Month: October 2015

Spectre – Review

spectre

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to making a new James Bond film is matching, if not bettering, its predecessor. In this case, it would take a mammoth effort to reflect the success of Skyfall, but with Sam Mendes again in the director’s chair, as he was for the last Bond three years ago, Spectre certainly does itself proud.

The film opens with a noteworthy tracking shot of our favourite secret agent as he roams the streets of Mexico City, before eventually winding up on top of a roof. All done in one five minute or so shot without cut – immediately a moment for the franchise’s golden archives.

The reason behind Bond’s (Daniel Craig) appearance in Mexico follows a cryptic message from his past, leading him to the organisation known as Spectre, headed by the gruelling Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz).

Naturally this is extra curricular work for 007 and completely out of the watchful eye of M (Ralph Fiennes), who faces his own challenge when young tech head, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott) seeks to wipe out the 00 programme and replace it with high security surveillance throughout the world.

Mendes and his team have taken the Bond franchise into completely new dimensions, enhancing plot lines, emotional attachment to characters and producing more thrilling action sequences than we’ve seen in any other Bond movie. This in addition to the versatility of Craig is a recipe for great viewing.

Speculation continues to grow regarding Craig’s post as 007. He heads a well put together cast in Spectre, including Waltz whose reputation was built on his soft but terrifying nature and therefore fitting the villain role perfectly. One of the stand out performances however comes from Lea Seydoux, playing Dr Madeleine Swann and Bond’s love interest. It’s a refreshing perspective of a ‘Bond girl’, as she balances strength and independence, as well as establishing herself as a key component within the film and not simply portraying the pretty woman under Bond’s shoulder.

As with all Bond movies, the plot is slightly ludicrous – but in a way where we as the audience never question it and in the end it neatly ties in previous Bond outings. It would be wrong to compare Spectre to its predecessor Skyfall. Both are completely different types of films and Spectre was always going to be a case of moving on from Skyfall rather than trying to replicate it, which is admirable in itself. Ultimately, it’s an incredibly enjoyable watch and can be considered another grand success for Mendes and Craig in particular.

The Gift – Review

thegift

Actor Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut is an impressively tense and thrilling study of bullying and its consequences. It’s a movie that keeps its audience on their toes, constantly second guessing, whilst sitting on the edge of their seat.

Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall play Robyn and Simon – a well off couple who have recently moved to their beautiful new home in Hollywood. Soon after their transition, they bump into one of Simon’s former classmates from school whilst out shopping – the suspiciously nice Gordo played by Edgerton himself.

The awkward exchange ends with the couple taking the number of Gordo, but it is he who makes the next move, leaving a bottle of glass cleaner (for the couple’s big fancy windows) on their doorstep the following day. Accompanying the bottle is a card which outlines an offer for Simon to let “bygones be bygones”. It’s from this point on that things begin to take a sour turn.

Edgerton’s debut in the director’s chair is an excellent exploration into the genre’s conventions and his credit behind the screenplay is also to be commended for the constant changing of the audience’s minds. The Gift’s various deceptions and reversals make for an intriguing and captivating watch, all the while maintaining that thrill factor.

The performances are also a key component of the film – all three main actors are incredibly versatile and expertly cast. Bateman plays the confident man of the house, off at work during the day whilst the vulnerable Hall stays at home under the peering eye of the creepy Edgerton. The roles of each actor change throughout the film as more information about Gordo and Simon’s past surfaces, reigning in the issue of bullying and altering our perspective of the film’s protagonists.

It’s an excellent way for Edgerton to make his directorial debut, a movie that revisits a classic genre. Constantly second-guessing its audience, The Gift is unnerving, unexpected and exceptionally tense.

The Walk – Review

Philippe Petite (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in TriStar Pictures' THE WALK.

The 2008 documentary Man On Wire gave us a first hand insight into Philippe Petit and his extraordinary tightrope walk between the World Trade Centre’s twin towers in 1974. Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk truly brings the drama of the astonishing feat to life, made incredibly intimate in IMAX 3D.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Petit, the man who from an early age discovers the rush of danger, and in particular the danger of walking across a high tightrope. The film follows his life as a street performer as he looks for the perfect location to pull off one of the most audacious stunts known to man.

The Walk explores Petit’s blueprint for achieving his dream, dodging the legal ramifications as well as the mental issues that such an act is naturally going to surface. The final act is of the walk itself when all of the build up is brought together for this magnificent set piece.

Having directed the likes of Forrest Gump and Cast Away, Zemeckis is known for his incredibly powerful story telling. The Walk is no different. The movie is delivered to us in his typical heart-warming, light-hearted manner with a wide range of emotions flowing throughout. As one can imagine, the final scene of the walk is tense in the extreme – but in a pleasurable fashion. It is filmed in a way that perfectly balances anxiety and exhilaration – the audience are truly put up on that wire with Petit, capturing every ounce of tension.

The final sequence is the piece de resistance of The Walk – it really is breath taking, but the movie in general is an incredible insight into this unique individual and beautifully brought to us by Zemeckis.

What to Watch – October 2015

spectre

Autumn has officially arrived and there is a host of movies that are worthy of a trip to the cinema. Here are my picks of this October’s upcoming films:

The Martian – Out Now

Matt Damon stars as an astronaut, presumed dead and abandoned by his crew when they are hit by a violent storm whilst collecting samples from Mars. As a result he must discover a way of surviving with the remaining supplies whilst also figuring out a way of contacting home in order to get rescued. This awesome space adventure must be watched on the big screen as Ridley Scott produces an epic space adventure.

Read the review here

The Intern – Out Now

Robert De Niro stars as 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker, who isn’t enjoying retirement. Still in the belief that he has something to offer, he takes on the role of senior intern at an online fashion site, headed by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). The Intern looks a sweet comedy from director Nancy Meyers.

Sicario – 8th October

Emily Blunt stars alongside Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro in this action drama about the FBI’s war on drugs at the border of the US and Mexico. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the man behind Prisoners, Sicario looks just as tense and action packed and early reviews are positive.

The Walk – 9th October

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Philippe Petit, the man whose dream it is to high wire across the World Trade Centre towers. Based on the true story from 1974, the film follows Philippe’s difficulties legally, mentally and physically as he tries to fulfil his dream. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump, Cast Away, Flight).

Masterminds – 9th October

Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess brings an action comedy about David Ghantt, a night-time security officer at an armoured car company who, along with his co-worker, organises one of the biggest bank heists in US history. Masterminds stars a host of comedy talent, headed by Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig and also starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis.

The Program – 16th October

Ben Foster stars as Lance Armstrong in the true story of how one Irish journalist strongly suspects that the cyclist’s Tour de France victories were fuelled performance enhancing drugs. This biographical drama explores the hunt for evidence that will eventually expose Armstrong’s shocking secret. The Program also stars Dustin Hoffman and Chris O’Dowd.

Regression – 9th October

Emma Watson and Ethan Hawke star in the story of a detective who investigates the case of a man who admits to sexually abusing his daughter, but has no recollection of it. Chilean Alejandro Amenabar (The Others) directs this tense thriller.

Suffragette – 16th October

The film takes a look at the female movement for the vote in the late 19th century/early 20th century. Directed by Brit Sarah Gavron, Suffragette could be another film in with an Oscar shout with Mulligan’s performance looking like a key ingredient.

Spectre – 26th October

Bond is back. Speculation continues over whether this will be Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 despite the man himself announcing that he is signed up for one more. Nevertheless, with Skyfall director Sam Mendes again taking charge and Christoph Waltz taking up the villain role, we are surely in for another high-octane Bond adventure.

All release dates are UK based

The Martian – Review

the-martian

How convenient that in the same week NASA find water on Mars, Ridley Scott’s red planet based epic drops in theatres. Following cult success for other space venture movies Gravity and Interstellar, The Martian follows into similar territory.

Adapted from the book by Andy Weir, six astronauts are sent to Mars to grab some samples when their plans are halted by a violent storm. As a result of this heavy weather, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left stranded on this lifeless planet when the rest of the crew, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan and Aksel Hennie, are left with no choice but to abandon their colleague.

After being wiped out by flying debris, Mark awakes after the storm unable to communicate with neither his ship nor NASA and therefore comes to terms with the fact that he will need to establish a long-term survival plan. This involves planting his own potatoes and harvesting using a makeshift fertiliser – his own poo. Naturally, this brings a couple of laughs and that’s the general light-hearted feel that is conveyed throughout the movie, with Damon’s lonely wisecracks also playing a key role in the film’s humourous components.

Back on earth, NASA, headed by a stubborn Jeff Daniels alongside a crack team including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig and Sean Bean, along with the important input of an amiable Donald Glover, attempt to figure a plausible tactic of bringing back Mark once they discover that their man is still alive.

Like most films based in space, The Martian really does deserve to be watched on the big screen. As you might imagine, the movie wasn’t actually filmed on Mars but instead in Wadi Rum, Jordan. It’s vast red sand plains and spontaneous mountain formations provide the perfect setting for the movie, and look incredibly authentic. It’s by far the most impressive aspect of the movie.

A film in which the issue takes over a year to resolve is naturally going to be of the long variety. At times The Martian does feel like it’s dragging somewhat – there are a few moments where the complex space jargon is lost amongst the non-science geeks. The fun, expressive nature of some of the dialogue makes up for that though – “I’m going to science the shit out of this” is the average Joe level of science the majority can relate to. There are plenty of laughs, which is a nice surprise. To an extent, this means the film loses its nail biting edge, but given Scott’s latest attempts at that type of product (Exodus, Prometheus), it’s probably best to keep the audience laughing rather than sighing.

The Martian is visually impressive above all else. Oddly it feels like a safe movie for Scott at the moment given it’s immense subject matter. Without ever truly taking off, the end result is an exciting space blockbuster that must be appreciated on the big screen.