Review : Pendulum 


“When Luther, the CEO of a major software company, realizes he has a stalker intent on doing him harm, he calls in Ryan, an old friend and former soldier. Ryan, who is battling with post-traumatic stress disorder, tracks down the stalker and is forced to kill him, but in so doing, makes a shocking discovery.”

Pendulum is a Trinidad made film, staring Jovon Browne, Stephen Hadeed Jr., and Anokha Baptiste. It’s directed by Michael Rochford, and was fully filmed in Trinidad and Tobago. If I had to describe this movie in one word, to quote a friend of mine from his wedding speech, “Problems!”. Visually and stylistically, Pendulum swings back and forth from well done, good looking shots, to really uninspired, seemingly lazy film making. There are even times when I would notice some pretty visible clipping of footage, or some mistakes that should have been noticed like a scene where one character is holding an empty beer of one brand, and when someone walks across the frame, he then has a full beer of a different brand in his hand. That seeming lack of attention to details plagues this entire film. Hadeed Jr. and De Lancey are good when they’re given enough to work with, but Browne who plays the title role here really lacks the on screen charisma, to make you connect with his character. And as we’re on the topic of problems, there are many, but I’m going to talk in-depth about the worst one. Now I’ve had this issue with local films before, the sound, sound editing, sound mixing, and to a lesser extent the score, are serious issues here. The entire movie seemed to have had its dialogue ADRed, but it’s done so poorly that it constantly is out of time with characters lips, there is no spatial awareness to it, it’s all flat, it comes and goes at points, there are even time where people say things, and you hear nothing. The rest of the audio here is also like this. Sound effects come and go, they don’t match up with to what we see on screen, they’re too loud or too soft, or they just don’t match with at they’re attached to. At more than one point in this movie, the audio simply cuts out, and abruptly pops back up a few seconds later. I don’t have any issues with the score musically, it just seemed underwhelming, which could be due to it’s often understated levels. The title sequence at the start of this movie is good, but it’s preceded by a random sequence of credits that are subsequently rendered useless by the actual title credits. The fight scenes are sloppy, the effects are barebones, and when the cinematography goes off, it goes way off. The story only becomes coherent (but never believable) when characters literally spell out everything that actually happened, in a narrative that tries to be too ckever for its own good. All in all, what Pendulum feels like, is a student movie that was meant to be done by a certain time, wasn’t, but had to be handed in anyway. I never want to be so negative on films from my home, but I feel like I have to hold them to the same standard I hold all movies.

Review Score : 2 out of 10

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Review : Blade Runner 2049


“A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.”

1982 gave us one the most influential science fiction movies of all time in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. 35 years later, we have the combined vision of Scott, but this time helmed by Arrival’s Denis Villeneuve, with story by Hampton Fancher. It picks up 30 years after the events of the first movie, this time lead by Ryan Gosling as a LAPD Blade Runner charged with retiring older lost models of replicants. There is a lot more story here, but honestly, this movie is filled with so many unspoiled surprises, that I can’t really talk about much of it without giving a lot away. What I can say however, is that this movie is possibly the prettiest, most beautifully shot movie I maybe have ever seen, and that’s a real impressive feat given the general bleakness of this future landscape. That bleakness however, does allow the movie a kind of minimalist aesthetic that pairs brilliantly with the analog future design of everything here. It’s like they took what was done in the first movie, and instead of just going more into the future, they went into the future of what they had already created which allows 2049 to match perfectly with the original, but still feel new. That visual base is then stacked even higher by the acting here. Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, and the rest of the cast here are all spectacular. No one does understated like Gosling, and he plays this complex role to a Tee. He also cuts a great silhouette, and fits perfectly into this world. Even the more cameo roles here are so organic that you just believe these characters have been living and breathing in this world for years. Blade Runner 2049 is one of those movies, that might not be fully appreciated till years from now, for its contribution to the genre and film making. As slow of a burn as it is, it’s combination of cinematography, score, and subtle acting means you’re never wanting for more over this 2 + hour journey. Any fan of the original should be more than happy with this long awaited second outing, and even those who have never seen the original, should find a lot to like here.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Review : American Made

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“A pilot lands work for the CIA and as a drug runner in the south during the 1980s.”

This is one of those movies, where at best, its a Wolf of Wall Street, and at worst they just come off as unauthentic, cheesy, and boring. This movie is pretty much in the middle. It stats Tom Cruise, who as always, is totally committed to his role and plays it very well, the movie on a whole however, is what maybe holds it all back. Its not to say that this movie isn’t good, or isn’t entertaining. Its certainly funny enough, dramatic enough, the acting is good enough, its all enough yes, but the real issue is that its just enough. Nothing here is special, nothing here takes this movie into a category above, where movies like the Wold of Wall Street live. It gets kind of bogged down in mediocrity that make it great probably for an at home stream, but nothing about it says come see me in the cinema. Also, a lot happens here, and it all needs to happen, but it can almost feel a bit overwhelming sometimes, as the movie often needs to keep up a bit of a break neck pace to get from where the story starts, to where the movie ends it. All in all though, this movie is two things combined. Its Tom Cruise being the consummate professional he always is (the man is never bad EVER), mixed with a rest of movie thats good but not great, and I feel like with this story and talent, it could have been GREAT.

Review Score : 7.5 out of 10

Review : Kingsman – The Golden Circle


“When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.”

Kingsman the golden circle, or just Kingsman 2, tells the continued story of unrefined youth turned super spy Eggsy, in a brand new story. Everything about Kingsman 2 is meant to be bigger and better. More action, more stunts, more fights, more guns, more everything. For the most part we do get all the “more”, but we could have done with a touch of the “less” also. The Kingsman sequel definitely makes some sacrifices for the sake of bigger and better, but in that we do lose a little of the soul that made the first movie so memorable. Bringing in their American counterparts in the Statesmen, the movie basically doubles its cast of over the top, but super charismatic spies, and allows for an entire new style to be used to great effect. All the great action you would expect is all here, where the movie falters, in its character development. All these new characters have their times to shine, but that spreading of the spot light, does mean less time to dive a bit deeper. I also feel like this movie made some choices in an attempt the deepen our emotional connections with characters, but served only to take some of the best characters out, most like in preparing for third and likely final entry in the Kingsman saga. Just like the original movie, this movie is certainly over the top, and doesn’t shy away from pointing the camera directly at the lesser flattering areas sometimes, and in some cases, some might find it goes too far. The new additions to the cast are also all fantastic, and do a great job to build out the world, as well as allow for some interesting match ups going forward. All in all, Kingsman 2 is every bit the over the top action movie you would expect it to be, it just lacks a bit of the deeper soul that made the first movie one of the best movies of 2014.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Review : What Happened to Monday

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“In a world where families are limited to one child due to overpopulation, a set of identical septuplets must avoid being put to a long sleep by the government and dangerous infighting while investigating the disappearance of one of their own.”

Honestly, I feel like all i have to say to sell this movie, is Orphan Black + Children of Men. And while it isn’t exactly as good as either, it comes pretty close in the ways that matter, especially for what I think is a budget thats lower than we might expect. Noomi Rapace plays the titular roles here, stress on plural, as she portrays 7 different sisters Orphan Black style, and she does her very best to imbue each with their own personality and style. The plot itself here is sometimes pretty transparent, but even then it still does a good job at being suspenseful and it brings some surprising action. There are some plot issues here yes, and some inconsistencies, but I think if you go into the movie the way I did, without much of any expectations, those issues don’t kill the fun and entertainment that this movie definitely can deliver. Noomi is also the best part here acting wise, thought the rest of the cast still does a good enough job, but none of them are given the same amount to work with as Rapace. All in all, What Happened to Monday is a genuinely entertaining sci-fi, action movie, and is another notch on the Netflix movie belt. Its not at the level of some of their other movies (like Beasts of No Nation), but its definitely worthy of being one of its movies to fill out its new roster.

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Review : Atomic Blonde


“An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.”

Atomic Blonde comes to us from one of the co directors of the popular John Wick movie in David Leitch, who had previously made his name and career of off doing stunt work, a credit which spoke greatly to the kind of movie John Wick was. He directors however separated with one going on to make John Wick 2, and the other Atomic Blonde. There are many similarities between the two, but Leitch does well to distinguish himself from the gun toting Wick in a few ways. Firstly, his visual style is ramped up even more here, and it fits perfectly with this graphic novel adaptation, giving it a real gritty and washed out aesthetic, except when he wants to be colourful, at which point he gives us blinding neons and super saturations that screen comic book page. Then there’s the action, which is surprising another place this movie separates itself from Wick. It uses minimal guns, and opts for a real brawler style hand to hand combat, that’s extremely satisfying to watch. They do a great job of illustrating the difficulty in a woman of Theron’s size having to fight men twice her size, and the double duty she must employ to escape. This movie also takes itself more down the mystery, espionage route with its story, giving the movie some nice breathing points to try and string the story along, and keep up the intrigue. All of this coupled with a pulse pounding synthetic score, and the biggest European hits of the late eighties, this movie has a real flare and style to it that’s hard to ignore. There are some small issues yes, and it doesn’t deliver quite the action level of some of its competitors, but with what it has already, it’s impressive cast of supporting characters and actors, and flare for the over the top, Atomic Blonde is a real sexy, fun, hard hitting ride, that doesn’t pull its punches, and is most definitely worth seeing on a big screen (with a big sound system).

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Review : War for the Planet of the Apes

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“After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.”

I don’t think back in 2011, with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, that I would have ever though that movie would be the start of one of better trilogies to be had in a long time. Rise, and then Dawn, and now War, have all set up and advanced the same plot for the last 6 years. War brings us to the conclusion of a body that was set into motion in 2011, and is finally built up a full head of steam and looks to come crashing down on humanity. The story follows the titular Caesar, played masterfully by the ever amazing Andy Serkis (who really should just have an oscar by now for this) who fully becomes the messianic figure that his legend will tell years from now in the apes history and lore. This movie also portrays an extremely conflicted Caesar, mirrored by a conflicted world around him. He is entrenched on each side by both sides of humanity. The larger and more obvious side lead by Woody Harrelson, and the smaller but equally as important opposite side showcased almost entirely by Amiah Miller’s Nova. The movie also leads the story of the apes forward closer to the point where the classic movie takes us to. This movie is also something to behold with its special effects. There is honestly never really a point in this movie where you would or could ever question if what you were seeing was real or not and thats really impressive seeing as how many apes there are in this movie. That matched with some wonderful and intriguing cinematography, and some real haunting imagery, help this movie do a lot of its story telling without characters ever saying a word. All in all, War for the Planet of the Apes is a great movie and fitting end for this Apes trilogy, and definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10