Review : Dunkirk

“Dunkirk (2017) Robert Paege Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.”

Firstly, it must be said, the British navy had the sweetest coats ever, so stylish and I’m sure some warm, unto the movie now. In some ways Dunkirk is unlike any other Chris Nolan movie, and in some ways it’s like the best of his movies. This movie is first and foremost an education in film making. This movie is absolutely gorgeous, and uses some of Nolan’s most effective and trademark camera techniques (like when he locks a camera down to something then let’s that thing role or spin), and here those methods work really well to build tension and a real awareness of tight spaces. This movie is also anchored by an amazing score from Hans Zimmer, which is in itself anchored by a ticking clock that goes through the entire movie save the last 3 or so minutes. Together the cinematography and score, when added to Nolan’s directing, make for a movie that people will probably use to teach these things years from now. This movie isn’t perfect however, and the one real flaw it has, is a bit of a gaping hole. There are a good few characters for us to follow here, set on three different time lines, but we get about zero character development for any of them, which makes feeling for them in situations of danger difficult. Don’t get me wrong, you feel the danger, but the characters in danger could be anyone really and it wouldn’t even matter that it’s Harry Styles or not. The real question here is does this lack of the movie’s soul hurt it, and how much does it? Well it does, and it does hurt. We see some of these characters no some horrible things, and they’re either never redeemed, or given sufficient background to give those actions meaning. All in all, Dunkirk is a triumph of film making, but it can’t transcend to being a triumph of film.

Review Score : 7.5 out of 10

Review : The Beguiled 

“The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier at a girls’ school in Virginia during the American Civil War leads to jealousy and betrayal.”

The Beguiled 2017, not the be confused with the 1971 movie of the same name, is the latest from Sofia Coppola. The movie even won nabbed her the coveted best director award at the Cannes Film Festival. And honestly, that shows because this movie is really a directors showcase. That’s not to say that there isn’t great acting on display here, there certainly is, but this movie is all about directing and directorial choices. The first two acts of this movie as completely soundless, in terms of musical score or the like, all we get is either dialogue or something like birds chirping. When we get to the third act however, the reason for that decision becomes clear as when the first horn blast hits us, it really rocks us, in a way it wouldn’t have if we had it all movie. And that really is the corner stone of this movie in its strong, purposeful, and definite directing choices. It’s also a really hard movie to review in terms of trying to rate it. It deliberately paced, but it’s also only about 90 minutes. It has distinct directing, but great subtle acting (most of the time). This is a movie I think that’s really made for certain people. Some people will see this movie as boring and a bit silly, others will see it as tense, suspenseful and unnerving, and in there somewhere is this movie. All in all, The Beguiled is a real showcase of directing, with enough great acting on there too for good measure, and a story that’s definitely something else.

Review Score : 8 out of 10

Review : Okja

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“Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a fascinating animal named Okja.”

If you needed any more evidence that Netflix wants to take over the world, just look at what they are trying to do with not just series, but feature films. One of their latest production is that of Okja. This movie is also an interesting one in that its a two country production here. Written and directed by Joon-ho Bong, with a both international and Korean cast, and also set in both south Korea and america, Okja is a truly global film. This movie is many things, but its definitely two things. Firstly, its a movie about a girl and her family, and what she is willing to risk to save that. Secondly, its a movie with a message and an agenda (but not so severe that it can’t poke fun at itself), that it weaves throughout the plot line. The movie also jumps back and forth between english and Korean, further highlighting the duality at play here. This movie is also told on two levels. The top level is the plot, which is very solid and keeps itself nice and lean. The second level are the characters, and this movie is FULL of characters. These characters are also juxtaposed against each other in their performance and their grounding. Those who are on the right side of the story are definitely played more down to earth and much less of a caricature than those on the wrong side of it, and while that can come off like they are trying to tell a one sided story, but their absurdity is contrasted by the rest of the cast. That is the one place where the movie can fall apart for some viewers, as some of the characters are genuinely over the top, and it can be too much at times. All in all, Okja is a movie with heart, and with a message. Its equal parts heart felt and PSA, and definitely worth a watch…and its on Netflix, for like..free (ish).

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Review : Baby Driver

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“After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.”

I know this review is late…sorry. That aside, what a wonderful movie. The long awaited return of Edgar Wright is here, and he really knocks this one out of the park. Baby Driver takes us the audience on a full throttle, action packed, tension filled, high energy, but full of fun ride, that starts of hot and sweaty and stays that way till the bitter sweet ending. This movie really does check all the boxes. It has a great sound track, wonderfully done and shot action, amazing driving, and best of all, some really well brought to life characters that were all equal parts crazy, as funny, and dangerous. These characters are more than just caricatures also, as much as they are over the top and intense in their personalities, they also a reigned in just tight enough to fit perfectly into the narrative and only add to the furthering plot. The plot itself is also really tight, and it keeps itself moving at a nice pace, that ramps up and down as the film needs. The entire caste here also from Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Lily James and Kevin Spacey, all do so well to make their characters really feel well rounded and lived in, that as i mentioned before, their sometimes over the top personalities don’t seem so over the top that they feel out of place, they just work. You truly get a feeling for their ideals and beliefs and motivations, and these are the things that keep characters compelling. To be honest, Baby Driver is a damn near flawless vehicle (see what I did there) that allows for fun, action, suspense and whole lot more out of a trip to the cinema.

Review Score : 9.5 out of 10

Review : Spider-Man Homecoming

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“Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.”

While I do think that Spider-Man 2 is still the best Spider-Man movie ever made (just barely really), this movie is the next one up. Spider-Man Homecoming takes us through our first look at a Spider-Man movie that has the influence of Marvel Studios, and not just Sony, and it really shows. This movie gives us 100% the most comically accurate Spider-Man/Peter Parker that we’ve ever seen on screen. For the first time, we genuinely get a well done and fully believable high school aged and set Spider-Man story. Between the physical stature, the rest of the cast, and the genuine young age of Tom Holland, everything works out perfectly to make the perfect Spider-Man. That gives the movie a real sense of fun, but also with purpose, it feels like when the movie ramps things up, that there are genuinely stakes. This movie is also full of surprises, and I mean really full of them, some that I figured, but some I didn’t seeing coming at all. There is a large cast here also, but unless you were really dead set on some particular actor’s role, all the characters here do get either enough time to shine, or you see the roots they have set down for further movies. The movie maybe some could say is missing or lacking just one more action set piece, but I think thats neither here nor there really. This movie does connect to the wider MCU, but it also does a great job of both being its own film, and also setting down great roots for its later movies. All in all, Spider-Man Homecoming is almost the best Spider-Man movie ever made, but definitely the best Spider-Man/Peter Parker ever, and if nothing else, thats worth the price of admission.

Review Score: 9 out of 10

My Rating System

Ever since I started not just reviewing movies, but really just having strong opinions on them, one thing people would always bring up with me would be how could I give XY movie and so and so score, and this other movie a lesser score. Do you really think this movie is better than that movie? Cause thats what you’re telling me giving one an 8 and one a 7. And I always had to try and explain to people how my mental rating system really worked. Fast forward to now and my time reviewing movies “officially” and the same kind of question do emerge. So I thought it apropos to give a real and in-depth explanation of how my system works.

To start with I do use a traditional 1-10 rating scale, on which movies are rated 1 the lowest and 10 the highest. Outside of that however things get a little tricky. The standard 1-10 system I see as a bit stiff and restricting. What I do, is I use my 1-10 system and tie it specifically to that film, by that I mean my rating is basically me giving that movie a 1-10 where the 1 is the lowest based on that films potential and the 10 is the most. So what that does, is it tends to make movies that I think have less potential, have a higher chance of scoring a bit higher on the scale, because I thought that movie was maybe closer to its full potential, whereas a movie that has much more potential, might fall short. Let’s look at some examples:

Power Rangers (2017)

My review score 7 out of 10    Rotten Tomatoes combined critic score 5.1 out of 10

Now I don’t think Power Rangers was a game changer of a movie or anything like that, but other than the fact that I had a lot of fun watching the movie, I also felt like the movie did a lot to live up to it’s potential. If I were scoring it based solely on a universal 1-10 scale, I would have had to have given it a lower score when I would have compared that 7 out of 10 to other movies that I would have ranked a 7 also. That however, didn’t seem fair to me when I considered what the movie was and what it was indented to be, and as such, people might just have looked at that score and not see the movie, when I actually want them to see it.

Another factor is that I see the middle point of  my reviews as a 5, unlike many people who see the tipping, middle point as the 6. If i had to really break down my 1-10 I’d say scores of 1-3 are for the movies I like least, 3-5 are for movies I don’t think are good particularly but can have redeeming qualities. 5-7 are for movies that I like more than less, and how close to each side depends on the movies potential, and the things that they got right or wrong. 7-9 are for movies that I really like, and recommend, and while they can have flaws, they are totally more good than bad, have lots of good qualities, live up to a lot of their potential and are pretty entertaining. 10 is a score really reserved for movies that I think are the best of the best and deserve some rarified air to be able to stand on their own.

so hope this has been helpful and that you have a better idea of what my scoring system means from my reviews.

 

Cheers

Review : Transformers – The Last Knight

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“Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.”

Transformer 5 or which ever one this is, is one of the most convoluted, frenetic, chaotic, and all over the place movies I’ve seen in a long time. The story takes so many twist and turns, and jumps and leaps around its story and the globe, and is a mind numbing task trying to keep them all together. The story itself I kind of understood, but it literally goes a mile a minute, and gives you no reason to fall in line with it. It also doesn’t give you any real reason to feel for the characters and care when they were in dangerous situations. I mean there is a plot in here somewhere, but I also genuinely couldn’t care less by like 30 mins into it. There are also a lot of moments when the movie most certainly pauses for either dramatic or comedic effect, and they pretty much all fell flat, with a silent cinema audience. There were also so many different characters crammed into every nook and cranny of this movie that you never had any time to breathe. The cgi and visual effects are most definitely up to par and then some, everything on screen really does look good, especially the cars when they were zipping around the place, but I must say, I really don’t think I’m a fan of the current character designs of the transformers themselves. Each movie they have gotten more and more anthropomorphic, and I think it really takes away from making the characters stand out more. All in all, Transformers 5 is really a bit of a cluster fuck, and for something so full of things always happening, its actually kind of boring.

Review Score : 3 out of 10