get like brief scenes focussing on the music but when it’s there it’s good as expected, it’s The Beatles after all.

This isn’t among Danny Boyle’s best movies, it really doesn’t take advantage of its entertaining premise as much as it could’ve and doesn’t do quite enough to make it stand out among the rest of the genre. However, if you like a light hearted romantic comedy, Yesterday is worth giving a watch. Boyle does the best with what he has, and both Patel and James are likable leads. Just don’t expect much more than that.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains sexual references
Cast:
Amanda Seyfried as Sophie Sheridan
Meryl Streep as Donna Sheridan
Lily James as Young Donna
Dominic Cooper as Sky
Christine Baranski as Tanya Chesham-Leigh
Jessica Keenan Wynn as Young Tanya
Julie Walters as Rosie Mulligan
Alexa Davies as Young Rosie
Pierce Brosnan as Sam Carmichael
Jeremy Irvine as Young Sam
Colin Firth as Harry Bright
Hugh Skinner as Young Harry
Stellan Skarsgård as Bill Anderson
Josh Dylan as Young Bill
Cher as Ruby Sheridan
Andy García as Fernando Cienfuegos
Director: Ol Parker

In 1979 young Donna (Lily James), Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies) graduate from Oxford University — leaving Donna free to embark on a series of adventures throughout Europe. On her journeys, she makes the acquaintances of Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine) — the latter whom she falls in love with, but he’s also the man who breaks her heart. In the present day, Donna’s pregnant daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), dreams of renovating a taverna while reuniting with her mother’s old friends and boyfriends on the Greek island of Kalokairi.

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I watched the original Mamma Mia about a week ago and although I was entertained by it, I wasn’t a particularly huge fan of it, I didn’t really consider it to be a good movie but I had fun with it. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect from Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, the pre-sequel to the first movie 10 years in the making. So I just expected a dumb and over the top with a bunch of great ABBA songs. However, it actually surprised me quite a lot. Basically all the issues I had with the first movie were fixed here, with a stronger story, better use of songs and some surprising emotion. And like the first movie it is really campy and entertaining.

Something that occurred to me over the course of my viewing was that it seemed that Mamma Mia 2 fixed all my problems with the first movie. First of all, Mamma Mia 2 has more of a story. The first movie felt really like talented actors doing drunk karaoke – ABBA edition. Mamma Mia 2 has much more of a plot, half of it focussing on Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie in present day and the other half on Lily James’s younger Donna in flashbacks. The first movie jammed a whole lot of ABBA songs into moments where they didn’t really need it, and almost felt like padding to extend the movie. With the sequel though, there are enough breathing moments and it didn’t feel like they were just shoving ABBA songs into the movie just for the sake of it and all the song segments seem to work appropriately for the story and movie. Whereas the first movie had some humour which didn’t really land (most of the comedy I found in that movie was unintentional), the sequel is genuinely funny. Last but not least, there are genuinely solid emotional scenes. I wasn’t emotional myself during the movie (most movies don’t really get me to be that way) but the emotional scenes were earned and were well done, and I’m not exaggerating when there were some people in the cinema that I was in that were legit crying in some scenes particularly near the end. The movie like the first is over the top and campy. If you were fine with how absolutely silly the first Mamma Mia was, you’ll have no problem with how silly the sequel can get. Whether it be some of the dialogue, the song transitions and segments, and just some of the goofy things that these characters do, for me it was just really fun to watch. I think I should also mention that you really shouldn’t expect much of Meryl Streep here. The film made a really weird decision considering that she was part of what made the first movie so successful. What I can say that it was a risky move that paid off in the end, the story did actually work well for it.

Most of the original cast returns with Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranaski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Dominmic Cooper. It is a little jarring how much older all of them are now (10 years older to be exact) but they are good. One of the highlights of the original movie was that everyone there looked like they loved being there and are having a good time, thankfully that’s the same with the sequel. The younger cast also do well, whether it be the younger Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters played by Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies, or whether it’s the younger Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard played by Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner and Josh Dylan respectively. They all feel like younger versions of the actors/characters. In terms of stands outs however, it’s really Lily James, she is really believable as a young Meryl/Donna and really leaves an impression. The other people in the cast is also pretty good. Cher is in the movie plays Streep’s mother and Seyfried’s grandmother and while she’s good, she really doesn’t end up living up to the hype that the movie was building her up to be, and no I’m not just referring to the trailers or the fact that they got Cher for the part. The problem is that despite the fact that she was built up from the very first scene, when she finally arrives, she doesn’t really do much or leave that much of an impact. It ultimately feels like they could’ve gotten any half decent singer and actress for the part and so in that aspect it felt a little underwhelming after all that build up (or they could’ve cut the character from the movie). With that said, Cher is good in the role. The singing is also generally good. Once again, the women do fare much better than the men, but the men were okay enough for the most part. And yes, Pierce Brosnan does do some singing in this movie but he is actually somewhat okay, then again most of his singing time is spent with dozens of other singers. The one moment when he did some singing on his own actually worked for the scene.

This first Mamma Mia was directed by Phyllida Lloyd, whereas the sequel is directed by Ol Parker, both movies are actually pretty well directed for what they are. Like with the original movie, Mamma Mia 2 takes advantage of its locations, it’s a really good looking movie. The song segments are all entertaining and wonderfully goofy when it needs to be. It’s also always great hearing ABBA songs.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again honestly surprised me, it was a little bit better than just being a dumb and goofy movie (though it very much is a dumb and goofy movie). It fixed the issues that I had with the first movie and I was able to enjoy the movie both ironically and unironically. Speaking as someone who was entertained by but wasn’t a massive fan of the first movie, I really think the second movie is a significant improvement. If you love the first movie and haven’t seen this one, you’ll definitely love the sequel, especially in a packed cinema. If you disliked the first movie, I highly doubt that the second movie would change things for you.

Darkest Hour (2017) Review

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Coarse language
Cast
Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill
Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill
Ben Mendelsohn as George VI
Lily James as Elizabeth Layton
Ronald Pickup as Neville Chamberlain
Stephen Dillane as Viscount Halifax
Director: Joe Wright

A thrilling and inspiring true story begins at the precipice of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King (Ben Mendelsohn), and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.

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Darkest Hour was a movie that I’ve been getting a little interested in. It’s a movie about Winston Churchill starring Gary Oldman and directed by Joe Wright, so of course I was somewhat curious about it. Darkest Hour is a pretty good movie overall, with some great performances, solid direction and a decently well done story. I wouldn’t say that it’s a great movie as a whole but it’s still worth watching.

I was interested enough in what was going on throughout the majority of the movie, it does drag at some points and I’d be lying if I said that I was completely riveted from start to finish but I was interested enough. Keep in mind that this isn’t a full on Churchill biopic, it covers him taking on the responsibilities of Prime Minister of Britain after being brought in to replace Chamberlain, and includes him dealing with the Dunkirk event while being faced with adversity within his own government. In terms of accuracy I can’t comment on it. However, there is a very out of place scene that involved Churchill on a train that I’m sure didn’t take place at all. I could tell what this scene is meant to show and why it was here in the first place, but the way it was done just felt so ridiculous and I couldn’t take it seriously at all. Aside from that rather distracting moment, it’s a rather solid movie overall.

Gary Oldman is great as Winston Churchill, you can’t really tell that it’s Oldman throughout the performance. Yes of course the makeup of course changes his physical appearance a lot but everything from his voice and the way he acted was very transformative as well, it’s not just Gary Oldman in heavy makeup trying to act as Winston Churchill. I will admit, at many points I couldn’t really tell what he was saying because of how much he mumbled but I guess maybe that’s just the way that Churchill talked. Otherwise this is a very good performance. The supporting cast was also solid and deserve some praise as well. We have Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife, Lily James as Churchill’s secretary and Ronald Pickup and Stephen Dillane as Neville Chamberlain and Viscount Halifax respectively and they all do a great job.

Joe Wright did quite well in directing this. The cinematography, set designs, costumes and the score by Dario Marianelli all work together quite well. The makeup and fat suit on Gary Oldman also worked quite well in transforming him into Winston Churchill and it never felt like it was overkill, it was just right.

Darkest Hour is a pretty solid movie with Joe Wright returning to form (at least in comparison to his last film Pan) and with the performances being the highlight, especially Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour is also a pretty good accompany piece to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and watching both of them will probably increase your enjoyment of both of them. I’m not quite sure how most audiences will find the overall movie but I will say that it is worth watching for Gary Oldman’s performance at the very least.

Baby Driver (2017) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Strong violence and offensive language
Cast:
Ansel Elgort as Baby
Kevin Spacey as Doc
Lily James as Debora
Jon Hamm as Buddy
Eiza González as Darling
Jamie Foxx as Bats
Jon Bernthal as Griff
Director: Edgar Wright

Talented getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. After meeting the woman (Lily James) of his dreams, he sees a chance to ditch his shady lifestyle and make a clean break. Coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), Baby must face the music as a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.

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Baby Driver was a movie that I’ve been keeping an eye on for a while. I’ve loved every movie from director Edgar Wright, and with the cast with actors such as Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx involved, it had a lot of potential. Baby Driver blew me away. Entertaining from start to finish, directed and written perfectly, Baby Driver is one of the best films of 2017. Edgar Wright has made yet another fantastic film.

Now the movie doesn’t have the most original story, they’ve been plenty of crime, heist and car chase movies. However, Baby Driver is a love letter to those movies (and to music as well), and this movie has a lot of fun with it. Edgar Wright’s writing is top notch as always, from the dialogue, to the foreshadowing, humour and the plot overall, everything is written to perfection. Like Wright’s other movies, there are bits that most people won’t necessarily notice on a first viewing, so I can see people loving this movie even more on repeat viewings. I was entertained from start to finish. It is quite a fun movie overall but its also serious enough that you care about what’s going on. If there’s any flaw I can find with the movie its that the romance just sort of comes out of nowhere and starts abruptly. That’s it really, and even then the romance does work overall because of the leads’ chemistry (more on that in a bit). Honestly aside from that aspect, there wasn’t really a low point of the movie.

This movie has a very talented cast, the one actor in the cast that I was unsure about was Ansel Elgort, he’s a decent actor but I hadn’t seen him great in anything … until now. He really impressed me in Baby Driver, he’s likable and he fully embraces his role. Baby Driver really is his movie and he shines in it. I did mention that the romance is rather sudden and its unbelievable how quickly it starts, but what makes it work is the chemistry between Ansel Elgort and Lily James, they work perfectly together, without them the romance (which is one of the main points of the movie) wouldn’t work at all. This movie has a lot of talented supporting actors with Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jamie Foxx and Jon Bernthal and others and they are great. The stand outs to me were Kevin Spacey and Jon Hamm, they really left an impression on me the most.

Edgar Wright’s direction is perfect once again, you can definitely feel his attention to detail and is so incredible to watch. The car chase scenes feel real and not fake at all, the stunts are so great. I’m not sure if any CGI was used, but if it they did I certainly didn’t notice it. The most stand out parts of the movie is how it uses music in the film. This movie has a large and fun soundtrack but what’s even better is how it uses it in the film itself, for example a lot of the time, the film times the sound effects of the scenes with the music perfectly and it is glorious to watch. The first scene of Baby Driver gives you a good idea about how music is used.

Baby Driver is a really entertaining movie with great acting from its talented cast, as well as Edgar Wright’s smart and funny writing and direction. I’m not sure where this ranks among Wright’s other movies but I can say that it’s at the very least fantastic on its own. Baby Driver is one of the best films of the year, and I would absolutely recommend checking it out.