Love,Simon

Love, Simon focuses on a young man, who is in the closest, as he embraces his sexuality, all the while trying to find out the identity of the mysterious Blue. The plot is very well adapted from the source material, managing to be both funny and, insightfully deep at times. Truly there is no other movie quite like this, that is what makes Love, Simon so unique. The script is a commentary on the process of finding yourself and coming out in general; being incredibly well done. The characters are incredibly three dimensional to the point where you feel like you know them. Simon, (Nick Robinson), in particular, is an incredibly well-written character, with the trials and tribulations that happen to him striking an emotional chord with the audience: creating a deep emotional bond between you and the character. The search for the identity of Blue is one that keeps you constantly invested, with the emotional pay off at the end being the most heart-warming scene I’ve seen in years. My only critique of the film is that it’s a glamorized Hollywood version of adolescents, being a far cry from more relatable genre fare such as last years Lady Bird. The humour and especially some of the awkward scenes seemed incredibly real; reminding me of my own formative years. Robinson’s delivery is outstanding with every ounce of emotion he conveys feeling genuine. The acting in this film is fantastic to the point that even minor characters such as Simon’s father played by Josh Duhamel have great scenes and feel developed as characters. Duhamel was a standout for me, with the scene in which he embraces his son’s sexuality being the best in the film; bringing more than a few tears to my eye. The direction by Greg Berlanti was fantastic, with each character getting a chance to shine and, have their own meaningful character moments. To conclude this film is a must-see, for the simple fact that it’s message of acceptance is beautiful and, this film is truly unique. Love, Simon almost feels like what John Hughes would make if he was still around today. This is a beautiful film that will make you laugh, make you cry and, quite probably make you cheer. This is a wonderful meditation on growing up in the 21st century and, feels incredibly relevant. Just a very sweet heartfelt film that I guarantee will put a smile on your face.
5/5
Reviewed by Luke

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Truth or Dare

Spoilers ahead!

This film follows a group of friends who are forced to play a game of truth or dare that is possessed by a demon; with this concept being quite reminiscent of the Ouija films. The greatest criticism I can level against this film is that no one asked for it. This film fails at being scary at every turn deciding instead to use incredibly obvious jump scares. The film itself ranges from dull to instantly forgettable. Lucy Hale doesn’t bring anything to the film outside of being whiny and annoying. However, the rest of the cast is worst comprising of a whole host of teenage stereotypes and all the worst ones at that. You never care about a single character even finding it hard to remember their names whilst you watch it. The script is utterly terrible being a mess of horror movie cliches with dialogue that is laughably bad. The overall shocks and scares of this movie mainly rely on facial distortion; with the end result being more funny than scary. Furthermore, there is needless subplot after needless subplots, such as a love triangle that sticks around far past its welcome. Ultimately this film is just a waste of your time, with the ending being the most sequel baiting thing I have ever seen. Don’t go and see this, you will be left sorely disappointed. Truth or Dare is without a doubt Blumhouse’s weakest film, with it’s the biggest crime being how lazy, unscary and boring it is
1/5
Reviewed by Luke

Rampage

Spoilers ahead!
The plot of Rampage focuses on Davis Okoye, (Dwayne Johnson) as he searches for answers after a gorilla, that he has a strong bond, with is struck with a pathogen turning it into a monster. This film is loosely based on a series of video games, in which, you play as various monsters whose goal it is to cause the most destruction. In that respect, this is quite a good adaption: with the simplicity translating well to the big screen, however, only the creature names carrying over from the games. The plot is ridiculous and nonsensical from the start, but the film seems to be aware of that; and revels in the fact that it’s just a dumb B movie. The bond between Davis and George, (the gorilla) is done very well and is surprisingly endearing. However, the relationship also has a lot of cheap and needless moments. Such as a scene in which George is tranquillized and falls to the floor; done in slow motion. This scene carries no emotional weight, being incredibly overdramatic, with the slow motion only adding to the needless nature of the scene. Furthermore, the humour between Davis and George didn’t work, with the middle finger bit seeming quite repetitive by the end, and the sex joke at the end is incredibly out of place and dated. In contrast, the humour outside of that dynamic works very well with Harvey Russel, (Jeffery Dean Morgan) having some especially funny lines. All of the actors in this film, (but especially Jeffery Dean Morgan) seem to be having the time of their lives; with that being apparent in their performances. The Villian of the piece Claire Wyden, (Malin Akerman), is just what you would want from a B movie villain; being menacing but also being amusing at the same time. Wyden is just a sub-villain to the film’s mutated monsters, Ralph, (The Wolf) and Lizzie, (The Crocodile) and to an extent George. The CGI on the film’s creatures is all very convincing and brings you out of the experience. My main issue with the film is the character of Kate Caldwell, (Naomie Harris). First, let me preface this complaint by saying this isn’t the sort of film that has flushed out characters. Kate is particularly bad in this regard, as the whole point of her character is to spout exposition. She also furthers the needless plotline about getting Davis to trust humans again, which takes away from the overall fun of the film; in general everything about the relationship between the two seems forced. Overall this film would be right at home in the 90’s, whether that is a good or bad thing is for you to decide. If you are looking for the sort of film where Wyden’s plan for the monsters is called, “Operation Ramage”, being essentially just dumb fun, then look no further.
3/5
Reviewed By Luke

Thoroughbreds

Thoroughbreds revolves around two friends, Lilly,(Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda, (Olivia Cooke), as they try and murder Lilly’s stepfather Mark. Both actresses give fantastic performances, with Olivia Cooke, in particular, being a show stopper. Cooke’s lack of emotion is eerily clear and will make you feel uncomfortable; with the film using some wonderfully slow scenes showing her staring off into space, thereby building a feeling of quiet uneasiness. Anya Taylor-Joy’s Lilly is also fantastic as we see that she is also incredibly cold, but rather than let that show she builds false personas. What Thoroughbreds does, in my opinion, better than any other film I’ve seen this year, is build great three dimensional characters, that you can empathize with. That is the genius of this film: even though Lilly and Amanda do terrible things throughout, you still feel sorry for them even in a way you root for them. The film is paced superbly, giving the character there due time, without wasting a single scene. Anton Yelchin plays Tim, a drug dealer the girls originally try and blackmail into doing the hit for them. Yelchin’s performance is genuinely layered, with him being initially quite menacing and threatening, whilst later on, he’s more sympathetic. The use of sound design in this film is incredibly clever, with the sound of the rowing machine, slowly driving Lilly into insanity being very reminiscent of the works of Edgar Allen Poe. I felt quite a lot of Poe’s influence in the film with elements reminding me of both the TellTale heart and the Raven. Furthermore, the use of the violins and cowbells, as non-diegetic parts of the score, was inspired as it has a wonderful off-kilter quality. The ending was genuinely upsetting, which is a testament to how much you end up caring about these fundamentally bad characters. Overall this is a very cold film in the best possible way, being incredibly tense, but also oddly warm at times. This is definitely a must see, but be warned it most certainly isn’t for everyone.
4.5/5
Reviewed by Luke

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories focuses on Professor Phillip Goodman, (Andy Nyman), a sceptic, as he tries to explain 3 of his ideals cases; revolving around different types of supernatural entities. The 3 cases are all very unique, giving each one a strong sense of identity. Nyman’s character of Goodman has a very strong arc, slowly transitioning to a believer the more the film goes on: as he sees things he can’t explain. The ending, which I’ll talk more about later, really helps to develop Goodman’s character; whilst also showing his motivations for trying to disprove what he would deem delusions. The first case revolves around a night watchman as he is pursued by restless spirits, this case is menacing as it prays on a person’s fear of what lurks in the dark. The second case focuses on a hit and run accident, on a deserted country road, whilst that may sound like a cliché horror movie set up, the performance by Alex Lawther truly elevates it. Lawther constant twitching wide-eyed performance really conveys the unhinged nature of his character bringing a great amount of believability to the role. This second case is the most frightening, with 3 truly haunting words of diegetic dialogue; that you will remember long after you’ve heard them. The third case revolves around Martin Freeman’s character of Mike Priddle, as he talks about the poltergeist that plagued his family. This third case is the weakest having by far the least amount of scares. Ghost Stories plays upon natural humans fears: whether that is the dark or isolated places; forcing the viewer to contemplate whether there is more to the world then they choose to believe, making it a very unsettling film. The ending, in one way it is a triumph, as the message of the film is be careful what you believe in, and the ending certainly hits that message home. However, it is also an anti-climax as it seems to throw away all of the atmosphere and the general feeling of uneasiness, that the film has built.
Overall this is a strong British horror and I would definitely recommend it to genre fans.
4/5
Reviewed by Luke

A Quiet Place

Spoilers ahead!

The Quiet Place is a horror film that follows a family as they try and survive; in a world overrun by sound hunting creatures. John Krasinski stars as the father of the family Lee, perfectly capturing the fear of a father who lives in a world where his kids might not grow up. Early plot developments show why this fear is justified and earned, the scene in which his youngest son dies is both heartbreaking and incredibly tense. Said scene is very indicative of what the film is, in essence, an hour an a half of pure tension using jump scares and atmosphere to a masterful degree. Right from the start, The Quiet Place builds tension, layering it, only to release it when you least suspect. The Quiet place is an excellent horror film: for the simple fact that the suspense and atmosphere it creates is, in my opinion, unrivalled by any other horror films of recent memory. Evelyn, (Emily Blunt), Regan, (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus, (Noah Jupe) all help to sell the tension, as you can see through their performances the toll living in such a world has brought upon them. The shocking death scene, that I have already mentioned, is incredibly well done because it creates a real sense of mortality: emphasising the fear and peril the family go through eliciting a genuine emotional response from you. The screenplay is incredibly tight with each scene in the film feeling needed. However, the plot line of Regan blaming herself for her younger brother’s death is too drawn out. The use of sign language and the sound design is fantastically innovative, really helping to set this apart from other horror films. This is one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in a while, with the mythology and the background behind the events being left up to the audience’s imagination; with only a few tantalising hints being given. The creature design is fantastic, being both unique and terrifying. The focus on ears and sound in this film is very unique, and the fact that the creature design encompasses this theme only heightens it. Finally, the ending is a welcome contrast to the rest of the film, as it offers some hope that the creatures might be able to be defeated; this contrasts nicely with the fairly grim tone of the rest of the film.
A very tense and unique ride.
4/5
Reviewed by Luke

Isle Of Dogs

The Isle of Dogs is an animated film by Wes Anderson, his second foray into the genre; after the Fantastic Mr Fox. The plot focuses on a young boy called Atari, ( Koyu Rankin) as he quests for his lost dog Spots, (Liev Schreiber). At its heart this film is a road film, focusing on the bonds between the characters. Its score is the films the main strength, with the choice of songs often mirroring character relationships. This is shown by the choice of the song, “I won’t hurt you” by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, reflecting the change in nature of Chief, (Bryan Cranston) going from an angry stray, into Atari’s loyal friend. The other dogs in Chief’s pack are Boss, Duke, King and Rex, (Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban and Edward Norton respectively).The pack are used sparingly never stealing the focus away from Cranston’s Chief, though they do produce some much need wit and charm at times. Outside of the main voice cast, the other voice actors are wasted to various degrees. In certain cases such as Scarlett Johansson’s Nutmeg, they are memorable, despite the short screen time, in other cases like Tilda Swinton’s Oracle, they are a seemingly pointless cameo. The dog’s language is translated into English, with a lot of the humans speaking Japanese, this can be a little jarring but is also quite an interesting stylistic decision. The human side plot about the corruption in the mayor’s office and the hunt for answers by Tracy, (Greta Gerwig), is a little dull, with it being an unwanted distraction away from the main plot. Furthermore, I think this film is considerably darker than most other children’s films, especially Andersons Fantastic Mr Fox. This is best shown during the introductory scene of the main pack where another dog gets maimed. The cinematography is beautiful, with plenty of establishing shots helping to emphasise the desolate, decayed nature of Trash Island. Overall this lacks the heart and soul that made Anderson’s other animated feature so good.
2.5/5
Reviewed by Luke.