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Author: Liselotte Vanophem

Reviews

Review: Bad Boys for Life

January 19, 2020
Martin Lawrence & Will Smith - Bad Boys For Life

It was in 1995 when the world got to meet the friends and Miami policemen Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) for the first time. While Mike was a ladies man, always up for a thrilling ride and shoot out, Marcus wanted a family and life as normal as possible. After having 72 hours to reclaim a consignment of stolen drugs in their first film and having to deal with one of the most dangerous drug lords in their second movie, now they’re back for a third assignment. Michael Bay might not have returned as a director for this latest instalment but don’t worry. Even with new directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Bad Boys for Life gives exactly what you want and expect. An action-packed and thrilling comedy with Smith and Lawrence as the perfect humouristic leads

“We ride together. We die together” for the third time

It’s been almost 17 (!) years since the last time we saw the bad boys and while a lot of things have happened, many stayed the same. Mike is still living the life of a real single detective: Living for the thrills, fighting the guys and enjoying female company as much as he can. Marcus’ family has been growing over the last few years and now that he became a “pop-pop” (grandfather), the idea of retiring becomes more appealing every day. Those conflicting feelings from the detectives become even more heightened when Mike is almost killed by a murderous vigilante. Marcus sees this as a sign of God that he has to retire right away before this happens to him. That means that the frustrated and angry Mike, who’s going on a desperate manhunt to find the man who tried to kill him, must team up with Miami PD’s AMMO.

However, what happens when you put an old-school detective with a new, modern and high-tech superteam? Well, trouble that what happens! Bodies are piling up, bullets are flying everywhere and car chases are happening every second. Mike doesn’t seem to get closer to catching the guy but there’s always that one friend you can count on. Even when Marcus is now retired, living a relaxed life and has sworn to God to never use violence anymore, there’s still some love for the badge. Bad Boys for life, right?

Predictable but still enjoyable

We’re not going to lie about it. There are already many films made like Bad Boys for Life and we’re a hundred percent sure that many more will follow. Movies in which action is key, in which the story is just secondary and in which emotions are just out of the question. While there are more emotions in this movie than in the two films combined, due to the predictable, they don’t do the trick fully. There’s still a lack of emotional connection taking place between the leading characters and the audience. Yes, there’s also the big amount of cliches rushing by over the screen but isn’t that what you expect when watching a film like that. After all, Bad Boys for Life will be able to please you from start to finish.

Will Smith as detective Mike Lowrey and Martin Lawrence as Detective Marcus Burnett in Bad Boys for Life.
Will Smith as detective Mike Lowrey and Martin Lawrence as Detective Marcus Burnett in Bad Boys for Life.
(Source: IMDb)

Smith and Lawrence are back on point

One of the main elements is the impeccable chemistry between Smith (Gemini Man) and Lawrence (The Beach Bum). It’s clear that both men worked together on the previous films as they just lift each other to a much higher, comical and charismatic level. The banter between them is very contagious and it will put a smile on your face the entire time. If the predictable punchlines weren’t delivered by Smith and Lawrence, they would have just fallen flat instantly. Not only the men and their characters became much more mature but also their jokes Thanks to that, this film got a more grown-up vibe than the previous two.

The stellar performance of the two leads has also a very infectious impact on the new and fresh talent that’s supporting them in the best way possible. New cast members such as Paola Nuñez (The Purge), Charles Melton (The Sun is Also a Star), Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers), and Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games) each bring their own game to this film.

Fresh take but still the same

With the new directors behind the wheel, Bad Boy for Life feels refreshing (as refreshing as it can be for a franchise film obviously). The action scenes are still fast, bombastic and entertaining but for some reason, they feel less over-the-top than during the previous films. With the impeccable Smith and Lawrence returning in great form, the addition of new wonderful cast members, the usual comedy and the action, Bad Boy for Life is a movie that just pure enjoyment and entertainment. Wondering what the fourth part will be like.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Bad Boys For Life (Official Trailer)

Also Read: Why James Cameron’s Avatar Sequel Has Come At The Right Time

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News

10 Films To Watch This January

January 7, 2020
January 2020 - 10 Films to see in cinemas

A new year doesn’t only mean new resolutions that we’ll try to keep but also a bunch of brand new, diverse, thrilling and exciting films. We’ve selected ten films that will make from January the perfect start of 2020!

Jojo Rabbit

This latest film from director/writer/actor Taika Waititi has been in UK cinemas for a few days and if you haven’t seen it yet, we suggest you do. Waititi provides you with a unique view on the Hitler era in a film that’s full of satire, spectacular A-list talent and incredibly promising upcoming young actors. The chemistry between Waititi and young actor Roman Griffin Davis is spot-on!

Jojo Rabbit is in cinemas now

Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler as a notorious and charismatic New York City jeweller? It might seem like the next comedy from Sandler that might have an extremely high predictability level. Nothing could be further from the truth thanks to directors Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie. The brothers made from their latest film a dark, humouristic, fast-paced and violent gambling/heist drama. While you might feel some discomfort (not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing) when watching Uncut Gems, the movie does only give Sandler the chance to sparkle again, literally and figuratively speaking

Uncut Gems will be on the big screen from the 10th of January and available via Netflix from the 31st of January

Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems
(Source: IMDb)

1917

While 1917 will be released at the beginning of the new year, we dare to say that this movie from Sam Mendes will be the film with the best cinematography and editing of 2020. Mendes, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and editor Lee Smith make it feel like this film was shot in one take. Because of that magnificent element, you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with the two soldiers who have to deliver an extremely important message during the First World War. Esteemed actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, and Richard Madden are great as always but Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay are the ones that excel!

1917 will be in UK cinemas on the 10th of January

Waves

He already shone in Luce but in Waves, Kelvin Harrison Jr. shows us, even more, why he deserves as many awards as possible. Together with great upcoming talent Taylor Russell and Alexa Demie, he tells the gripping story of a young family that’s being struck by loss, doubts and abuse. Luckily, there’s also a place for hope, love, and strong relationships. Director Trey Edward Shults can also rely on stunning performances from Sterling K. Brown, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Lucas Hedges. Waves is a powerful and emotional film portrayed by a strong cast.

Waves is in UK cinemas from the 17th of January

Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Tyler and Alexa Demie as Alexis in 
(Source: IMDb)

A Hidden Life

Director Malick takes us back to World War II by telling a very emotional story of a couple facing the terrible sides of the war. Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl) is being looked upon with agony because he doesn’t want to pay taxes or doesn’t want to fight for his country. The less he’s involved in the war, the better. He and his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner) live a very sombre life but as long as they have each other and their children, nothing can stop them. Until the war comes much closer than they want… This results in a beautifully shot, highly moving and touching movie about love, family and war.

A Hidden Life will be released on the 17th of January

The Personal History of David Copperfield

It was the openings film of the BFI Film Festival 2019 and while you’re watching The Personal History of David Copperfield you’ll understand why. The film isn’t only packed with A-listers such as Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, and Gwendoline Christie but also with a lot of humour, wonderful moments and beautifully shot scenes. With David Copperfield by Charles Dickens under his arm, director Armando Iannucci turns the story about family, trying to survive and finding unexpected love in a gorgeous and light-hearted movie.

The Personal History of David Copperfield is out on the 17th of January

Dev Patel as David Copperfield in The Personal History of David Copperfield
(Source: IMDb)

The Lighthouse

If you’ve seen The Witch from director Robert Eggers, then you know that he makes on-point, stirring, dark and thought-provoking thrillers. With his The Lighthouse, he delivers that again! Eggers can’t only count on the electrifying music from Mark Korven and the striking black/white cinematography from Jarin Blaschke but also on the spectacular chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. Both men put on a mysterious and dynamic performance and bring the twisted and sinister story of the lighthouse keepers Thomas Howard and Thomas Wake perfectly to life.

The Lighthouse is released on the 31st of January

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Tom Hanks as the beloved children’s television presenter Fred Rogers. You probably don’t need more than that to buy a ticket for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. With her latest film, director Marielle Heller honours the real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod (portrayed by Matthew Rhys). While Junod is being renamed to Lloyd Vogel, the story remains the same. A wonderful one about a unique friendship, family and human emotions. Both Hanks and Rhys dazzle and because of that, the movie became a heart-warming, lovely and charming one.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood will be in UK cinemas from the 31st of January

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
(Source: Lacey Terrell – © Sony Pictures Entertainment )

Queen and Slim

He was already nominated for an Oscar for his stunning performance in Get Out and put on strong performances in Black Panther and Widows. She is an amazing upcoming talent. Yep, Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith are making a great team as Slim and Queen, a couple whose first date isn’t going as planned. Their happy moments make space for darker and tragic ones. The result: Two young lives completely broken, two people living in fear and pain. Will their love for each other be strong enough to keep them together or will their disastrous past become too dark? You will get the answers to that question after watching this exciting Queen and Slim by director Melina Matsoukas.

Queen and Slim is out on the 31st of January

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

After multiple attempts to make this film, tragically losing important cast members and experiencing financial problems, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. We can’t imagine what a relief that must have been for director Terry Gilliam. His “most cursed film in cinema history” tells the story of genius film director Toby (Adam Driver) whose creative days are sadly behind him. The production of his latest film about Don Quixote isn’t going great and the passion for filmmaking seems to decline.

This is until he finds a student movie he made about Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce). This discovery is the beginning of a trip down to the memory lane. Driver and Pryce bring their A-game to this film and lead co-stars Stellan Skarsgård, Olga Kurylenko and Jason Watkins wonderfully through a funny and witty medieval story.

Catch The Man Who Killed Don Quixote from the 31st of January

Adam Driver as Toby and Jonathan Pryce as Don Quixote in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote 
(Source: IMDb)

Also Read: Quibi & the Rise of Short Films

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Reviews

Review: Cats

December 23, 2019
Cats Movie

Ever since the first trailer was released during the summer, Cats has been criticised for its unflattering and wrongly used special effects. Director Tom Hooper (The Danish Girl, Les Misérables) decided to use the comments from the public and critics to change his film, even until the last moment. Now that the movie is finally released, we can see the result. Sadly, we wish we could unsee it right after we watched it.

The search for a new life

She’s still very young but she has already been through so much. Victoria ( Francesca Hayward) is being abandoned by her parents and now finds herself in London all by herself. At first, she’s being looked at with a lot of contempt by other cats. They doubt if she’s one of them, one of the “Jellicles” cats, but after accepting her (until a certain degree), they invite her to the Jellicle Ball. During that annual ball, many cats can compete to go to a place known as the Heaviside Layer to undergo reincarnation. The winner is being crowned by the leader of the tribe, Old Deuteronomy (Dame Judi Dench). A whole new world is opening in front of Victoria. One that she discovers alongside magician Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson) and guardian of the “Jellicles” cats Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild).

She meets many cats who each have their unique talent. You have Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson), Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo), Bustopher Jones (James Corden) and Gus (Sir. Ian McKellen). Sadly, not everyone is welcome as Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson), who once was a well-respected cat, is now being treated with a lot of fear and disgust. The big evening is about to arrive and so everyone’s ready to show off their talent but that’s not to the liking of the “Moriarty amongst the cats” Macavity (Idris Elba) as he wants to be the winner himself. He will do everything in his power to get rid of his competitors…

Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella in Cats.
(source: Universal Pictures)

Cast by name and not by the (right) talent

When watching a film that’s based on a musical, you expect the performers to dance and sing their hearts out. Well, let us tell you. That doesn’t happen at all in Cats. We’re not saying that the cast isn’t talented (respect for both the A-listers as well as the newcomers) but most of them were cast for the wrong reasons. The two biggest casting mistakes are without a doubt Dench (Murder on the Orient Express) and McKellen (The Good Liar). They’re both esteemed actors but they just don’t fit in Cats. Their voices don’t match the songs and due to the terrible special effects, they can’t put their great acting on display. The result: Cringing moments and a waste of talent.

That putting celebrity names on the poster was more important than finding the right actors for the job is being proved by casting Elba (Molly’s Game) as Macavity and Taylor Swift as Bombalurina. In the original work, Macavity is a ginger cat that oozes evil and danger. Certainly not a dark-skinned (no offence here) one that brings even more funniness to the work. Oh and didn’t Swift her character hate Macavity in the poems? Well, not according to Hooper and his team.

There were some great casting choices in the film as well. The best one is certainly Fairchild as Munkustrap. He brings emotions, elegance, and class to this movie and it’s clear that he already had musical experience from his days when he performed in An American in Paris – The Musical. More magic and fun is brought to the screen by the very charming and delightful Davidson (Will). That Magical Mr. Mistoffelees song is one of the most captivating moments of the film. Cats also introduces us to the ballet dancer Hayward and she shines in her first full-length feature film. Hudson (All Rise) is the only one that could give us goosebumps during this film by signing Memory.

Special effects that aren’t special

The reason why the story, its touching vibe and the acting performances don’t come through is because of the special effects. It’s just too weird to see Dench as a cat (especially because it seems she’s wearing a collar) and making from the coloured Hayward a white cat just doesn’t do the trick at all. Also Wilson her cat taking off an extra layer of skin by unzipping it? Nope, Cats isn’t always eye-candy.

Not totally cat-astrophic

Do you need to see Cats or not? The question isn’t that simple to answer. They’re flaws when it comes to the characters, special effects, and casting but it’s certainly not like you waste one of the nine lives watching this film. The dancing, the signing of Hudson and that little spark of magic are the few elements that keep Cats alive.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Also Read: How To Revive A Franchise After Many Years

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Reviews

Review: 1917

December 16, 2019
1917 - Sam Mendes Film

While it’s more than a hundred years after the First World War, many horrific and unknown stories are still being discovered and told. One of the recent ones comes from the hand of soldier Alfred Mendes. If the surname sounds familiar to you, then you might already know who decided to bring that breathtaking story to life. Yep, director Sam Mendes, his grandson. With an incredibly personal script, an abnormal talented team and stunning performances, Mendes made a superb war film and an unbelievable tribute to his grandfather and the soldiers.

Time is the enemy

We’re almost at the end of the war when we meet Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay). The young privates are being called by General Erinmore (Colin Firth) who gives them the most important and dangerous mission. Blake and Schofield have to deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, including Blake’s brother, from getting killed. During their mission, their enemy isn’t the biggest threat. No, time is. It’s from vital importance that they deliver the message on time.

Along the way, they’re being confronted with destruction, death and war scenes they wished they’d never seen. They find out who is the enemy and who are their allies as it might not seem as obvious as it looks. Will the privates succeed in their utmost dangerous and life-threatening mission or will their hours and the ones of their follow soldiers be counted?

War like you’ve never it seen before

We can hear you say it. “Why again another war film. Did we need one more”? Let us tell you: We definitely needed 1917 as it’s a war film like you’ve never seen before. As an established and successful director, Mendes already worked on grandiose films such as Spectre and Skyfall and his immense knowledge made sure that 1917 is a piece-of-art that both includes remarkable craftsmanship and emotional performances.

The biggest reason why this movie deserves all the attention it can get is because of the spectacular way it was created. Together with the immense talented cinematographer Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049, Sicario) and gifted editorial department, Mendes wanted to give the feeling that the movie was shot in one single long take. That’s exactly the vibe we got. The camera is always with the two main protagonists following them during their difficult journey. The audience stands shoulder by shoulder with them. Because of the way this movie was edited and shot, the emotional connection between the privates and the audience is exceptionally high.

George MacKay as Lance Corporal Schofield and Dean-Charles Chapman as Lance Corporal Blake in 1917 (source: IMDb)

Chapman and MacKay are two spectacular leads

There’s not only extreme talent behind the camera but also in front. While the big stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, and Andrew Scott all put on wonderful performances (we’ll come back to this), they’re being outclassed by the impressive duo Chapman (The King, Blinded by the Light) and MacKay (True History of the Kelly Gang, Pride). They both give emotional, natural and captivating performances. It looks like they were indeed soldiers who had seen much more of the war than anyone should ever have. They both bring unique elements to their character and when you put them together, you get great on-screen chemistry. The emotions, the feelings, and the life-like performances also heighten the bond between the leading characters and the public.

Not only the leading actors but also the supporting ones are just the dream team. We get to see Scott (Fleabag, Sherlock) as the cynical but also caring Lieutenant Leslie and Firth (The Mercy, The Happy Prince) as the devoted, helpful and clever General Erinmore. Cumberbatch (Avengers: Endgame, The Current War) only makes a brief appearance but he certainly has a few of the most impactful lines: “I hoped today would be a good day. Hope is a dangerous thing”. Lines that he delivers in such an emotional and skilful way. Richard Madden (Rocketman, Bodyguard) brings more emotions and personality to the screen as Lieutenant Blake and Strong (Shazam!, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) delivers a splendid performance as the rough-tough, dedicated and amicable Captain Smith.

Most powerful, emotional and unique war film in years

Ever since its world premiere in London earlier this month, 1917 is being praised by both the critics and the audience. If you’ve seen this film then you know that this comes as no surprise. 1917 will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first moment and will leave you breathless. It’s an immensely powerful and important film that’s been brought to life most uniquely and thrillingly way. This is because of the continuous shot effect but also the magnificent cast and a superb creative team. While watching 1917, you just know that you’re looking at a potential Oscar-winning film.

1917 will hit U.K. cinemas on the 10th of January 2020.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

1917 (Official Trailer)

Also Read: The Best Action Films of the Decade

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Editorials

Academy Awards 2020: Five New categories That Should Be included In The Oscars

December 4, 2019
2019 Oscar Winners

It was in 1929 that the first Academy Awards were given out. Categories such as “Best Picture, “Best Director”, “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” were present from the very beginning and alongside the way many joined them such as “Best International Feature Film” and “Best Documentary Feature”. That last one that was added was “Best Animated Feature Film” in 2001. However, we feel that there are still a few categories being left out.

Academy Award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor

That the film industry is packed with established male talent is undeniably true. Previous Academy Award winners are Gary Oldman (Leading Role in 2018), Rami Malek (Leading Role in 2019), Sam Rockwell (Supporting Role in 2018) and Mahershala Ali (Supporting Role in 2019). They already had a long list of credentials behind their names and so sadly the category doesn’t really allow upcoming talent to be nominated.

Therefore we would love to integrate a category that only focusses on actors who make their full-length film debut. It’s hard for upcoming talent to breakthrough in the film world. An Oscar nomination or win in the “Academy Award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor” wouldn’t only give them the chance to stand in the spotlight but it would probably also be the start of a prosperous career. Actors for this category would be Zack Gottsagen who puts on an incredible performance in The Peanut Butter Falcon and Kris Hitchen for his stunning acting in Sorry We Missed You

Academy Award for Best Performance by a Young Actor or Actress

Actors and actresses like DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts, and Judi Dench are gracing our screens for many years now. Being on-screen was probably a desire they had from a very young ago. Just like them, many young people have the dream to pursue a job in the film industry but these days it can be very difficult to shine as a young actor or actress.

To assure that there will always be upcoming talent we would like to announce the “Academy Award for Best Performance by a Young Actor or Actress”. It would have given actors and actresses such as Jacob Tremblay (for Room) or Brooklynn Prince (for The Florida Project) more chances of being nominated for an Oscar. If it would be integrated now, actors such as Roman Griffin Davis and Archie Yates (both for JoJo Rabbit) and actresses like Shahadi Wright Joseph (for US) would be potential nominees in this category.

The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony will be held on the 9th of February 2020. (Source: The Academy)

Academy Award for Best Directional Debut

Whether it’s esteemed actors who take place behind the camera for the first time or unknown directors who made a spectacular film debut, they all deserve attention for their directional debut. Pretty sure that releasing a debut can be immensely nervewracking and crucial for a career as a director. Therefore, it would be great if the “Academy Award for Best Directional Debut” would become part of the ceremony. If the Academy introduces this category next year, the names of Mati Diop (Atlantics), Ladj Ly (Les Misérables), Olivia Wilde (Booksmart) and Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz (both for The Peanut Butter Falcon) could be on the shortlist.

Academy Award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress

If there’s an “Academy Award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor” category then we also should have the “Academy Award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress” one. By integrating this category, upcoming and extremely skilful female talent actresses would be able to keep their acting dream alive and bring more diversity to the screen. Names like Awkwafina (The Farewell), Debbie Honeywood (Sorry We Missed You) and Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose) would be the nominees.

Academy Award for Best Stunt

It was during the MTV Movie & TV Awards this year that Brie Larson brought her Captain Marvel stunt doubles, Renae Moneymaker and Joanna Bennett, on-stage when she received that award for Best Stunt. Stunt doubles have an immensely important role in films but they’re often forgotten when it comes to award nominations. As the fifth new category, we would like to introduce the “Academy Award for Best Stunt”. With that, we hope that stunt doubles get the attention and awards they deserve for their (dangerous) hard, physically demanding and passionate work. Moneymaker and Bennett would be nominated for this alongside every stunt double that makes the action look amazing on screen. It might be the biggest category but at the same time, it’s also a very important one.

Do you agree with these five potential new Academy Awards categories? Let us know in the comments.

Also Read: For Your Consideration: Sci-Fi, Comedy & Oscar Snubs

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Reviews

Review: Knives Out

November 30, 2019

2019 is certainly the year of playing games. We already participate in a round of hide and seek in the Ready or Not from directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. Now writer/director Rian Johnson (Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, Looper) brings a twisted game of Cluedo to the big screen in Knives Out. A game that’s played by a superb cast, brought to life by sublime cinematography and packed with humour. Are you ready to solve the puzzle? Let’s do this!

That game is afoot

That death can take over life in a heartbeat is being cruelly proven to the Thrombey family. The day after celebrating the 85th birthday of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), he’s found dead. As a father and grandfather, he will be missed by everyone of his family. Although, not by everyone it seems, as his death might not be suicide as initially thought. It could be a grim murder instead and because of that, detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) starts to look into this case. He’s not only investigating that tragic night but also the entire family. What a family it is!

It doesn’t take long before we find out that every family member has some dark secrets behind the innocent and grieving façade. The main suspect is Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), the help who was the last person who saw Harlan alive. Was it maybe one of the family members such as his daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), his son Walt (Michael Shannon) or one of the inlaws such as Harlan’s third child’s widow Joni (Toni Collette) or son-in-law Richard (Don Johnson)? Probably not because the dogs barked and so it certainly must be a stranger? Maybe it’s the long lost Ransom (Chris Evans), who has a nasty relationship with the rest of his family? The further his investigation takes him, the bigger the mystery becomes. Who will be the evilest family member and will be able to solve the murder?

Noah Segan ( Trooper Wagner), LaKeith Stanfield ( Lieutenant Elliott) and
Benoit Blanc (Danie Craig) in Knives Out (source: MovieWeb)

A brilliant A-list cast and impressive upcoming talent

So many questions and so little answers. Throughout the film, more clues about the dead come to the surface. By the end of Knives Out, you will not only have become the next Sherlock Holmes but you’ve also seen a thrilling, electrifying, humourist and stunningly performed film.

There’s absolutely no shortage of incredible talent in Knives Out. He already did spy work in multiple James Bond films and solving mysterious is what Graig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Spectre) is superior in. In Knives Out, he steps up his game even more as the clever, witty and humouristic private detective. Even his Southern accent is spot-on. The “I’m talking to myself” scenes are such a joy to watch and the big revelation scene is certainly the highlight of this movie. As the grieving daughter, Curtis (Halloween, An Acceptable Loss) never overplays or underplays the emotions and gives her character a lot of flair and confidence. She brings a lot of humour and memorable moments to Knives Out.

It was halfway through the movie that we got a glimpse of Evans (Avengers: Endgame, Gifted) for the first time but the wait was worth it. With his contagious laughter and fabulous performance, he brings out the arrogant, underhanded and secretive characteristics of Ransom. It’s not only the established actors giving it their best shot but also upcoming talent such as de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, War Dogs). She puts on a thrilling, emotional, funny and joyful performance which is both dark and lively at the same time.

Spectacular setting and bombastic score

Another element of why this movie feels like a big game of Cluedo is the colossal mansion with many different and spacious rooms. All the rooms are filled with possible murder/suicide weapons such as the many antiques, paintings or even that magnificent masterpiece full of knives. Is there one knife missing by any chance? Congratulations are definitely in order for the location management department and the set decorator.

A film like this, that’s full of suspense, betrayal and mystery elements, needs to have an on-point score and that’s exactly what Knives Out has. It doesn’t take long before the sharp violins, heavily beating drums and bombastic music take over this film. The score gives this movie such a powerful effect.

A devious whodunnit with a superb cast

After being screened at the BFI London Film Festival, Knives Out is now now coming back to UK cinemas. If you want to see a gorgeous, enigmatic, compelling and entertaining whodunnit that’s brought to life by stunning performances, grandiose score and bags of humour then Knives Out is the perfect film.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Also Read: The Irishman (Review)

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Reviews

Review: 21 Bridges

November 27, 2019
21 Bridges Movie Banner

Some of us believe in it, some of us don’t. Destiny. Whether it’s regarding love, friendship or work, for some people “it’s written in the stars”. For Andre Davis, this was becoming the best cop the NYPD has even known. Sadly, his destiny didn’t come to him in the most joyful way. How? Well, you will know that if you continuing reading or if you watch the newest film by Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones, Luther). His 21 Bridges takes you into a dark world filled with corrupt cops, intrigues, drugs, and betrayal and will never let you go until the very end.

We flood the island with blue

Attending a funeral is never easy and especially not at a young age. The young Andre (Christian Isaiah) has to say goodbye to his father who was not only his inspiration but also a celebrated cop at the NYPD and who tragically died on duty. No better way to honour your father and his important legacy than stepping into his footstep and many years after the tragic events, Andre (Chadwick Boseman) is now wearing the NYPD uniform and badge immensely proud. While he already attended multiple crime scenes, none of them come even close to his latest one. Right after midnight, an (unexpected) drug bust ended up in a terrible shoot out. The result: Two killers on the loose, 50 kilograms of drugs missing and seven cops tragically killed.

Filled with anger, rage, and sadness, Andre starts his investigation. His plan: Completely locking down Manhattan, including the closure of the 21 bridges. He gets the best people for the job: Narcotics officer Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) and Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons) from the NYPD and his team. Their investigation takes them on a journey that involves death, destruction, dirty money, and drugs. The clock is literally ticking for Andre as Manhattan can only be on lockdown for a few hours. Will he able to catch the killers in the name of his fallen colleagues or will his passion, skills, and dedication won’t be enough this time?

Ray (Taylor Kitsch) and Michael (Stephan James) as the drugs thieves and killers in 21 Bridges (source: The Hollywood Reporter)

Predictable characters, great cinematography

A young and devoted cop who lives for his job and who looks the devil into the eyes every day to keep his city protected. He would even give up his own life if necessary. It sounds familiar, right? Mostly because we’ve seen many films already regarding this topic but never one that’s made by Kirk.

The biggest reason why this film is a fascinating one is that 21 Bridges can count on the incredibly solid performance over the overall cast. A cast that’s lead by the remarkable Boseman (Black Panther, 24). He makes a “damn fine cop” and excels when it comes to both the physical and emotional aspects. While watching him, it feels like he certainly knows how to fire a gun and to perfectly execute a car chase. As a cop, you can’t let your emotions getting in the way of the investigation but of course, you’re also humans at the same time. Boseman portrays those emotions in a subtle but also big way.

Miller (American Woman, High-Rise) can definitely kick some ass and stand her ground in the world full of male cops as the strong-willed and fearless Frankie. Despite Miller’s character being the most predictable one, Miller can still captivate us throughout the entire movie. They get the wonderful support from Simmons (The Front Runner, Whiplash) who is in his usual fine form as the uncompromising. 21 Bridges would just have been much more captivating and refreshing if the characters got more depth as they fall a little bit flat.

While there’s nothing new under the sun in 21 Bridges, it’s still a highly entertaining movie. This is due to the thrilling, fast and grandiose shoot outs and car chases. Some might say that it’s all a little bit too much and overly dramatic but thanks to the splendid work of cinematographer Paul Cameron (The Commuter, Dead Man Down) this film will have you drawn to the screen every second of it.

Predictable but action-packed thriller

While the story is predictable and the characters are the usual clichés, 21 Bridges can certainly provide you with an exciting and electrifying time. The reasons? The explosive cinematography, the fast-pace and the spectacular performance of Boseman.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Also Read: Rebel Without A Pulse, Art Without A Soul

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Reviews

Review: Le Mans ‘66

November 22, 2019
Le Man '66

Hearing the roaring engines, smelling that burned rubber and just seeing the black tracks on the ground. For both racecars lovers and drivers, this is the best moment you will ever have. These days we have Hamilton representing Mercedes, Vettel driving for Ferrari and Verstappen racing for Red Bull Racing. Director James Mangold (Logan, The Wolverine) shares their passion for fast cars as he decided to dedicate his latest film Le Mans ’66 (Ford v Ferrari) to one of the most historical racing rivalries in history: Ford v Ferrari.

Start your engines!

He was the icon in the racing sport for multiple years and was the inspiration for many younger generations. Sadly, due to health reasons, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) his days as a racecar driver are now over. Instead, he’s spending most of his time as the owner of Shelby American Inc., designing and selling cars. However, he still has a big passion for the racing tracks. He’s not the only one as his best friend, auto mechanic and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) his world is full of fast cars and perfect laps as well. After losing his auto mechanic shop and needing the money, Miles would do anything to be able to provide his wife Mollie (Caitriona Balfe) and son Peter (Noah Jupe) with the best care possible. No better way to do that than with car racing, right?

That’s exactly what he wants and that exactly what he gets when Shelby comes to him with a very unusual but alluring proposition. Shelby was approached by Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts) to take on Ferrari during Le Mans ’66. He wants his best friend Miles behind the wheel. After being reluctant about the job, both men want to take Ford to the start of one of the biggest racing events: The 24 Hours of Le Mans.

However, there are many bumps along the way. The main one is Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas), the right hand of Ford, who sees everything from the advertisement side and who prefers charisma and style above passion and knowledge. There are also the expected technical issues such as not working breaks and cars not being ready. Will Shelby and Miles be able to bring Ford to the start of Le Mans ’66 and provide him with a huge victory or will Ferrari make it happen again and be the one taking a victory lap?

Ken Miles (Christian Bale) in Le Mans ’66 (Source: IMDb)

Passion and skills drive this movie

Not so long, Bale (Vice, The Fighter) revealed that he’s done with undergoing dramatical weight transition but to play Miles, he has outdone himself again. Not only with the psychical metamorphosis but also by nailing the American accent. His excellent performance shows us the determination and passion of Miles. Bale does it with flair and joy and it’s such a pleasure to watch. Opposite him, we see the superb Damon (Suburbicon, Downsizing) as Shelby. He puts on a brilliant display as the resolute car designer who fights for what and who he believes in. The scenes between Bale and Damon are where the magic happens.

Due to the grandiose presence of the characters and the dazzling performances of Bale and Damon, there’s not much space for the supporting cast. That’s a shame if you can count on wonderful actors such as Jupe (A Quiet Place, Wonder), Balfe (Money Monster, Now You See Me), and Jon Bernthal (The Peanut Butter Falcon, Widows). The first two bring more emotions to this movie but to be able to have a lasting impact, their screen time is just too limited. Bernthal his Lee Iacocca is the head of the marketing team and while Bernthal’s performance is fine and enjoyable, he doesn’t get the chance to shine.

In high speed and incredibly entertaining film, there are some special effects used. In Le Mans ’66 it’s not clear where the real-life driving and incredible stunts made room for the SFX effects. Thanks to cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (The Huntsman: Winter’s War, The Monuments Men), we feel like we’re with Miles, driving in speed record away from the competition. However, the element that enhanced the car race experience is without a doubt the stunning sound design. That roaring sound of the engines gives this film the vibrant and compelling element it needs.

Racing towards the Oscars

This film shows a lot of passion and craftsmanship, both behind and in front of the screen. The fuel that drives this movie is the humour, sound design, and the incredible stunt driving. With Matt Damon and Christian Bale in the driver’s seat, this movie races in a lap record towards the multiple awards waiting at the finish line. You should catch this movie on the biggest screen and with the best sound system possible.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Le Man ’66 (Official Trailer)

Also Read: Little Monsters (Review)

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Reviews

Review: Little Monsters

November 19, 2019
Lupita in Little Monsters

The movie industry has not been kind to Lupita Nyong’o this year. She had to endure dark times, deaths and bloodshed in US and thanks to writer/director Abe Forsythe (Down Under) she now has to face evil again. It seems that acting in a twisted horror film is Nyong’o her strength. Together with Josh Gad and Alexander England, she gives us both the shivers as well as a joyful feeling in Little Monsters.

Shake the zombies off

A happy teacher wearing a bright yellow dress. Playing Ukelele in front of her small class full of happy, playful and innocent children. Nothing seems to imply that this movie will be about zombies. Certainly not when Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o), her children and Dave (Alexander England), one of the parents, are going to a zoo full of cute animals. Playing Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, learning new words and just being surprised by all the beautiful animals. How does something so happy turns into a zombie apocalypse? Well, not far from the zoo, a zombie outbreak has happened in a chemical laboratory where loads of secretive research is happening. Many of those researchers became zombies themselves because if the undead bite you but don’t kill you then you turn up becoming one of them.

While the zombies are making their way to the farm, the children just arrived and met one of the most colourful television personalities they know: Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad). It all goes fine until Miss Caroline, Dave, the children, and McGiggle are coming face-to-face with the zombies. While trying to shake them off and protecting the children, everyone is making their way to the safe place: the souvenir store. Not sure if that was the best idea. The children are feeling that something scary is happening and while Miss Caroline is doing everything she can to keep them calm and happy, it’s not going as planned. Not only because of the (strange) character of McGiggle but sadly also because of a medical incident with Felix, one of the little boys. Will Miss Caroline and Dave be able to help him and get the children to safety or will the zombies unleash an apocalypse on them?

Dave (Alexander England) and Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o) in Little Monsters (Source: IMDb)

For the love of family and film

While the story seems predictable and unoriginal it’s everything but that. For director Forsythe has had a personal meaning as ‘it’s a love letter to his son’ and also because he made that exact trip with his son and the school children. Well, minus the zombies luckily. That’s why the film gets an even more personal touch than just ‘being another zombie movie’.

We always feel sorry for the make-up and special effect teams working on a zombie film because sometimes they don’t get enough credit for that. That’s not the case when it comes to the teams of this movie. During our interview with Forsythe, he mentioned that he was incredibly proud to have Oscar-winning makeup artists on board. We understand why they did an outstanding job. We could feel the splashing blood, the smell of dead flesh and the zombies coming to us in no time.

A marvellous cast

There is great chemistry between the leading cast. Nyong’o (Black Panther, 12 Years a Slave) doesn’t only literally and figuratively light up the screen with her bright yellow dress but also with her captivating, passionate and affectionate performance. She’s been accompanied by two brilliant actors. Both England and Gad bring their elements to this film and especially the scenes between the two of them are worth the trip to the cinema. England (Alien: Covenant, Down Under) shows us beautifully and compassionately how much children deserve and how to protect them from danger.

He was LeFou in Beauty and the Beast and just like then, Gad (Murder on the Orient Express, Marshall) brings a comic note to this film but also a darker element this time. While McGiggle seems to be the cheerful joyful person on the outside, there’s a lot of hatred and self-pity going on inside. Of course, we can’t forget the eleven cute children who put a smile on your face for sure, especially when they bring the Ukelele version of Shake it Off. It was very hard to get that song for this movie. Forsythe tried multiple ways but it was only thanks to Lupita that it made it into the movie.

Predictable but still unique

A group of innocent people hiding from some flesh-eating zombies? It sounds predictable. However, the very unique inspiration for the story, the undeniable passionate crew, an outstanding lead cast and that catchy Taylor Swift song make from Little Monster a film you will enjoy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Little Monsters (Official Trailer)

Also Read: Interview with “Little Monsters” writer/director Abe Forsythe

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Interviews

Writer/Director Abe Forsythe Talks “Little Monsters” & Working With Lupita Nyong’o

November 17, 2019

Comedy-Horror, Little Monsters, starring Lupita Nyong’o, tells the story of a washed-up musician, who teams up with a teacher and a kids show personality to protect young children from a sudden outbreak of zombies.

Little Monsters‘ writer / director, Abe Forsythe had a chat with Big Picture Film Club’s Liselotte Vanophem about his latest film discussing Lupita Nyong’o, Taylor Swift and working with children.

Liselotte Vanophem: Hi Abe, how are you?

Abe Forsythe: I’m doing fine, thank you. Been doing interviews all morning.

LV: Congratulations on Little Monsters. How did you come up with the peculiar story of this film?

AF: Well, it was based on my son’s first year of kindergarten. My son has multiple life-threating food allergies just like Felix in the movie. Before he went to school, he had never been out of my care. It was a terrifying thing when it happened. I had to trust his health and safety to someone else. Luckily he got the most incredible kindergarten teacher who wasn’t only able to look after his health but who also opened up his eyes to the world for the first time. It made me realize how important teachers are, specifically kindergarten teacher.

The story was also based on the time when I was on a school excursion with my son’s class and his teacher. It was me, the teacher and 25 five-year old children going to a zoo.

There was something that happened during that school excursion that gave the idea of “what if the animals were zombies?” and “if it was a zombie, how would you save those little children from a zombie apocalypse?”. Questions like “how would you stop them from being eaten?” and “how would you stop their mind from being corrupted?” also popped-up. The characters and the story of Little Monsters grew from there. It’s a love letter to my son and everything he taught me about the world through his eyes.

LV: He’s probably young to see it?

AF: Way too young. He’s eight now. He played a zombie in the movie and had a great time doing that. He saw parts of the film already and keeps on asking why he can’t see the full film. The whole point of this film is shielding your children from the horrors of the world.

LV: After you finished the story, how did the cast come together?

AF: I’ve worked already together with Alexander England, who plays Dave in this movie. I always knew that he would be the right person for that role and was cast first. We had nine names to play the role of Miss Caroline and a lot of them were really good. We just started pre-production and had seven weeks before shooting. My US casting agent was confident that we would get one of those people. We had to think about the one we really wanted.

For me, Lupita [Nyong’o] was the first person that came to mind. We weren’t fully confident that we would get her for this but we thought we would try. We did send the script to her agent. Timing-wise it was perfect because she was looking for something different. She wanted to do a comedy. Her agent put the script in front of her, she read it and responded. 24 hours later I was talking to her and 24 hours after that she was on board. It happened remarkably fast. She responded to the truth of the character and not because she wanted to go to Australia and do a zombie movie. It was an amazing turn out of events.

When she said yes, it was unexpected but so affirming for me and the crew because she responded to the things that I wanted to say with this movie. Both my cast and crew were incredible and of high calibre. For example, the make-up team who did the zombies already won an Oscar. We didn’t have a big budget by any means and people were just there because they believed in the movie.

Lupita in Little Monsters
Lupita battles with zombies in Little Monsters (source: IMDb)
LV: How many extra cast members did you have? Because by the end of the movie, there were a lot of zombies present.

We made the call for zombie extras and despite they weren’t getting paid for it, they got full zombie make up applied by Oscar winners. We reached out to people during a zombie walk through Sydney and some crew members went to hand out some flyers.

In the end, they were way better than some extras we paid because they just wanted to play a zombie in this movie. For me, it’s so much better to work with people like that because they gave it 110%. We got thousands of zombie extras in this movie and so we wouldn’t have been able to afford to pay a tenth of that.

LV: In this movie, Shake It Off from Taylor Swift is used many times. Whose idea was it to use that song?

AF: This song was part of my son’s kindergarten “end-of-the-year” show. A ukelele band and some children came out and they played that song on the Ukelele. I had never heard this song before or at least not like that. I remember turning to one of the parents and asking what that song was. They were like “Oh, it’s Shake It Off. A Taylor Swift song”. I went home and I put it in the script. It was so specific and it worked great for the story, especially hearing it being played on the Ukelele.

We tried for six months to get the rights of that song but we couldn’t get it through her either. The record label came back at some point and mentioned that using this song would cost a certain amount of money. We weren’t able to afford that. It was just a nightmare. When Lupita came on board, she mentioned that the song was one of the elements that appealed to her. It was also a very significant song in her life at one point. She, just like me, mentioned that she didn’t want to do the movie without that song in it.

Lupita said that she met Taylor once and that she was going to write her a letter. She wrote Taylor this e-mail and 24 hours later we had the rights to the song.

It was amazing! It just felt like it came all together: Me hearing that song at my son’s show, the connection I had to the song and Lupita coming on board. We wouldn’t have the song if it wasn’t for Lupita.

LV: There are a lot of things elements in this film: The many extras, the difficult make-up, etc. What was the hardest part of making this film?

AF: It was working with eleven five-year-old children. That by far was the hardest part. Though as well, that was also the whole point. We had to protect these children and engineer the events in this movie in a way that they could react to something that they saw for the first time. All the reactions are authentic and there are very few “take 2’s” in the movie.

It was important for me that the children were all five years old because that was the age my son was and it reflects how five-year-olds react. How and what they see in the world. We couldn’t fake that with children who were seven or eight who might look younger. When they become six, they just start to change.

LV: The schoolchildren you had for this movie was it a real class?

AF: No, we did ensemble the kids separately. We saw over 700 kids for those eleven roles and the casting took three months. We had those big workshops with them to prepare them to work on the movie and also testing their patience. Over those workshops, we just would lose kids because they didn’t the focus.

During the filming, we could only get the kids for four days and five hours each day. There also had to be a break in between those hours. Between nine and ten in the morning was when their focus was the best. They’ve woken up and had something to eat but they hadn’t been distracted yet by a lot. After that, we would gradually lose their attention. At the start of every day, we needed to be ready for that hour’s timeslot and just get everything that we wanted for them in that hour.

Some of the sweet and innocent children in Little Monsters (source: IMDb)
LV: Your son is in this movie as a zombie. Are you in it as well just like in your previous film Down Under?

AF: Oh no way! The only reason why I was an extra in my previous film is that it was a scene involving someone that never acted before. He has down syndrome and is also in Little Monsters. During one of the key scenes in Down Under, someone has to abuse this down syndrome character. The only reason why I put myself in that scene was that it would make him feel better as it was only his second day on set. As supposed to some stranger who you just met and who has to abuse you right after that. It was more out of necessity and I would never do it again.

LV: Let’s say that if your son comes to you in ten years or so and mentioned that he wants to be a filmmaker. What would you say to him?

AF: I had very supportive parents and were very encouraging me to become a filmmaker. I would be happy for my son to do whatever his passion takes him to. If you want to work in the film or entertainment industry, you have to be prepared for work long hours and also being broke. I’m trying to get my son into coding because he’s very interested in that. I always tell him that that’s going to be the future. I’m trying to push him into that area but at the same time, you also have to let them do whatever they want to do.

LV: So where did your passion for the film come from?

AF: Especially from the early Peter Jackson films and his Bad Taste. Basically everything before Lord of the Rings. I was like “That’s what I want to do”. It became an interest and now I don’t want to do anything else. As hard as the film industry is, it’s so much fun to get people together to work on something and to have a common goal. It’s working on projects that you’re passionate about instead of just doing it for the money.

LV: So how does it feel for you to see people their reaction after they watched your film?

AF: It just feels amazing! I was very proud of the last film I made because it was the exact kind of film I wanted to make. Even when you make something that you do believe in and you’re proud of, it’s still luck of the draw. To be able to travel around the world and share your film with people is just an amazing experience.

The fact that people are responding in their way to the universal things that my son taught me is just been wonderful. The point of making this movie was to show the best and the worst of human behaviour. I couldn’t show one without the other. Ultimately it’s a really sweet movie. I’m so very lucky to be in this position and I never take it for granted.

LV: Do you already have other films coming up?

AF: Yeah, I’m doing something that we will hopefully start shooting next year in Australia. It’s a sci-fi film but with characters that shouldn’t be in a sci-fi film. We use that genre to make a statement about how the world is right now. We have a bigger budget for that than we had for Little Monsters.

More: Cursed Words (Short Film)

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Reviews

Review: Midway

November 11, 2019

Does the name Roland Emmerich ring a bell? No? He’s the brain behind bombastic films such as The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day and White House Down. Three films that have many elements in common such as impressive CGI effects, a story about survival and A-list stars. That’s exactly what he uses in his latest Midway. However, this time it doesn’t do the trick for 100%

The battle of Midway is near

This film is retelling the events from the first months of the War in the Pacific beginning with Pearl Harbor in 1937 to the Battle of Midway in 1942. After their defeat during the Pearl Harbor attack, America wants to take revenge on Japan. In Midway, we see these events unravelling from both Japanese and American positions. On the Japanese side, there are Admiral Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa), Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi (Tadanobu Asano) and Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo (Jun Kunimura). The American story is being told mostly by bomber pilot Lt. Dick Best (Ed Skrein) and intelligence officer Lt. Comm. Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson).

The Pearl Harbor defeat is still lingering in the head of Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) who was recently appointed as Commander-In-Chief of the Pacific Fleet. America might be able to get their retribution for that dark day sooner than they think. After intercepting a Japanese radio message, Layton is convinced that Midway is Japan’s next target. America starts gathering all the troops. From bomber pilot Lt. Richard “Dick” Best (Ed Skrein) to aviation mechanic Bruno Gaido (Nick Jonas) and from Admiral William “Bull” Halsey (Dennis Quaid) to Air Group Commander Wade McClusky (Luke Evans). They’re all gearing up to protect their country. The aircraft carriers are lined up, the destroyers are strategically placed and the bombers are ready to fire. The battle of Midway is upon us…

Both hits and misses

The story of Midway probably sounds familiar. Not only because it’s based on real-life but also because it was already told in Jack Smight’s Midway. Just like Smight, Emmerich can count on a fascinating story and an all-star cast. His Midway might not be the biggest hit he ever made but it’s still an enjoyable film.

Ok, yes the CGI effects are completely over the top and sometimes too excessive but that doesn’t mean they don’t do the trick. They give Midway that extravagant and ‘made for the big screen’ effect. The most impressive special effects scenes are during which we are in Best’s pilot seat seeing the events through his eyes.

Secondly, this movie stays incredibly true to the actual events. It showed us what sacrifices people had to make during that difficult time and while some details might have been incorrect, the majority is spot on. The great thing about Midway is that both the American and Japanese points of view are represented and not just one of them.

Woody Harrelson playing Chester Nimitz in Midway (credit: Lionsgate Movies)

Strong performances but too many characters

When it comes to the characters, there are certainly resemblances between the people who had to go to the battles and the actors portraying them. Sadly, none of the actors get the chance to shine due to the incredibly fast (too fast sometimes) pace and the introduction of too many characters. Skrein (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Deadpool) is leading the cast to the apotheosis as the rebellious but also heroic Best in a charismatic and cocky way. Adding some smartness to this movie is the excellent Wilson (In the Tall Grass, Annabelle Comes Home) as the intelligence officer whose warnings were previously ignored.

They’re joined by the engaging Harrelson (Zombieland: Double Tap, Venom) and also by young and fine acting talent such as Keean Johnson (Alita: Battle Angel, Low Tide) Nick Jonas (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Luke Kleintank (The Goldfinch, Crown Vic) and Daren Criss (All You Ever Wished For, Girl Most Likely) who all give it their best shot. To balance out that testosterone, there’s Mandy Moore (Ralph Breaks the Internet, The Darkest Minds) as Best’s wife. Her role could have been a little bit more explored and present in the film but nevertheless, Moore delivers an emotional performance. 

Of course, there’s also the Japanese side that’s being represented by Toyokawa (Paradise Next, Samurai Marathon 1855), Asano (Thor: Ragnarok, The Outsider) and Kunimura (The Witness, The Great War of Archimedes) who create without a doubt one of the most emotional scenes of this film. Shame, it’s right at the end.

No victory but no defeat either

It might seem that a 138 minutes film about the war between America and Japan would be a dragging one and yes, sometimes that’s certainly the case. That prolonged feeling and the too many characters (with too little potential to grow) are present in Midway but the CGI effects and performances make from this film worth the watch.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Also Read: The Aeronauts (Review)

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Reviews

Review: Luce

November 4, 2019

Becoming a teenager is never easy as it undeniably comes with a lot of responsibilities and expectations. Expectations that might be a little bit too high. Well, not for Luce. He seems like the most excellent student, public speaker, and star athlete. However, behind the perfect façade, is something darker is going on? That’s exactly what you will wonder the entire time throughout the newest film from director Julius Onah (Don’t Look Back, The Cloverfield Paradox). His Luce starts like any other family drama but it soon will turn into a mysterious, gripping and head-twisting thriller.

Violent psychopath or innocent teenager?

From the moment we meet Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) we see the perfect poster boy for young black teenagers. After being a child soldier in Eritrea, he was adopted by Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth). This was the start of a new life for Luce as he grew to become the perfect schoolkid: A great public speaker, filled with dreams and who’s there for everyone. Even his history teacher Harriett Wilson (Octavia Spencer) praises him. However, that will change sooner than expected. After discovering Luce’s essay discussing radical philosopher Frantz Fanon’s belief and the need for violence to oppress people, Wilson sees this as the first sign of Luce’s darker side. When she finds illegal fireworks in his locker, it’s time to ring the alarm bell and to warn his parents. Being loyal to their son, Amy and Peter don’t want to confront Luce immediately. However, that doesn’t go down well with his teacher Harriet Wilson and she’s not afraid to show that at all.

The friendly relationship between Luce and Wilson turning into a tense one doesn’t go unnoticed by Amy and Peter. They’re getting the feeling that Luce is keeping things for himself, especially when he withdraws himself from them. It’s just a matter of time before their love and compassion are taken over by doubts and mistrust. After all, you can take the kid out of the war but can you take the war out of the kid?

Harrison Jr. and Spencer are worth gold

You might think “why again a film about the difficulties black emigrants in America have to face”? Well, let us explain to you why Luce deserves its place during the upcoming award race.

First of all, Kelvin Harrison Jr. (JT LeRoy, Assassination Nation) delivers a talented and confident performance, and he certainly knows how to grab our attention. He’s stunning as the young man who’s trying to fight the prejudices and the expectations the society has and who at the same time has to find out who he wants to be. Thanks to his dazzling acting, we asked ourselves the “is he out for violence or is he being betrayed by the people the closest to him?” question every single minute.

Another reason why that question is constantly on our minds is because of the astounding performance of Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water). We already saw her in a dark role in Ma but now she steps up her game even more. Spencer is immensely on-point as the history teacher who’s either overprotective or who has a hidden agenda. The scenes between her and Harrison Jr. are the beating heart of this movie.

The supporting performances from Watts (The Glass Castle, Chuck) and Roth (The Hateful Eight, Hardcore) are wonderful as well. The climax at the end is a masterpiece by the entire cast.

Kelvin Harrison Jr (pictured in the middle) plays Luce (credit: Universal / Dream Factory)

From family drama to an intense thriller

What was so intriguing about this movie is the way the biggest story and the small mysteries are unravelling. One moment, you will feel sorry for Luce but the other, you might think that he is a violent psychopath in the body of a saint. What about Wilson, the strict teacher who finds it necessary to protect her school, no matter how many dreams of young people are being shattered? Will the parents stand by their son unconditionally or not? Well, you might find it out after watching this suspenseful film.

That Luce goes from predictable family drama to an intense thriller is also thanks to the stunning cinematography from Larkin Seiple (Swiss Army Man, Cop Car) and the poignant score from Geoff Barrow and Ben who both worked together on Free Fire and Ex Machina. They play in the hand of the genre expectations but without losing that thrilling and mysterious effect.

Sitting on the edge of your seat

There’s no denying that Luce is an intense and solid thriller. Not only the most delightfully narrative but also the great performances (from both lead and supporting actors), the suspenseful cinematography and the bombastic score make sure that you will be sitting on the edge of your seat the entire time.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Also Read: The Aeronauts (Review)

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