Tag Archives: Will Poulter

Midsommar (2019) Review

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, sex scenes, drug use & suicide
Cast:
Florence Pugh as Dani Ardor
Jack Reynor as Christian Hughes
William Jackson Harper as Josh
Vilhelm Blomgren as Pelle
Will Poulter as Mark
Director: Ari Aster

With their relationship in trouble, a young American couple travel to a fabled Swedish midsummer festival where a seemingly pastoral paradise transforms into a sinister, dread-soaked nightmare as the locals reveal their terrifying agenda.

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The delay on this review warrants an explanation. For many, Midsommar has already been released months ago. However for whatever reason, it took A24 a really long time to release it here in New Zealand, surprising considering that Hereditary (another A24 and Ari Aster directed movie) released here around the same time as everywhere else. So there was an absurd wait for it to come to cinemas here, and as of this moment I’m not even sure if it’ll ever come. The wait was bad enough, but it also seemed like plenty of people were just willing to post screencaps and spoilers about it with no filter whatsoever. So I pretty much knew most of the movie weeks before going into it, so that could be why a lot of the more ‘shocking’ parts really had little to no impact on me. So if at points I sound rather bitter throughout the review, that’s probably why.

Midsommar was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. All I really knew about it was that it is the next film by Ari Aster, who directed Hereditary, which was in itself quite a great horror movie and one of the highlights from 2018. Midsommar was definitely an interesting change in terms of concept, it’s surrounding people who go to a Swedish cult and I was interested in it. As the movie released in most places and time passed, I just wasn’t that hyped for it. Admittedly it’s likely to do with the aforementioned fact that I was spoiled. Nonetheless I got onto watching it as soon as I could watch it in a quality that wasn’t cam footage. I’ve finally seen the movie, and let’s just say that I have some conflicting thoughts about this movie.

Unlike plenty of people who have absolutely no consideration for others, I actually don’t want to spoil this movie for anyone, as it’s probably better experienced going in not knowing too much. So for those who haven’t been spoiled yet, this review is completely spoiler free. I’m fully aware that there is a director’s cut, I don’t know the differences between the cuts since I haven’t seen that version just yet. It’s going to be a while before I watch that however, it’s nearly 3 hours long and I don’t know if I’d be up for that. The theatrical cut is 2 hours and 30 minutes long, and I already had a hard time getting through all of that. The first 20 minutes is quite slow, and already it didn’t start off the best. It takes its time really building up everything or even getting to the primary location of the movie. I didn’t necessarily want it to be rushing through the plot, but I did want it to pick up the pace a little bit. It feels incredibly drawn out, even after it starts getting really ‘wild’ after the first hour. It’s got some horror, but it’s not horror in the traditional sense of a lot of jumpscares and the like. Hereditary was much more of a horror movie than Midsommar, so don’t expect to see similarities in the scares department. That’s not to say that the movie considerably improved when I viewed it as a drama instead of a horror movie however. The movie also has a surprising amount of comedy, and I can at least say that when present it was done well. So if you’re wondering why certain moments appear more comedic than scary, chances are that it was intentional. This movie like Hereditary was about grief, but whereas I felt that movie did it well, Midsommar did it to mixed results (no spoilers). The movie also sort of about toxic relationships, it establishes what direction it is going in but it sure takes it’s time telling it, with not much interesting stuff in between. Some thought has been put into aspects of the cult, but its rather 2 dimensional typical cult stuff. It’s really like you’ve seen similar things like this before. Sure there are some intentionally weird moments I guess, but again I wasn’t invested enough in the characters or the plot to be affected by or care about it. The ending is something that people are conflicted about. Given some of the reactions (because again some people on social media couldn’t just hold back on talking about the ending), I feel like some people are interpreting it wrong. While I’m fine with it, it’s nothing that I loved or anything, it was just like “well, I guess the movie is over”. Though my reaction is probably more to do with the rest of the movie than the actual ending. Now for the inevitable question, did knowing what was going to happen affect my experience? I did know in fact what was going to happen, but given that the movie was 2 hours and a half long, I expected much more to happen in between these moments. However that’s not the case, I could sum up the plot in about a few sentences and the amount of depth with the plotlines in that summary is about as deep as the actual movie goes. Yes the movie has stuff about bad relationships and grief/trauma, but it doesn’t really do anything with them. Not to mention waiting around for certain plot points to occur made the experience somehow even more tedious.

The acting was quite good. The highlight is Florence Pugh as the lead character, easily the closest thing to a complex character in Midsommar. She does display a wide range of emotions, and is really good in the movie. The rest of the characters aren’t really given much in terms of depth. Jack Reynor plays the boyfriend and he does very well, but he more than the rest of the cast really suffers most from not having enough material to work with (though I did hear there’s more stuff with him in the director’s cut). The rest of the cast including Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper and Vilhelm Blomgren were also good.

Ari Aster has definitely continued to expand his talent since Hereditary, going from a movie with a darker pallet to a much brighter one, and usually set out in the open where everything can be seen. There’s a lot of detail put into the location, costumes, production design and the like. It’s very well directed and a really good looking movie overall. If you have a weak stomach you might not be able to handle it, as there is some gore. With that said, none of it actually affected me or really disturbed me, it was sort of just there. The movie at times really seemed like it was trying to be disturbing, given the times it sometimes cut back to the moments of gore, but it didn’t make it any scarier to me. I wasn’t even really unnerved by the movie on the whole, I was just watching what was happening. I guess credit to Aster for only having one jumpscare throughout the whole movie.

Midsommar is a movie that I have some very mixed thoughts on. The direction is pretty good, the acting is great, and some of the ideas did have potential. Even though I don’t dislike the movie however, I do have my issues. The movie is drawn out throughout it’s very long runtime, fails to interest, doesn’t really deliver on the themes it attempts to have a commentary on, and at times was a real chore to get through. Despite its length, it really explores so very little, it made me wonder why this movie even existed. It’s actually quite disappointing to me, I really thought I would like it a lot more. I might need to watch Hereditary again to see if that movie still holds up on a second viewing. Perhaps the director’s cut fixes some of the issues I have, but given the drawn out pacing and the length, let’s just say it’ll be a while before I get around to it. I honestly can’t guarantee whether you’ll like Midsommar or not, even about whether you liked Aster’s previous movie or not. I have seen people who hate Hereditary love this movie, and vice versa. So quite simply, if you’re interested in seeing it, then check it out for yourself.

Detroit (2017) Review

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast
John Boyega as Melvin Dismukes
Will Poulter as Philip Krauss
Algee Smith as Larry Reed
Jacob Latimore as Fred Temple
Jason Mitchell as Carl Cooper
Hannah Murray as Julie Ann
Kaitlyn Dever as Karen
Jack Reynor as Demens
Ben O’Toole as Flynn
Nathan Davis Jr. as Aubrey
Peyton Alex Smith as Lee
Malcolm David Kelley as Michael Clark
Joseph David-Jones as Morris
John Krasinski as Attorney Auerbach
Anthony Mackie as Greene
Director: Kathryn Bigelow

In the summer of 1967, rioting and civil unrest starts to tear apart the city of Detroit. Two days later, a report of gunshots prompts the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Army National Guard to search and seize an annex of the nearby Algiers Motel. Several policemen start to flout procedure by forcefully and viciously interrogating guests to get a confession.

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I’ve been meaning to watch Detroit for a while. With a talented cast that included John Boyega and Will Poulter, as well as it being directed by Kathryn Bigelow, there was a lot of potential, especially with it being based on true events that took place during the Detroit Riots of the 60s. I also heard some pretty good things about it. Detroit was really impactful and was really great overall, it is a credit to the great performances and Bigelow’s fantastic direction.

Before you watch the movie, you should know that despite the title, Detroit isn’t about the Detroit riots, it mostly takes place in the Algiers Motel during the Detroit riots. The opening of the movie was a little questionable, with a lot of backstory dumped through the use of a very out of place animation. Detroit is around 2 hours and 20 minutes long, which was a little too long. I get that the first act is meant to set up events and the third act is supposed to conclude these events but they did feel a little stretched out. However, I will say that maybe it’s because I expected almost all of the events to just take place at the motel, it takes over 40 minutes for the events of the Algiers Motel incident to actually start. The second act is definitely the strongest act of the whole movie, from start to finish it has you riveted. You really feel right there where everything it is happening, it is very intense and can be really hard to watch (which it should feel).

Acting from everyone is fantastic. John Boyega once again proves himself a talent to watch, here he plays as a cop who has to almost be neutral when all these events are going on, he gives a very subtle performance and he deserves a lot of praise for his work here. The actors who played the real life people in the hotel like Anthony Mackie and Jason Mitchell were good, out of all of them Algee Smith was the stand out. The actors who played the cops like Jack Reynor were also great. Will Poulter is the stand out performance however, stealing the show from absolutely everyone as a racist and violent cop who really takes charge during the whole incident. He really deserved more recognition for his performance, if all you know Poulter from is as the kid from Narnia 3 and Maze Runner, that will change after watching him in Detroit. He was intimidating and scary at times but he also felt uncomfortably real, Poulter was a real screen presence. Definitely deserves a lot of praise, really everyone really deserves a lot of praise, they all gave great performances that added to the film.

Kathryn Bigelow is a great director and once again she brings her A game here. She brought to Detroit her shaky cam from her previous films Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker and it works here (more so than other movies with shaky cam) because it adds to the movie. You really feel like you are there when all the events are going ahead. The cinematography also supports everyone in this movie. Bigelow also does very well at making sequences feel uncomfortable and tense and she doesn’t hold back at all. Honestly much of the credit to this movie’s success should go to her, she did great work here.

Unfortunately, not enough people saw Detroit, given its box office failure. It’s a real shame because most people missed out on a great movie. There were some incredible performances and Kathryn Bigelow directed this very well, creating an riveting impactful film. It’s a tad too long and I wouldn’t say that it is as great as some of Bigelow’s other films like Zero Dark Thirty or The Hurt Locker but all in all it is really good. It’s not an easy watch, and I don’t see it having much rewatch value but I do recommend giving it one viewing at the very least.

The Revenant (2015) Review

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The Revenant

Time: 156 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic Violence, Sexual Violence and Content that May Disturb
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass
Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald
Domhnall Gleeson as Captain Andrew Henry
Will Poulter as Jim Bridger
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

While exploring the uncharted wilderness in the 1800s, legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) sustains injuries from a brutal bear attack. When his hunting team leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back home to his beloved family. Grief-stricken and fuelled by vengeance, Glass treks through the wintry terrain to track down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the former confidant who betrayed and abandoned him.

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I was interested in this movie not only because of Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy’s involvement, but also because Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman) was directing it. The fact that these three as well as other talented people are involved made this one of my most anticipated movies of 2016 as soon as I heard about it. After seeing it I can say that this is truly one of the best directed movies I’ve ever seen. The performances and the excellent direction by Inarritu makes it one of the best films of 2015.

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Before watching this movie you should know that it isn’t action packed like the premise might seem. It’s not an arthouse borefest (not anything against arthouse movies) like The Assassin but it is slower than you would expect, at least I felt it in the earlier scenes. There are also some dream sequences that Glass goes through, I liked these scenes though I did feel like some of them weren’t very necessary. Those are really the only problems I felt in the movie. This movie created a world that’s brutal, unflinching, violent and unforgiving and all of this is helped by the direction which I’ll get to in a bit. Seeing Glass overcome so many of these obstacles put in his path is truly thrilling and it makes his journey all the more fascinating.

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Leonardo DiCaprio is once again great, I swear he gets better every single time I see him in movies. He has the least dialogue out of the four characters, some of it not in English, but he conveyed so much through his facial expressions. Tom Hardy is also good, even though he does a little bit of the Tom Hardy mumble that’s prevalent in some of his movies that makes a lot of his dialogue a little incomprehensible. Other actors like Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter are also great in standout supporting roles.

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DiCaprio and Hardy are the leads of the movie but Inarritu is truly the star of the movie. Before the release of this film, news has come out about the difficult production of the film, after seeing this movie I can say that all of this payed off. I honestly don’t know how they managed to film many of these scenes. A truly great example of how well this film was is, is shown in the bear attack scene, which is truly great. I don’t know how they managed to do it. This film also looks beautiful, there are long shots which really immersed us into the world that this movie created. As many know this movie uses only natural light and that’s another good example of the extent that Inarritu went to get as perfect a movie that it could be.

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As I said, The Revenant is one of the best directed movies I’ve seen. This film had a long and difficult road but it all payed off in the end, taking dangerous measures to get the best possible film. This film has great performances, beautiful cinematography, brutal and unflinching scenes and much more, making this a movie that must be seen. Don’t miss out on this fantastic film, see it in the cinemas as soon as possible.

The Maze Runner (2014) Review

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The Maze Runner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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