Thursday, 27 October 2016

Doctor Strange

By Jackie Raphael 

This film does not live up to the others in the Marvel franchise, however it is still enjoyable. The story centres around arrogant surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who has a car accident that affects his hands, so he seeks help from the universe of mystic arts. The film has a strong cast and great use of humour throughout. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mordo) and Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One) were particularly strong, while Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius) was a convincing villain. However, Rachel McAdams is underused in her role as Dr Strange's love interest. The plot was not as well developed as it could have been, with many convenient moments and a few nonsensical scenes. However, Doctor Strange is well-paced and has some Inception-like special effects. It is also worth seeing for how it ties in with the forthcoming Thor film. Stick around until all the credits are over because there are two intriguing clips to watch.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Keeping Up With The Joneses

By Angie Raphael

There are a few funny moments in this espionage comedy but screenwriter Michael LeSieur seems to run out of ideas midway through the plot, leaving a predictable and barely memorable film. Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis) and his wife Karen (Isla Fisher) live in a quiet cul-de-sac in the suburbs until one day, spunky undercover spies Tim (Jon Hamm) and Natalie Jones (Gal Gadot) move in next door. The talented cast elevate the film somewhat, especially Fisher who is always a scene stealer. There is also some good action sequences including car chases, explosions and physical fights. Keeping Up With The Joneses is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours but it is really just a B-grade version of Mr and Mrs Smith.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Cafe Society

By Angie Raphael

The chic fashion and glorious 1930s set design are the best aspects of this latest Woody Allen film. Cafe Society is about Bronx man Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg), who moves to Hollywood and falls in love with Vonnie (Kirsten Stewart). She is the secretary of his uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carrell), who is a prominent agent, but their relationship is a bumpy one. Later, Bobby returns to New York where he runs a nightclub with his thug brother Ben (Corey Stoll), which they tailor to high society customers. While there are a few good laughs, the film lacks the level of wit typically expected from an Allen film. The protagonists are also unlikeable, so it is difficult to feel much sympathy for them. Cafe Society is visually lovely but will not go down as one of Allen's best.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Hell or High Water

By Jackie Raphael 

Writer Taylor Sheridan was widely praised for his debut feature film Sicario and has followed it up with another clever and detailed script, while director David Mackenzie has used it to craft a modern Western buddy film. Set in Texas, brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) are on a mission to rob several banks to save their family farm. What makes this film unique is that there are two buddy relationships explored. The first is between the close brothers and the second is between the officers chasing them down – Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham). The character development is strong and the banter brings some welcomed humour throughout the drama. While it is far from the likes of Thelma and Louise or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Hell of High Water still does the genre justice. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Deepwater Horizon

Jackie Raphael

This film from director Peter Berg boasts an impressive cast including Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Kate Hudson, Gina Rodriguez and Dylan O'Brien. Deepwater Horizon is based on the true events of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. This tragic story is told well through the perspective of the people working on the offshore drilling rig. The film is filled with action, which looks fantastic, but also simplifies the technical aspects of the story so it is understandable for all audiences. While there is one scene that acknowledges the impact the oil spill had on the animals in the area, it would have been good to explore this more in-depth and create a stronger message about environmental issues that resulted from the spill. The film ends with a beautiful tribute to those who lost their lives in the tragedy and leaves audiences with plenty to think about.