Independence Day Resurgence Review

Independence Day Resurgence Review

I was three years old when the first Independence Day came out so I obviously didn’t feel the hype for the first one as it was before my time. Like pretty much everyone I discovered it, watched it and was entertained by it. It’s by no means a “great” movie but it has a bucket load of charm and charisma. It knows exactly what it is, with Will Smith being the stand out star who brings the energy in abundance.

Which brings us to twenty years later and this painful sequel. Independence Day Resurgence is set twenty years after the original film and the films first half hour shows how humans have used the alien tech from the first one to build weapons and enhance our society. After the aliens come and guess what……we beat them, the end, see you later.

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Before I start criticizing this film I want too say that I really wanted to like this film. The first one has been played on numerous family gatherings over the years in my house with a bowl of popcorn and everyone having a great time with it. That’s what makes this film so bad is that if the end of the world as we know it is on the line and you don’t give a single fuck about who lives or dies then there’s HUGE problems with the film.

I actually wouldn’t of minded the aliens winning, at least I would of been interested by the film in some way. Literally after ten minutes of this film I was looking at my watch wanting it to be over. The CGI is overused way too much and the film doesn’t feel real at all. Literally every single frame of the film has CGI in it, I’d have to re-watch Transformers but I am pretty sure even that has a handfuls of shots without CGI in them.

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The director Roland Emmerich (who did a great job with the first one) has clearly no understanding of what made audiences invest in the first film because this savage over use of CGI makes the world seem like some cartoon world. For me personally I couldn’t get invested in the world and what made the first one great was seeing landmarks get destroyed (the famous White House shot) in this one the alien ship is literally the size of the Atlantic Ocean, so when it cuts to a Chinese man running out of his car to try and survive, I can’t get invested in that when everything is just so astronomically bigger.

The problems of the billions of people on the ground are just flooded in this cocoon of weightless CGI. It has zero emotional stakes and feels fake, at least with Warcraft the action had weight to it, this doesn’t. This film really is proof that bigger is not always better.

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Let’s get onto the acting and screenplay, eugh. That is the only word I kept saying to myself over and over again. The fleshing of the old and the new characters could have been interesting if they actually made the new characters do anything except be carbon copies of the original characters. The entire time the son of Will Smith’s character was on screen (yes I have forgotten his name already, if you see the film you’ll know why) I just pined for Will Smith.

It was reported before the film was officially announced that he wanted $50 million dollars to be in the film, they should have paid it. This film is dying for energy from someone. Liam Hemsworth attempts at comedy would have been rejected by Michael Bay, seriously myself and nobody in the entire cinema laughed once. Jeff Goldblum who should be the best thing about the film is quite frankly the saddest as he is literally phoning this performance in. At times it genuinely looks like he has having is lines fed through to him by earpiece, I’m not even joking every single line of dialogue he says has weird out of place pauses.

All the actors have zero chemistry with each other as every “emotional” scene just made me cringe in my seat. Bill Pullman (President in the first film) goes from being barely able to walk at the beginning to miraculously flying a alien/hybrid fighter jet, which I’m no pilot but I am pretty sure that is one hell of a difficult job. The mind boggles, how do some writers in Hollywood expect to shovel this shit onto the screen and have audiences believe/invest in any of it, but not only that actually pay money to see it! I must of counted at least ten moments in the film where I was like “Really!?” someone said that, or did that etc.

The pacing of the film is way off as well. The first one got this spot on as the invasion started straight away and all the character building was done around the focal point of the invasion. In this one we spend so long being introduced to side characters, that it felt like I was watching a two hour trailer not a full length feature film. For example the father of Jeff Goldblums character is back in this one and he isn’t introduced until over an hour into the film, then all the film has him do is say stupid things and drive some kids around on a bus.

The one interesting aspect this film had was a side story about an African Warlord and how his people fought the aliens, but the film shits all over that by having it being brushed aside to accommodate Hollywood’s latest trend “World- Building”. Instead of making a coherent, good film on it’s own it tries to add little hints and teasers to the next film. I won’t spoil it here but its literally the dumbest shit I have seen in years, and the end scene may as well be the entire cast turning round and sticking a finger up in your face as it pretty much tells you what the third film will be and as the credits hit you suddenly realize that’s two hours that you will never get back.

Overall this film is fucking terrible,tedious and worst of all joyless. It insults the intelligence of anyone who watches it. I did not like a single thing about this film and for anyone who knows me that is extremely rare.

0.5/10

 

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Warcraft Review

Warcraft Review

Video game film adaptations for the most part have been terrible let’s be honest from the dire Resident Evil series to the latest incarnation of Hitman, the films are boring, cliche and have very little in common to there source material. So I am pleased to announce that we FINALLY have an adaptation from game to screen that WORKS, its not definitive by any means but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

The films plot is fairly complicated and I don’t want to delve into spoilers for people who haven’t seen it so in a nutshell, the film is about a race of Orcs whose home world is dying and need to conquer a new world in order to survive and they have picked the realm of Azeroth to conquer which is inhabited by humans and fantasy battles ensue.

First off this film is incredibly stunning to look at. As soon as the film opens and we see main Orc Durotan (Toby Kebbell, a real gem of an actor) interacting with his wife I literally turned to my girlfriend and said “these things look real” ever since the Planet of The Apes franchise reboot I constantly get blown away by how good motion capture is becoming and this film feels like a new age in the technology. All the orcs are believable, truly rounded characters and there brute strength and force in combat can certainly be felt when the action kicks in. I loved the opening to this film because it does something rarely seen in fantasy genre film’s or summer blockbusters for that matter and it opens on a genuine human moment as the two orcs discuss the upcoming trip to another realm whilst fearing for the safety of there own child, I mean whats more human than that really?

The main problem I had however with the first 30-45 minutes of this film was the sheer heft of information that is piled on by the clunky screenwriting and editing. I didn’t have an issue with this for the most part but when there is so many different names, places and races you do occasionally look at the screen and it is a bit of a mess but slowly but surely I found my feet and felt totally immersed in the world. Batman V Superman had a similar problem with information overload as they tried to copy what Marvel had done for years over several films into 2 and a half hours. Here the main issue is to get the entire lore of Orcs and Humans in the world of Warcraft into 2 hours feels extremely tight and just by watching how certain scenes play out and the outcomes of certain character arcs it comes as no surprise that the films director Duncan Jones has come out publicly and said 40 minutes has been chopped off the film.

The casting choices of the film have been criticized by quite alot of critics with some saying that the wizard character played by Ben Foster is too young and vice versa whereas I actually feel they should be applauded for going against type and picking actors who wouldn’t usually be picked to play these roles and I always an advocate of giving fresh faces a chance. The lead human actor Travis Fimmel who plays Anduin, famous for his role on TV’s Viking’s series I thought gave an admirable performance but I couldn’t help but shake the feeling they were trying to capture Aragorn from Lord of the Rings and the charisma was just not on screen. The chemistry between some of the actors was virtually non existent and this no more evident than the forced love story angle with Anduin and a half orc-half human played by Paula Patton and I didn’t buy there relationship for a single second.

The biggest surprise about this film however was the amount of character deaths that happen to what are seemingly key characters and I think this maybe a new direction Hollywood should maybe consider doing more often as I genuinely can’t remember the last time I was shocked about character deaths like I was in this film, especially from a summer blockbuster. Duncan Jones has a clear love for the Warcraft franchise and he has created an amazing world here however we don’t get to spend enough time in it. Often these types of films are over bloated and I actually feel this film would have benefited from being longer so we could appreciate the amazing efforts the production team must have gone through to realize this computer game world onto the big screen.

Overall I had a truly solid time with this film. I loved the fight/action sequences I thought they were extremely well handled by the supremely talented Duncan Jones and I just pray that audiences go to see this film as the promise this film has for potentially great sequels and a franchise is just too good of an opportunity to ignore.

7/10

 

Odeon Scream Unseen – Green Room

Odeon Scream Unseen – Green Room

Odeon launched Scream Unseen last night, Screen Unseen’s dirty cousin it seems as we have been promised that the films will be horrors, thrillers or just gore fests and the first offering was Green Room. I had read quite a bit of positive buzz about this film all over the internet from various sources who saw it at various film festivals. Throw into the mix that Jeremy Saulnier directed this, who debuted with the superb Blue Ruin (well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it) also the fact it’s not out here in the UK till 13th May and its safe to say I was pretty excited for this film.

This film is dirty, grimy, nasty and pure horrible and I mean that in the best way possible. Such a throwback to grimy grindhouse cinema, this film is a high stakes pressure cooker. One thing I loved about this film was the slow build up. I went to see it with my girlfriend and afterwards she said it took a while to get going but that’s what I loved most about it, I cared for all the members of this punk band who are trapped by these white supremacists neo-nazis. That is pretty much the plot of the film, which fits perfectly with the late night midnight screening cult crowd. I could easily see this film being shown as a double bill with Blue Ruin. Jeremy Saulnier proves here that he is one of the best low budget-genre indie filmmakers around as he superbly shifts genres from revenge noir into siege mechanics reminiscent of Assault on Precinct 13.

The film opens with us meeting the band The Ain’t Rights and the impressive thing about the opening 30 minutes of this film is that in that short time we learn who the characters are and not just names but motivations and who they are as people, see them play a cover of Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks Fuck Off which doesn’t go down too well and also stumble upon a corpse backstage which leaves them holed up in the Green Room. The manager of the club Gabe played by Macon Blair star of Saulnier’s Blue Ruin, who after learning of what has happened calls in Darcy (Patrick Stewart) who I have never seen play evil in a film and you can see he relishes this opportunity. He nails his performance as the wickedly intelligent leader with a real cruel mean streak about him.

Like many great film’s of the 70’s this film has intelligent witty fast paced dialogue mixed with truly shocking gory moments, some of the violence here is extremely brutal. It is tense viewing as both sides try to work out ways in which to outsmart one another and the writing here allows us to be invested in both sides whilst the shock horror/violent moments hit us in short but extremely memorable bursts. Some may complain that this film isn’t a socially aware film which is delving into the mix of the American neo-nazi scene but when a film knows its a genre film which is here to make us laugh, wince and be shock value who really cares?

Overall I would say this a truly riotous film with fantastic performances and a real true grit underneath its darkly comic tone.

7/10

 

Netpicks – Trash

Netpicks – Trash

 

First off I have to apologize for not posting one of these recently, the simple reason is that I have been working a hell of a lot so finding the time has been difficult but don’t worry I’m not going anywhere!

So Trash then just by its name you might think this could be literally a Trash film but let me assure you it is far from rubbish and is a true hidden gem. I first heard about this film on Film 2014 on the BBC and they gave it a good review and I thought to myself “yeah I will check that out one day” and like many films it totally went under my radar due to a limited theatrical release and not much press coverage. So when I saw it pop up on my Netflix it triggered my brain and I thought I would give it a watch.

The film is about three Brazilian boys who find a wallet which contains a key piece of evidence which the corrupted officials are after to stop there corruption of the city becoming public knowledge. I found this film remarkable for a number of reasons the first being the performances of the three young lads. I genuinely think they need to start doing some sort of awards ceremony for young actors because seriously they are starting to outshine older actors in films. Look at Room or Beasts of No Nation for example the young actors performances in them films knocked my socks off and its the same here. The three lads were found by the films director Stephen Daldry living in Brazil picking litter (as they do in the film) and that rawness and emotional connection cannot be faked and there are scenes in this film which pack a true powerful punch as you believe the emotion behind them far more than if trained actors were cast. The film also has stellar Hollywood polish with the ever reliable Martin Sheen and Rooney Mara pop up in key supporting roles which just elevate the performances of the three boys.

The film is action packed and more importantly unpredictable as the chase is on the action tells the story and it rarely lets up but the films screenplay allows for brilliant character moments as well. I will admit that there is a whiff of City of God about this film (well worth checking out if you haven’t, also on Netflix) but every film which is set in Brazil gets compared to that film and some reviews I have read of this film stink of unfair criticism. The film has a vibrancy to it and real kinetic energy to it which kept me glued to the screen as I not only wanted the boys to solve the mystery within the film but I actually cared about the characters. The film is real, raw and powerful but never sentimental or candy coated which is a rare thing to see as to many films try to push our emotional buttons with the subtly of a sledgehammer.

Overall this is perfect entertainment for those nights where you wanna stay in and watch a film. Also a great film to watch with family or a girlfriend as it has something for everyone. A real peach of a film.

8/10

 

Zootropolis Review

Zootropolis Review

The film follows the adventures of young bunny cop Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) who after becoming a police officer, meets sly fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) and uncovers a conspiracy that is turning the animals into ‘savages’

I loved every minute of this film, it has verve, energy and an important message to boot whilst being super entertainment all at the same time. In recent years Walt Disney Animation Studios other half Pixar was the staple in terms of quality animation. However in recent years and with this film in particular they are finally stepping out of Pixar’s shadow. With recent hits Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and Big Hero 6 they are now stepping up from in terms of quality animation after a slump in the early to late 2000’s.

This film is visually stunning as is pretty much the standard when Disney makes an animation film but what makes this one a true work of art is the aesthetic of this world. Every building, every street, every character makes this world come to life. The design of the train station in Zootropolis for example shows how each animal lives in this world from little tiny hamster doors, through to high rised ceilings for giraffes. These little details make us believe in the world we are watching and the scene in which Judy Hopps boards the train to Zootropolis literally filled me with wonder and a film hasn’t done that since Star Wars back in December.

The story has great energy to it and snaps along at a brisk pace with no sag whatsoever as we follow Judy Hopps rise through the academy and her encounter with Nick Wilde. The plot about the animals turning into savages was actually really engaging with plenty of twists and turns to keep adults happy and younger audiences will be thrilled with the action sequences. The voice acting here is extremely good and with Jason Batemen (seriously underrated) stealing the show as Nick. The adult references in this are so well handled without being slammed home with a sledgehammer, one involving Breaking Bad won’t be spoiled here but its say to say I thought it was genius.

I laughed at this film more than I have at most comedies I have seen in recent years. One particular gag involving sloths at the DMV left me literally pissing my sides and I missed most of the dialogue in that scene because I was laughing so much. Also this film Disney isn’t afraid to poke fun at themselves with some gags about films of there own. That was the thin I loved the most about this film, the blending of the old and the new. This is classic Disney animation with animals being talking characters but its wrapped up in a modern bubble with its message about hate and prejudice. The plot involving the 90% prey and 10% predator is a timely and bold move by Disney as it reflects today’s society so well in terms of immigration and the film openly challenges its younger audience to think about these deep issues and its all the better for it. The character of Judy Hopps is also the first Disney female character I have seen who literally has no male help at all and represents a huge step forward in terms of female representation for Disney.

With its massive box office ($800 million dollars) and 99% rotten tomatoes rating this film has really come out of nowhere and been a massive success. Every so often a film comes from under your own radar and entertains the hell out of you and this is certainly my biggest surprise of the year so far

9/10

Netpicks – All is Lost

Netpicks – All is Lost

I am currently stuck in bed with the worlds worst cold and I feel like I am on deaths door but god damn it I will get a Netflix recommendation written! All is Lost is what I would call the epitome of hidden gems. Starring Robert Redford the story is simple, he plays a man stranded at sea on his own and the film shows us his attempts to battle a ferocious storm. That is literally it, the film only stars him and has literally two lines of dialogue. Now I know that’s not exactly an indicator of a great film, but for my money what is always an indicator of a great film is if it pulls you in and this film certainly pulls you in.

The performance here by Robert Redford is a miracle as he is literally given no dialogue to work with and yet we understand what this man is going through and the ordeals he is facing the entire time. It is refreshing to see film-making this bold and original. It is very rare that films in Hollywood come up with fresh ideas and pull it off, so to see a neat idea carried out well is fascinating. He commands the screen, you feel every crash, wince and the occasional muttered swear word. The films director JC Chandor is certainly one to watch and his other two films are well worth checking out (Margin Call and A Most Violet Year). For a young director to showcase this much craft, elegance and skill in his directing is rarely seen and has to be admired.

What I loved most about this film was just how simple it was and that it was a film about problem solving , a mans desire to survive but instead of using his brawn, he is using his intellect. This is gonna make me sound old beyond my years but it is nice to watch a film in which intelligence and craft are put on screen to be admired. I will admit that this is a very difficult film to write about as it is literally so simple and yet has such intellect it is truly a unique marriage between the two. Actor and Director both shine through in this film and once again my love of cinematography is satisfied as this film has some beautiful shots in it.

One of those films which lingers in the mind long after you have watched it!

8/10

 

Netpicks- Slow West

Netpicks- Slow West

My Netflix pick of the week is this brilliant, haunting western starring Michael Fassbender and Kodi-Smitt McPhee.  Although I watched the film a while back I still every now and again tell people I know about it and how much I want them to see it, always a sure sign that a film is great in my opinion. The film as I have said previously stars Michael Fassbender who is such a brilliant chameleon of an actor who turns in mesmerizing performances virtually every time we see him (just recently his portrayal of Macbeth blew me and Paul away). What I love most about Fassbender is the fact that he stars in big budget blockbusters such as X-Men but then stars in hidden gems like this one.

The film loves the Western genre and plays around with the conventions of the genre superbly and takes you on a melancholy journey through the Wild West as McPhee’s character looks for the woman he loves. Slow burning and simmering but never boring this film is brilliant for people who like to spend time with there characters and try to gain an understanding of them without ever being told what there feeling. The acting on show here is top-draw and I think the independent films like this do deserve more time in the spotlight but at the same time that wouldn’t make them so enjoyable to find now would it!? A memorable turn from Ben Mendelsohn is also worth mentioning as he truly gets under the skin as a threat to our two protagonists.

As a film student I have always been a sucker for a film which pretty cinematography and direction and this film has both of those to satisfy my pretentiousness. The first full feature from John Maclean it is truly amazing that he has been able to pull off a film with this much style, sophistication and sure panache at the first time of asking and his career is looking hugely promising. The cinematography and framing are breathtaking and individual shots could easily be seen as individual masterpieces of art direction and mistaken for paintings.

A playful film full of invention, this is well worth checking out as a film against the “norm”

9/10