Tag Archives: Sally Hawkins

Layer Cake (2004) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes
Cast:
Daniel Craig as XXXX
Colm Meaney as Gene
Kenneth Cranham as Jimmy Price
George Harris as Morty
Jamie Foreman as the Duke
Michael Gambon as Eddie Temple
Marcel Iureş as Slavo
Tom Hardy as Clarkie
Tamer Hassan as Terry
Ben Whishaw as Sidney
Burn Gorman as Gazza
Sally Hawkins as Slasher
Sienna Miller as Tammy
Director: Matthew Vaughn

An unnamed mid-level cocaine dealer (Daniel Craig) in London makes plans to step away from the criminal life. Before he can cut ties, the dealer’s supplier Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) draws him into a complicated pair of jobs involving kidnapping the teenage daughter of a rival gangster (Michael Gambon) and brokering the purchase of a large shipment of ecstasy pills from a dealer known as “the Duke” (Jamie Foreman), leading to a series of elaborate double-crosses from all corners.

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Layer Cake was Matthew Vaughn’s first movie, before then he produced some of Guy Ritchie’s movies. It was very well received and put him on the map as a director to watch, with him very nearly directing the third X-Men movie afterwards. Although I saw it already years ago, I wanted to check it out again, since I was already rewatching some of Matthew Vaughn’s movies recently. It’s even better than what I remembered it being from my first viewing.

Layer Cake is written by J.J. Connelly, adapting his book of the same name for the big screen. It’s a pretty standard British crime thriller, albeit a very good one with some twists and turns. One could compare this to Guy Ritchie’s crime movies (especially seeing as how Vaughn was involved with Ritchie’s early movies), although there are some similarities, there are plenty of distinct differences between them, especially when it comes to the tone. Vaughn’s other R rated movies generally has a lot of dark comedy to it, Layer Cake on the other hand is more serious, more like a crime thriller and doesn’t have as much comedy. It for sure has some brief dark comedy at points however. It’s actually pretty riveting over the hour and 45 minutes runtime. I think the main reason that this all works really well together though is because of the lead character, which I’ll get into in a bit.

As good as a bunch of all this is, Layer Cake wouldn’t have been as great without Daniel Craig, who honestly makes this movie. Craig is outstanding as the unnamed lead character (not exactly sure why his name is never revealed), who in this movie is more of a businessman than a gangster, in fact he hates gangsters and violence. He also shows a very wide range of emotions as he’s thrown into so many situations that he’s struggling to keep alive in, and through his performance you can really root for the lead character. You can definitely tell why Daniel Craig was picked for James Bond, there’s a lot of Bond that you can see in his performance here. One of Craig’s best, if not his best performance. The rest of the cast also played their parts really well. The rest of the cast including Colm Meaney, George Harris, Michael Gambon, Tom Hardy, Ben Whishaw and Sienna Miller all play their roles very well. Gambon in particular was great as a ruthless and villainous sort of character, quite different from other roles that he’s had.

For a debut, Matthew Vaughn did a great job, it doesn’t look like his first movie at all. It’s all filmed and edited very well, the music choices were also perfect, he’s got a real great handle over the whole movie.

Layer Cake is an outstanding directorial debut from Matthew Vaughn, a well written and directed crime thriller, with Daniel Craig’s great lead performance really making the movie. It’s an underrated little flick that definitely deserves a lot more praise and really worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) Review

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Kyle Chandler as Dr. Mark Russell
Vera Farmiga as Dr. Emma Russell
Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell
Bradley Whitford as Dr. Rick Stanton
Sally Hawkins as Dr. Vivienne Graham
Charles Dance as Colonel Alan Jonah
Thomas Middleditch as Dr. Sam Coleman
Aisha Hinds as Colonel Diane Foster
O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Jackson Barnes
David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz
Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa
Zhang Ziyi as Dr. Ilene Chen and Dr. Ling Chen
Director: Michael Dougherty

Members of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species-thought to be mere myths-rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. I liked the first Godzilla, even with some of its minor problems it wasn’t enough to take away from the overall experience, and I don’t think it’s appreciated as much as it should be. With the trailers showing off it having more monsters and some stunning visuals, I was looking forward to it. I have heard that some reviews from people have been fairly mixed, however I personally really liked it.

King of the Monsters is the sequel to the first Godzilla in 2014, however both films are completely different from each other. One of the criticisms of that first movie was the focus on the human characters, and that it spent too much time with them. I’m aware that when it comes to monster movies human beings aren’t really the highlight, and unless they are all played by Bryan Cranston, will generally feel like standard characters. However, I still think that humans should have a part in the story. The humans still have a presence in the movie, and while it’s not the strongest part of the movie, I still liked their storyline. On another note, I like how Monarch as an organisation plays a big part in the movie. They’re like SHIELD from Marvel except its involved with large monsters. The tone is not as dark as the first movie, it is more campier, contains more humour and is about what you would expect from a typical blockbuster. Some people hated that Godzilla didn’t have much screentime in the 2014 movie. With King of the Monsters however, Godzilla gets more screentime, and especially the newer monsters. I am not familiar with the Godzilla series but it seemed to have double downed with the classic monsters, so I think people who are long time fans of Godzilla will appreciate all that. Storywise the movie is alright, it falls into many of the typical blockbuster tropes but you’ve come to expect that at this point. It’s also worth staying around to watch the credits, as well as the post credits scene, as they hint in the potential next direction for the series.

As I said earlier, the human characters aren’t anything special, but the cast all do a good job in their roles. Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown are the leads, and while they aren’t delivering the best performances of their careers or anything, they do more than commendable jobs here. Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn are the only returning characters from the first Godzilla and all play their parts well. Watanabe has been a highlight in this series and he also has some great moments in this movie. Charles Dance’s character is a bit underdeveloped and doesn’t have a lot to him outside of being a minor human villain, still Dance plays him well.

I’m not familiar with director Michael Dougherty’s work outside of Krampus, but his work on Godzilla was good. This is a visually stunning movie, much more colourful than the 2014 film. The visual effects and CGI are phenomenal, it really is worth seeing on the big screen. Like in the previous movie, the monsters are showcased really well. You see a bunch of them, on top of Godzilla, other monsters like Mothra, Dhidorah and others are shown well, very powerful and threatening. The third act is one of the most enthralling third acts in a blockbuster in recent years that I’ve seen, everything is on an even larger scale. If you thought the destruction in the first movie was big, you aren’t prepared for what King of the Monsters does has in store for you. I’ll just say that I’m not sure how they’ll top this with Godzilla vs Kong, it’s practically impossible. The score by Bear McCreary is also great and was perfect for the movie.

It seems like people will be split on King of the Monsters. If you loved the serious and bleak take on Godzilla with the 2014 movie, you might be missing a lot of what you loved in that. However, if that movie you found didn’t have enough Godzilla and monsters content, King of the Monsters seems like it’s right up your alley. Personally, I feel like both movies exceeded well at the types of movies they were going for. Again, I’m not sure how they’ll be able to pull off Godzilla vs Kong at this point but I’m still there for it.

Godzilla (2014) Review

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford Brody
Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishirō Serizawa
Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody
Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody
Juliette Binoche as Sandra Brody
Sally Hawkins as Dr. Vivienne Graham
David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz
Director: Gareth Edwards

When mankind found an ancient spore, they began to preserved until nearly 15 years, it hatches. Now with malevolent terrestrial organisms threatening the existence of man kind, an ancient creature from the depts of the ocean, will rise again to fulfill natures order to restore its balance, while also making sure mankind never makes the same mistakes again.

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I remember watching Godzilla back in 2014 and really liking it, it was the first Godzilla movie I watched (and to this date is currently the only one I’ve seen). With the sequel, King of the Monsters coming very soon, I just knew that I had to go back and give it another look, and I’m glad to say that it still works really well.

One of the main criticisms was that for a movie named Godzilla, he doesn’t appear a huge amount. I don’t personally have that problem, I feel like some parts of the human aspect could’ve been a little stronger, but you don’t exactly want to be all out with Godzilla very early on, especially considering how he plays such a large part in the climax. They take time building up to him, teasing you with brief shots of him. Maybe they are a little forceful with how much they hid him, just as he appears they cut away and then there are news people talking about it or you suddenly see the aftermath, so I can’t entirely blame people for feeling slightly cheated in how they handle some of his early scenes. On the whole though, the slow build up to Godzilla never really bothered me. The human side of the movie wasn’t bad and was fine, however it felt like it could’ve been stronger. You don’t really have an emotional connection to what’s going on or the characters (except for Bryan Cranston, and even then it’s because he played the role so well). The movie is 2 hours long and that was a fitting length for it, every scene feels necessary and furthers the plot and the pacing is pretty hood. Even some of the more familiar scenes such as the exposition scenes (mainly explaining Godzilla) and military people talking about important things are handled in such a way and given such weight that you don’t really mind it, they actually legitimately work. And it all culminates in a big monster showdown of a climax and is just glorious to watch.

The human characters aren’t that good but the cast play them as good as they can. The actor who steals the show is Bryan Cranston, he adds so much to this movie. He puts so much into his performance and elevates things (including the whole movie) to a whole new level. Unfortunately, he’s not on screen as much as you think he would, despite the trailers featuring him heavily. I don’t like to be all “the movie would’ve been better if…” but honestly the movie would’ve been stronger if Cranston was at least one of the leads throughout the movie. In the end the human lead character is really Aaron Taylor Johnson, who’s unfortunately not that good here. He’s not a bad actor, he can actually be great (as evidence by his performances in films like Nocturnal Animals and Outlaw King) but for whatever reason, he’s not strong as a lead here and largely falls flat, even though he wasn’t necessarily terrible. The rest of the cast consisting of the likes of Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Elizabeth Olsen and Juliette Binoche were pretty good and played their roles as best as they possible could.

The direction by Gareth Edwards was great and was a large part of why this movie works as well as it does. Something that he proved with this and Rogue One is that he’s great at making things feel on such a large scale. The monsters were really good and were designed really well, they really felt like large titans with great power. And of course there’s Godzilla, it takes a while before you get to see him in his full glory, but it’s well worth the wait. The visual effects were also really great, same with the action, the destruction is among the best when it comes to recent blockbusters. There are some moments that are just stunning. One of the standouts was a HALO jump scene and it is great, the music, the look of everything, the POV shots, it just looked like a real jump into hell, and is by far one of the highlight moments of the film. The final action set piece is reason enough to see this movie, with Godzilla and the rest of the monsters going at it. The score by Alexandre Desplat was also quite good and really added a lot to the movie.

Godzilla 2014 doesn’t quite get the love that it deserves, it’s got some minor problems but it’s not enough to take away from how strong this movie is on the whole. Gareth Edwards has really made Godzilla into a large scale and entertaining blockbuster, and was just really handled well overall. I’m definitely on board for whatever the sequel is bringing us.

Paddington 2 (2017) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast
Hugh Bonneville as Henry Brown
Sally Hawkins as Mary Brown
Brendan Gleeson as Nuckles McGinty
Julie Walters as Mrs. Bird
Jim Broadbent as Samuel Gruber
Peter Capaldi as Mr. Curry
Hugh Grant as Phoenix Buchanan
Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington Brown
Madeleine Harris as Judy Brown
Samuel Joslin as Jonathan Brown
Director: Paul King

Settled in with the Brown family, Paddington the bear is a popular member of the community who spreads joy and marmalade wherever he goes. One fine day, he spots a pop-up book in an antique shop — the perfect present for his beloved aunt’s 100th birthday. When a thief steals the prized book, Paddington embarks on an epic quest to unmask the culprit before Aunt Lucy’s big celebration.

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The first Paddington was surprisingly good, it was funny it was enjoyable, it was a really solid family movie. So I was naturally interested in a sequel and with the returning cast and crew involved with the sequel it seemed it would be good. I haven’t seen the original film in a few years but I can say that Paddington 2 is about as good as the original, with much of what make the first film work so well making a return here.

Like with the original, Paul King wrote the sequel and I’m glad that he has. Once again it balances everything incredibly well and from start to finish is very entertaining to watch. It pretty much has everything that a good family movie should have. Kids will love it and adults can enjoy this as well, it’s not just for kids. The humour is effective and will hit with everyone. It is also very sweet and whimsical but never feels cheesy or forced, it feels genuine. Paddington 2 is an hour and 43 minutes long and it’s a good length, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and is long enough that its satisfying. Also without spoiling anything, it has the perfect ending. Also, it’s worth staying around in the early credits, there is a fun little sequence that follows.

The returning cast were great. Ben Wishaw is still a perfect voice choice for Paddington, so likable and innocent. The Browns played by Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin were once again good here. The newer cast were also quite good. Hugh Grant was the villain here, here he plays a self obsessed and over the top actor and Grant was very into his role and was very entertaining. He’s not as threatening as Nicole Kidman’s villain from the previous Paddington, though he wasn’t meant to be, and for what Grant is doing he did a great job. Other supporting actors like Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi and Brendan Gleeson were also good, Gleeson in particular was a great addition.

Paul King, director of the original Paddington returns and once again did a great job. Visually this film is quite colourful and the direction is just right for the film. There are especially some great visual moments that are creative, one of them involves the camera moving into the pop up book with Paddington appearing inside the book. I really do think the direction deserves more credit because the way they execute certain sequences is actually quite genius. The animation on Paddington is still seamless, you know that he is not actually there and that the actors on screen are probably just interacting with a tennis ball but it never looks or seems fake.

Once again, its been a few years since I’ve seen the original Paddington so I can’t comment too much on how they compare but Paddington 2 is probably around the same level of quality. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s heartwarming, and it’s great for the whole family. If you liked the first film, I can’t see why you wouldn’t like the sequel. I’m actually on board with a Paddington 3, the first 2 were so good that I can’t see why a third movie wouldn’t be at the same level of quality.

The Shape of Water (2017) Review

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, horror, sex scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito
Michael Shannon as Colonel Richard Strickland
Richard Jenkins as Giles
Octavia Spencer as Zelda Fuller
Doug Jones as Amphibian Man
Michael Stuhlbarg as Dr. Robert Hoffstetler
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute, isolated woman who works as a cleaning lady in a hidden, high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. Her life changes forever when she discovers the lab’s classified secret — a mysterious, scaled creature (Doug Jones) from South America that lives in a water tank. As Elisa develops a unique bond with her new friend, she soon learns that its fate and very survival lies in the hands of a hostile government agent (Michael Shannon) and a marine biologist (Michael Stuhlbarg).

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I’ve been hearing a lot about The Shape of Water for a while in the lead up to awards season. I really like Guillermo del Toro, I’ve seen most of his movies and really liked them, even those which aren’t that wholly well received like Crimson Peak. The Shape of Water looked like it would be one of his best yet and having finally seen it, I have to say that this actually just might be Guillermo del Toro’s best film yet, which is saying a lot considering many of the films he’s made. The Shape of Water is absolutely magnificent and already a guaranteed classic.

I loved the story of The Shape of Water, it’s beautiful, it’s dark, it’s absorbing, it dabbles in multiple genres and it all works perfectly. All the major characters are given a lot of depth and their own arcs. Fortunately, the marketing department seemed to learn their lesson from Crimson Peak and knew this time to not market The Shape of Water as a full on horror movie, because it’s definitely not that. Sure, it’s dark at many points, it doesn’t hold back, it’s R rating is well earned and serves the story appropriately. But this isn’t a horror movie. It also feels very grounded in real life, the only difference is that this creature actually exists in the world. The Shape of Water has a very fairy tale-like vibe to it and it actually works well in the film. Del Toro also does well showing why Elisa would fall in love with this creature. As weird as the concept sounds on paper, you completely buy it because del Toro conveys it so well. In fact there are a lot of ‘weird’ elements to the movie and at least for me, I never questioned any of it, as I said, Guillermo del Toro makes it all work. The Shape of Water is around 2 hours long and it is the perfect length. I was consistently absorbed in the story from start to finish and really don’t have any qualms with any of it. I’m not going to go into much more depth in regards to the story, it’s something you really need to experience for yourself.

Everyone is great in this movie. Sally Hawkins is incredible here, she doesn’t speak and has to express her emotions through her facial and body language and she is absolutely wonderful here. While I haven’t seen much from Hawkins, it might be one of her best performances, it’s at the very least one of the best performances of the year. Doug Jones also deserves praise for playing the Amphibian create that Sally’s Elisa falls in love with. He doesn’t say a single word either and can convey so much, unsurprisingly considering how great he is in these kind of roles, he’s pretty much the Andy Serkis of practical effects. He really does give the creature life. Both Hawkins and Jones have so much great chemistry without speaking at all. Michael Shannon as usual is a scene stealer as the antagonist of the film, he does so well at coming across more like a monster than the actual amphibian creature. The other supporting actors are also great and do well to leave an impression, like Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg.

Guillermo del Toro did such a fantastic job at directing this movie, you can definitely tell that it’s his direction. The cinematography by Dan Laustsen was great, the colours particularly were used perfectly, creating some beautiful sequences. There was a sequence in the last act of the movie which was very surprising and comes right out of left field, and yet del Toro somehow made it work. When you watch the movie, you’ll know exactly what moment I’m referring to. Del Toro also does well to fully convey it’s time and setting with the production design, music etc, making it feel authentic to real life. The actual amphibian creature (which is practical) was designed very well and is very believable. The music by Alexandre Desplat was also very effective, very enchanting. Overall I think The Shape of Water is a perfectly directed movie.

Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is incredible, it was even better than I thought it would be, and I thought it was going to be great. The story was great, the performances were all amazing and del Toro’s direction was perfect. The Shape of Water is one of my favourite movies of 2017, Guillermo del Toro really has crafted a beautiful film that deserves to be seen by many. I can already tell that this is going to be a future classic.