The Peanut Butter Falcon: The Next Champion Of The World

The Peanut Butter Falcon is an adventure film directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz. The plot follows Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young boy with down syndrome who dreams of becoming a professional wrestler just like his hero. However, in order to do that he needs to escape from the old people’s home that he has been forced into and venture into the great unknown on a voyage of self-discovery.

This is one of the most touching films I have ever seen, I kid you not there were a good few time when I had a tear in my eye. This one will hit you right in the feels. I think part of what makes this film so easy to connect to is its characters. They’re unlikely heroes, in a more simplified sense underdog.  

I think Gottsagen was great throughout, he was easily the most loveable character and you will want to see him become a wrestler so much. I also thought this fatherly connection with Shia LaBeoufs’ character of Tyler was also incredibly well done. The two make a great pair and are incredibly endearing together. This was the film that made me stand up and take notice of LaBeouf as a serious actor.

Overall, I think this is a very lovely film and is the sort of film we need right now when times seem so dark. It will have you smiling and cheering throughout. A must watch for sure.

Pros.

Gottsagen

LaBeouf

Johnson

The relationships between the 3

A small appearance by Yelawolf

Cons

None

5/5

Reviewed by Luke  

The Love Witch: Finding Love The Witchy Way

The Love Witch is a horror comedy film directed by Anna Biller. The plot sees witch Elaine (Samantha Robinson), set out to find the man of her dreams, someone who will love her as much as she loves them as well as live up to her criteria of what makes a perfect man. Sadly, the American dating scene does not live up to her expectations.

So, this one was a mixed bag for me, I enjoyed the style of it, mimicking horrors of the 60’s and 70’s and applaud it for being as out there and strange as it ended up being. However, it is not without its problems some of which really harm the film overall and stop it from reaching good film placement.

One of my main issues was how repetitive the film became after a while. It was the same thing over and over again, Elaine meets a dude, she does a weird strip show for them, she slept with them and then she killed them and on and on the cycle goes. This quickly made the film tiresome, the only reprieve from this monotony was the final act which I actually enjoyed. It was by far the most out there part of the film and had heavy Wicker Man vibes.

My other key issue with the film was the nudity, I understand Elaine’s character is all about sex magic, but she spends most of the film in a state of undress. It gets to the point where you question the need for it, I am no prude or puritan, but it almost felt like this film was a softcore porn film at times. The nudity or half nakedness also became repetitive and boring after a while.

Overall, this film has a great sense of style and a very interesting premise, but the writing ruins the film. By being incredibly repetitive you lose any interest in the film or it’s characters and a strong third act can’t change that.

Pros.

The style and the visuals

Trying to be different

Cons.

The needless nudity and half nakedness

The repetitive story structure

Immense pacing issues

2/5

Reviewed by Luke

Wreck-It Ralph: Win The Game

Wreck-It Ralph is an animated adventure comedy film directed by Rich Moore. A classic arcade game villain Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), decides he wants to reform and be a good guy, when he realises that his fellow video game character won’t accept him unless he has a medal he sets out to win one.

As someone who has played video games all his life I appreciated the references and appearances in this film. I found them to be delightful and the nostalgia factor of them never really wore out.

I thought a lot of the emotional beats in this film had been done before and I wasn’t very impressed with the storytelling or the characters, that is until about 15 minutes from the end. As Ralph is about to self-sacrifice to save his friends a powerful wave of emotion hit me hard and I realised that I had been caring this whole time, I had formed attachments to these characters.

I think the message of the film about accepting yourself for who you are is really well done and is communicated in a good way. I think children need films like this as I could have a strong positive impact on their self-esteem.

Other than Ralph and his best friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), I thought a lot of the other characters were weak and I lose interest when they were on screen; they took away from the A storyline.

Overall, this is a film with a good heart and a message everyone can relate to, the writing is a little shoddy in places and the side characters aren’t great, but Wreck-It Ralph still manages to be moving in its own way.

Pros.

The message

The surprising emotional payoff

Ralph and Vanellope

Cons.

The terrible side characters

The writing wasn’t good across the board

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

Disturbia: The Film That Encourages Peeping

Disturbia is a crime mystery film directed by D.J Caruso and sees housebound teenager Kale (Shia LaBeouf) realise that his neighbour Mr. Turner (David Morse), is a prolific serial killer. Kale and his friends then decide to watch this killer for a few days until they have enough evidence to go to the police, however, the game is flipped, and the killer soon sets his sights on them.

This film feels like LaBeouf is just playing his character from Transformers while under house arrest. This does not show LaBeouf as a serious actor in a good light.

I have two main issues with this film firstly, it is aggressively dumb. This film is basically a remake of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, that would make the man himself roll over in his grave. The question I was repeatedly asking myself as I was watching this is why not just call the police, there are multiple times early in the film when they could do that, but they don’t. We are supposed to think that Kale and the police don’t get on that is why he doesn’t call them, but no it’s just because this film is ridiculously dumb and poorly written.

My second issue is the creepy sexual aspect of this film and the message it sends. So for a lot of the early film Kale spies on his new neighbour Ashleigh (Sarah Roemer), in a stalkerish way that is borderline unsettling, what’s more the film almost tells us the audience that it is okay for him to be that way. This is shown when Ashleigh finds out what Kale has been doing, not only is she not upset but she thinks it is sweet and they make out; in no way is what he did sweet, so for the film to condone it raises a lot of questions about the people behind the camera.  

Overall, this is basterdised Hitchcock plain and simple, with an off-putting seediness that will make you feel dirty.

Pros.

The ending is suitably tense

Cons.

Rewarding a stalker and normalising that kind of behaviour

Poorly written and dumb   

An incredibly inferior reimagining

Shia is terrible

1/5

I Give It A Year: Don’t Give This 5 Minutes

I Give It A Year is a British rom com directed by Dan Mazer. The plot sees a couple’s relationship become tested as their family and friends debate whether they can last.

Strap in this is another one I strongly disliked.

So call me old fashioned, but being in a couple isn’t the worst thing in the world? Maybe I am alone in this, if this film is to be believed I am. This film is constantly telling you how bad being in a relationship is, every minute, characters are often encouraging the leads to cheat and worse. Yeah it’s a real bad message all round.

This film is one of the most cynical pieces of trash I have ever watched. It seems to revel in ripping down each of its character joy and likes to punish its leads for even being in a relationship. It does this all through the medium of really poor jokes that are of highly questionable taste, I was under the belief that jokes are supposed to be funny. Clearly this film never got the memo.

All of the characters are the worst kind of people and are gratingly unlikable. The distinct lack of any kind of charm really makes this a hard watch, there were multiple times when I wanted to turn this off.

Overall, this film reads as someone who is bitter and resentful towards relationships so has created a film designed to mock them with such blinding cynicism that it is hard to watch. This one should be avoided at all costs.

Pros.

None

Cons.

The characters are awful

It mocks people for being in a relationship

The cynicism is unbearable

It is not funny

You want to turn it off after the first ten minutes

0/5

Reviewed by Luke

Legally Blonde: Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover

Legally Blonde is a comedy film directed by Robert Luketic. The plot follows Elle (Reese Witherspoon), a young woman who follows her boyfriend to law school in the hopes of winning him back. However Elle quickly finds herself embroiled in a big case, in which she really comes into her own as a lawyer.

I enjoyed this film. I thought it was very good turn your brain off fun. I thought it had both heart and laughs in spades, I particularly enjoyed how it destroyed each and every ditzy blonde stereotype in the book; proving anyone can do anything.

I think Witherspoon has just the right amount of charm to both make us the audience root for her and also have the air of an underdog. Even when she comes into her own as a lawyer she is not written to be cocky or arrogant, which often happens, this makes her way more likeable.

My one issue with this film is the side plot with Elle’s friend Paulette (Jennifer Coolage). I understand that the B story of Paulette trying to find the courage to ask out the delivery man she liked was supposed to be a funny aside from the main plot, but to me it had no purpose, it was incredibly unnecessary. It felt like runtime padding.  

Overall this was a fun ride, it kept me entertained for 90% of the runtime, but the needless side plot took me out of it.

Pros.

Dispelling stereotypes

Witherspoon.

Luke Wilson.

Cons.

Needless side plot.

It was poorly paced.

3/5

Reviewed by Luke  

Maleficent: Jolie Past Her Prime?

Maleficent is a fantasy family film directed by Robert Stormberg. The plot serves as a retelling of the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty, this time for the evil witch’s point of view. This time around we see that said witch Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), was actually the victim of human aggression on the part of the evil King Stefan (Sharlto Copley).

This film is to me the perfect example of the phrase style over substance. We get a lot of cool looking fantasy creatures, but do they do anything meaningful? Do you care about them? No to both. Even Maleficent herself is hard to warm to, this whole film feels very clean, like it was made by a group of marketing personnel, there is no heart or soul and if you watch it you will see what I mean.

Copley is one of my favourite actors and given the right director and the right script he can work wonder, but he is wasted here. We are supposed to believe that a poor orphan boy grew up to become king of a small country, I don’t think so. Not only that, but the film builds up the relationship between him and Jolie’s character, only to be like no he was evil the whole time. You’re left feeling like you have had your time wasted.

Jolie is not much better served. They try to make her character warm and sympathetic; they fail at both. They try and create a motherly bond between her, and Sleeping Beauty here called Aurora (Elle Fanning), which one again comes off as disingenuous and hard to believe. Which might say something about Jolie’s acting ability these days.

The only character who seems to be having fun and possess any kind of whimsey is Fanning’s Aurora, she is definitely the saving grace of the film.

Overall, this film feels too marketed tested and corporate, it has no soul.

Pros.

Elle Fanning

The world building

Cons.

They waste a talented cast.

The CGI creatures do nothing.

It feels boring and forced.

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

The King Of Staten Island: Oscar material?

The King Of Staten Island is a semi-biographical comedy film directed by Judd Apatow. The plot follows the life of Scott (Pete Davidson), a slacker whose life is thrown into upheaval when his mum Margie (Marisa Tomei), becomes involved with a new man Ray (Bill Burr). The twenty something year old must finally get his life together and find some sort of closure for this father’s death.

Now before I watched this film, I had no real idea who Pete Davidson was, I don’t watch SNL. I had heard good things about the film overall, so I decided to check it out and I was quite impressed. I left the film really liking Davidson and excited to see what he does next.

I think Davidson’s Scott is one of the easiest to root for characters from throughout cinema history, he is just so likeable, and you really emotionally connect with him as a character. Scott’s relationships with those around him are all really heart-warming, but his relationship with his stepfather Ray is the one that hits the hardest.

I wouldn’t call this film a comedy, I would call it a drama with comedic elements. It never made me laugh, but it did make me feel. As a comedy it is a failure, but as a drama film it is transcendent and could have a good shot at the Oscars next year. I think this film also shows that Judd Apatow still has some life in him, and this is a big comeback for him, as his last few films weren’t very good.

Overall, one of the best films I have seen in a long time, the way it connects with you and makes you feel for the characters is unrivalled, however, it is also not funny so it can’t get full marks as a comedy film.

Pros.

The characters.

The relationships.

The expert use of emotion.

Steve Buscemi.

Cons.

It is not funny, didn’t make me laugh once.

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Shirley: The Rise Of Elizabeth Moss

Shirley is a biographical drama film directed by Josephine Decker. The plot recounts the life of Shirley Jackson the famous horror writer, showing her struggles and her triumphs as she writes a novel and battles the world.

This film is good for two main reasons: the writing and Elizabeth Moss.

Moss is quietly making a name for herself in the horror/ thriller space, and for good reason to. She is captivating to watch on screen and her face conveys emotion with ease. We believe her characters mental struggles, we believe the genius and it is all because of Moss who shows us a myriad of emotions with ease.

The other strength is the writing that seamlessly merges different plot lines and sub plots to create a very dense layered overall narrative. The character dialogue is tense and snappy, it reminds me of Sorkin in a way. The thrills don’t come from anything scary or from any intense action, but rather from the subtly of the dialogue and the jagged barbs hidden within.

My one complaint of the film is that it is too long. The last act drags, and I would say the film as a whole is about fifteen to twenty minutes too long, as I was losing interest towards the end- this is the films fatal flaw.

Overall, this is a very tense emotional ride with a great performance from Elizabeth Moss.

Pros.

The dialogue

Moss

The mystery and the drama

The trippy sequences

Cons

The third act is poorly paced.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Da 5 Bloods: Never Forget

Da 5 Bloods is a war epic directed by Spike Lee. The plot sees a group of Vietnam Veterans return to the country to find some gold they stashed away years earlier, as well as to find the body of their lost comrade and bring him home.

Before I get into it all I just want to say this is an incredibly powerful film on multiple different levels, especially in the current climate. Some of the points raised in the film hit very close to home and will affect you. I recommend taking some time at the end of the film to just sit and think about it, there is a lot to unpack.

The main foursome is made up of Paul (Delroy Lindo), Eddie (Norm Lewis), Otis (Clarke Peters), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr). Each man gives a stellar performance and the chemistry between the four goes past believable to enthralling. You can genuinely see them all being old army buddies.

I think Paul is the most layered and interesting character of the group as he is a broken man. He highlights the effects of war that stay with a person long after the fighting has ended; he sees visons of his dead best friend and squad leader that haunt him. Also the dynamic between him and his son David (Jonathan Majors), is very nuanced and well developed.

This comes very close to being a perfect film, however there is one thing that drags it back: the fourth wall breaking. There are a couple of scenes towards the end of the film where Paul talks directly to the camera and recites a monologue to us the audience, the issue with these scenes is that they break the flow of the film. They take us out of the action and feel oddly jarring.

Overall, a masterpiece with only a few slight faults. A must watch.

Pros.

The themes.

The characters.

The bonds.

The impact.

Cons.

Addressing the audience.

4.5./5

Reviewed by Luke