Friday, 24 June 2016

Mustang

It is rare to see such a brutally honest and culturally aware coming of age story on screen, which makes Mustang such a treat to watch. It centres around five sisters living in a conservative town in Turkey. One day, they are caught innocently playing with boys at a beach and it causes such a scandal that the girls are locked up in their home and forced to be married off one by one. Directed and co-written by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, the film is raw with emotion and depth, exploring issues of sisterhood, rebellion and sexual awakening. It shocks and educates the audience, while also being quite funny in some moments, and it is never predictable. The young cast is wonderful, especially Günes Sensoy who narrates the story, and their relationships feel as real and natural as possible. Mustang is a unique and satisfying film that could easily fly under the radar for most film fans, but is definitely worth seeing.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

I should preface this review by mentioning I did not like the original film. However, the sequel is slightly more enjoyable. Two decades after the first alien invasion, Earth is faced with a renewed threat. The premise actually works quite well and there is a lot of nostalgia for fans of the first film, including references to what happened and major characters. Also working in its favour is Jeff Goldblum's quirky charm and Liam Hemsworth giving his best Top Gun style performance. Unfortunately, the plot loses its way and the destruction level is beyond ridiculous. While the action and effects are good, there is nothing remarkable about Independence Day: Resurgence. Perhaps it is because there has been such an over-saturation of blockbusters since the original. Nonetheless, Independence Day: Resurgence is likely to be a success and is clearly set up for yet another sequel.  


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Finding Dory

Finding Nemo was such a wonderful hit that a sequel was inevitable, but who knew it would take more than a decade to reach the big screen? This time, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), the forgetful blue tang fish, enlists the help of her friends Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and Marlin (Albert Brooks) to find her parents, who she lost as a youngster. Pixar knows how to toy with the emotions of its audience and co-director/co-writer Andrew Stanton has done it again with some sweet, poignant moments about the importance of family. Unfortunately, the film is not quite as charming as its predecessor and feels awfully repetitive. There just was not enough substance to sustain the 95-minute running time. Nonetheless, children should still delight in the bright colours and amusing characters, including grumpy “septopus” Hank (Ed O'Neill), Bailey (Ty Burrell) the beluga with sonar problems, and whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) who is constantly bumping into walls. A pair of territorial sea lions, voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West, are also funny, but perhaps the best running gag involves Sigourney Weaver. Finding Dory is good, but with such a long wait, one would have thought the time could have been taken to make it a great film.  



Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Me Before You

This is sure to go down as one of the most tragic, heartfelt and controversial films of the year. Bring tissues for this contemplative tale, based on the beloved novel by Jojo Moyes, which was inspired by a true story. Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) was an adventurous, rich and successful young man until an accident left him a quadriplegic. Now, Will is in constant pain and depressed. But when he meets bubbly carer Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke), they have a bigger influence on each other's lives than either ever thought possible. There are some significant changes to the book, but the essence of the relationship between the protagonists remains the same and that is because Moyes has written the screenplay. First-time feature director Thea Sharrock capably steers the film along and has assembled such a talented cast who give excellent performances. Without spoiling the plot, the film does deal with an important moral issue and while some people have been quick to criticise Me Before You – many of whom unfairly without reading the novel or seeing the film – it actually presents both sides of the argument and does not preach one view over another despite the choices made by certain characters. At its core, Me Before You is an uplifting love story that should inspire people to indeed “live boldly”.


Sunday, 12 June 2016

Art of the Prank

Audiences will laugh out loud a lot while watching Art of the Prank. At the very least, every journalist should watch this documentary, which shows how frighteningly malleable the media can be. Art of the Prank tells the story of notorious artist and activist Joey Skaggs, who over the decades has continued to dupe reputable media outlets into reporting complete nonsense, including a celebrity sperm bank and a cathouse for dogs. The film chronicles his previous pranks while following him on a journey to complete his biggest hoax yet. It pokes fun at people's stupidity and naivety, but also holds a mirror up to journalists and their ethics, leaving an important and thought-provoking message. Of course, the film is also very one-sided, but that is not surprising given its subject matter. 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Warcraft

Any film based on a game was always going to have a very particular audience, and while there are some good elements to Warcraft, it certainly struggles to fully engage anyone not already enthralled with its concept. Warcraft is heavily reliant on CGI, which is not necessarily a bad thing. What is disappointing is that it is two hours full of clichés and magic that is difficult to follow and barely makes sense. There are, however, some good battle scenes and suspenseful moments. The cast is also mostly solid, including Travis Fimmel and Paula Patton. Set in a fantasy universe, the peaceful realm of Azeroth is facing a war from orcs, who are fleeing their dying world and want to make a new home. I have never played Warcraft so I cannot say how successful the film is in capturing the essence of the game, but I imagine there would be at least some enjoyment for the fans. Warcraft ends on a minor cliffhanger, ready for an obvious sequel. While the film has failed to impress American audiences, it has done well in other markets, such as China, so it could still become a new franchise.  


Thursday, 2 June 2016

Now You See Me 2

The original was such a surprisingly enjoyable film and the sequel is almost equally entertaining. Some of the formula is repeated, but why fix something that is not broken? Now You See Me 2 is essentially a comedic heist film with a lot of magic trickery, culminating in an unexpected twist at the end. The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson, and this time Lizzy Caplan replacing Isla Fisher) finally resurface after their last caper and are soon forcibly recruited by a rich tech genius (Daniel Radcliffe) to pull off their biggest job yet. Mark Ruffalo and Morgan Freeman also return, adding gravitas to the film, and both are exceptional. There are also some mesmerising moments of “magic” and one lengthy scene in particular when the horsemen each sneakily take turns hiding a card with computer software on it during a security search. Writer Ed Soloman has done well to push the story forward, while director Jon M. Chu capitalises on the visual stunts at his disposal. Now You See Me 2 may be a little long and silly, but it is a fun way to spend a couple of hours.  


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Money Monster

Despite the very serious subject matter of suspenseful thriller Money Monster, journalists will have a chuckle about the speed with which all the information suddenly falls into the hands of the media. I could only dream of some sources getting back to me in the time it seems to take in this film, even if I was taken hostage! Financial television host Lee Gates (George Clooney) and his director Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) find themselves in an intense hostage situation when angry investor Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell) takes over their show after losing $60,000 as a result of Lee's advice. The trio are very impressive in their respective roles, while Dominic West and Caitriona Balfe are also very good as the team behind the company that apparently lost $800 million in one day due to a “glitch”. Jodie Foster has always interested me as a director and again in this film she makes some fascinating stylistic choices and keeps the pace steady. Money Monster may not be realistic, but it is certainly gripping.