Dunkirk

It feels like we’ve been waiting for this one for about two years now, so I was very glad to get to see this film yesterday, now it has finally come out!

Dunkirk movie poster

I’m a big fan of Christopher Nolan and his films – if I sat down and properly thought about it, I’m sure he’ definitely have a few in my top 15 (The Prestige is there for definite – amazing film). Now I wasn’t by all means disappointed with Dunkirk, however, in my opinion, this one is not quite as good as some of Nolan’s other efforts.

Nolan really is a master of telling a story, and with the subject matter of Dunkirk, he opts to focus more on what is happening as a whole, with characters used to help this along, rather than telling a story about characters on the backdrop of Dunkirk. The film follows three threads – The Mole,  The Air and The Sea, spanning across three different time timelines – a week, and hour and a day, respectively. Nolan always treats the audiences with respect and assumes we are following his story, which he again does with Dunkirk – although he does initially tell us what his plans before getting going.

Dunkirk looks epic, and it sounds epic. There is not much dialogue in this film, with the story very much being told visually, and there is no doubt that this a score crafted by the incredible Hans Zimmer. Running at slightly under two hours, it really did feel like Zimmer’s suspense building score was there throughout the whole film – which is definitely not a criticism. It bellows with the dropping of bombs and the crashing and waves, beautifully transitioning to a quieter pulse to build up even more tension. This isn’t the first time Nolan and Zimmer have worked together, and they continue to demonstrate they are an incredible duo.

This film is carried by the visual storytelling, and therefore there is not actually all that much dialogue in the film. Which is perhaps for the best, as I felt it was the films weak spot. Some of the dialogue felt clunky and didn’t quite flow – which could well be down to the fact that, despite a few big names, a number of the cast did seem to be relative unknowns. So the fact it was kept to a minimum was not necessarily a bad thing.

As this is based on true events, there is always the risk of a film like this not doing justice to the real events, however, I felt like Dunkirk did not do a bad job. It had its moments of making us feel despair, suspense, showing the cruelties and tough decisions that have to be made during a war as well as uplifting hope and triumphs. It should also be noted that nowhere is it stated this is supposed to be a historical biopic, but however, just based on the real events.

I was by no means disappointed by this film, however, in my opinion, it is not up there with Nolan’s very best. And I don’t think it necessarily helped that I have been building this film up for a very long time. That said, I did still really enjoy it – it is a very good film, and I would implore you to go and watch it. It is a very well crafted story and looks and sounds phenomenal. I didn’t see it in IMAX, but if you have the chance to I would probably recommend it, because I imagine it looks even better in that.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to what Christopher Nolan will bring us next!

7/10

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Spider-Man Homecoming

Oh boy – another Spider-Man reboot – maybe this time it will work? Okay, I actually didn’t think The Amazing Spider-Man was that bad to be fair. I did have relatively high hopes for this reboot though having seen a sneak peek of Spidey in the last Cap movie. As I always try and do – this review will be spoiler free.

To be brutally honest – I did have my doubts about this movie, and how invested I was going to stay in the Marvel Movie Universe. I really enjoyed the last Guardian’s movie, but on the Avengers side of thing, I was starting to get a bit weary. The last Cap movie wasn’t a bad movie – but I also didn’t think it was really a Cap movie, it was more of a mini-Avengers film. Which I didn’t want to see, I wanted a Captain America movie – I know the Universe is well and truly connected now, but it would’ve been nice to see Captain America out on his own, rather than what was effectively Cap vs Iron Man. So with this movie, when I started seeing a fair amount of Iron Man in the trailers, I was worried we were going to go down the same path, and this wouldn’t be a focused Spiderman movie.

Thankfully – that wasn’t the case. I thought this film did a really great job of giving Spidey a good movie. As I said, despite my thoughts on Civil War, I did enjoy Spiderman’s appearance and was looking forward to seeing him in his own movie. We’ve seen a few variations of the web slinger in recent history, and I do feel as though this has been the best effort for Peter Parker so far.

The movie ticks along nicely and covers all the right formula elements for a Marvel film. They have got comedy down. The villains are often nothing special, but Michael Keaton does a good job, in a different take on Birdman (get it?), without really pushing any boundaries. But the biggest thing this film has going for it is the how likeable the characters are. Granted, for the most part you are supposed to like the superheroes, but a lot of the time they walk the line of being almost too obnoxious, or too goody two shoes – but Tom Holland has a charm about him as Spidey which is just really darn likeable.

One of my favourite characters and a stand out was Jacob Batalon’s, Ned, Peter’s best friend – he was very funny and in a universe where none of the Avengers are really normal people, he did help really hit home how average a guy Peter Parker really is. I was nervous how much Iron Man we were going to see, and thankfully the balance was just right – there was enough of him to make it worthwhile, but no so much so that it overshadowed Spidey. We get to see more of John Favreau’s, Happy, who I think is just a great character in this Universe, who again brought some great humorous bits to this film.

What I did enjoy about this film is that it didn’t feel crazy CGI’d. Obviously, there is some, and in one scene it did get a little too much for my liking, but by comparison to the recent Avengers movies, this felt a lot lighter on the in your face CGI – which was very welcome.

The film is a little over two hours, which pushed it a little bit, but it never felt all that slow – any longer and it would’ve been. Overall, this is a good Spidey film with a few little reveals to please fans and gave us a nice introduction to the character, of who we are going to see more of in the coming years.

Just a note on one thing that really annoyed me – Gwenth Paltrow appeared fourth in the main credit list of characters, despite only having about 30 seconds of screen time which added almost nothing to the movie. I thought that was very disrespectful to all the actors who appeared throughout the film and gave great performances – I don’t care if she is a bigger name, it felt a slight on some of the cast and it was something that rubbed me up the wrong way.

As always, there are post credits scenes – unlike the recent Guardian’s (5, really?!) there are only two this time, with the second being right at the end of the credits – so if you want to see them, make sure to stick around.

And with that, Marvel, I am back in.

8/10

The House

I actually saw this film a couple of weeks ago, and experiment with recording an audio review on my drive home. Unfortunately, the sound was terrible and just wasn’t publishable so it has never seen the light of day. It’s something I may try again sometime in the future, but for now it’s back to good ole written reviews.

 

I don’t think it is a secret to anyone who knows me that I am a HUGE Wil Ferrell fan. I know there seems to be a bit of a split of opinion on him, as he is a bit of an acquired taste – but personally, I don’t think there is a funnier comedy actor out there than him. So inevitably, I am always super excited when I see that a new Ferrell film is coming out. Unfortunately, Will Ferrell isn’t in as high demand as he used to be and his films aren’t as main stream over here in the UK, which meant it wasn’t picked up my small local Cineworld, so had to pay extra  to see this at one of the larger multiplexes.

As you’d expect from a Will Ferrell film, it isn’t hugely plot driven, there is just enough story there to allow for an hour and a half of ridiculous, and in my opinion, hilarious jokes. The premise is basically Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler’s daughter has got into college, but her scholarship from the town has been withdrawn, so they need a way to earn a lot of money to afford for her to go. Enter Jason Mantzoukas’s Frank, their down on his luck friend who comes up the idea to open an underground casino to raise funds. Cue hilarity.

You know what to expect from a film of this nature, and from Will Ferrell. He plays a very similar role in the majority of his films with slight twists – we’ve seen him play this kind of role as a news man, an ice skater, a basketball team owner, a soccer coach, a cop, to name a few – and it is always funny. What I love about this brand of humour, is it not only really silly and childish, but there is also a lot of physical humour away from the jokes. You need to watch the facial expressions and what is going on in the background because there is a lot more that has been put in there to give even more laughs.

The comedy cast line up is brilliant in this film, alongside Ferrell we have Amy Poehler who has proven she is a very funny actress and works well with Ferrell as we have seen in Blades of Glory, Jason Mantzoukas who I loved in the show The League brings his usual crazy brand of humor which doesn’t fail to land every time. Nick Kroll who also was great in The League has a minor role and is really funny every time he is on the screen, he plays a comedy villain very very well, as well as Rob Huebel who pops up a few times, as he tends to do in comedies like this. We’re also treated to a cameo from Jeremy Renner which sets up one of the funniest scenes in the films – a classic formula of selling a gag, and then re-selling it couple more times.

A lot of the humour comes from the characters becoming unhinged and going off the rails – which throughout the three main stars careers we have seen them do very well, and once again they don’t disappoint. If I were to have one criticism of the film it would be that Poehler could’ve been used more. She is incredibly funny and I think she deserved more screen time than she got.

This film doesn’t do anything new – you know what you’re going to get – it’s 90 minutes of joke after joke after joke which doesn’t really slow down. If you’re a fan of this kind of humour like me, you’ll enjoy it – if you’re not a Ferrell fan, just don’t go see it, because you probably won’t.  I loved it, and I can’t wait to see another Ferrell new release. (I did see a week or so ago that there is a sequel to Daddy’s Home on the horizon which I am very excited for!)

8/10 – I appreciate I am biased due to the fact I am a Will Ferrell fanboy.

Gifted

I really didn’t know anything about this film going in, other than seeing the movie poster. But as it was an advance screening with my Cineworld card, I thought – why not, I’ll give it a go. And I’m glad I did.

gifted poster

 

So it turns out the story is about a young girl (Mckenna Grace)who is a math’s genius (like a serious genius) who is in the care of her Uncle (Chris Evans) who is trying to raise her to have a normal childhood. When her brilliance is picked up upon the absent grandmother enters to try and gain custody.

I was sceptical when the film first started, the jokes were cheesy and not that funny, and the chemistry between Grace and Evans seemed a bit off with the first 5-10 minutes feeling a little bit wooden. There was also a whiff of a precocious child and boring everyman Uncle to bore us for the next hour and forty minutes. However, after what was a slow first ten minutes, this film quickly turned itself into one of the best new releases I’ve seen this year.

This film provides us with a group of characters you can’t help but warm to. Despite the rocky start, Grace and Evans bounce off each other fantastically well and their rapport is about as charming as it comes. Throw in yet another fantastic performance from Octavia Spencer and delightful support from Jenny Slate, and this film was onto a winner. What this film also does well, is give us a villain you probably won’t completely despise. No, you won’t root for them in the slightest, but the complications of real and relatable family bonds and issues doesn’t make the journey of this film clear cut, at times dropping into grey areas.

The premise of this movie may flirt dangerously with the falling into cliches, however, it feels fresh and genuine throughout (first 10 minutes aside). No, it isn’t full of twists and turns, and there is nothing overly surprising in there, but no punches are helped, and prepare for sucker punches and tear jerking moments. This a brilliantly told story, and is assisted by a very well chosen soundtrack, knowing exactly what we need to hear to send our emotions over the edge. I found myself at times wanting to stand up and shout at the screen (not really acceptable in reasonable busy showing!), shed a small tear of joy, and also floods of tears in despair.

I take my hat off to everyone involved in this movie, from story, to production, to acting. It is an all round fantastic display, and one I would recommend going out and seeing when it comes out in a week or two. Gifted will both warm and break your heart a few times throughout its hour and forty run, so be sure to take some tissues with you. I’d be surprised if you last the distance with dry eyes.

8/10