Lord of the rings meets Bad Boys in this buddy cop fantasy saga. Netflix have been pretty damn good lately with regards to their originals and I have to say I loved the idea of this new blended universe. Will Smith in a familiar sort of role, harking back to the likes of Independence Day and the aforementioned Bad Boys, plays LA cop Daryl Ward and brings the right sort of balance between action and humour with his Orc partner Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton). I have to say I really enjoyed the chemistry between the pair and felt critics may have been a little overly harsh on this one.
I loved how this movie played on the racial tensions between Orcs, Elves and Humans living together in a very real LA setting, allowing it to put real racial messages subtly through this movie, but overall it was just a lot of dumb fun alongside that. Perhaps the story was a little less inspiring than some would prefer but certainly no worse than many of the superhero films we are served up almost bi-monthly at the current rate and I feel this could potentially be a really good franchise as the universe it sits in is so damn interesting. Don't write this one off at all folks, it's better than some would have you believe.
CITY OF GHOSTS - 8 out of 10
Stunning documentary about a group of journalists called "Raqqa is being slaughtered silently" who film the rise of ISIS within their home country of Syria. Risking their lives every day they bring the coverage of this evil terror group to the mass Western media and highlight the devastation it is causing throughout the region. It is particularly striking to hear the harrowing personal loss each member has either suffered or fears and their continuing bravery despite what has been thrown at them. They carry on with a sense of duty to try and rid the world of this evil and though this can be a tough, sad and at times frightening glimpse into this part of the world, it can be uplifting to see that their are real people trying to attack ISIS by the means they can afford to and without picking up a gun. A must see for anyone who ever might utter any bad words toward Islam just because of the extremist group carrying out awful atrocities in the religion's name.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 - 9 out of 10
Wow, just wow, stunning to both watch and listen to this, I honestly loved the original Blade Runner and had no hopes this would emulate it but I actually preferred it. I know that's a bold statement but this just looks phenomenal and the score is bliss from Hans Zimmer. Denis Villeneuve has nailed this sequel completely with the right tone and direction, unlike other sequels there was no need to crowbar in the former hero, but instead Harrison Ford's inclusion is cleverly worked within the script and then Ryan Gosling nails our new hero "K".
The story is fantastic and I really may run out of superlatives for this one. Some might say it could be considered a little slow in parts but I actually think you could overlook some of those moments and just take in the scenery around it. This belongs all day long in the "Best film of the year" argument and could easily win it.
LADY BIRD - 8 out of 10
Fantastic coming of age movie which follows the life of teen girl Christine McPherson who adopts the name Lady Bird for herself. All the usual teen troubles are on display here like wanting to be popular, liking guys and being careful to choose who your real friends and of course the big one, losing your virginity. But they are done in a very witty and beautifully rewarding way to leave you pleased you followed Lady Bird with her experiences. Christine is played by the superb Saoirse Ronan but I think Laurie Metcalf who plays her mum is the real star of this show with her very direct and tough love approach. The chemistry between the characters is brilliant throughout and there are some standout lines too which will make you actually laugh out loud. Greta Gerwig sits comfortably in that directors chair and, if this is a sign of things to come from someone we have seen much more of in front of the camera, then the future behind it could be very bright indeed. This is another one which easily could be in contention for a few peoples film's of the year.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI - 9 out of 10
It seems you can wait ages for a film you love and then suddenly three come along at once. Here is another absolutely brilliant film to feast your hungry eyes on. Frances McDormand plays the brilliant Mildred in another contender for film of the year. She plays a mother distraught that the police had not yet found a lead for her daughter's killer and rapist, so she takes matters into her own hands by demanding the attention of the police and media by hiring the use of three gigantic billboards to advertise her case. Another film which marvellously blends those touching moments with the hilarious this is just scriptwriting at its best and it truly has some great points in the story which really make the characters light up. It's just so easy to fall in love with them and this film. Great casting again including Woody Harrelson as the chief of police, this darkly comic drama certainly delivers and will I'm sure be taking many awards. But it really is the performance of Frances that shines best and, with a stunning dialogue to go with it, this is one not to miss.
MARSHALL - 7 out of 10
Chadwick Boseman takes centre stage as Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice. Focusing on one of his career defining cases this is a really good dramatised version of a real event. Chadwick is very likeable in his role and Josh Gad is equally as impressive as Sam Friedman, the lawyer who takes the case, a case of racial stereotype and fairness in the justice system. Based heavily in the courtroom this reveals a great story which is well worth listening too and has the obvious messages alongside this kind of movie. A decent watch though it probably won't thrill or stay with you as much as some of the ones just mentioned above, but definitely a good watch regardless.
JUSTICE LEAGUE - 5 out of 10
I might be late to the nerdy party with my thoughts on this one, but I have to say I think DC have made a tit out of themselves again here. What on earth was Steppenwolf meant to be exactly? That is perhaps the worst CGI character I have seen in some time. 300 million they spent on this movie and I thought it looked like a straight to DVD Megashark vs Tyranosaurusoctopus type affair (Someone get Spielberg on the phone so I can make that movie). Add to that a fairly piss poor, hardly inspiring storyline and add to that some horrendous dialogue between characters and it (once again) leaves DC trailing in Marvel's wake when it comes to the cinematic universe. Was it the worst film I have ever watched, no it wasn't, but for a $300 million investment I don't think it gives anyone value for money. DC need to go away and really rethink what they are doing at present because the whole thing is getting embarrassing now. The humour often fell flat, there were moments in it I laughed when I knew I probably wasn't meant to and most unforgivable of all, I fucking hated Batman. They made Batman into a bit of a gimp, that's not Batman, Batman doesn't act like this. FUCK YOU! AVOID!
(I need to calm down now before speaking to Spielberg)
THE FLORIDA PROJECT - 7 out of 10
This will definitely be for anyone who enjoyed director Sean Baker's last work Tangerine. It follows a very similar look and feel in cutting out a real slice of life for people living in a budget motel near Disney World in Florida. Focusing on 6 year old wild child Moonee and her brimming full of attitude mother, this film really shows the playful and free nature Moonee has been raised toward, albeit she takes it too far sometimes and can be seen crossing the line between what's right or wrong. This causes constant strain on manager Bobby, wonderfully played by Willem Dafoe, who clearly cares for his residents and tries to help them on their own moral paths while trying to control the raging behaviours on display. It is almost shot like it could be a documentary and that gives a great realism to the characters and grips you in, that being said this sort of film could be construed as almost aimless in parts, but as a whole it focuses on the beauty of young friendship and the brutal reality of needing to be tough in a hard life. I don't think this will be for everyone but could be a beautiful slice of real life to some.
LUCKY - 7 out of 10
Harry Dean Stanton delivers his eerily poignant farewell performance in this story of a 90 year old's spiritual journey as he nears the end. Thought provoking and can be unsettling to remember that this particular art was imitating life as Harry was nearing his own end during filming. It also features the weird and wonderful David Lynch who's meaningful comparisons for life, whilst also telling the story of his tortoise, are fantastic additions to the film but really this is just a magnificent swan song from Stanton.
There were definitely slow moments in this movie which won't stick out but really all you can do is give a tip of your cap to a fantastic end to an illustrious career for the main man playing Lucky.