Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Film Review: "Mission: Impossible - Fallout" (2018).


"Some missions are not a choice." This is Mission: Impossible - Fallout. This action spy film written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. It is the sixth installment in the Mission: Impossible film series, and the sequel to Rogue Nation (2015). Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

Talks for a sixth Mission: Impossible film began prior to the release of Rogue Nation in 2015. In November 2015, the film was officially green-lit, with McQuarrie confirming his return as writer and director, as well as producer alongside Cruise, with plans to begin shooting in August 2016. By June 2017, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Michelle Monaghan, and Alec Baldwin were all confirmed to reprise their roles. In the same month, Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett were confirmed to join the cast. Principal photography began in April 2017, and concluded in March 2018. Locations included the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway and the United Arab Emirates. Filming lasted 161 shooting days, a few months of filming was halted due to Cruise's injury with his ankle while performing a stunt in London. In August 2017, he was able to grab onto the other building thanks to a harness strapped onto him, but his ankle fractured upon the impact of the jump. Cruise then got up and attempted to run it off, which was what the scene called for, before he and the crew decided to stop filming. The footage of the stunt used in the film and its trailers just so happened to be the actual injury.

The cast includes Cruise, Rhames, Pegg, Ferguson, Harris, Monaghan and Baldwin, with Cavill and Bassett. The performances given by the cast made this instalment more action-packed than its predecessor. Cruise once again proves he is an action star without equal by uping the ante. But Cavill and Harris proved to be less than memorable or intimidating adversaries, giving wooden and under-utilized performances.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout continues the franchise's thrilling resurgence. Somehow, the franchise keeps topping itself, and this instalment proves to be one of the most entertaining Ethan Hunt adventures. The franchise still has plenty of fight left in it, with no signs of slowing down. However, rather than go full auteur on the formulaic material, McQuarrie instead offers a kind of greatest-hits package: Fallout marries the shifting loyalties of Brian De Palma's original to the kinetic action beats of John Woo's series nadir and the all-set-piece structure of Brad Bird's series zenith, yet adding a less omnipotent villain than the one Philip Seymour Hoffman played in J.J. Abrams' entry. In some ways, it’s the least visually or conceptually distinctive of the five movies, leaning on what's worked before rather than forging its own path. Nonetheless, it's still breathlessly thrilling to the point where all you can do is pick your jaw off your lap and grin at the breathtakingly bananas spectacle you've just witnessed.

Simon says Mission: Impossible - Fallout receives:


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Film Review: "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" (2018).


"He's going to need a vacation after this vacation." This is Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. This computer-animated comedy film directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, written by Tartakovsky and Michael McCullers, and produced by Sony Pictures Animation. The monster family embarks on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else's vacation at the hotel. It's smooth sailing for Drac's Pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka, who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind.

In September 2015, before the release of Hotel Transylvania 2, Sony was "talking about number 3 and moving forward and taking the franchise to the next level." In the same month, Tartakovsky revealed that he would not be returning, due to working on Can You Imagine? Even though the project would later be shelved. Tartakovsky told TheWrap that "two is enough. I have a lot of other ideas, and I kind of have to express them and have them come out." In November 2015, Sony Pictures Animation announced that the third film, under the tentative title of Hotel Transylvania 3. It was also confirmed that Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, David Spade, Steve Buscemi, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, and Mel Brooks would return to reprise their roles. In June 2016, Sony and Tartakovsky confirmed that he would be returning for the film, despite previously leaving the series to develop other projects, including the final season of Samurai Jack. According to Tartakovsky, he returned after he got an inspiration from a "miserable" family vacation and major inspiration for the film from the Chevy Chase National Lampoon's Vacation movies as the film would take place aboard a cruise ship. Another idea for the film was to properly introduce Van Helsing. An idea that was dropped from the first film where Johnny was a descendant of Van Helsing, which would have created more conflict between Dracula and Johnny. By early November 2017, the film had been entitled as Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. Despite having a September 21, 2018 release date, the film was pushed forward two months to allow Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018) to take that date, though that film would later be pushed back a month to October 12th the same year.

The film features the voice talents of Sandler, Samberg, Gomez, James, Spade, Buscemi, Key, Shannon, and Brooks, reprising their roles, with new additions Kathryn Hahn and Jim Gaffigan. Despite giving hilarious performances, one can't help but feel that the series has become a rickety skeleton designed for Sandler and company to drop their litany of cornball punchlines and gags.

While Genndy Tartakovsky's animation is top-notch, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation doesn't live up to the first two monster mash.

Simon says Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation receives:


Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Film Review: "Ant-Man and the Wasp" (2018).


"Real heroes. Not actual size." They are Ant-Man and the Wasp. The superhero film directed by Peyton Reed, written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, with Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari, based on the Marvel Comics characters, and produced by Marvel Studios. It is the sequel to 2015's Ant-Man, and the twentieth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.

Talks for a sequel began three months after the release of Ant-Man. Reed, Kevin Feige, and Michael Douglas expressed interest in returning for a sequel or prequel. Douglas expressed the desire to have his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones play Janet Van Dyne, and Evangeline Lilly had Michelle Pfeiffer on her wish list to play Janet. Sharon Stone was considered for Janet as well. In October 2015, Marvel Studios confirmed the sequel, titled Ant-Man and the Wasp, with a scheduled release date of July 6, 2018, with Rudd and Lilly returning to reprise their roles. The film was placed in Marvel's packed Phased Three lineup, and subsequently moved the release dates of Black Panther (2018) and Captain Marvel (2019). A month later, Reed was officially returning to direct. In the same month, Adam McKay, one of the original writers, expressed interest in returning. Reed mentioned that pre-production would "probably" start in October 2016, with filming scheduled for early 2017. Two of the original writers, Gabriel Ferrari and Andrew Barrer, signed on to write the script along with Rudd, with writing starting "in earnest" in January 2016. In early November 2016, pre-production began. In February 2017, Douglas was confirmed to return. At San Diego Comic-Con 2017, the cast was rounded out with Hannah John-Kamen, Randall Park, Walton Goggins, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburne, and Pfeiffer. Reed was inspired by the films After Hours (1985), Midnight Run (1988), and What's Up, Doc? (1972) for the look and feel of the film. Filming took place from August to November 2017, at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayette County, Georgia, as well as Metro Atlanta, San Francisco, Savannah, Georgia, and Hawaii. In June 2017, Reed confirmed that Christophe Beck, the original composer, would return to score the film.

It stars Rudd, Lilly, Peña, Cannavale, Greer, Harris, Dastmalchian, Fortson, and Douglas reprising their roles, with Goggins, John-Kamen, Park, Fishburne, and Pfeiffer. The cast, despite their best efforts, gave comically-insufferable and cliched performances that relied upon one too many cliches and jokes to flesh out their characters. Pfeiffer's screen time as Janet was criminally limited, hopefully it will be extended the next time round.

Everything tolerable about Ant-Man, a mere three years ago, has vanished with its sequel. In its place, Ant-Man and the Wasp has substituted noise, cliches, multiple villains, irrelevant stunts, misguided story lines, and insufferable jokes. It isn't as tolerable as its predecessor.

Simon says Ant-Man and the Wasp receives:


Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Film Review: "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" (2018).


"'No Rules this time" Gear up for Sicario: Day of the Soldado. This action thriller film directed by Stefano Sollima and written by Taylor Sheridan. It is the sequel to 2015's Sicario. The drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.

"Soldado MF /Sol.'Da.Do/. (Dia do Soldado) used to describe a Latin-American soldier; In Spanish and Portuguese, Soldado means Soldier." In September 2015, after the release of Sicario, Lionsgate commissioned a sequel centering on Benecio del Toro's character, Alejandro Gillick, with a script penned by Sheridan, and Denis Villeneuve initially set to direct. However, due to scheduling conflicts with Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Villeneuve could not return to direct. Jeremy Saulnier was considered to replace Villeneuve, but declined due to scheduling conflicts with Hold the Dark (2018). In April 2016, the producers said del Toro, Josh Brolin and Emily Blunt would return. However, in November 2016, del Toro and Brolin were confirmed, but Blunt was no longer attached. By Early June 2016, Sollima was hired to direct what was now titled Soldado. In late October, Lionsgate lost the distribution rights from Black Label Media after a disagreement. Ultimately, Columbia Pictures won the rights. By January 2017, Catherine Keener, Isabela Moner, David Castaneda, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jeffrey Donovan, Elijah Rodriguez, Matthew Modine and Ian Bohen joined the cast. Principal photography began in early November 2016 in New Mexico. After Jóhann Jóhannsson's death in February 2018, Hildur Guðnadóttir took over as composer, after collaborating with Jóhannsson on the first film as cello soloist.

The film features del Toro, Brolin, and Donovan reprising their roles, with Moner, Garcia-Rulfo, and Keener. The cast, both old and new, gave intense performances that takes their characters into new and uncertain territories. Del Toro gives it his all and turns in another stellar performance as the enigmatic Mexican attorney-turned-hitman. Along with del Toro is the morally-ambiguous Brolin, who seems to have taken somewhat of a backseat given his character's place in the story, and thus has made it less interesting.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado didn't seem quite so lively, quite so fresh, or quite so intellectually interesting as its predecessor. The film is composed of situations, not plots. The fact that this film is constructed to endorse the exercise of murderers, to emphasize killer bravado and generate glee in frantic manifestations of war is, to my mind, a sharp indictment of it as so-called entertainment today. The film is not great film-making. But it is fun enough. Don't miss it. This is to say, don't miss it if you can still get the least bit of fun out of muted action and politically-cliched drama with its melodramatization and exaggeration on America's desperate war on cartels with morally-ambiguous and sinister characters on both sides driven to a grand, gritty, illogical and improbable point.

Simon says Sicario: Day of the Soldado receives:


Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Film Review: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" (2018).


"The park is gone." Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. This science fiction adventure film directed by J. A. Bayona, written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, and based on the characters by Michael Crichton. It is the sequel to Jurassic World (2015), and the fifth instalment of the Jurassic Park film series. When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen and Claire mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event.

In April 2014, before the release of Jurassic World, Trevorrow announced that sequels had been discussed. Trevorrow said Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard might reprise their roles for the next few films, and said he would direct the film if asked. However, in May 2015, Trevorrow announced that he would not direct another film in the series. In early June, Trevorrow met with producer Frank Marshall and Universal Studios to discuss a sequel. Later that month, Trevorrow and Connolly devised the basic story during a road trip that they took immediately after the release of Jurassic World. In late July, Universal announced that a fifth film had been scheduled for a June 22 2018 release date, with a script written by Trevorrow and Connolly, and with Pratt and Howard set to reprise their roles. In mid April 2016, J. A. Bayona was announced as the film's director. In September, Bayona confirmed that the film would be the second chapter in a planned Jurassic World trilogy, and compared the film to Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). By April 2017, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, Ted Levine, James Cromwell, B. D. Wong, Geraldine Chaplin, Isabella Sermon, and Jeff Goldblum rounded out the cast. Filming began in late February, and wrapped in July, with Hawaii and the United Kingdom as locations. Filming lasted for 134 days, and was shot under the code name Ancient Futures. The film was shot with Arri Alexa 65 cameras, and in CinemaScope. The film features more dinosaurs than any previous film in the series, as Bayona wanted to include several new dinosaurs not previously seen in earlier films. The film also features more animatronic dinosaurs than any previous sequel, which were more technologically advanced than in the previous films. Neal Scanlan served as the film's creature effects creative supervisor, while Vickery and Alex Wuttke served as visual effects supervisors. Scanlan worked on the animatronic dinosaurs, while Vickery and Wuttke created CGI versions of the dinosaurs with their ILM team. 

The film stars Pratt, Howard, Wong, and Goldblum, reprising their roles, with Spall, Smith, Pineda, Cromwell, Jones, Levine, Sermon, and Chaplin. Unlike the dinosaurs themselves, the cast were not able to demonstrate the visible signs of realism as they were bound by plot conventions and action formulas.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom demonstrates how much the franchise has lost its magic, and how difficult it can be to put together a truly compelling sequel.

Simon says Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom receives:

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Film Review: "Incredibles 2" (2018).



It's "back to work" for the Parr family in Incredibles 2. This computer-animated superhero film written and directed by Brad Bird, and produced by Pixar Animation Studios. It is the sequel to 2004's The Incredibles. Everyone’s favourite family of superheroes is back - but this time Helen is in the spotlight, leaving Bob at home with Violet and Dash to navigate the day-to-day heroics of "normal" life. It’s a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone must find a way to work together again - which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

Over the years, Bird expressed an interest in making a sequel to The Incredibles. But stated that he would only do a sequel if he could come up with a story that was just as good as, or better than, its predecessor. In March 2014, it was finally confirmed, by Disney CEO/chairman Bob Iger at the Disney shareholder meeting, that a sequel was in the works. Around April 2015, Bird started the script, and said that it would be his next film after Tomorrowland (2015). Bird faced multiple challenges crafting the film, the biggest of all was finding a way to distinguish the film from other films and television shows within the superhero genre since the first film's release. By July 2017, original cast members Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell and Samuel L. Jackson would return to reprise their roles. By January 2018, Huck Milner, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Sophia Bush, Isabella Rossellini, and Jonathan Banks rounded out the cast. For the film, Milner took over voicing Dash, as the character's original voice actor Spencer Fox's voice had deepened since the first film. While Banks voiced Rick Dicker, after the character's original voice actor, Bud Luckey, retired in 2014, and died in 2018. In 2015, Bird confirmed that Michael Giacchino would return to compose the score. Giacchino began work on it around May 2017. Originally scheduled for a June 21 2019 release date, Pixar swapped its release date with Toy Story 4's June 15 2018 due to this film being completed ahead of schedule, whilst the other film was lagging in production.

The film stars Nelson, Hunter, Vowell, Jackson, and Bird, reprising their roles, with newcomers Milner, Odenkirk, Keener, Bush, and Banks. The cast, both old and new, delivered entertaining performances that captured the heroics of its predecessor, and more than the slew of modern superhero movies leaping into theatres.

I always thought there should be a sequel to The Incredibles. Finally it's here, and we are pretty happy. For me, Incredibles 2 was just as an emotional experience as the first film. Instead of essentially remaking an earlier film and deeming it a sequel, the creative team, led by director Brad Bird, delves deeper into their characters and world, while retaining the fun spirit of the original film.

Simon says Incredibles 2 receives:



See my review for Tomorrowland at http://ss-film.blogspot.com/2015/05/film-review-tomorrowland-2015.html

See my review for Finding Dory at http://ss-film.blogspot.com/2016/06/film-review-finding-dory-2016.html

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Film Review: "Solo: A Star Wars Story" (2018).


"Never tell him the odds" in Solo: A Star Wars Story. This space opera Western film directed by Ron Howard, written by Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, based on the character Han Solo created by George Lucas. It is the second Star Wars anthology films following 2016's Rogue One. Young Han Solo finds adventure when he joins a gang of galactic smugglers, including a 196-year-old Wookie named Chewbacca. Indebted to the gangster Dryden Vos, the crew devises a daring plan to travel to the mining planet Kessel to steal a batch of valuable coaxium. In need of a fast ship, Solo meets Lando Calrissian, the suave owner of the perfect vessel for the dangerous mission - the Millennium Falcon.

Before Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, development on a young Han Solo film began in 2012 with George Lucas. Lucas hired Lawrence Kasdan to pen a script, and was later joined by his son, Jonathan just before he left to work on Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Later, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were hired to helm the film. In January 2016, a shortlist of actors considered for the scruffy-looking nerfherder was revealed to include: Dave Franco, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Miles Teller, Nick Robinson, Leo Howard, Tony Oller, Chandler Riggs, Hunter Parrish, Rami Malek, Landon Liboiron, Ed Westwick, Tom Felton, Joshua Sasse, Logan Lerman, Ansel Elgort, Jack Reynor, Colton Haynes, Max Thieriot, Scott Eastwood, Chris Pratt, Emory Cohen, Taron Egerton, Jack O'Connell, Blake Jenner, and Alden Ehrenreich. Ultimately, Ehrenreich won the role. Lord and Miller said that while they liked a lot of the other actors they read with, they increasingly said, "The first guy we saw was the best for the part." By late July, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Thandie Newton, Joonas Suotamo, and Michael K. Williams rounded out the cast. In February 2017, Principal Photography began, locations included Pinewood Studios in London, England, the Dolomites, Veneto, Italy, and the Canary Islands. In June, shortly before filming was to be completed, Lord and Miller were fired by Lucasfilm due to "creative differences", and a new director was "to be announced soon." Shortly there after, Ron Howard was hired to take over the director's chair over Joe Johnston and Kasdan. In October 2017, production wrapped, and it was reported that Howard had re-shot more than 80% of the film, with Williams' role removed, and Paul Bettany was cast. With an estimated budget of at least $250 million, it is the most expensive Star Wars film ever made.

The film stars Ehrenreich, Harrelson, Clarke, Glover, Newton, Waller-Bridge, Suotamo, and Bettany. The cast gave terrific performances despite riddled with archetypal cliches and predictable character motivations associated with the genre.

Though the cast, including Alden Ehrenreich, give their all, they can't help Solo: A Star Wars Story overcome a cliche-ridden script and a horrendously compromised vision. It's a mediocre Star Wars movie that tells the early story of the titular smuggler and attempts to make it climax in a perfect coupling with the start of the known trilogy.

Simon says Solo: A Star Wars Story receives:



See my review for Inferno at http://ss-film.blogspot.com/2016/10/film-review-inferno-2016.html

See my review for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at http://ss-film.blogspot.com/2016/12/film-review-rogue-one-star-wars-story.html

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Film Review: "Deadpool 2" (2018).


"He's not coming alone" in Deadpool 2. This superhero film directed by David Leitch, written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is the eleventh installment in the X-Men film series, and a direct sequel to Deadpool (2016). After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry's hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the Yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor - finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World's Best Lover.

Plans for a sequel was announced 3 days before the film's release, and were confirmed in February 2016.  The original team of Reynolds, Reese, Wernick, and director Tim Miller were set to return for the sequel. However, in October 2016, Miller left the project due to creative differences with Reynolds. Miller later stated that he left the sequel because he "didn't want to make some stylized movie that was 3 times the budget", and wished to create the same kind of film that made the first one a success. After Miller's departure, Rupert Sanders, Drew Goddard, Magnus Martens, and Leitch were considered by the studio to replace Miller. Ultimately, Leitch was chosen to direct. In the same month, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lizzy Caplan, Kerry Washington, Sienna Miller, Ruby Rose, Mackenzie Davis, Kelly Rohrbach, Eve Hewson, Sofia Boutella, Stephanie Sigman, Sylvia Hoeks, and Janelle Monáe were considered for the role of Domino. Zazie Beetz was ultimately cast, which was met with backlash from fans. In March 2017, an extensive casting search took place for the role of Cable that included Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stephen Lang, Ron Perlman, Pierce Brosnan, David Harbour, and Josh Brolin. Brolin was ultimately cast. Filming began in May and concluded in October, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The production wrapped on the same day that X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) wrapped it's production. Originally scheduled to be released on June 1 2018, the release date was pushed forward to May 18 2018.

The film stars Reynolds in the title role, alongside Brolin, Beetz, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, and Jack Kesy. The original cast gave another round of solidly entertaining performances that expands upon the first film, with Reynolds' being the strongest, comical, and surprisingly emotional. The new cast members are a welcome addition who injected new flavour into the already colourful ensemble.

Although the film itself succumbs to overly-outrageous cartoonish antics, Deadpool 2 is one superhero movie that manages to stay true to the original while expanding its universe. It features some larger-than-life action sequences, absurdly comical references and jokes, and new colourful characters.

Simon says Deadpool 2 receives:

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Film Review: "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018).


"Where will you be, when it all ends?" Hopefully watching Avengers: Infinity War. This superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and produced by Marvel Studios. It is the sequel to 2012's The Avengers and 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it is the nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment - the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

In October 2014, Marvel announced a two-part sequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron, titled Avengers: Infinity War. Part 1 was scheduled to be released on May 4, 2018, with Part 2 scheduled for May 3, 2019. In April 2015, Marvel announced that Anthony and Joe Russo would direct both films, with back-to-back filming expected to begin in 2016. The same month, Kevin Feige said the films would be two, distinct films "because they [have] such shared elements, it felt appropriate... to [subtitle the films] like that. But I wouldn’t call it one story that's cut in half. I would say it's going to be two distinct movies." In addition, according to Feige, the Avengers are expected to have a "shakeup" in their team lineup between Avengers: Infinity War and the untitled Avengers sequel. By May 2015, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely had signed on to write the screenplays for both parts of the film, which draws inspiration from Jim Starlin's 1991 The Infinity Gauntlet comic and Jonathan Hickman's 2013 Infinity comic. In a NY Times interview, when asked about how the script was written to accommodate the large cast, McFeely said, "Not every scene can be 25 people in a room. You're going to have to make kickball teams and then have a tournament." Anthony Russo added the film was inspired by 1990s heist films, with Thanos "on a smash-and-grab [to acquire the Infinity Stones], and everybody’s trying to catch up the whole movie." In May 2016, the Russos revealed that they would retitle the two films, to further remove the misconception that they were one large film split in two, with Joe Russo stating, "The intention is we will change [the titles], we just haven’t come up with [them] yet." That July, Marvel revealed the film's title would be shortened to simply Avengers: Infinity War. Between April 2016 to January 2017, many actors from previous MCU films were confirmed to be reprising their roles in the films.

In late January 2017, Principal photography began, under the working title Mary Lou, at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayette County, Georgia as well as Downtown Atlanta. Additional locations included Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cumbernauld and the Scottish Highlands in Scotland, Durham, England, Queens, New York, and Ifugao, Philippines. IMAX stated that this film, along with the sequel, was entirely filmed with digital 2-D ARRI Alexa IMAX cameras, which are specially customized versions of ARRI Alexa 65 cameras with IMAX technology. Captain America: Civil War (2016) was the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to incorporate the new cameras, but only for its airport sequence. This made Avengers: Infinity War the first non-documentary film to be shot entirely with IMAX cameras, although it did not use the traditional IMAX aspect ratio of 1.43:1 but rather the digital IMAX ratio of 1.90:1, which closely matches the 1.85:1 aspect ratio of The Avengers (2012) and Ant-Man (2015). In Early March 2018, Disney moved the release date to April 27 2018, releasing five days before the tenth anniversary of Iron Man (2008), to match the date in several international markets. In June 2016, Alan Silvestri, who composed the score for The Avengers, was revealed to be returning to score both Infinity War and its sequel. The visual effects for the film were created with the combined talents of Industrial Light & Magic, Framestore, Method Studios, Weta Digital, Double Negative, Cinesite, Digital Domain, Rise, Lola VFX, and Perception. With a running time of 156 minutes, this will make the film the longest Marvel film to date following Captain America: Civil War, which had a running time of 147 minutes. With an estimated budget between $300–400 million, the film would go on to become one of the most expensive films ever made.

The film features an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio del Toro, Chris Pratt, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, William Hurt, Winston Duke, Peter Dinklage, Terry Notary, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Carrie Coon, Michael James Shaw, and Josh Brolin. The cast gave spectacular performances that took their characters to whole other levels that we did not expect from the very first moment to the last.

Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Infinity War serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel. It succeeds in the top priority of creating a worthy opponent for its superheroes and giving the latter a few new things to do, and this time the action scenes and the stakes definitely measure up. It is a whole summer of fireworks packed into one movie. It doesn't just go to 11, it starts there. If this is what the apotheosis of branded, big-studio entertainment has come to look like in 2018, we could be doing much worse. Unlike other tentpole movies of its genre and scale, the film most definitely has emotional and gut-punching moments. The film redefines the scale we can expect from our superheroes.

Simon says Avengers: Infinity War receives:



See my review for Captain America: Civil War at http://ss-film.blogspot.com/2016/05/film-review-captain-america-civil-war.html

See my review for Black Panther at http://ss-film.blogspot.com/2018/02/film-review-black-panther-2018.html

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Film Review: "Ready Player One" (2018).


"A better reality awaits." Get ready for Ready Player One. This science fiction adventure film produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on Cline's 2011 novel of the same name. In the year 2045, the real world is a harsh place, and most of humanity spends their days in an immersive virtual universe called the OASIS. The OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday, who left his immense fortune and total control of the Oasis to the winner of a three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir. When Wade Watts conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends-aka the High Five-are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS.

In June 2010, Warner Bros. and De Line Pictures acquired the adaptation rights to Cline's novel, before its publication. Cline stipulated two conditions in the agreement with the studio: he and Eric Eason get to write the first draft of the script, and Cline wanted Spielberg to direct. Spielberg and Penn were later hired direct and rewrite the script. Cline and Penn made several revisions that made significant changes from the novel, including the removal of almost all references to Spielberg and his filmography. In September 2015, Cooke was announced to have been cast in the role of Art3mis. In January 2016, Ben Mendelsohn joined the cast as Nolan Sorrento. In February 2016, Tye Sheridan was confirmed in the lead role of Parzival, after a lengthy nationwide casting call failed to produce an unknown for the part. In March 2016, Simon Pegg joined the cast as Ogden Morrow. In April 2016, Mark Rylance joined the cast as James Halliday, and by July 2016, T.J. Miller, Hannah John-Kamen, Win Morisaki, Philip Zhao, Lena Waithe, Ralph Ineson, McKenna Grace, and Letitia Wright were later announced to have joined the cast. Principal photography began in July 2016, and wrapped in September. Locations included Birmingham, England. Industrial Light & Magic was brought on to create the film's immense visual effects. Spielberg worked with ILM to oversee the film's visual effects. In an interview, Spielberg said this was the third most difficult movie he has made in his career, behind Jaws (1975) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). The film was originally scheduled to be released on December 15, 2017, but was pushed back to March 30, 2018, to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). The music score was originally going to be composed by longtime Spielberg collaborator John Williams. However, due to working on another Spielberg film, The Post (2017), he left and Alan Silvestri took over. This was only the third film where Spielberg did not collaborate with Williams.

The film stars Sheridan, Cooke, Mendelsohn, Waithe, Pegg, John-Kamen, Morisaki, Zhao, Miller, and Rylance. The cast gave terrific performances that harken back to the archetypal Spielberg summer blockbuster performances.

Ready Player One is a dazzling movie from Steven Spielberg in which virtual reality have been used to help humanity live adventurous and fantastical lives. Here's a visually immersive show that is sensational, stylish, and fun.

Simon says Ready Player One receives:



See my review for The Post at http://ss-film.blogspot.com/2018/01/film-review-post-2017.html

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Film Review: "Isle of Dogs" (2018).


"Atari Kobayashi, you heroically hijacked a Junior-Turbo Prop XJ750 and flew it to the island because of your dog..." This is at the heart of Isle of Dogs. This stop-motion animated comedy film written, produced and directed by Wes Anderson. When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island, 12-year-old Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies across the river in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.

In October 2015, after having previously directed the stop-motion animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Anderson announced that he would be returning to the genre with "a film about dogs." Making this his second stop-motion animated venture. "When we made Fantastic Mr. Fox... we shot in East London, a place called Bromley, and on the way there, there was a sign for the turnoff of the road to Isle of Dogs." Anderson explained. "Which is a sort of industrial island on the Thames now... I looked it up and it was supposedly the place where the king kept his hunting dogs and whatever in the 16th century... and that was the beginning of this movie..." Anderson then elaborated: "Then I went to Jason and Roman... and said 'I have this idea of five dogs, Chief, King, Duke, Boss, and Rex, on a garbage dump island..." Anderson said that the film was strongly influenced by the films of Akira Kurosawa, Hayao Miyazaki, as well as the stop-motion animated holiday specials made by Rankin/Bass Productions. " Anderson said: "Our first inspiration really was Japanese cinema... and for us it was Kurosawa and Miyazaki... but the other two masters are the woodblock print makers, Hiroshige and Hokusai..." Anderson further commented. "The Japanese setting came entirely because of Japanese cinema. We love Japan, and we wanted to do something that was really inspired by Japanese movies, so we ended up mixing the dog movie and Japan movie together." Like Fantastic Mr. Fox, the film was produced at 3 Mills Studio in East London, England. A total of 1,097 puppets were made for the film. These included ver 500 humans and 500 dogs puppets. Each hero puppet took roughly 16 weeks to make. Perfecting Nutmeg’s puppet alone took over six months. The human characters have up to 53 individually sculpted faces for their various expressions. Each also has up to 48 replacement mouth plugs for the different phonemes of dialogue. Each is individually sculpted and hand painted. Over 3,000 of these faces and mouth plugs were made throughout the film.

The film's ensemble voice cast includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Courtney B. Vance, Fisher Stevens, Harvey Keitel, Liev Schreiber, Bob Balaban, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Frank Wood, Kunichi Nomura and Yoko Ono. The film contained focussed "performances" from the exquisitely detailed figurines that Anderson framed in images as precisely composed as those in his live-action work. As for the voice cast, each provide adept voice work that serves as the basis for some of the most inventive animated set pieces since Nick Park. However, both sides make this gorgeous and fanciful, with a glorious stop-motion animation style of its own.

Isle of Dogs is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal – and it shows Wes Anderson has a real knack for animation. A self-consciously quirky movie that manages to be twee and ultra-hip at the same time, it qualifies as yet another wry, carefully composed bibelot in the cabinet of curios that defines the Anderson oeuvre. In some ways, this is Anderson's most fully realized and satisfying film. Having a quirky auteur like Anderson make a children’s film is a bit like David Byrne, of Talking Heads, recording an album of nursery rhymes produced by Brian Eno. Once you adjust to its stop-and-start rhythms and its scruffy looks, you can appreciate its wit, its beauty and the sly gravity of its emotional undercurrents. The work done by the animation director, Mark Gustafson, by the director of photography, Tristan Oliver, and by the production designers, Paul Harrod and Adam Stockhausen, shows amazing ingenuity and skill, and the music (by Alexandre Desplat, with the usual shuffle of well-chosen pop tunes, famous and obscure) is both eccentric and just right. In an age when everything seems digital, computer-driven and as fake as instant coffee, more and more artists are embracing the old ways of vinyl records, hand-drawn cartoons and painstaking stop-motion character movements. In the style and sensibility, this is really a Wes Anderson film, with little Kurosawa. Although it's missing the darker elements that characterise Kurosawa's films. There you find the whiff of something nihilistic: inexorable savage violence, Shakespearian tragedies, fragility of humanity, and individual redemption through personal responsibility. Gone, too, is any sense of danger. Even the antagonists, who are made to look a touch of corruption, don't seem capable of carrying it out to their most dishonourable. We never really feel the tension of watching the dogs facing real peril. The film certainly has Westernized Kurosawa's themes and aesthetics, and I don't mean the fact that the good animals have American accents. It offers yet another celebration of equality and a lesson on the importance of anti-discrimination and anti-racism. But it does leave you thinking: isn’t it time that children’s films put children first Nonetheless, it's both a delightful amusement and a distillation of the filmmaker's essential playfulness, and as if by magic, everything comes together in a super weird but completely functional story. Anderson injects such charm and wit, such personality and nostalgia — evident in the old-school animation, storybook settings and pitch-perfect use of Burl Ives — that it's easy to forgive his self-conscious touches. Adults will really appreciate oddball whole that Anderson serves up here. It's a one-of-a-kind animation classic.

Simon says Isle of Dogs receives:

Film Review: "Unsane" (2018).


"Is she or isn't she?" This is the question proposed in Unsane. This psychological horror film shot, edited, and directed by Steven Soderbergh, and written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer. A young woman is involuntarily committed to a mental institution, where she is confronted by her greatest fear--but is it real or a product of her delusion?

In July 2017, just before the release of Lucky Logan, it was announced that Steven Soderbergh had shot a film in secret, starring Claire Foy, Juno Temple, and Jay Pharoah. With a budget of $1.2 million, the film was shot in just ten days with a iPhone 7 Plus, in 4K, using the FiLMiC Pro app. Locations included Pomona, NY at the Summit Park Hospital that the production took over after it was recently closed.

The film stars Foy, Temple, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Aimee Mullins, and Amy Irving. The cast gave terrific performances despite some ham-fisted and conventional characteristics that are expected in a film of this genre.

Technically well-made and well-acted, Unsane is, unfortunately, a derivative and predictable story whose twists, turns, and frights have all been more effectively dealt before, and how it gives in to convention too often. It's all in good fun, really, though ninety-eight minutes may be less of this kind of fun than a mind can stand. The film sustains a creepy, gritty tension that draws you along without quite accelerating into outright terror. However, the terrors we see in the film are never as scary as they are tangible, but they are never so tangible as they are arbitrary. You might feel like you're in the company of a manic film student breathless showing you their graduate film with naive enthusiasm. You admire their enthusiasm, their creativity and technical ability, but in the end the experience is probably more satisfying for them than it is for you. The film undercuts its own authority by ham-fisting its protests into a banal plot structure and a totally undisciplined tonal register. Soderbergh's gritty and eerie new horror film, looks like something supreme horror master Jason Blum might have produced - if he'd applied the same mode of filmmaking he's applied to every single one of his productions. And that's meant as a compliment: This film is a demented riff on notable psychodrama and horror films like Shock Corridor (1963), and Changeling (2008). It's certainly the most deliriously deranged picture you're likely to see this year. It's psychodrama and horror as its most lurid and confrontational. An impressive pulp achievement. A pulpy potboiler of a jeremiad which aims to jangle as many nerves as possible in the shortest time available - subtlety be damned. While the film is about a woman who is not happy to remain removed from the world, not realizing that she, and others around her, are involved in something truly dreadful, many viewers will be all too willing to head for the exits. In the end, it's a fascinating low-budgeted film that screams for recognition.

Simon says Unsane receives:

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Film Review: "Red Sparrow" (2018).


"Seductive. Deceptive. Deadly." These words describe Red Sparrow. This spy thriller film directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Justin Haythe, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. After suffering a career-ending injury, ballerina and devoted daughter Dominika Egorova finds herself manipulated and recruited to 'Sparrow School', a secret Russian intelligence service where she is trained and forced to us her body and mind as a weapon. After enduring the perverse and sadistic training process, she emerges as the most dangerous Sparrow the program has ever produced. Her first mission is to target a C.I.A. agent, and threaten to unravel the security of both nations in order to protect her own life and everyone she cares about.

Before the publication of the novel, 20th Century Fox purchased the film rights for a seven figure sum. The project was then announced in 2013, Darren Aronofsky was in talks to direct. However, Aronofsky dropped out in 2014 and, in the same year, David Fincher and Rooney Mara were in talks to direct and star, respectively. In July 2015, it was reported that Francis Lawrence signed on to direct. In September 2015, Jennifer Lawrence was announced in the lead role. By December 2016, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeremy Irons, Ciarán Hinds, and Joely Richardson rounded out the cast. Principal photography began in January 2017, locations included Budapest, Dunaújváros, and Dég, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Austria; and London, England. For the role, Jennifer Lawrence did ballet and practiced a Russian accent for four months, spending three hours a day working with the Hollywood ballet instructor Kurt Froman. She said it was difficult because she had never wanted to dance ballet. During Post-Production, Jennifer Lawrence was offered the opportunity to view a cut of the film, by Francis Lawrence, in regards to the removal of any nude or sex scenes. Ultimately, she insisted that no cuts be made to the finished film. However, upon its release, the film was met with edits across the globe.

The film stars Lawrence, Edgerton, Schoenaerts, Rampling, Parker, Irons, Hinds, and Richardson. With a film of this genre and narrative, casting is a vital component in the edgy equation, and the cast, especially Jennifer Lawrence, make a picturesque and dramatically compelling one. Lawrence is hot, engaging, emotional, sincere and fundamentally looking at any slice of life through a sexual and deceptive lens.

Despite a stellar performance from Jennifer Lawrence, Red Sparrow is a slack, gratuitous and painfully-paced espionage film. The film asks us for some of our patience, but, by the end of it, our patience barely paid off. Like all other films of this nature, there is deception, suspicion, and self-delusion, but it all seems rendered at arm's length, despite the consummate artistry of the filmmakers. Though his direction is unsurprisingly beautiful, the settings lush and the performances stellar, no one apparently had the guts to insist Francis Lawrence streamline his rambling story. The film is ultimately lazy and razor-thin that you'll be bored.

Simon says Red Sparrow receives:



See my review for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 at http://ss-film.blogspot.com/2015/11/film-review-hunger-games-mockingjay.html

Friday, 23 February 2018

Film Review: "Annihilation" (2018).


"Fear What's Inside." This is Annihilation. This science fiction psychological horror film written and directed by Alex Garland, based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. The film centres on biologist and former soldier Lena is shocked when her missing husband comes home near death from a top-secret mission into The Shimmer, a mysterious quarantine zone no one has ever returned from. Now, Lena and her elite team must enter a beautiful, deadly world of mutated landscapes and creatures, to discover how to stop the growing phenomenon that threatens all life on Earth.

In March 2014, it was announced that Paramount Pictures and Scott Rudin Productions had acquired the film rights to Annihilation, the first novel in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy. In May 2015, Garland was hired to adapt and direct the film. Garland revealed to Creative Screenwriting that his adaptation was necessarily based on only the first novel in the trilogy. Garland did not read the other two books when they arrived, as he was concerned he would need to revise his script. Others informed him of the elements of the books, and he expressed surprise at some of the correlations. Garland further commented that he decided not to reread the novel. Instead, he decided to adapt it "like a dream of the book." Rather than book-referenced screenwriting with the intention of capturing the "dreamlike nature" and tone of his experience reading VanderMeer's novel, "an adaptation which was a memory of the book." Rather than trying to directly adapt the book Garland deliberately took the story in his own direction, with VanderMeer’s permission. After viewing an early cut of the film, VanderMeer called it "surreal", and compared it with 2001: A Space Odyssey"It’s actually more surreal than the novel... There are a couple places where I was like, 'I might need an anchor here.' The ending is so mind-blowing and in some ways different from the book that it seems to be the kind of ending that, like '2001' or something like that, people will be talking about around the watercooler for years. Visually, it’s amazing. I must say that and that’s all I probably should say." He further added: "I can tell you it’s mind-blowing, surreal, extremely beautiful, extremely horrific, and it was so tense that our bodies felt sore and beat-up afterwards." In regards to the adaptation, he commented: "The first thing I realized is that even though Alex Garland says he’s not an auteur, he is an auteur,” VanderMeer told The Watch. “My expectation was to not have anything to do with the movie and that’s the actual fact. He wrote the script and he was kind enough to keep me in the loop during every part of the process, but that wasn’t for me to put my two cents in, basically. It was just so I would know what was going on."

Natalie Portman soon entered into talks to star in the film. Julianne Moore and Tilda Swinton were in talks to star in the movie. Frances McDormand was considered for the role of Dr. Ventress before Jennifer Jason Leigh was cast. In November 2015, Gina Rodriguez was in talks to co-star in the film with Portman. In March 2016, it was announced that Oscar Isaac would join the cast. The casting of Portman and Jason Leigh as characters who are, in the later books, described as Asian and of half Native American descent, respectively. Garland stated that none of the five female characters' ethnicity is mentioned in the first book, which was the only one of the trilogy he had read, and that the script was complete before the second book was published. He cast the characters based on his reaction only to the actors he had met in the casting process, or actors he had worked with before. Principal photography was underway in April 2016, beginning in South Forest, Windsor Great Park. Some test shooting had already been done in St. Marks, Florida, but the vegetation in the area turned out to be too dense to give any depth perception on screen. By July, filming concluded at Holkham Beach and Holkham Pines in Norfolk. Due to a poorly received test screening, David Ellison, a financier at Paramount, became concerned that the film was "too intellectual" and "too complicated", and demanded changes to make it appeal to a wider audience, including making Portman's character more sympathetic and changing the ending. Producer Rudin sided with Garland in his desire to not alter the film, defending the film and refusing to take notes. Rudin had final cut. In December 2017, it was announced that due to the clashes between producer Rudin and Ellison, and the shift in Paramount's leadership, a deal was struck with Netflix handling international distribution rather than releasing the film in theaters. According to this deal, Paramount would handle the U.S. and China release, while Netflix would begin streaming the film in other territories seventeen days later.

The film stars Portman, Jason Leigh, Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac. The cast gave terrific performances that presented a modern update on the sort of siege scenario that was played out in films such as Alien (1979) and The Thing (1982). Here the cast and their performances become a study of femininity in crisis in what usually is an all-male environment in other science-fiction horror movies of this nature. And Portman is as good as she's ever been, firing one of the most badass guns like any other badass in movie history.

Is Annihilation one of the best science-fiction films of all-time? Possibly. But it is, for sure, a peerless masterpiece of relentless suspense, retina-wrecking visual excess and outright, nihilistic terror. With its breathtaking visuals and a still-unparalleled sense of terror, the film demonstrated Garland's single-minded focus to inspire awe in his audience. It is Garland's most accomplished and underrated directorial effort, as well as being one of the greatest and most elegantly constructed B-movies ever made.

Simon says Annihilation receives:

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Film Review: "Black Panther" (2018).


"The Avengers have a new king", and his name is Black Panther. This superhero film directed by Ryan Coogler, co-written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, and produced by Marvel Studios. It is the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk.

Since 1992, a Black Panther film had been in the works with Wesley Snipes and John Singleton attached to star and direct, but the project never came to fruition. In September 2005, Marvel Studios announced a Black Panther film as one of ten based on Marvel characters and distributed by Paramount Pictures. In January 2011, Mark Bailey was hired to pen a script. In October 2014, it was announced that Black Panther would be making his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War, with Chadwick Boseman in the role. In May 2015, Ava DuVernay was approached to direct, but ultimately declined due to creative differences. By 2016, Cole and Coogler had joined to co-write and direct. In May, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, and Sterling K. Brown rounded out the cast, making Black Panther the first Marvel film with a predominantly black cast. Principal photography began in late January 2017 and concluded in mid April 2017. Locations included the EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and Busan, South Korea.

The film stars Boseman, Jordan, Nyong'o, Gurira, Kaluuya, Wright, Duke, Bassett, Whitaker, Martin Freeman, and Andy Serkis. Each cast members gave terrific performances and breathed new life in, what could have been, conventional roles. Boseman again delivered another compelling performance as the new king/superhero, but took it to the next level from Civil War. But it was Jordan who stole the show, and gave us the best MCU villain in its entire history. A villain more compelling and empathetic than the hero. The best villain since the Joker from The Dark Knight.

With Black Panther, director Coogler and star Boseman made this smart, high impact superhero movie one that comics fans of all backgrounds can enjoy. The result is something that, whilst hardly original or groundbreaking, is nevertheless refreshing in its earnestness to avoid dark dramatic stylings in favor of an easy-going, crowd-pleasing action movie with a sprinkle of political and social themes. The film contains emotional truth, pitch-perfect casting and plausibly rendered super-science that made it faithful to the source material while updating it – and recognizing what's made that material so enduring isn't just the high-tech cool of a man in a fantastical suit, but the human condition that comes with it.

Simon says Black Panther receives:

Monday, 5 February 2018

Film Review: "The Cloverfield Paradox" (2018).



"The future unleashed every thing." This is thanks to The Cloverfield Paradox. This science fiction horror film directed by Julius Onah, written by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung, and produced by J. J. Abramss. It is the third installment in the Cloverfield franchise, following Cloverfield (2008) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.

In 2012, it was first announced that Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions had acquired a spec script entitled God Particle by Oren Uziel, and to be directed by Julius Onah. The pick-up occurred around the same time that Paramount and Bad Robot bought the rights to The Celler, which ultimately became 10 Cloverfield Lane. When it was acquired, Abrams said the script had "the DNA" that made it a potential film in the Cloverfield universe. In March 2015, it was initially planned as part of Paramount’s low-budget InSurge distribution label, but was ultimately expanded as a Paramount-distributed film. In February 2016, the yet-named Cloverfield film was set for a planned February 2017 release date. However, the film faced several delays afterwards throughout production. By May, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Elizabeth Debicki, Daniel Brühl, Chris O’Dowd, Zhang Ziyi, John Ortiz, and Aksel Hennie were announced as members of the cast. With a budget of $45 million, filming began in June and wrapped in September. The film was shot in Los Angeles, under the titles of God Particle and Clean Pass. During this time, Uziel was required to rewrite and shoot additional scenes to help the film connect to the Cloverfield universe, and due to negative test audience results. On February 4 2018, a surprise trailer aired during Super Bowl LII, revealing its title, on the same night it was to be released only a few hours after. Though specific details of Netflix's acquisition of distribution rights were not known, industry analysts believe Netflix's involvement helped to make an otherwise lackluster film profitable for Paramount, whereas a more traditional theatrical release would have ended in a loss.

The film stars Brühl, Debicki, Hennie, Mbatha-Raw, O'Dowd, Ortiz, Oyelowo, and Zhang. The cast gave performances that proved that they were at the top of their game, despite lacking solid characterizations. Mbatha-Raw was the only cast member given any true characterization, whilst others appeared as either archetypes or plot devices.

The Cloverfield Paradox does what it needs to do: make you sit and squirm and want very badly to know. It has the appeal of the suspense and science fiction pictures of the 1950s. There are a number of intense sequences all heightened by actors at the top of their game. It’s a decent film that shows what you can do with confident tension, editing, and a handful of shocking moments. Despite because Cloverfield being invoked in the title, and its unique marketing and publicity, it’s ultimately a dumb move and a lot of people expected a certain type of follow-up.

Simon says The Cloverfield Paradox receives: