Tag Archives: Rafe Spall

Men in Black International (2019) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Science fiction themes & violence
Cast:
Chris Hemsworth as Henry/Agent H
Tessa Thompson as Molly Wright/Agent M
Kumail Nanjiani as Pawny (voice)
Liam Neeson as High T
Rafe Spall as Agent C
Rebecca Ferguson as Riza Stavros
Laurent and Larry Bourgeois as The Twins
Emma Thompson as Agent O
Director: F. Gary Gray

The Men in Black have expanded to cover the globe but so have the villains of the universe. To keep everyone safe, decorated Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) and determined rookie M (Tessa Thompson) join forces — an unlikely pairing that just might work. When aliens that can take the form of any human arrive on Earth, H and M embark on a globe-trotting adventure to save the agency — and ultimately the world — from their mischievous plans.

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Men in Black International was a movie I was cautiously optimistic about. The idea of making a Men in Black movie and not having the iconic duo of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith seemed like a disaster. With that said, Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth were the leads, and they seemed to be a good pairing, especially as the two have worked together before. Additionally, the movie has Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson and more. On top of that, at least it was expanding on the Men in Black universe instead of flat out being a remake/reboot of the original movie. Even though the trailers looked a little generic and familiar, I was willing to give it a chance. Men in Black International is one of those movies that’s incredibly just above average in just about every aspect. There’s not a lot here that’s actually bad, but there’s not a lot here that’s good either.

The plot is reasonably easy to follow but you’re not really invested in it, or its characters despite their performances. It doesn’t even necessarily feel like a Men in Black movie, more like a modern blockbuster with a Men in Black skin. Much of the writing and especially the humour certainly feels like it’s from a passable sci-fi flick released today. As for the humour, it isn’t embarrassingly bad, but more often than not it misses than actually hits. It starts off a little rough too, jumping back a couple years for a scene with Chris Hemsworth and Liam Neeson, jumping back even further with Tessa Thompson’s character as a child, before then jumping back to the present. Then there’s the whole bit about Thompson finding the MIB and somehow convincing them to make her an agent which I didn’t completely buy. After that point the movie picks up a little. There’s also a twist that happened, and somehow I managed to figure it out months ago before learning that the movie actually had a twist at all. By the time the first act is over, it’s incredibly obvious what it is, it’s honestly kind of embarrassing how easy it is to figure it out. It’s not necessarily a major issue, but it goes to show how familiar the plot is. In terms of what it actually adds to the Men in Black universe, it’s in a new setting, and I guess you get some new gadgets/weapons in a couple scenes. However, it honestly feels like they did the bare minimum with the plot, kind of a wasted opportunity.

Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth are the leads, and while they don’t rival Smith and Jones they are charismatic and likable, and among the better aspects of the movie. They really end up carrying much of the movie. Other cast members like Kumail Nanjiani (voicing an alien), Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson (reprising her role from the last movie), Rafe Spall and Rebecca Ferguson do alright in their roles. The villains aren’t really bad but nothing memorable either. Also I should probably mention that there’s no cameo from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, so don’t wait through the credits expecting a scene with them, because that doesn’t happen.

After the opening credits and the movie starts, you can definitely tell this movie was not made by original Men in Black director Barry Sonnefeld. International is directed more as a much more modern and conventional action movie. F. Gary Gray directed The Italian Job remake, Law Abiding Citizen, Straight Outta Compton and The Fate of the Furious, and now it’s him who’s directing this movie. He’s a pretty good director and to be fair his work on Men in Black International isn’t necessarily bad, but it lacks style and personality. The visual effects are pretty good, again typical blockbuster effects but better than those in the previous movies. The alien designs are fine but at the same time they’re a little basic. There’s very little that’s impressive, just reasonably competent.

Men in Black International is just okay. Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth and the rest of the cast are pretty good, and the visual effects and action is decent, but outside of that there’s not much to really say about the movie. The plot is fine, the direction is fine, it’s competently made, it’s rather forgettable, and there are very little surprises. It’s a reasonably entertaining 2 hours of your time but nothing more than that. If you’re a fan of the movies, then maybe it’s worth a watch, but don’t expect a lot going in.

The Ritual (2018) Review

Time: 94 Minutes
Cast:
Rafe Spall as Luke
Arsher Ali as Phil
Robert James-Collier as Hutch
Sam Troughton as Dom
Director: David Bruckner

Reuniting after the tragic death of their friend, four college pals (Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier and Sam Troughton) set out to hike through the Scandinavian wilderness. A wrong turn leads them into the mysterious forests of Norse legend, where an ancient evil exists and stalks them at ever turn.

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I had sort of heard about The Ritual for a while now, a Netflix horror thriller that takes place in the woods with Nordic elements. That’s literally all I knew going into the movie and with that I had quite a good time with it. It’s quite a familiar horror movie for sure but its nonetheless a pretty good movie.

I personally found not knowing anything about the movie before going in helped a lot, so if you don’t already know much about it, try to not learn too much more about what it’s about before watching. The Ritual has a pretty standard plot: people go into the woods and crazy things happen. It does a pretty good job at keeping your attention throughout its 90 minute runtime. Most of the movie is a slow build up but isn’t necessarily a slow burn, it keeps up the pace and doesn’t really drag. Once it gets to the 4 of them entering inside a house, that’s when it really picks up. Every random sighting or experience from them just adds upon the suspense and sense of dread. There aren’t any answers given to them until much later on in the movie. When it gets to the last act it sort of loses that sort of suspense and mystery but I was still fine with where they went. While I was okay with the direction they went with for the story at the end, they do end it a little abruptly and it would’ve been benefitted from another scene or so.

The cast consists of mainly Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James Collier and Sam Troughton and while their characters aren’t given a huge amount of depth and are standard horror main characters, their performances made up for it. The 4 of them do feel like friends and people losing their minds as they descend deeper into the woods. The main character out of all of them is really Rafe Spall and while he is really good in the movie, unfortunately the only aspect really given to his character is just guilt over not being able to stop a friend’s death. Otherwise we basically know nothing about him and that one aspect we do know about him doesn’t really come around to affect the plot in a major way, which is strange considering that we keep flashing back to it. We don’t know that much more about the other 3 characters but its enough for the movie.

Almost all of the movie is set inside the Swedish woods and it does a great job at setting the audience there as well. It builds up atmosphere very effectively and the scares for the most part aren’t cheap and are effective. The Ritual throughout is building up some sort of creature or force and while I won’t spoil what it is, I’ll say that the creature itself is completely original and unique to any horror monster I’ve seen before. Most of the time you don’t see it at all but it is creepy and freaky whenever it is.

The Ritual is another decent little horror flick. The acting is pretty good, the overall direction was good, the atmosphere is effective, the monster is something unique and the whole movie keeps your attention from start to finish. It’s not something that we haven’t seen before but if you like horror movies, The Ritual is definitely worth a watch.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Review

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Pratt as Owen Grady
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing
Rafe Spall as Eli Mills
Justice Smith as Franklin Webb
Daniella Pineda as Dr. Zia Rodriguez
James Cromwell as Sir Benjamin Lockwood
Toby Jones as Gunnar Eversol
Ted Levine as Ken Wheatley
B. D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Isabella Sermon as Maisie Lockwood
Geraldine Chaplin as Iris
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Director: J. A. Bayona

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt. They soon encounter terrifying new breeds of gigantic dinosaurs, while uncovering a conspiracy that threatens the entire planet.

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I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. When I saw Jurassic World for the first time it was fine to me but it really got worse over time. The one thing that gave me hope however instead of Colin Trevorrow returning to direct, J. A. Bayona was directing it, Bayona did a fantastic job with A Monster’s Call. However on the whole I was still rather sceptical, but still willing enough to try it out. Fallen Kingdom turned out to be better than I thought it would be, but at the same time it wasn’t particularly good. While it has some pretty good aspects like a decent second half and J.A. Bayona’s direction, it also has one dimensional and annoying characters, overused plot points and some other really dumb aspects (many of them brought over from the first Jurassic World). It’s a rather mixed bag.

Fallen Kingdom doesn’t feel like it has 3 acts, its more split into two halves. I wasn’t impressed by the first half, with it being not particularly interesting, way too familiar to other Jurassic Park movies and just flat out annoying at times. The second half is much better, which was probably a mix of me getting used to the plot, a more horror-like emphasise and certain plot aspects getting better over time. The plot itself isn’t that great, despite it being a Bayona directed movie, you can really feel Colin Trevorrow’s writing here following on from the previous movie, and that includes many of its more absurd aspects. It seems like he really still thinks that Jurassic World’s plotline about military people thinking that weaponizing dinosaurs is genius, because he uses it again here, and it’s just as dumb as it was in the previous movie. A lot of the human characters are once again quite poor, I think that’s one of the aspects about these newer movies that make them not work as well as the other movies (even Jurassic Park 3), the characters are so poorly written and don’t work in any way. There is a bunch of humour that really falls flat, and there are plot points that once again are cliched, too familiar and don’t work. There is an odd plotline focussing on a girl played by Isabella Sermon. It ends with a twist that works okay but is rather confusing and out of place, it really didn’t need to be in the movie. However it’s not all bad. The plotline/scenes involving Chris Pratt and an intelligent raptor named Blue were one of the highlights of the movie, it actually was quite effective. Also despite the first half feeling rather average, at the end of that segment is a startingly effective emotional scene which really got to me. It just came out of nowhere and despite not liking the movie particularly much, it actually worked. The movie is over 2 hours long and it can drag at times, even during the second half, you kind of feel the 2 hour+ length. This movie ends on an interestingly different note, one that the next movie seems like it’ll be focussing on. It has potential but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the sequel. I didn’t watch it myself but for those interested, there is an end credits scene as well.

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard like in the first movie do pretty well here. Their chemistry isn’t really that strong for the most part but the film doesn’t try to emphasise that aspect as much as the previous movie, so it was somewhat tolerable. Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm for like one scene, he really didn’t need to return to this movie. James Cromwell is decent in his role but really his character could’ve been played by anyone. Isabella Sermon is good in her role, despite the odd choices with the character’s storyline. A lot of the other actors however are stuck with poor characters. One is Justice Smith as some IT guy who really is annoying, especially during the first half. However the more stand out annoyances are the villains. If you couldn’t stand Vincent D’Onofrio’s cliched character in the first Jurassic World, you’re going to have a hard time with Fallen Kingdom. You have Rafe Spall as some business guy who predictably turns out to be evil, Toby Jones as an auctioneer for dinosaurs and Ted Levine as an over the top mercenary, and all of them are so cartoonishly evil its actually rather astounding. I know at the very least that Toby Jones and Ted Levine are great actors, but they aren’t given really anything to work with except with acting evil, none of their talents is on display here.

J. A. Bayona really added something to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom with his direction. In the second half, the movie utilises a lot of horror elements that is actually rather effective, and plays a large part in this half working so well. The CGI on the dinosaurs is better here than on the previous Jurassic World, they really don’t look as great as in the original film. I think a big part about why it works better is that unlike the previous movie, they don’t have an overload of too many dinosaurs on screen at the same time. There was one lava effect that I felt looked really fake looking but that’s just in one scene.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was slightly better than I was expecting and wasn’t quite the disaster that a lot of people seemed to make it out to be. However, it’s still not that good either. For every element or scene that worked quite well, there was another that made the whole experience frustrating, dull or just annoying. With the different story direction that Fallen Kingdom ends on, I can say that there is an opportunity for a different direction to take the franchise that can lead to more places that’s not just familiar territory (that the franchise had been constantly doing for the past films). However, the next film is directed by Colin Trevorrow, so I’m not holding out much hope for it for now. If you could somewhat tolerate the first Jurassic World, you should be fine with this one. Otherwise I’m not sure how much you are going to like Fallen Kingdom, if at all.

Prometheus (2012) Review

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw
Michael Fassbender as David
Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers
Idris Elba as Janek
Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland
Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway
Sean Harris as Fifield
Rafe Spall as Millburn
Director: Ridley Scott

The discovery of a clue to mankind’s origins on Earth leads a team of explorers to the darkest parts of the universe. Two brilliant young scientists lead the expedition. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) hopes that they will meet a race of benevolent, godlike beings who will in some way verify her religious beliefs, while Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) is out to debunk any spiritual notions. However, neither the scientists nor their shipmates are prepared for the unimaginable terrors that await them.

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Prometheus is one of the most unfairly disliked movies of the 2010s. The highly anticipated Alien prequel (with director Ridley Scott returning) was met with some very mixed opinions. Some loved it, others were immensely disappointed with what they got. While there are some writing issues and it would’ve benefited from being longer, most of the film is actually great. It’s has a very intriguing and suspenseful story, and does tie into Alien quite well, despite leaving some unanswered questions. Prometheus is very underrated, and it will hopefully be better looked upon in the future.

False expectations likely played a large part in this movie being unfairly judged. This is not a direct prequel to Alien, you won’t see the Xenomorphs attacking people or anything like in the classic Alien movies, you really need to know all this going in, or you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment (like plenty of people already had). It has a lot more depth and is also its own thing, with religious themes that it explores and more. You also need to know that it doesn’t answer all the questions that this film asks. It’s possible that Scott wanted to expand his prequel story over multiple movies, which is why many things aren’t addressed. But I did find this movie very engaging and suspenseful. I was interested throughout, I wasn’t ever bored. It added new levels of history to the Alienverse and learning more and more about it was absolutely investing. That’s not to say that this movie doesn’t have any issues. Prometheus infamously have many cases of characters just making some really dumb decisions, two in particular (one involves people running away from a large falling object and the other involving a newly discovered alien life). The characters aren’t really that interesting (they really weren’t the high point of the movie), the best characters were Noomi Rapace’s Shaw and Michael Fassbender’s David. The biggest problem however is the length of the movie, 2 hours and 4 minutes. It really feels like this movie should’ve been longer than it actually ended up being. I did see some deleted scenes of the movie and some of them did really work for the movie. I’m not suggesting that this movie was unfairly cut down or had editing issues, I just feel like it should’ve been longer, so that this movie would be able to go even deeper.

There are two highlight performances. One is Noomi Rapace, she’s the lead of the movie, a lot more history and depth have been given to her character compared to many of the other characters, and on top of that Rapace did a great job in her role. The other highlight performance is Michael Fassbender as an android named David, who basically steals the show. He is just so convincing and unsettling, you can’t tell what his intentions are. Definitely one of Fassbender’s more underrated performances. As I said earlier, most of the characters aren’t that interesting, everyone else other than Rapace and Fassbender didn’t leave much of an impression. I guess the only other performance which is really memorable is Idris Elba, but that’s because of his effortless charisma, which elevated his role in the movie. Other actors like Charlize Theron and Logan Marshall-Green were fine but they really didn’t stand out much, mostly due to their boring and uninteresting characterisation.

The direction by Ridley Scott is absolutely fantastic here (unsurprisingly). The visuals are beautiful, the CGI is great and is implemented well in the movie. The designs of all the locations, ships and creatures are so well put together. Also when Ridley Scott directs horror and suspense here, he does it so well. There are many cases of this but the biggest example involves a surgery, if you’ve seen the movie you know exactly what I’m talking about. Directionwise this movie is pretty much perfect.

Prometheus is not a perfect movie. There are some issues in the writing and characterisation, and it would’ve much benefited with a longer running time. But it is definitely worth a watch, and doesn’t deserve all the hate its been receiving. It has a story which is interesting, suspenseful, creepy, and very engaging. And it was nice seeing some of the connections with the first Alien (even if it doesn’t address everything, yet at least) With Alien Covenant coming out very soon, I’m expecting a Prometheus sequel, just with slightly more Xenomorph content than we get here. And I’m completely fine with that.