Ghost In The Shell: Is Scarlett Johansson A Believable Action Star?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The popular anime series of the same name is brought to life with Major, played by Scarlett Johansson, a part human part cyborg investigating her past.

I understand many people didn’t like this film because they perceived it as whitewashing the source material and I respect that, however for the purpose of this review I aim to look beyond that.

I actually enjoyed this film when I saw it in cinemas and then when I rewatched it again recently. I thought Johansson was good in the role and brought a lot to it, she was good in both the action set pieces as well as the more emotional and philosophical scenes. Her performance can’t be faulted.

Furthermore, I thought the world of the film was dripping with potential for interesting storytelling. Honestly, I think if this film had been better received we would have gotten numerous spin offs and sequels which would have given us a better look into the world which could have been really interesting, alas such a thing was not meant to be.

My main issue with the film was that it tried to do too much. It crammed a lot of story in a relatively short runtime and as such a lot came off as underdeveloped or even confusing. Even upon rewatching it there are still moments in the films narrative that don’t make any sense to me at all.

Furthermore, Michael Pitt as the film’s villain was deeply miscast.

Overall, a film that is better than a lot make it out to be, but one that still has some major issues.

Pros.

Johannsson

The world

The visual style and the composition

Cons.

Michael Pitt

It needed further expanding   

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The Parent Trap: Almost Killing Your Step-Mother To Get Your Parents Back Together Again

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two twins, both played by Lindsey Lohan, switch places in order to try and get their parents back together.

I understand that for many this film is a classic, and whilst I thought it was good and had a number of nice moments I wouldn’t go that far. If I were to pick my favourite Disney era Lohan performance it would undoubtably be Freaky Friday, but that’s just me.

I thought the narrative was a little simplistic, though I suppose it would have been fresher upon release when movies like The Princess Switch hadn’t taken the same concept and run away with it. I also thought the film struggled with its characters with the evil step mother, played by Elaine Hendrix, being the most egregious.

I thought Lohan was good in both her roles if a little samey between the two, as far as child actors go she was on the better side of average as her performance didn’t become irritating to me.

Overall, a warm watchable film that isn’t going to set the world on fire but will nicely give you an escape from reality.

Pros.

Lohan

It is very watchable

A few funny scenes

A nice ending

Cons.

Overly simplistic

A little too reliant on tropes

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Kicking And Screaming: Fathers And Sons Comparing Balls

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Phil Weston, played by Will Ferrell, has daddy issues and tries to exorcise those demons by beating his dad, played by Robert Duvall, at coaching children’s football.

I think within Ferrell’s catalogue of work this is one of his better outings. For the most part he plays the character straight, he is not loud, or overtly weird, and that gives the character far more of an earnest relatability then we often get from Ferrell’s other roles. He plays the everyman well here and we recognise and understand his motivations for wanting to beat his dad.

I would say this film made me laugh a few times, but it also has its fair shares of misses, it is not the funniest film in the world and there are other Ferrell films that succeed more in this regard; however I think this might be the Ferrell film with the biggest heart. There is a nice emotional core at the centre of this film and it is often on show, there are a number of scenes that are quite sweet and maybe even moving and Ferrell executes them well.

Overall, a sweet Ferrell film that highlights the need for reserve within performing, less is more Mr Ferrell.

Pros.

The sweetness

The emotion

Ferrell

Cons.

A fair number of its jokes don’t land

Some pacing issues  

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Licorice Pizza: Grooming And Further Consent Issues

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young man, played by Cooper Hoffman, pursues an older woman, played by Alana Haim, whilst both try and do something with their lives and become successful.

I will come right out and say it, the age difference in this film really bothered me. The boy is underage and the woman is much older, ten years his senior, I thought the film teasing us with the will they wont they aspect was disturbing as regardless of the outcome he is still a minor. They do in fact end up together just in case you’re wondering. I can’t help but note that if the romance was flipped so it was an older man and a below age girl, there would be an uproar and the film would never have been made yet that seems to be ignored here, suspect.

I also thought this film suffered from some of the worst pacing I have seen in the last year, it felt double its run time and far outstayed its welcome bringing in more and more subplots and side stories that you just don’t care about.

On a positive note, I thought there were things to enjoy here. I liked the charming strangeness of the whole thing and thought that there were a number of very funny scenes, whenever Bradley Cooper came on screen and wrecked something or threaten someone that always got a laugh out of me. I also thought the film had a really strong soundtrack that helped it out in various different ways.

Overall, the film has enjoyable elements, Cooper, the soundtrack, some laughs, but the icky romance and terrible pacing really bring it down for me.

Pros.

Cooper

The soundtrack

A good few laughs

Cons.

The icky romance

The pacing is awful

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Burn: There Is No Need To Panic

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film follows a child, played by Matti Kolirin,  born into an unkind world with themes of national panic and personal tragedy.

I found this to be a surprisingly affecting horror film for a number of reasons, firstly the film does a good job in making us care about the child, their experiences, and how they are growing up, so therefore as things begin to happen you care about the fate of the character. Secondly there is more than enough of our modern times reflected in the film, even though it was made a number of years ago, maybe I am reading into it but I saw a lot of home truths reflective of our current hyper panicked world.

I thought the performances across the board were all strong, I believed the family bond and thought each of the actors played off each other well. I was thoroughly convinced.

My only real criticism of the film would be that there were some pacing issues especially towards the start that really slowed the film down, if it weren’t for them this film could be sweeping full marks

Overall, I related to this film quite a lot and found myself moved by it as well as a little disconcerted.

Pros.

The performances

The ending

The emotion

The relatability

Cons.

Pacing issues  

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Pirates Of The Caribbean Dead Men Tell No Tales: It Is Sad To See The Series Go Out Like This

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Jack, played by Johnny Depp, takes seemingly one last jaunt around the Caribbean for no real reason at all.

It now seems like this is the last film in the Pirates Of The Caribbean series, yes there is talk of doing some kind of spin-off with Margot Robbie but no one wants that, and if it ever does come out no doubt it will kill the series off for good, or at least until they reboot it. With that it is sad to reflect that it has come to this.

Depp seems like he is going through the motions here, not really able to tap back into the Captain Jack we all knew and loved, instead becoming an imitator of his former self. I think in many ways here Jack is upstaged by those around him, particularly by Kaya Scodelario’s Carina who is most likely the shining star of the film, Scodelario is doing her best to save this mess.

Moreover, whoever thought that audiences wanted to see a de-aged Johnny Depp looking every bit as well done as a videogame cut scene from a decade ago was sorely mistaken. Another baffling decision comes in the form of the film’s villains which are a rather blatant copy of the first film’s ghost pirates which further show the desperation on display here.

Overall, it is sad to see a once great franchise go out like this.

PS. Don’t stay for the end credits scene, it is just desperate.

Pros.

Scodelario

It is watchable

Cons.

The villains

The de-aged Jack Sparrow

Depp   

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He’s All That: Influencers Aren’t Actors

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A gender swapped version of She’s All That, the forgotten nineties film, this time with a random TikTok influencer because Netflix are cringe and seemingly more and more incapable of making good original content.

Whoever is in charge of original content development, or if one can call them that the film head, needs to be fired. The recent baffling stream of terrible content being churned out by Netflix would be enough to make anyone else in the space blush, but Netflix doesn’t seem to care because they don’t try and make good films they try and make ones that everyone will watch at least the first few minutes of.

The fact that this film stars and is about a TikTok star just speak to how desperate this film is to appeal to Gen Z, but guess what even Gen Z can see what a turd this film is. This film reads to me as though it was made by a group of out of touch old white guys who realised the kids liked TikTok so decided to base a film around it, whilst not really understanding what it is.

Moreover, Addison Rae has no business being in this film. She can’t act, isn’t funny and barely seems to have any on screen training at all. Whenever she said a line it was so painfully delivered that it took me straight out of the film and reminded me that the price of Netflix keeps going up and made me ask why am I still paying it?

Overall, if the quality of Netflix’s originals don’t start improving I will most likely cancel my subscription.

Pros.

It is unintentionally funny

Cons.

Rae

The TikTok focus

It has no reason to exist

When it is trying to be funny it is painfully unfunny    

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Scream 2022: Death Brings New Life

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Ghostface is back this time playing by the rules of legacy sequels.

Spoilers

In many respects this film is the best in the Scream series, it nails the tone between scares and laughs and manages to do both fairly well, it has interesting new characters that you end up caring about, and it does something meaningful with the legacy characters.

However, then you get to the third act and the film loses its way and loses several points from me. My first issue with the final was that it is incredibly obvious from the jump who the killers are, the film does little to subvert that and it all plays out exactly how you imagined it would. Secondly, the motivation for why the killer kills, that of them being basically an incel fan who can’t cope with changes to the franchise and so has to try and make his own film, the series of murders, in order to set it right felt insulting to me. I understand it may have been tongue in cheek but to me it came across as the film flashing the fans the finger, which shouldn’t be something the new franchise reviver film sets out to do.

If you put the third act in a box and ignore it then the film is much better. I enjoyed how the film developed Dewey, played by David Arquette, and gave him a fitting heroes’ death, though I think Gale, played by Courtney Cox, would have been a better fit for that plot beat. Speaking off this was the first time in the series I really bought the emotional connection between Gale and Dewey and I thought both actors brought a lot to their respective performances.

Overall, I would say a nice end for the franchise but we all know it won’t be the last film.  

Pros.

Bringing back Skeet Ulrich

Dewey

The new characters

Managing to be both funny and scary

Cons.

The incel fan motivation

It is too obvious

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The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain: Cats Becoming People.

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

From watching the trailers for this film I didn’t really know what to expect. It looked strange and abstract and it is and in that is the films’ greatest success. This is indeed a quirky and an odd film and one that you aren’t likely to see again this year, and by doing that it becomes memorable.

This film is a who’s who of British acting talent and has more than a few familiar faces, everyone does a good job and the acting across the board is strong. Cumberbatch is a superb leading man and from his portrayal you really buy the eccentricity of Wain and also the suffering and the loss. Cumberbatch’s performance is transportive. Likewise Claire Foy is also excellent here and her and Cumberbatch have really strong chemistry that really helps to propel the early parts of the film.

My main negative of the film was that it was incredibly depressing and hard to watch at times. Yes, I know this film was based on Wain’s real life and there is nothing you can do to change that or how it was. It being sad and depressing is true to life. However, it is in that where for me at least the film became hard to watch. The trailers which made the film look feel good were almost certainly misleading, this film is upsetting.

Overall, a quirky film with oodles of personality but one that some might find too sad to watch.

Pros.

Foy

Cumberbatch

The personality and charm of the film

Cons.

It is very sad

Pacing issues

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Click: You Can’t Fast Forward Through The Brown Face Quick Enough

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

All round terrible person, husband and father Michael Newman, played by Adam Sandler, is given a magical remote control that allows him to pause, skip and rewind reality; naturally he uses it to skip conversations with loved ones and just generally be a dick.

Films like this prove what so many people don’t like about Adam Sandler. He is obnoxious, rude and frankly just deeply unlikeable yet the film asks us to root for him, relate to him and to view his behaviour as normal. This is an almost impossible ask. The character is so deeply unlikeable that it makes the film hard to watch.

Moreover, this film features the ever so male fantasy esque role play of having a model looking wife paired off with some shlub, who treats her poorly. Not only are the two poorly suited for one another Sandler’s character is also deeply unpleasant to her throughout, even when supposedly reformed. His wife is played by Kate Beckinsale here, in a film I bet she deeply regrets doing. To summarise how this film uses Kate Beckinsale there is a scene where Michael has paused time and discusses with Christopher Walken’s character what a ‘rocking bod’ she has. Yes, that’s right. Yikes.

The sexism and racism and many other isms are all on full display here, Sandler faithful Rob Schneider is in brown face playing a foreign prince which honestly he should be made to apologise for because it is both deeply unfunny as well as widely offensive.

By the end of the film where it tries to hit you with its grand moral philosophy on life and love and in doing so tries to redeem Sandler’s character it fails miserably as by that point you hate Sandler’s character and want to see him lose.

Overall, I’m glad that Sandler seems to have learnt in recent years that him just being a dick to everyone around him doesn’t make for a good comedy film.

Pros.

Walken has a few funny lines

The premise has promise

Cons.

Sandler

Beckinsale is treated as a piece of meat throughout

It is deeply sexist and racist

Pacing issues   

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