Tag Archives: Oscar Isaac

Sucker Punch (2011) Review

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Sucker Punch

Time:
109 Minutes (Theatrical)
138 Minutes (Extended)
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence
Cast:
Emily Browning as Babydoll
Abbie Cornish as Sweet Pea
Jena Malone as Rocket
Vanessa Hudgens as Blondie
Jamie Chung as Amber
Carla Gugino as Vera Gorski/Madame Vera Gorski
Oscar Isaac as Blue Jones
Jon Hamm as The Doctor/The High Roller
Scott Glenn as The Wise Man/The General/The Bus Driver
Director: Zack Snyder

Locked away, a young woman named Babydoll (Emily Browning) retreats to a fantasy world where she is free to go wherever her mind takes her. Determined to fight for real freedom, she finds four women – Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung) and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) — to join together to escape the terrible fate that awaits them. With a virtual arsenal at their disposal, the allies battle everything from samurais to serpents, while trying to decide what price they will pay for survival.

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Sucker Punch released 10 years ago remains a very polarising movie. Zack Snyder is a very divisive director, to this day it remains the strangest movie that he’s created. Having seen the extended cut of the movie, I can say that I am in the group of people who likes this movie, even though I can somewhat understand some of the mixed responses.

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This is the only movie (until Army of the Dead) from Zack Snyder that isn’t based off an original source material. Before I go into the different versions about the movie, I’ll talk about the movie as I saw it. Some of the part of why the movie didn’t get so well received was expectations. From the marketing, trailers and posters, Sucker Punch looked to be like a videogame influenced Charlie’s Angels with a group of young women with weapons taking on giant robots and dragons. Now these action sections are actually all imaginations taking place in the mind of the lead character. With that said, I do think that you still might be able to enjoy it as an action fantasy movie. I can’t go too deep into the movie without spoiling anything so I’ll try to be as vague as possible about the plot. The action scenes are entertaining, though you are aware the whole time that what’s happening on screen during these moments are just in the head of the main character played by Emily Browning. While these scenes are fun, there’s not much to explain the setups of those scenes, and I wasn’t able to pick them up even on a second viewing (unless I’m missing something). It could very well be that it’s just an excuse to have large action sequences and even if that’s the case, I wouldn’t want those moments removed.

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Zack Snyder has described Sucker Punch as Alice in Wonderland with machine guns, and that’s a very fitting description of the movie. It’s quite an ambitious movie, especially because the narrative is far from straightforward and doesn’t spoon feed you what’s happening. There are already plenty of deep dives into what this movie is. Essentially, Sucker Punch is intended as a female empowerment film, a commentary and examination of trauma, misogyny and abuse, and the story is essentially about escaping. Even if you don’t like the movie, I do think Snyder deserves a lot of credit for really trying something risky and trying to say something. That’s not to say that the script doesn’t have its issues. The characterisation isn’t great and most of the characters are underdeveloped and underwritten. The narrative isn’t always coherent, but I wouldn’t trade that out for one that was 100% clear cut. The version of Sucker Punch I watched was the extended cut. I will say that although I haven’t seen the theatrical version, from what I could gather from looking online, the cut down version on paper looked a bit messy. When Zack Snyder makes a movie, every single time there have been more than one version, it’s been shown that it is best releasing the version that was filmed instead of cutting it down. For Sucker Punch, the extended cut actually fully realises the message and intent by the end, and with such a bizarre story it needed to be told fully. On top of that, instead of it being PG-13, it is now R, which means you never feel any restrictions. With that all being said, it has been confirmed by Zack Snyder himself that there has been no official release of a director’s cut, hence why it’s called an extended cut instead. Nonetheless, this is the version of the movie to watch.

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The cast all play their roles very well. The main cast played by Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung were quite good, especially Emily Browning as the lead character. Other actors like Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn are also good. Even if some of the characters were underwritten, the performances made up for them.

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Zack Snyder’s direction is great, from beginning to end you can definitely tell that this is one of his movies. In fact you could say that this is the most Zack Snyder movie that Zack Snyder has ever made. Some have criticised this movie with the tired criticism of ‘it’s style over substance’, to which I’d counter with ‘style is substance’. Snyder excels at visual storytelling, and the biggest example of that in the movie is the incredible opening sequence, which tells so much within the 5 minutes without any dialogue being spoken. Larry Fong’s cinematography is fantastic, there are some very stunning visuals from beginning to end. There are many stand out action sequences, including a war sequence, a fight against giant samurai, and the like. Even if you don’t like much of the story, I think you would still be able to get a lot out of the action, even if some of them do feel video game-esque (especially with the CGI) and don’t really have any tension. The soundtrack is very well picked for this movie and works excellently for it.

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Sucker Punch is a pretty polarising movie. The performances were really good, I loved Zack Snyder’s direction, and I like what Snyder was really going for with the plot. If you do choose to check it out, I recommend checking out the extended cut. Not all of the movie works, and there’s definitely some messiness to it, but a lot of it does work.

Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens (2015) Retrospective Review

Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Science Fiction Themes and Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Daisy Ridley as Rey
John Boyega as Finn
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata
Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke
Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka
Director: J.J. Abrams

A scavenger (Daisy Ridley) and a renegade stormtrooper (John Boyega) enlist the help of legendary smugglers/freedom fighters Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to transport a droid carrying information regarding the whereabouts of long lost Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) of the Resistance before it falls into the hands of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order.

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Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens was one of the most anticipated films of all time. After Disney bought the rights to Star Wars, they started on making a new trilogy, and people were looking forward to seeing new movies. While there’s certainly a lot of divisiveness about the sequel trilogy now, I think most people generally liked The Force Awakens, and I’m still one of those people. As a ‘soft reboot’, this is the best this movie could’ve possibly been, and it succeeded very well as that.

To get this out of the way, yes, The Force Awakens is very derivative of A New Hope, and most of its plot points are very similar, but it does enough to differentiate itself from that first movie. Not to mention it was a good way of introducing the current state to new audiences. I will admit that some parts copy just a little too much, like I could’ve done with something else other than a killer star base that’s just bigger than the Death Stars. From beginning to end, J.J. Abrams gives the movie a fast pace, but it also work for the story, it doesn’t go so fast that it skips past important details or anything. Plotwise, I think the only thing I had a problem with was the option to blow up an entire planetary system of the New Republic. Doing this pretty much ensured that there was basically no system or anything, and it was a wasted opportunity for world building. That’s my only big problem with the plot or anything I think. I guess not all the answers to things were given in this movie, but that basically passed it on to other instalments to provide them there.

The newer cast are quite good. Daisy Ridley acts really well as Rey, there’s a lot of mystery surrounding her character and you don’t learn a lot about her, and so it required someone like Ridley to play the role in a way to make her work on screen. I really do feel like John Boyega’s Finn didn’t get to do as much as he could’ve (especially with the setup with him as a stormtrooper, which we hadn’t gotten with other main Star Wars characters beforehand), but Boyega does what he can and is pretty good. Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron doesn’t get a whole lot of screentime, generally because his character was meant to die early on, but was kept alive since they liked Isaac. That was a great decision, because Oscar plays him really well, even in his short screentime you really like him easily, and that’s all because of his performance. The standout actor and character across the sequel trilogy is Adam Driver as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. I’m not the type of person to put characters up against each other, but at the very least, he in this movie is a lot better than Darth Vader in A New Hope, since the two get compared a lot. Kylo is more than just a copy of Vader. He’s conflicted, he’s all over the place, and at least in this movie is trying so much to be like his grandfather. Even just looking at him in this movie, Kylo is one of the best characters in the Star War series. The other main antagonists were General Hux, Captain Phasma, and Supreme Leader SNoke. Domhnall Gleeson plays the role of Hux pretty well, and in this movie it does take him seriously (until he was used as the butt of many jokes). Gleeson doesn’t get many moments to shine in the trilogy, but he does have a big speech before Starkiller base fires a weapon, and he owned that scene pretty well. Gwendoline Christie as Phasma is pretty much the Boba Fett of the sequel trilogy, she looks cool but doesn’t really do anything. I know that her not doing much doesn’t really matter, but I would’ve liked her to have had a little more screentime and things to do. As for Snoke, you only get to see him for a couple scenes, but Andy Serkis added quite a lot to him through his motion captured performance. I really wished that Lupita Nyong’o got to do more as Maz Kanata, she play it fine enough I guess, but she mostly just gives out information. I have no idea why Max von Sydow was in this movie, he was pretty much just a cameo. The main cast from the previous movies returns, with the most notable being that of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, who both play their roles of Han and Leia very well once again.

J.J. Abrams directed this very well, effectively fast paced. Everything from the production design, practical effects, digital effects, everything on a technical level is great, fantastic on a visual level. The action is also quite entertaining and put together nicely, from the ship battles, gunfights, and to the final battle between Kylo and Rey, which I still think is one of the best lightsabers duels in the series. The exception of these action scenes is of course is the Rathtars scene. At this point I accepted that it exists, but compared to the rest of the movie I didn’t really love it. John Williams scores this movie quite well, but I do think that the sequel trilogy’s scores aren’t nearly as great or memorable as the other two trilogies. The most memorable themes were that of Kylo Ren, Rey, and the Resistance, nonetheless the score on a whole worked well for the movie.

Star Wars Episode 5: The Force Awakens was a great way of bringing back Star Wars to today’s audiences. It’s very well directed, the cast are good, and quite well paced. It set up things for future instalments to potentially pursue, and was a good way to get people on board with Star Wars again. It was at the very least a good starting point for this new trilogy.

Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Review

Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Adam Driver as Ben Solo/Kylo Ren
Daisy Ridley as Rey
John Boyega as Finn
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Naomi Ackie as Jannah
Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux
Richard E. Grant as Allegiant General Pryde
Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata
Keri Russell as Zorii Bliss
Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca
Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico
Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine/Darth Sidious
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
Director: J.J. Abrams

The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more as Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron’s (Oscar Isaac) journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.

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I’m aware that it took a while for this review to come out, I’ve just been a little busy and I felt like I needed to watch this movie twice to be able to collect my thoughts on it before I could write it. Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker was one of my most anticipated films of 2019. Not only was it a Star Wars movie and the finale of this sequel trilogy, it would also essentially conclude the whole Skywalker saga. I really didn’t know what to expect, it was quite a big task that they ahead of them. I’m also not going to lie, some of the initial reactions had me a little worried. Despite some problems I had with it (which I have with every Star Wars movie aside from one), I actually thoroughly liked The Rise of Skywalker as it was.

There’s only so much that I can talk about, I will do my best to keep this review spoiler free as possible. The first act was a little rough. It jumped from place to place, it was jarring, and it just overloaded you with information. Thankfully it does pick up over time. Not that the issues aren’t still there, but it definitely helped watching it again when you know what’s happened in the plot. By the time it reaches the second half, the movie really picks up. The Rise of Skywalker is more plot focussed than character focussed, and the pacing is fast, constantly moving the plot forward in just about every scene. It’s not necessarily a good thing though, as the movie doesn’t really allow for some moments to breathe. In that, this movie really needed to be longer. You’d think that since Disney had Avengers Endgame earlier this year wrapping up a huge storyline in 3 hours, that for a giant conclusion of 3 whole trilogies would be given much more than 2 hours and 20 minutes. Even if those scenes wouldn’t add a lot in terms of plot, it allows time to reflect on what’s happened and not make everything feel so tightly packed. On another note however, it seems that a lot of scenes or aspects have been cut from the movie. For example some details are shown in the visual dictionary of the movie that don’t make it into the final on screen product, and I don’t necessarily mean cut subplots (although that’s also possible), but things that could literally add maybe 5 minutes at most to the runtime, yet add a lot to the movie. For all the reveals that this movie is constantly throwing out, there’s still critical things that aren’t explained, one is a critical part involving Palpatine that I honestly can’t believe didn’t make it into the released movie (if they ever came up with an answer at all). Reveals and answers aside, some of how they are handled them are also a problem at times. It literally felt like some of the characters were just telling the audience what the answers are as quickly as possible, almost like it was in a rush and it wanted to get it out quickly, it felt a little lazy at times honestly.

There have been talks about how The Rise of Skywalker ‘retcons’ parts of The Last Jedi. While I can’t comment on how J.J. Abrams felt about The Last Jedi, I wouldn’t say that it quite does that, although it no doubt would’ve been taken in a very different direction if Rian Johnson made the movie. There’s just a couple of aspects that Abrams seemed to have backpedalled on. One was the unnecessary part with Kylo Ren repairing his mask after he destroyed it early in the last movie. It’s not bad or anything but doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense and really doesn’t add too much to the movie (even if it is a cool looking mask), especially how he keeps taking his mask off anyway. The other is something that I know a lot of people are very split on. The problem about talking about this part is that there’s so much I want to say about this one aspect but I can’t even hint at it too much or I’ll begin to spoil it. What I can say is that I’m mixed about this decision, it ultimately takes things in a less interesting direction for me personally. However, I guess it could’ve been way worse, and looking at that decision separate from the previous movie, I guess I like the idea, and I was able to accept it and follow along with where they took it. On the whole though, I liked most of the plot and the directions they took (key word being most), and there are some great callbacks to the other Star Wars movies. A lot of people throw around the word ‘fanservice’ but for a conclusion of a 9 movie long series, you should be expecting that. I liked most of the ‘fanservice’, and it’s not as obnoxious as say some of what they had in Rogue One or Solo. There are also some great moments and parts to the movie, which I won’t spoil of course. I’m not going to be a conspiracy nut about this movie (yet) but I get the feeling that part of my issues of this movie were things that were caused by problems behind the scenes. For those who don’t know, Colin Trevorrow was attached to direct and co-write but then was fired (or left the movie) over ‘creative differences’, and that’s when J.J. Abrams was brought in to direct and co-write alongside Chris Terrio. However, they kept the same date even though they were already in pre-production when Trevorrow stopped being involved. Now maybe the same choices would’ve been made, but I get the feeling that had they pushed the movie back even a little, parts of the movie would’ve been handled a little better.

The cast generally do a good job in their roles. Daisy Ridley is once again great as Rey, and she’s got quite a lot to do in this movie in particular, and I liked her arc. Even if you’re not satisfied with where they take her character, Ridley more than sells it with her performance. One thing that The Rise of Skywalker does better than the other two was it gave John Boyega and Oscar Isaac a little more to do (though unlike The Last Jedi they didn’t really get arcs of sort, again this is a plot driven movie). Unlike the past two movies, you actually get the trio of Rey, Finn and Poe together, and that was great to watch. Anthony Daniels’s C-3PO is generally a side character in all these 9 Star Wars movies and hasn’t really stood out in them, but for whatever reason he got to do slightly more in the plot of this movie, and even had some standout moments and lines. Adam Driver is once again fantastic as Kylo Ren, and I’m pretty confident in saying that this would be his best performance as the character. Both the performance and the character are great, and truly one of the highlights of this whole sequel trilogy. There was a concern about how they would handle Carrie Fisher’s role of Leia, after Fisher’s death a few years ago. They actually used footage from The Force Awakens to place her in the movie. Some of the ways they used her in some scenes felt a little awkward and you are constantly wondering what the original context of her scenes are, but you can tell that they definitely did the best that they could in a difficult situation, and they pulled it off well enough.

Some of the returning cast unfortunately don’t really get a lot to do in the movie. It was great seeing Billy Dee Williams return as Lando Calrissian, though I would’ve liked to have seen him in the movie a lot more. Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux and Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata also return, but both of them don’t really get much to do. Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico was a prominent supporting character in The Last Jedi, however her role is significantly reduced in this movie, and you feel it more with her than the characters I just mentioned before. It does feel very weird to just reduce her to a background character who really doesn’t get to do much of anything. She could easily be written into being a present supporting character in the movie in at least the first act, but for some reason they deliberately seemed to have given her the bare minimum to do. I’m just hoping it’s not because her character received a lot of ‘backlash’ (to put it mildly) in the last movie. The new cast do well enough. Naomi Ackie and Keri Russell play some supporting roles in the movie and are quite good, however I wish that they could’ve been more in the movie, and I felt like it was possible for them to be involved with the plot than what we got. Richard E. Grant is good as a general in The First Order, and one of the secondary antagonists of the movie. He’s nothing that we haven’t seen before in Star Wars, but Grant does well with what he’s given. I can’t talk too much about Ian McDiarmid as The Emperor for spoilers stake, but I can say that he played the role appropriately. With that said, I had some issues about the Emperor with regard to his involvement with the plot. Let’s just say that he suddenly has a larger part to play in the movie than you’d think based off the teases of him in the trailers, and I have mixed feelings about it. I guess I accepted it, but it could’ve been so much more interesting and inventive than what they ultimately went with. Not to mention it introduces him very quickly and a bunch of information is thrown at us about him that we just have to accept. It probably wouldn’t be so jarring if we knew that he was alive in any of the other two movies.

J.J. Abrams once again directed this very well, delivering on a visually stunning movie. There are so many sequences that are just stunning to watch, with the action being fast paced and rather entertaining. The locations and set pieces are also great, there are some very memorable sequences that stand out amongst the Star Wars movies as a whole. The score by John Williams for the Sequel Trilogy haven’t really lived up to the other Star Wars trilogies (outside of Rey’s Theme, Kylo Ren’s theme, and the Resistance theme) but it’s still pretty good, and that’s the case with this movie as well.

I can’t determine whether or not you’ll like this movie. I can tell that some people who hated The Last Jedi will like The Rise of Skywalker more, and some who love The Last Jedi will dislike The Rise of Skywalker, or at least be bothered by many parts of it. As for myself though, I liked it. I’d say that it’s my least favourite of the sequel trilogy and it has some things that hold it back from being better (I really hope there will be an extended cut released in the future). However, I think there’s a lot of great in here too. The cast are good, it’s directed quite well and visually stunning to watch, and I liked a lot of the ideas that were present, and most of how they ended things. If you are somewhat invested in this storyline, just watch it for yourself whenever you get the chance.

Triple Frontier (2019) Review

Time: 125 Minutes
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Tom “Redfly” Davis
Oscar Isaac as Santiago “Pope” Garcia
Charlie Hunnam as William “Ironhead” Miller
Garrett Hedlund as Ben Miller
Pedro Pascal as Francisco “Catfish” Morales
Adria Arjona as Yovanna
Director: J. C. Chandor

Former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. For the first time in their prestigious careers, these unsung heroes undertake this dangerous mission for themselves instead of the country. But when events take an unexpected turn and threaten to spiral out of control, their skills, their loyalties, and their morals are pushed to a breaking point in an epic battle for survival.

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Triple Frontier was one of my anticipated movies of 2019. While there are plenty of heist movies, what made it stand apart from the others was a very talented main cast, with the likes of Oscar Isaac and Ben Affleck among them. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from it outside of that, but I was more than satisfied and entertained with the end result.

Triple Frontier is a straightforward heist movie, and at around 2 hours it had me interested for the entire runtime. The whole movie isn’t just about the heist, it’s the heist and then everything following the heist. As that, I was engaged in the plot and characters, especially as they kept being thrown into dire situations. Some people said that the movie kind of dropped off towards the second half, especially in terms of pacing. I didn’t feel that personally, I was pretty riveted throughout the entirety of the movie. Honestly my issue with the pacing was in the early parts of the movie, as it felt a little rushed as it was trying to establish all the characters. I guess the last action sections of the movie felt a tad underwhelming in comparison to those before it but that’s it, I was also fine with the direction the story was going in. The movie at the end leaves room open for a sequel, even though I wouldn’t mind seeing a follow up to Triple Frontier, I’m pretty sure we don’t really need one.

The cast was one of the biggest selling points, with the 5 leads Oscar Isaac, Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal, and they certainly delivered. You can tell throughout that this film is heavily relying on the characters and their actors to elevate the movie above just being another heist movie, thankfully they did. Their chemistry together is really believable, the film doesn’t even have to delve into too much detail about their backstories together because they just work so well off each other. Oscar Isaac (who is pretty much the main lead of the movie) leads the other characters very well, Ben Affleck surprises quite a bit with his performance here, and the rest of the cast as usual play their parts greatly.

J.C. Chandor has done some good work with his direction with All Is Lost and A Most Violent Year. His work on Triple Frontier was good as well, with it being a really great looking movie, it’s really shot well by Roman Vasyanov. It really places you with these characters and the places they go. The action scenes are also solid, they aren’t particularly stand out and aren’t anything that we haven’t seen before, but nonetheless were good enough for what they needed to be. The score by Disasterpiece is also very effective.

Triple Frontier is entertaining, thrilling and well directed, with the great work from the talented main cast being the highlight. While it has some issues, Triple Frontier is one of the better movies that Netflix has put out and is one of the more stand out heist movies in recent years, definitely worth a watch when you get a chance.

Annihilation (2018) Review

Time: 115 Minutes
Cast:
Natalie Portman as Lena
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dr. Ventress
Gina Rodriguez as Anya Thorensen
Tessa Thompson as Josie Radek
Tuva Novotny as Cass Sheppard
Oscar Isaac as Kane
Director: Alex Garland

A biologist’s husband (Oscar Isaac) disappears. She puts her name forward for an expedition into an environmental disaster zone, but does not find what she’s expecting. The expedition team is made up of the biologist (Natalie Portman), a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a physicist (Tessa Thompson), a anthropologist (Tuva Novotny), and a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez).

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Annihilation was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. Not only does it have a great cast with talented people like Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Oscar Isaac involved, but it was directed by Alex Garland, who created Ex Machina, and as it was most recently revealed, the underrated and cult classic Dredd. Unfortunately, as Annihilation only had theatrical releases in America, I had to wait a couple weeks for it to release on Netflix. However it finally released recently and I got to check it out. Without revealing too much, it really did live up to the hype.

I would recommend not knowing too much about the movie before going in honestly, which is why I won’t go into too much depth in terms of plot. Aside from seeing the trailers months before, I didn’t know too much about the movie in regards to the plot and so I was pleasantly surprised by the endless amount of weird and bizarre things that happened and the themes that it contained. This movie is 2 hours long and this length actually worked well enough, it wasn’t overlong and at the same time I was really satisfied with what I saw. It really intrigued me from start to finish, it really builds up the intrigue as the movie continued. The strange things that happen in the second act only interested me even more, adding in some scenes of genuine horror, making the whole experience even more tense than it already is. I guess there are some moments when the movie drags a little bit but these moments don’t last too long. The third act is where the movie goes into some interesting directions and becomes a little ‘weird’. It’s also the point that Annihilation may lose some people because of how bizarre, or ambiguous it becomes. I was able to grasp some sort of an idea of what the last act meant but I know that a lot of people will be utterly confused by it. I get the feeling that Annihilation will require multiple viewings to understand it and will ultimately benefit hugely from this. Even though I was partially unsure about what the ending is fully meaning, I will say that this ambiguous yet excellent aspect made Annihilation even better and I’m glad Garland wasn’t afraid of going in this direction despite the risks of being polarising. I do though somewhat understand why there is a divisive response to the movie.

The cast is all great here. Natalie Portman has a very subdued, yet emotional performance, a lot of the movie seems to be riding on her (but at the same time it doesn’t feel like she is carrying the movie), and she was great. It’s one of her best performances yet, which is saying a lot to be honest. The supporting cast is also great. The rest of the team sent into the Shimmer along with Portman includes Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Tuva Novotny, they were all great as well. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gina Rodriguez particularly get some moments to really shine. Oscar Isaac also does some good work in his scenes, especially with Natalie Portman.

Alex Garland is an great director, and his direction of this movie is really fantastic. The one thing that is undeniable is that Annihilation is visually stunning and beautiful, the cinematography is incredible and the visual design is very unique. The third act is especially visually amazing, with very trippy imagery and visuals. Despite the second trailer, Annihilation isn’t a full on action/horror sci-fi film, however I will say that Garland handled the horror aspects excellently. I’m not usually the time of person to be affected by horror in movies, but there were at least a couple of scenes here that genuinely got under my skin and were unsettling (and I’m not hinting at any of them, I’ll just wait for you to discover them for yourselves). The score by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow only added to the movie, very weird and strange, giving the film and even more bizarre vibe.

I don’t know whether I would consider Annihilation to be better than Ex Machina or not, it’s too early for me to decide that. But for now, I’ll just say that on its own, Annihilation is a fantastic sci fi film and will probably end up being one of the best movies of 2018. Don’t let the fact that it’s being released on Netflix sway you, it really is worth watching. However keep in mind, the movie isn’t really for everyone, I would recommend giving it a watch though, just as long as you sort of know what you’re in for (but not too much).

Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi (2017) Review

Time: 152 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Daisy Ridley as Rey
John Boyega as Finn
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke
Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata
Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma
Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico
Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo
Benicio del Toro as DJ
Director: Rian Johnson

Rey (Daisy Ridley) develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.

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Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. I loved The Force Awakens and with Rian Johnson attached to direct the sequel I was looking forward to where the story would progress. The Last Jedi has what you would typically expect in a good Star Wars movie, great characters and top notch visual effects and action sequences. But it managed to do something that recent Star Wars movies haven’t been able to do: surprise me. It went in directions I didn’t expect. After thinking upon it for a while, The Last Jedi just might be one of the all time best Star Wars movies.

First thing I want to say is to make sure you don’t see any spoilers, I saw none of them before going in and I was surprised by many of the things that happened. For that reason, I can’t go into too much depth about why this movie is great. The story is darker and bleaker than The Force Awakens, yes it is still quite fun, it has very effective humour and it does have its good dose of adorable creatures in the form of Porgs, which are these little penguin hamster creatures (and surprisingly they are actually cute and not annoying). It’s very much still Star Wars. But at the same time it feels like its something different, most people in charge of this film wouldn’t go in this direction with its story and characters. If you felt that The Force Awakens plays it way too safe, I can see you liking The Last Jedi more. I can see this film dividing some audience members with regard to some of the decisions that the story takes but for me, I loved these decisions. I know I’m being very vague when talking about the plot but that’s because in order to do that I would have to go in depth and I just can’t, not in a non-spoiler review at least. As for whether some of these risky decisions should have been made at all, I think that a lot of it will depend on how the story is resolved in episode 9. This movie is 150 minutes long, making it the longest Star Wars movie to date. For the most part it earns its long runtime, and I say for the most part because there is a section which takes place on a planet with Boyega’s Finn and Marie Tran’s Rose that feels rather unnecessary. Outside of that I think most of the plot is great.

The returning cast is great, Daisy Ridley continues to impress as Rey, John Boyega is great as Finn and Oscar Isaac’s Poe gets a lot more to do here. Regardless of what you think about the character of Snoke, there’s no denying that Andy Serkis acted so well, this time we see Snoke in his non-holographic form and Serkis is so fantastic in his scenes. Carrie Fisher is as usual great as Leia and yes, she does have her chance to shine in certain moments. Carrie Fisher will be sorely missed. We also get some newcomers. Kelly Marie Tran is really good and likable in her role, if I can understand correctly this is the first real film that she’s been in and she does such a great job here. Laura Dern is also quite good in her role. If there’s a weak link, it’s Benicio del Toro’s character, Benicio is quite good in the role but the character feels like he could be played by anyone and wasn’t that memorable and didn’t feel that necessary. If I was to pinpoint the two stand outs of the whole film, I’d say that it’s Mark Hamill and Adam Driver. Mark Hamill is fantastic as Luke Skywalker, Luke has clearly been through a lot and has changed as a result from Kylo’s turn to the darkside and the guilt that he feels for it. He’s less hopeful and he’s not quite what you’d expect him to be but you can tell it’s still Luke, not just a grumpy old Mark Hamill. Not only is this the best Hamill has been as Luke Skywalker, it is also the best he’s ever been in a live action film. With regard to some of the polarising decisions of the film, many of them surround him, that’s all I’ll say. Adam Driver as Kylo Ren was one of the highlights of The Force Awakens and he was a highlight once again here. He’s even more conflicted and unstable now due him killing his father in episode 7 (if you haven’t watched The Force Awakens you really shouldn’t be reading this review by the way) and watching his journey was intriguing. Kylo Ren is almost at Darth Vader’s level in terms of Star Wars villains. Really everyone is great here, and they all get to have at least one moment to shine.

Rian Johnson directed this film excellently. The visual effects are incredible, there wasn’t a moment that stood out to me as being out of place in terms of CGI. The cinematography… I’m just going to say it, out of all the Star Wars films, The Last Jedi has the best cinematography. There are countless beautifully shot sequences, all of them fantastic. All the action sequences are great and I’d consider most of them to be amongst the best in the Star Wars series. It succeeded so well at making these sequences feel incredibly tense. The only sequence that felt out of place was the one I mentioned earlier with Finn and Rose, and even then that’s more to do with tone and how unnecessary it felt. The score by John Williams was also great, while his score for The Force Awakens was fine, it was below the quality of most of the other Star Wars scores. Here with the Last Jedi it’s absolutely great and it adds so much to the scenes.

Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi wasn’t what I was expecting, along with being fun and entertaining, it is much more, it makes decisions that will divide its audience and for it to be this risky, I have to give Rian Johnson a lot of props. The story was so different from what I was expecting and without giving anything away, I loved it. I personally loved almost everything in this movie, all but one or two aspects. I’m going to say this now, The Last Jedi is in my top 2 favourite Star Wars movies. This movie is already dividing some audiences, even those who liked it have some aspect that they aren’t entirely sure about. So I say this, avoid all spoilers and just go into the movie with no expectations, even if some of the decisions are different, just be willing enough to go with it. And don’t try to predict where the story is going, because you won’t. I couldn’t be happier with this film and I’m now waiting with anticipation and nervousness to see whether Episode 9 will deliver a solid conclusion to the new Star Wars trilogy.

Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens (2015) Review

Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Science Fiction Themes and Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren
Daisy Ridley as Rey
John Boyega as Finn
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron
Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata
Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke
Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka
Director: J.J. Abrams

30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat rises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of Heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.

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Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens is my most anticipated movie of 2015. I loved the original trilogy, liked one of the prequels and after 10 years from the last instalment, here we are with the latest film. The Force Awakens was the movie I was hoping it to be, it was to Star Wars what Creed was to Rocky; creating a great new instalment in the franchise while also being a pretty good movie in itself. This is the Star Wars movie that you’re looking for.

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Some will say that The Force Awakens is very similar to A New Hope (in that many of the plot points are the same), and while that’s true, I’m not really complaining. The writing and story actually feels like Star Wars, it wasn’t like the prequels where it all felt artificial and at times lifeless. There was real human emotion that could be felt with these characters. Also tonally it was balanced out, this film can go pretty dark (not quite Revenge of the Sith dark) but it also has humour from the characters and dialogue, this film actually has the most comedy (that worked) out of all the Star Wars movie. Without spoiling anything I will say that this movie ends with not all the questions answered which I love, it makes me even more excited for the next couple of films.

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The film did a good job at integrating the old and new cast. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are the main leads and they are absolutely excellent in their roles and I think that they are the ones to carry this new trilogy. Oscar Isaac was also really good, we don’t get to see as much of him as I liked but as I will mention later, it might be for the better. Kylo Ren played by Adam Driver was a really great villain and while there may be comparisons to Vader there is a pretty strong difference between him and Darth Vader. Some of the characters like Supreme Leader Snoke aren’t really used that much but that’s probably because of the large amount of characters and story that they have, and they will probably be developed over the next films. Not all of the original cast gets a big amount to do but as I said, that’s something for the next films. Harrison Ford is excellent in this movie as Han Solo, he didn’t just feel like old Harrison Ford, he was older Han Solo. Carrie Fisher also was really good as Leia and both her and Ford shared pretty good chemistry when they were on screen together. As for Mark Hamill as Luke, I’ll just say that he’s in the movie, without spoiling anything.

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Unlike the prequels, The Force Awakens uses quite a lot of practical effects. The parts where they have to use CGI is well done and integrated. Think of the special effects of Abrams’ Star Trek mixed with the practical effects of Empire Strikes Back. The action is excellent, whether on ground or air. Without spoiling anything, this movie has one of the best lightsabre fights I’ve seen in a Star Wars movie. John Williams’ soundtrack as usual is magnificent, it’s nothing like we’ve heard before.

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The Force Awakens is not a flawless movie but the original trilogy wasn’t either. This movie did what it was supposed to do, to be a new instalment in the franchise while also being a great movie on its own. I’m looking even more forward to all the Star Wars movies coming out, with Rogue One coming out next year. Stay away from spoilers and watch the movie as soon as possible. JJ Abrams has created a fantastic addition to the Star Wars universe and it’s one of the best movie going experiences I’ve had.

Drive (2011)

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Drive

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Director: Nicholas Winding-Refn
Cast:
Ryan Gosling as The Driver
Carey Mulligan as Irene
Bryan Cranston as Shannon
Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose
Oscar Isaac as Standard
Christina Hendricks as Blanche
Ron Perlman as Nino

A mysterious driver (Ryan Gosling) works as a garage mechanic, a Hollywood stuntman and a getaway driver. He helps his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), whose husband is in prison and her son Benicio and he falls in love with her. Later on Standard (Oscar Isaac), Irene’s husband is released from prison but owes people some money. The driver decides to help him out by being the getaway driver to a heist but problems occur. This is based on the novel of the same name by James Sallis.

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Drive is one of the best directed films I’ve ever seen; it has some of the best cinematography, good performances and an engaging story. Although it will be polarizing to some people and not for everyone, for me, it is a masterpiece and is one of the most memorable movies I have ever seen.

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Drive is one of those movies that you have to be careful of what you expect; on the surface it looks like The Transporter but instead of having Jason Statham in the lead role, it’s Ryan Gosling; this is not like that. Also, don’t watch the trailer; it misrepresents what the movie is like, as well as spoiling a lot the plot. Despite the film being called ‘Drive’ there aren’t as many car scenes as you’d think, when they are there however, they are some of the best a film can have; the opening scene is a good example of this. This movie’s pacing does take its time, especially the first half after the intro. The film has a lot of themes which can lead to it being analyse-worthy; there are also some symbolism, for example with the scorpion on the back of Gosling’s jacket is often related with the story of the frog and the scorpion. The whole movie for me interested me from start to finish.

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Ryan Gosling was superb in this role; he has a very subtle performance which works best for his character. His character is mysterious and doesn’t speak that much in this movie. This is one of those performances where he is able to emote what the character is feeling even with just his eyes. Carey Mulligan is also really good in this movie and shares good chemistry with Gosling. The supporting cast was also really good like Oscar Isaac, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks who are also great. Albert Brooks is particularly good, presenting a villainous side of him that we really haven’t really seen before.

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This movie looks beautiful; the cinematography here is one of the best I’ve seen, I haven’t seen the city of L.A. filmed this well since Collateral. There aren’t many scenes of action but when they are, they are well filmed and are very tense. Also worth noting are the short bursts of sudden graphic bloody violence; it really contrasts in this movie from the calm tone it presented in the first half. It isn’t the Tarantino type of gore; it’s more of a David Cronenberg type of gore. There is also something retro about Drive, whether it would be the neon opening or the unique music. The music is also worth mentioning as it is nothing like I’ve heard before in a movie; it is an electronic pop synthesiser that somehow really fits in with this movie’s tone. The whole movie overall feels very dreamlike with the cinematography and music.

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Drive is a completely different movie than it would seem at first but it’s undeniably a masterpiece. A modern day Bullitt, it succeeds in being incredible to experience and to watch. The film’s slower pace after the intro may turn off some viewers, as well as the graphic violence, so I will say that this movie isn’t for everyone. However this is one of the best directed movies I’ve seen, and has stuck with me since I first saw it.