In Time: Not Enough Time To Sit Through This

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In the future people stop aging on their 25th birthday with a one year countdown then beginning until their death, however, this death can be averted if someone has the means to find and secure more time; usually through connections or cash.

My, my what an uninspired science fiction tale this is. Throughout the film it feels increasingly like the director is trying to shove a message down your throat, what of is hard to say, maybe something to do with seizing the day or capitalism being bad, but ultimately whatever the film’s message is it just comes across as tired and cliched. This is not deep science fiction despite it really wanting to come across like that.

Moreover, after watching I am left asking the question of if this film could have been better had someone else starred in it. The answer to that question is probably, I have never understood the appeal of Justin Timberlake as an actor as often he struggles with even the simplest of roles, as such if a more skilled actor had taken the lead here who knows maybe it wouldn’t have been so underwhelming.

The pacing of this film is also a major issue, it feels far too drawn out and indulgent. The second act feels like a slog that goes nowhere and only exists to kill time, it ruins any excitement you might have after the opening of the film, which is actually okay.

Overall, a lame science fiction film that was all style and no substance.

Pros.

An interesting idea

A few well put together sequences

Cons.

Timberlake

The pacing

The limp message   

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The Social Network: Was Mark Zuckerberg Ever Human?

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The story of the founding of Facebook.

I have seen this film well over 5 times it is just so good. The team of Fincher and Sorkin really come together to deliver something amazing here. The dialogue scenes are so impactful and tightly done that each one feels like its own mini action sequence, Fincher keeps the stakes up throughout the film and in my mind does justice to his subject.

I think this film for the most part doesn’t show Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jessie Eisenberg, as either good or bad but rather as just a human being who has seen some troubles in his life. I think Eisenberg is near perfect in the role and I don’t see how anyone else could have played the part, this is probably Eisenberg’s finest performance to date. Moreover, this film features Andrew Garfield which is always a good sign and he too has a strong turn here.

My main issue with the film is that the Napster stuff with Justin Timberlake feels quite like filler and doesn’t really need to be in the film, I think the piece as a whole would be tighter without it.

Overall, a magnificent biopic let down by a needless sub-plot

Pros.

Fincher

Sorkin

Eisenberg

The drama

Cons.

Timberlake and the Napster side plot

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Firestarter: The Remade Stephen King Universe

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A remake of Stephen King’s Firestarter. The plot follows Charlie, played by Ryan Keira Armstrong, a young girl hunted down for her supernatural powers.

A lot of reviewers out there are giving this film very low scores and personally I can’t see why. I don’t know if they were very attached to either King’s original novel or the previous film, but I haven’t read or seen those so I can only judge this film based on its own merits and not compare it to anything else.

I thought for the most part this film was good, the tension was well done and I got vibes of Doctor Sleep in this regard. I thought John Rainbird, played by Michael Greyeyes, was fantastic until the final 10 minutes, he gave off a strong amount of supernatural intrigue as such you constantly wanted to know more about his character but the film didn’t reveal anything which I thought was a smart move. Moreover, Zac Effron also did a great job here further proving his serious acting chops, I thought during the psychic battle sequences he was incredibly.

Another highpoint for me was the score composed by John Carpenter, his son Cody Carpenter and David Davies. It felt like the perfect 80’s call back mixed with just the right amount of excitement and intensity.

However, it wasn’t all roses. I thought the CGI fire effects were poor, to make matters worse whenever Charlie used her powers the camera would cut to a close up of her face with the fires happening off screen which felt cheap and obvious. In addition, there were several moments in this film were it became unintentionally hilarious and made me laugh out loud in the cinema, I don’t think that is what the filmmakers were going for. Finally the ending of Charlie forgiving Rainbird and then going with him despite all the trauma he has inflicted upon her makes no sense and just seems forced in so that the film can have a happy ending.

Overall, above average and certainly with redeemable elements despite not being a great film.

Pros.

The score

Effron

The mystery of Rainbird

The tension

Cons.

The ending

The cheap CGI

It is unintentionally hilarious

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The Cellar: Apparently Hell Can’t Afford A Lift

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family move into a house in rural Ireland and not long after their daughter goes missing.

This won’t win any awards for originality, as the above premise suggests. However, I do think this was a surprisingly effective horror film and it left me feeling suitably unsettled. I would say the scares landed for the most part, and I liked some of the more out there visuals they went for. The ending was quite intriguing as well and it left me with a number of questions, which is always a good thing if done well.

My issues with this film boil down to one simple thing, Elisha Cuthbert. Cuthbert is the lead of this film so that American audiences can have a familiar face to cling to, I think this is a bad move. It makes no sense that the rest of the family have Irish accents and sound the part and Cuthbert blatantly doesn’t. Her performance is also not good and certainly holds the film back in a number of ways.

Overall, despite not really being anything new what is here works well, bar Cuthbert, and produces some good scares.

Pros.

The ending

The scares

The wider mystery

Cons.

Cuthbert

The pacing

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Fantastic Beasts The Crimes Of Grindelwald: J.K Rowling Is No Screen Writer

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp, breaks out of prison and begins his reign of terror.

There is just so much wrong with this film. There are far, far too many characters for a start most of them do nothing and add very little to the film existing either as background colour or to advance one very specific plot point before fading into obscurity.

Eddie Redmayne’s Newt is again not needed here, really what these films should have been is firmly centred around a young Dumbledore and telling the tale of his love affair and eventually war with Grindelwald, there was no need to make these films about the beasts other than to sell toys. Newt could be removed entirely from this film and very little would change one way or the other.

I thought both Jude Law as Dumbledore and Johnny Depp as Grindelwald gave good performances and tried desperately to inject this film with some life and substance, sadly it was all too little too late.

Overall, there is no reason for this film to exist, it tells a tale that doesn’t really need to be told with about one hundred characters too many.

Pros.

Law

Depp

Cons.

Redmayne

It is too long

There are too many needless side characters

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Downton Abbey A New Era: Everyone Likes A Trip To The South Of France

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two interconnected stories of a trip to the south of France and a film shoot.

I never watched the Downton Abbey series and only went to see this film and the one before it because my girlfriend likes the show, but I have to say I did find a lot to like about this film. Most notably it has just the right amount of heart, making you laugh and making you cry in equal measures even I who have no attachment to these characters found it hard to not well up in the end.

Moreover, the film moves along at a nice pace and never starts to feel slow or boring you are constantly being entertained from start to finish. By that same token the performances across the board are fantastic with everyone involved giving it their all, if I had to pick a favourite I would probably say Hugh Dancy’s Jack Barber as he was a very welcome addition to the usual line-up.

I also enjoyed that this film gave Barrow, played by Robert James-Collier, a love interest and was not afraid to pursue an LGBTQ+ romance, I thought not only was it very progressive for the film but it also became the main source of heart in the film, by the end I was really hoping they could be happy together.

Overall, a good time and a lot of fun, even if like me you aren’t a huge Downton fan.

Pros.

The jokes

The emotion

The performances

The LGBTQ+ representation

The ending

Cons.

The brother sub-plot really goes nowhere

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Vengeance Turns Vol 1: New Life In The Old West

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A female led western revenge film that sees a woman, played by Paola Luelmo, lose her husband and child and then go on a quest for revenge.

When you think about the wider Western genre it can be hard to name many films that are female led, there are a few like Jane Got A Gun, Bandidas, Calamity Jane, and True Grit, the last one is debatable, but on the whole the genre is fairly male dominated. As such it is nice to see a female led Spaghetti Western it feels so refreshing. I thought Paola Luelmo did a great job in the role and you really ended up buying her character transformation across the film.

I thought there were some elements of the exploitation genre here and I got a lot of hints of Revenge the French film from a few years back now. I liked that the film never strayed away from the gritty violence and maintained a fairly consistent tone and momentum across the entire runtime of the film.

I enjoyed the ending a great deal, and was left wanting more for sure. My one criticism of this film would be that it could have done with an extra 10 or so minutes just to give everything the breathing room it needed, but I suppose there is a sequel coming in which to unpack the unanswered questions of this film.

Overall, a very enjoyable western film with a nice exploitation esque edge to it.

Pros.

Luelmo

The ending

Nice to see another female led Western

The stakes and tension

The violence

Cons.

 A little more needed

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Whiplash: The Bloodiest Drum Kit You Will Likely Ever See

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller, has the world’s worst student experience.

Previously I have not liked Miles Teller as a performer, he often gives off a very smug and irritating air that I find ruins a lot of his performances for me, however, here I thought he was first class. Teller brought a lot to this film, you really felt the character’s pain both physical and mental over the course of the film. Moreover, I thought this character’s journey to greatness was incredibly inspirational and I thought a lot of that had to do with Teller’s performance.

In addition, I hadn’t been a great fan of Damien Chazelle’s other films La La Land and First Man did little for me in either case. However, I thought this film was incredibly effecting and one of the tensest films I have ever seen, the battle between Neiman and his abusive conductor, played by J.K Simmons, was marvellous and never let up.

Simmons was fantastic as well and truly deserved the Oscar for his performance, he portrayed the character in such a flawed and layered way that you are never quite sure how you feel about him, on the one hand he is incredibly abusive but on the other he really does want Neiman to be the best he can be.

Overall, a powerful film.

Pros.

Simmons

Teller

The tension

The emotion

Cons.

The pacing, it could have been better being about 15 minutes shorter with a tighter edit of the second act  

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The Northman: A Viking Life For Me

5/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Amleth, played by Alexander Skarsgård, is a Viking prince who after losing his family and his kingdom goes on an epic quest for revenge.

Honestly this may be Robert Eggers best film, now I love the VVitch it is my second favourite film of all time, but I do think this film gives it a run for its money.

There is something so original and fresh about this film, you have never seen anything quite like it before, there are notes of Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising but even then not quite. This is not a revenge film as you would expect it, this is not a Viking film as you would expect it, this film takes different elements from several different genres and blends them together to create something new and abstract.

The abstract elements of this film, where things go noticeably strange, are just fantastic. Not only are they visually distinct and interesting but they are shot in such a beautiful way that they become burnt into your minds eye.

The characters are of course terrific Skarsgård is a capable lead, but I would say he is outpaced by both Nicole Kidman and Anya Taylor-Joy who both give masterful performance that will stay with you. I thought the twist with Kidman’s character worked perfectly and superbly steered the film towards its final act. My favourite performance of the film was probably Willem Dafoe’s jester/mystic character who thought he was only in it for a few brief scenes is a lot of fun.       

Overall, a must see.

Pros.

The epic scale

The battle scenes

The abstract elements

The performances

The ending

Cons.

None

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Doctor Strange Into The Multiverse Of Madness: You Better Have Watched All The Disney + Shows

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Following on from the events of Wandavision Wanda, played by Elizabeth Olsen, goes on a multiverse wide rampage to try and get her kids back, forcing Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, and other mystical characters to try and stop her.

I think this may be my favourite Marvel film to date, or certainly up there in the top 3, I really enjoyed the Raimi elements to this film and I thought the horror sequences were terrific. I liked that this film felt a little darker and more supernatural than the rest of the MCU it gives me hope for characters like Blade and Ghost Rider. I thought the Raimi esque shot choices and transitions were just superb, it really gave this film a sense of identity all its own.

Moreover, despite some of the more unrefined criticism of this film saying how they turned Wanda into a bad guy, I thought this film did great things for her character and felt like a natural carry over from where the end of Wandavision left her. In the comics the character is deeply mentally unstable and crazy powerful this felt a true reflection of that, this idea that Wanda is a superhero and that she is a force for good only, is both not true and also just a creation of the MCU- one they now seem to be breaking.

I thought the new character of America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez was great she easily held her own both with Strange and Cumberbatch and I eagerly await to see what else they do with her character, most likely a Young Avengers show or film. In that same vein, I thought this film added a lot to most of the characters from the previous Doctor Strange film that helped to make them feel more rounded. I liked Strange and Wong’s, played by Benedict Wong, relationship and how Strange eventually comes to respect Wong as the new Sorcerer Supreme and also thought the film did justice to Rachel McAdams’ Christine from the first film, tying that up nicely.     

The things I didn’t like about this film were all quite minor, firstly I didn’t like the Illuminati I thought it felt far too much like blatant fan service and thought there was no point to them existing other than to give Wanda people to tear apart. I did like the Black Bolt, played by Anson Mount, death however, I thought that was gutsy and some nice unexpected gore. Secondly, I have issues with the post credits scenes, with the first I think it is too unclear what is going on, moreover unless you are an avid comics reader you will not know who Clea, played by Charlize Theron, is and will be left baffled. The second post credits scene is just annoying and makes you feel like you have wasted your time. Thirdly, I didn’t like Strange’s relationship with Baron Mordo, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, it felt very much like some scenes were missing there as there relationship made no sense being where it was based off the ending of the previous film.

Overall, I think this film is brave, brutal and great for the MCU. I hope very much they can talk Raimi into coming back to do more movies.

Pros.

The horror elements and the Raimi feel of the film

Wanda’s progression

Strange and Christine and Strange and Wong

America Chavez

The ending

Cons.

Too many cameos

Uneven storytelling with Mordo  

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