Noah: Riding The Wave

Noah is an epic biblical drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky. The plot serves as a retelling of the Bible story of Noah, but this time there are Earth Elementals and Noah (Russell Crowe), is kind of a dick.

This was a pleasant surprise, when I put this on I was expecting it to be a stuffy bible epic; Aronofsky’s name being attached was the only thing that got me to check it out. However, it is actually the furtherst thing from a stuffy bible film and goes out of its way to deviate itself from previous versions of the Noah story.

I enjoyed the harsh world of this film, the crime, the clans, the random miracles and what can only be described as magic. Honestly I would love to see a prequel centring around Anthony Hopkins Methuselah and his fire sword and the wars he fought to protect then Angles/ Elementals.

I think the performances were all strong, though some were stronger than others. Russell Crowe, the previously mentioned Hopkins, and Ray Winstone were all top tier, and each had multiple moments to standout. The rest of the cast were fine, but they were out-shined.

I also enjoyed the horror elements in this film, I think that the visions of water and fire and the one where Noah sees that demon are all very well shot, and although they are compact they leave quite an impact and actually feel scary and tense.

Overall, one of the best Bible epics I have ever seen by virtue of it really not being one.

Pros.

Deviating from all other Noah Stories

Hopkins, Crowe and Winstone

The horror

The family tension on the ark

Cons.

It is a bit too long; it could have been better paced

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

The Untouchables: Never Get Between Sean Connery And An Italian Person

The Untouchables is a crime epic directed by Brian De Palma. The plot focuses on the early life of Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner), as he fights to bring down organised crime in Chicago and stop the notorious Al Capone (Robert DeNiro).

I enjoyed this film quite a lot, it was very fun to watch. I enjoyed the mentor role of Sean Connery’s character and thought that he had great chemistry with the rest of the cast. I do, however, think because Connery’s performance was so good he might have outshone Costner’s lead just a little bit, which no doubt would be infuriating for Costner. Costner’s Ness for the most part was your typical straight lace man of the law, gone bad by the end, type. Costner brought nothing to the role that could not have been done by another actor, he was fairly interchangeable. 

I thought there were a lot of strong moments and sequences that were both tense and thrilling: I think the death of Connery’s character is one and I think the courthouse roof scene is another. However, despite these great scenes the film does suffer from pacing issues and struggles to maintain this sense of tension throughout. My main complaint in this regard is that scenes often play out for much longer than they should, thereby becoming bloated.

DeNiro’s Capone is fine, he is a very hateable character which is what the film was probably going for, however, he is nothing more than a hateable low life there is no nuance there or further look into his character he is simply an antagonist and nothing more.

Overall, pacing issues aside this is a fun ride with a great performance from Connery. The rest of the cast let the film down to a degree and stop it from achieving true heights, but it is still good.
Pros.

Connery

The thrills

The action

Cons.

Costner

DeNiro

3/5

Reviewed by Luke

300: A Scottish Greek

300 is a historical action film directed by Zack Snyder, based on the Frank Miller comic series of the same name. The film retells the story of the Spartans last stand at the battle of Thermopylae, when 300 (the real numbers vary), Spartan soldiers held out against an overwhelming horde of Persian invaders: fighting to the last man to give the rest of Greece time to prepare.

This film is epic, I know that a cringey word, but there is no other way to describe it. I remember watching it a lot as a youth and watching it again now I am still in awe of how cool it is. The scope, the scale everything about it is intense.

Say what you like about Zack Snyder, but no one, and I mean no one, does sweaty, slow motion, ultra-violence quite like him, each one of the battle scenes is a sight to behold. The gore, which is in abundance of course, feels well used. It makes a point, but never crosses the line to where it feels gratuitous or done for shock value.

Gerard Butler plays a surprisingly Scottish version of King Leonidas, the legendary Spartan king; clearly he is borrowing from the Sean Connery school of acting. Though I joke, Butler is a man of very specific acting talents and he seems almost crafted for his role. He plays Leonidas with a regal air that is carefully covering a personality of sheer unrelenting brutality.

Overall, this film highlights the best of Butler and Snyder showing off both of their talents, creating a truly engrossing experience.

Pros.

Gerard Butler

Zack Snyder

The scope and feel of it

The battle scenes

It is captivating

Cons.

It is not historically accurate

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke    

Avengers Endgame: The MCU Reigns Supreme

Avengers Endgame is a marvel superhero film that serves as the culmination to the Infinity Saga and previous 23 films of the MCU. The plot of the film follows our defeated heroes after half of their numbers were decimated by Thanos (Josh Brolin), in the infamous snap, the heroes have to find away to undo the damage done and bring back their fallen friends.

First of the bat I just want to say that it is possible to watch this film without having seen the previous films, or even Infinity War which acted as a part 1 to this film. However, it will be a lot easier to follow and will mean a whole lot more to you if you have seen the previous instalments.

As a film that brings together everything that the MCU has been building towards for years this film is a triumph. Characters that have been with us since the beginning are wrapped up in the most pleasing and emotionally satisfying way and new characters are introduced and remind us of the bright future the MCU has.

The one issue this film has is that it is too good of an ending. By that I mean this feels like the end of the MCU and when you realise that it isn’t it takes away from it a little bit, as well as reducing the importance of upcoming films. If the franchise had ended with Robert Downy Jr’s Iron Man saying, “I am Iron Man” and saving the universe as he dies, it would have beautifully book ended the series, but sadly it kept going.

I think this film achieves something very few other films have, or ever will, and that is have a huge supporting cast that gives each one of their characters a chance to shine. Whether you like Thor (Chris Hemsworth), or Spider-man (Tom Holland), each character is moved forward in a meaningful way and given fantastic development.

The villains bar Thanos are crucially underdeveloped, which is an issue that has afflicted a lot of MCU films over the years, they’re defeated far too easily and don’t actually feel like a threat to the heroes. Thanos however, is a great villain as he isn’t just the evil for evils sake kind of villain, he thinks that what he wants to do will make the universe a better place which adds a great sense of moral ambiguity to this character.

Overall, for better or for worse this film has had a huge impact on the film landscape and beautifully shows what the MCU was building to, it would have worked well as an ending, but we will just have to wait and see how they follow it up.

Pros.

A beautiful culmination.

“I Am Iron Man”.

Wrapping up characters in a great way.

Cons.

Cheap villains.

It makes the upcoming films feel less important.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke

Avatar: A World Beyond Imagination

Avatar is an epic science fiction film directed by James Cameron. The plot of the film revolves around Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a marine who arrives on the planet of ‘Pandora’ to follow in his brothers’ footsteps and join the Avatar Program. Once Sully dives into the native’s culture he realises that they are a wonderful people and that he is on the wrong side of the conflict; he then goes native.

The story of his film is one we have all seen before, solider goes undercover and learns about another group of people and then switches sides, think Dances With Wolves. There is a timeless quality to the narrative. The Na’vi’s world is deep and rich and every inch of it seems rife to explore, it is stunningly designed, and each character design is a marvel to look at; James Cameron truly did something special with this film.

Sam Worthington is serviceable as the lead, but he is in no way memorable. It is a surprise to no one that Worthington has been in nothing of note since about 2010, his time has very much passed. My main issue with his performance is that anyone could play that character, he doesn’t make the character his own. This problem is only made more evident when you compare his performance to some of the heavy hitters in the cast such as Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver. Stephen Lang plays the film’s antagonist Colonel Miles Quaritch, a man who wants to wipe the Na’vi out as he sees them as a threat and as standing the way of what he wants.

Lang is easily one of the best things about the film as he is a great menacing villain and one that has something about him. When Cameron brings out the inevitable 4 sequels, that no one has asked for or wants, I would love to see Lang return; with some type of Science Fiction magic obviously.

 

Overall, I think the strongest thing about this film is its world. It is this world that I want to see more explored not the characters. I hope the sequels reflect that. If Cameron can show us more of this world then I think they could be hits. The thing that stops me from grading this film higher is the fact that the main character is bland and in no way unique.

Pros.

Stephen Lang.

Beautifully Designed Creatures And Characters.

Fantastic World Building.

Cons.

Pacing Issues.

Sam Worthington.

3/5

Reviewed By Luke

1917: Tick Tock

‘1917’ is an epic war film directed by Sam Mendes. The plot revolves around 2 British soldiers who go on a desperate mission to call off a British attack on the German line, after it is revealed to be a trap, set during WW1.

In many ways this film reminded me of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’. Despite being about different wars and different locations ‘1917’ had that same level of tension as well as being underpinned by a keen sense of futility, as it seems almost impossible the 2 soldiers will make it there in time to stop the advance.

‘1917’ shows the horrors of war and really plays them up to great effect, we see this when Schofield (George MacKay), meets Lauri (Claire Duburcq), a woman who is living in a bombed-out hovel with a baby that is not hers. The thing that makes this scene so tense is that if the baby doesn’t get milk it will die, fortunately Schofield has some, but it makes you think if  he hadn’t come along that Baby would have died and there is nothing Lauri could have done about it.

Another ballsy thing this film does that I think makes it worthy of praise is the decision to kill off one of its main characters early and with very little warning. The 2 soldiers who venture out are Schofield and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), but Blake just gets killed seemingly out of nowhere very early into the film. There is a bit in the film where both men are running through a collapsing German trench but emerge okay, at this point it seems as though ‘1917’ will flirt with the idea of these men dying, but it won’t actually go there. Then mere moments later a German Plane crashes and the pilot stabs Blake while Schofield has his back turned. It is that quick. There is no fanfare when Blake dies, no him soldiering on for a few more scenes, or a heroic self-sacrifice; he just dies very quickly in Schofield’s arms- this sets the tone for the film.

My one complaint about this film, the thing that stops me giving it a perfect score, is the fact that it wastes some of its larger cast. Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch are all in this film, but their parts are so small it makes you wonder why they were even cast at all. I think it would have been better if these actors were either given more to do, a la Tom Hardy in ‘Dunkirk’, or if they were played by unknown actors as seeing these big names pop-up for what feels like glorified cameos feels distracting.

Overall, a fantastic war film that doesn’t pull any punches, it is clear to see why this is up for Best Picture at the Oscars. Mostly Marvelous.

Pros.

Great Leads.

Ballsy Shocking Decisions In Storytelling.

A Sense Of Dread And Futility.

An Ever-Present Ticking Clock.

Cons.

Wastes Some Of It’s Bigger Stars.

4/5

Reviewed By Luke

The Irishman: I Hear You Paint Houses

The Irishman is a crime epic directed by Martin Scorsese the plot follows Frank Sheeran, (Robert De Niro), as he descends into the mobster underworld. The film spans Sheeran’s whole life; focusing a lot of the runtime on Sheeran’s relationship with the notorious Jimmy Hoffa, (Al Pacino).

The Irishman is an incredibly ambitious undertaking on Scorsese’s part, as he uses de-ageing technology to show the actors in their younger forms, rather than casting younger actors, which for the most part works well, especially if you’re prepared to suspend your disbelief; there were only two instances when I thought the CGI technology was noticeably bad.

It is nice to see all of these Gangster Film/ Scorsese veterans back on the big screen together, De Niro gives a career-best performance, which is nice to see as he hasn’t been in the best films recently. De Niro has given so much to the gangster genre, effectively becoming a cornerstone of it and, it is nice to see him get centre stage once again. Pacino likewise is phenomenal, his Hoffa can go toe to toe with Sheeran both in terms of presence and memorability. Really the Irishman is the story of the relationship between these two men. Another thing that makes the Irishman so special is that it marks the on-screen return of prolific crime film star Joe Pesci. Pesci plays Russel Bufalino a crime boss who takes a young Sheeran under his blood-soaked wing, it is lovely to see Pesci return, he gives a hearty performance, perhaps not as manic and crazed as some of his older performances, but still incredibly commanding all the same.

My one issue with the casting is that of Anna Paquin as Polly Sheeran, Frank’s daughter. Since very early on in the film Polly and Frank have a very tense relationship; as such she doesn’t talk to her father in the last act of the film, despite him wanting them to, my complaint is not that Paquin doesn’t have many lines, instead being why cast Paquin at all; this would have been a great opportunity to give to an unknown or, an upcoming talent; as Paquin herself doesn’t add much.

My final note is that the runtime, in case you didn’t know, is 3 and a half hours, which can be off-putting to some. The Irishman is paced very deliberately, sometimes scenes feel very long and drawn out, and yes this did make me lose focus and I did almost give up with it a few times, but such is the nature of an epic.

If you like the genre then there is more than enough to get you to invest in the Irishman, however, if you’re more of a casual viewer you may find some elements of it off-putting. Overall it is very nice to see some of these familiar faces back on the screen and giving standout performances.

4/5

Reviewed by Luke