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A Great Thriller
The first film from this director, Searching, is one of my favourite thrillers of all time, because it uses its premise to brilliant effect, and has a mystery that kept me completely engrossed from start to finish. Run isn't quite as good as that, but it is still a very stellar second feature. Sarah Paulson is definitely good, but it's Kiera Allen who is the real star here, carrying scenes based off of her performance alone. The mystery is admittedly simple, but it's the tense direction that carries this to the finish line, and kept me gripped from start to finish. The story develops really well, and the structure of having the flashback scene at the beginning is fantastic, and sets up the mystery brilliantly. The climax was satisfying and overall the film is just a great time. It is somewhat predictable, but the execution really stuck the landing, and kept the film feeling tense and exciting throughout. Overall, I thought this was a great film, and I can't wait to see what Aneesh Chaganty does next.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
A Great Story with some Nitpicks that bring it down for me
I generally love war films, but I couldn't help but be at least a bit disappointed with this. The first half an hour was a bit boring at times, and didn't feel necessary to the rest of the film. I like the idea of a film about a pacifist in war, and that motivation is set up well within Doss at the beginning. The training stuff is fairly entertaining, but the film doesn't really pick up until they get to Hacksaw Ridge. That part is genuinely really uplifting, if a bit over the top at times. Garfield was phenomenal, Gibson's direction was very strong and the production design really stood out as detailed to me, particularly during the war scenes. For a film about a pacifist, some of the violence was way too over the top in my opinion, but most of it was good. I thought some of the editing was bad at points, but apparently this won Best Editing at the Oscars so what do I know. The score was good and the story of Doss is genuinely really inspirational. I think with a weaker story this would have a much lower score, as I had a lot of smaller issues with the film that decreased my overall enjoyment of it. Overall, it's still a good film, but it's one of the weaker war films I've seen.
The Way Way Back (2013)
A Great Coming of Age Film
Really liked this film! There were a couple of elements that annoyed me - the score was genuinely obnoxious, and some of the humour was a bit hit or miss at times, but it works because of the well developed characters, strong direction and a fantastic third act, which nails the conclusion of the character arcs and wraps up the story really well. The ensemble cast is great, particularly Sam Rockwell, and the fast pacing really helped to keep me engaged. The tone was balanced extremely well, with the dramatic moments never feeling out of place. Whilst I did say that some of the humour fell flat, some of it definitely did work, and the characters were really quirky and as such enjoyable for me. The themes mostly landed and the ending was very satisfying, and boosted the score up a fair bit. Overall, it isn't flawless, but it is a lot of fun.
Yes Day (2021)
A Mediocre Comedy
Not a terrible comedy - the performances are fine, some of the situational comedy is enjoyable, the police officer dude is really funny and the less than 90 minutes runtime keeps the film at least fairly entertaining - yet it never really amounts to anything besides a bland and ultimately forgettable family comedy. The only real laughs come from the police officer, who basically saves the second half of the film - except for that it's only a couple of light chuckles at best. The plot is predictable, the ending is lazy and the script is ultimately nothing noteworthy. There's definitely a lot of potential for a film with a silly concept like this to be really entertaining, but it just never got to that level, and I was left underwhelmed overall. It's not offensively bad - it's just a mediocre film.
Man of Steel (2013)
A Decent Origin Story with Some Big Issues
As a big fan of comic book movies, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder('s visuals) and Hans Zimmer, I can't help but be a bit disappointed by this film. Hans Zimmer's score is fantastic as ever though - he is definitely the best and most influential composer of the 21st century. Cavill does a good job, as do all of the cast, and Snyder's visuals are very impressive. The action is mostly well shot and enjoyable and the film, whilst not incredibly entertaining, never bored me at any point. The backstory for Superman, including the opening, was really entertaining in my opinion, and singlehandedly pushed the film to a positive score, because man did the third act suck.
I said that the action was well shot, and I guess it was for the most part, but there are so many zooms . Someone should really teach Zack Snyder another camera technique beside the zoom. Michael Shannon is good, but Zod is a very bland villain, and the dialogue is really, really bad. Nolan and David S Goyer, the writers of this film, wrote The Dark Knight five years before writing this. Lois Lane is setup to be this badass character, but then says the word tinkle about 5 seconds later. Some of the stuff with Kevin Costner is endearing, but his death is really stupid, as is Superman snapping Zod's neck in the finale. This was still an entertaining film, and I would say I liked it overall, but I was disappointed by the final product, and I can't say I have high hopes for me loving the rest of the DCEU.
A Great, if Slightly Underwhelming Crime Film
Undoubtedly a great film, but slightly underwhelming given my expectations. DeNiro and Pacino are fantastic - the ensemble cast is one of the best of all time. Mann's direction and visual stylings are fantastic - if this and Collateral prove anything, he knows how to make LA look fantastic. The action is also really well shot and enjoyable - the whole final hour is just brilliantly entertaining. The soundtrack is very enjoyable and the gritty cinematography works wonders throughout. The central storyline and conflict between DeNiro and Pacino is brilliant - their talk in the restaurant is probably the best scene in the film. However, as much as I appreciated a large amount of this film, it does feel quite overstuffed. None of the side characters or plots get enough time to be fully developed. I think the film should either have been 2 hours and had some of the side plots cut out, or be a 5-6 hour miniseries and fully develop all of the characters. As it is, there's just too much going on for me to give this a higher rating, despite the large amount of positives this film has. It's still great, but IMDB Top 250 great? Not for me.
Thelma & Louise (1991)
An Excellent Film
Extremely good. Good writing, great score, strong characters and a sense of timeliness that I couldn't have had if I'd watched this a few weeks ago. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are both fantastic, and sold their characters really well. Despite the many crimes they committed, I really found myself rooting for them to succeed, and I think that's a testament to just how well written the main characters are. They're given a lot of time during the film to become their own people, and it is really fun to watch play out. Brad Pitt was a scene stealer, the direction is solid all round - the film on the whole is just really really enjoyable. I think they should've given Harvey Keitel and the rest of the cops less screentime - that might have tightened the pacing a tad and allowed more of the focus to be on T+L. But that's not that big of an issue in the bigger picture. It's an overall fantastic film, and is strongly recommendable.
The Best in the Franchise
The best in the franchise for me. Caesar really is a phenomenal character - his arc over these three films is outstanding. I love how his opinions on humans have been shaped by his past experiences - it much improves his character in my opinion. The visual effects are still fantastic - but more than that, the direction from Matt Reeves is just stunning. The action scenes are so fluidly shot that they are a joy to watch, and there are so many beautiful shots that really took my breath away. The Colonel is a great antagonist with understandable motives, but who you still want to get killed by the end. The action is a bit sparse, and I can understand why people wouldn't like that, but I think this is what separates this franchise from other blockbuster franchises - it really does care about developing its characters above anything and everything else. The action scenes, when they do arrive, are really great, and the ending legitimately had me tearing up a bit. It is probably about 10 or so minutes too long, but it really is an outstanding climax, and I would definitely recommend this and the trilogy as a whole.
Kurenai no buta (1992)
Another Great Ghibli Film
This is a brilliantly animated, wonderfully acted and beautifully told film. Miyazaki is fantastic at world building, and that's what he nails here, creating this beautiful world for this story to take place in. The concept is an inherently weird one, but Miyazaki really finds a way to make it work. I'm not entirely sure how to explain it, but like, the vibes were really good. The runtime pretty much breezed by, and I became completely engrossed in this world. Finding Nemo has some of the most realistic water animation you'll probably ever see, but I just adore Ghibli's water animation so much (this is a bit of a random point, but so is this whole review so...). The ending, however, is ridiculously rushed, and is pretty much my only major gripe with the film. Other than that, this is another great entry into Miyazaki's filmography, and I'd definitely recommend it.
A Fantastic Film
I absolutely loved this. This cast is one of the best in any film ever - all of them are really giving their A-Game here, particularly Costner, Rooker, Sutherland and Oldman. The dialogue is sharp and always really fun to follow, and it helps that I find the whole situation surrounding JFK's murder really interesting. The court case is extremely riveting to watch - I don't think I even breathed during the final monologue. The editing is just superb, and the use of black and white to separate the past from the present is fantastic, and it makes the film a lot easier to follow. This really didn't feel 205 minutes at all (yes I watched it over two nights, but it still went very quickly) and every scene felt necessary to the overall story. I like how we get to see Garrison's home life fall apart, as he sacrifices spending time with his family to get to the bottom of the assassination. The only thing I'd say is that the makeup is hilariously bad - Joe Pesci's eyebrows look ridiculous. But even that isn't enough to stop me from calling this the masterpiece that it is. Despite the length, I do highly, highly recommend it, and I genuinely can't wait to watch it again.
First Man (2018)
A Fantastic Experience
I definitely get why this isn't as well loved as Chazelle's other two films - as much as La La Land and Whiplash are both poignant and deep films, they are very much crowd pleasers, in the way that this isn't. The pacing is very, very slow (borderline too slow) and there is definitely less creativity in the story - it is a biopic after all. But with that said, wow what an experience. The visuals are beautiful to look at from start to finish - something about the visuals in Chazelle's films feel so vibrant yet completely real. Ryan Gosling is truly superb, and better than Rami Malek in Bo Rhap imo. The fact that him and Claire Foy both didn't get Oscar nominations is practically a crime against film. Damien Chazelle has such control behind the camera, and the flight scenes in particular are really intense. The score is fantastic - Justin Hurwitz continues to deliver - and the editing is also just phenomenal. The third act is one of the most intense I've seen, and all of this stems from my favourite aspect of the film - it actually managed to make me care about the characters. Neil's struggle is ultimately a personal one, and therefore is one that everyone can relate to, regardless of whether our version of overcoming personal problems is going to the moon. I think this is what Chazelle is the master at - whatever his characters are going through, regardless of the stakes, he manages to keep the personal stakes small and as such more relatable. Overall, despite some pacing issues, this is still an excellent film, and one I'd strongly recommend.
An Enjoyable and Uplifting if Flawed Film
This is very much on the nose in its messaging, and there are a lot of more complex ways that this subject matter could be explored. The overt and straightforward way that this tackles extremely complex subject matters will definitely not work for some people. But I think the film is definitely aware of this fact, and instead tries to create a more upbeat and simple portrayal of feminism, and in that regard I think it works well. Amy Poehler's direction is solid, the performances are good and the first two acts in particular are pretty enjoyable. I do think the focus should have been more on some of the side characters, who all things considered were much more interesting, but that doesn't mean that the lead character's arc wasn't pretty strong. It is a bit too long for its own good, and again oversimplifies a complicated topic, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I had a smile on my face when the credits started to roll. Overall, it's an uplifting and enjoyable if flawed film, and I'd definitely recommend it.
A Fantastic Thriller
Normally when I watch a film, I tend to know quite a bit about it. Not like spoilers or anything, but I tend to know the premise, most of the cast, director etc. So it was kind of nice to just watch a film solely on a recommendation knowing very little about it, and to come out loving it. Tom Cruise plays against type brilliantly here, but it is Jamie Foxx who carries this film. He very much acts as the audience being introduced to this world, and he pulls off the more tense moments perfectly. The visual style is so striking and great to look at, and the action is shot really smoothly. The score is great and the character relationships were surprisingly strong. The fact that this is really just a character piece about Max not grabbing his chances in life makes this more fun to watch, mainly because I found myself really caring for Max's character and wanting him to escape the situation. The ending was really satisfying - I enjoy it when films end on an open-ended note, allowing the audience to fill in what might have happened to the characters. The only major issues is that some of the characters are a bit stupid - the cops had numerous chances to catch Vincent and just didn't for whatever reason. There were also a couple of predictable moments, but overall this is a fantastic film, and one I really, really enjoyed on top of that. Definitely give it a watch.
A Great Sequel
A really great follow up that builds on what the first film set up, and still features fantastic effects, performances and action, even if they still haven't fixed some of the problems with the original. The big issue across these two films is that the human characters are very one-note and bland. Gary Oldman is the only complex human character in it - the rest just have one personality trait that is well explored, if that, and a lot of them make very stupid decisions. But on the flip side, Caesar is a fantastic character, and I really like how the apes' opinions on humans are affected directly by their experiences of them - it makes their characters a lot better. Andy Serkis is still fantastic, and the effects have aged very, very well. The action is really well shot, and has a really nice gritty feel, particularly in the second half. I will say that the first half was a tad slow for me, but I did appreciate how the film spent time building up the characters in order to go all out for the finale. The cinematography is strong and the story is well developed - those opening few minutes really pack a punch now. Overall, I wouldn't call this one of the best sequels of all time, but it is a genuinely great and recommendable film.
I Care a Lot (2020)
A Great Surprise
This film has a lot of issues - from the weaker third act, to the lack of a rootable character, to an incredibly incompetent mafia - yet I couldn't help but love it. Sometimes it's just fun to watch terrible people do terrible things, and this is one of those cases. Pike is great, the story takes a lot of great twists and turns and the dialogue is always snappy and enjoyable. The direction is good all round and the characters are really interesting, if not particularly rootable as I mentioned before. The costumes are great and, as much as I thought the third act was weaker, the final scene put a great cap on the film as a whole. It's also really, really funny. Overall, there isn't that much to say about this - I just enjoyed the hell out of it. It's definitely not for everyone, but it was for me, and I would strongly recommend it.
World War Z (2013)
A Fantastic Opening precedes a thoroughly average film
World War Z is a fantastic action film. The tension built up during this film is unbelievable, and it kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire film. The direction only adds to the intensity, and the use of shaky cam works really well here. The story is kept to the minimum and the panic and chaos of the apocalypse is pushed to the forefront. It's energetic, it's entertaining - but more than that it's just a thrilling experience. Overall, World War Z is one of the best action films of the last ten years...
is what I'd be saying if the film ended after the first thirty minutes.
Don't get me wrong, the rest of the film is entertaining, but the story is very weak, with a lot of conveniences and annoying moments. The action definitely would have benefited from being R/15 rated, as there are a lot of moments where the action is really choppy. Brad Pitt is good throughout, and some of the emotional moments do land, but honestly the film became quite tiresome by the end. So whilst the opening is fantastic and I would still recommend the film on the whole, the opening set up what could have been an amazing film, when it's ended up just being decent.
One Night in Miami... (2020)
An Intriguing Drama
Much like Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, this never really escapes the fact that it's a play outside of the opening. It's arguably worse than Ma Rainey at that, and it makes some scenes feel a bit tedious at times. With that said, the script for this is outstanding. I love how all four of these icons are given more or less equal time to express their views, and it makes the conversational scenes, which could have ended up feeling dull, feel energetic and thought-provoking instead. All of the performances are great across the board, particularly Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, and the cinematography is surprisingly great. I agree that the direction is a bit samey at times, but, similarly to Trial of the Chicago Seven, it allowed for the focus to instead be on the fantastic script. Overall, whilst this could definitely be better, it is still a great film, and one that is very much recommendable.
A Great Sci-Fi Film
This film has an inherently weird concept - James Franco raises an intelligent ape until it rebels against humankind - yet it somehow manages to be endearing regardless. Some of the characters are pretty cookie-cutter for this type of film, but I think it's Andy Serkis' Caesar who is the best part of this film. I actually bought a lot of the emotional moments between him and James Franco. The effects on Caesar have also aged really well, and you have to admire Serkis' commitment to his roles. The action is well choreographed and the story, while a tad far fetched at points, has a strong emotional centre to it that I really liked. All of the performances are good and the music also fits the film really well. My favourite element is probably the pacing - at only 100 odd minutes (without credits) the film never overstays its welcome, and every scene felt completely necessary to the overall story. Overall, whilst not the best in it's genre, this has set up the future films really well as well as standing up on its own as a great film, and one I would recommend.
A Fantastic Experience
What a beautiful experience. The animation is some of the best I've ever seen. The backgrounds are beautiful, the character designs fantastic and the action takes full advantage of the fact that this is animated, creating action that wouldn't work nearly as well in live action. It manages to work as both an enjoyable fantasy/action film and work as a film about environmentalism. The characters are so striking and enjoyable to watch, each serving their roles within the story perfectly. The music is just phenomenal - Lord of the Rings seriously ripped this off music wise. The pacing is pretty much pitch-perfect throughout, knowing when to go into all-out-action and when to let the characters have moments to themselves. my only major criticism is the ending, which felt a bit rushed in my opinion. But overall, it's a fantastic film, and I can't wait to check out more of Miyazaki's and Studio Ghibli's work soon.
An Enjoyable and Quirky Comedy
Wasn't really expecting to like this much given the somewhat mixed reviews, but I did really like it. Good performances across the board and the humour landed more than I was expecting. Hugh Laurie has kept all of his comedic talent from Blackadder - he really is just hilarious. Even lines that are clearly not funny got a chuckle out of me because of him. Dev Patel also shines as the lead role, and having never read the book I enjoyed seeing the story play out. The final half an hour was definitely the weakest - the emotional moments didn't really work for me, and the framing device of the film felt a bit unnecessary. It always annoys me when a framing device for the story is set up at the beginning and isn't even referenced again until the very end. But the visuals are really good, the set design is fantastic and the film on the whole is just a good time.
Jason Bourne (2016)
An Enjoyable Action Film
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Sure it basically plays as a greatest hits montage of Supremacy and Ultimatum, but those elements are still enjoyable. I actually think the shaky cam is much more effective here than in the other Bourne films. The story is a lot weaker and the decision to kill a certain character off towards the beginning annoyed me, but the action is still really strong and Damon is still really good. The villain is decently intimidating and, despite it being longer than any of the OT, it pretty much flew by. Overall the story isn't great and none of the characters are particularly well developed, but it works as a very enjoyable action flick, and I would recommend it, particularly if you liked the other films in the franchise.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)
A Really Good Film, but it Could be a Great One
This is genuinely one of the most frustrating films I've ever watched, because this on paper has all of the elements to be fantastic, but it ends up just being good. I'll start with the positives - Chadwick Boseman is phenomenal and definitely deserves the Oscar he is bound to get. The cast on the whole is great, and the direction is really fluid and keeps you engaged throughout. The set design and production design completely immerses you into the era, and the music from the characters is really engaging. The character interactions are great, and the monologues, particularly the first one from Chadwick, are the highlights of the film for me. But that doesn't stop a lot of the film from feeling really meandering and a bit empty. That's not to say I didn't necessarily enjoy those portions of the film, but I couldn't help but feel they were a bit pointless. I think the main reason that I thought this was because this is an adaptation of a play, and it very much feels like one. I honestly think that the version of Hamilton that they filmed and put on Disney + is more cinematic than this. I also didn't really like the ending. I guess it fits with what we already knew about the character, but the idea that he'd just kill the pianist randomly at the end is a bit eh (as a pianist that hurts twice as much). At least I know not to step on people's shoes anymore. The final scene with the white band recording the music is really powerful though, and the emotional moments leave enough of a mark for me to think of this as a very good film - but not a great one.
The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
A Really Enjoyable Comedy
A really charming adventure with well developed characters, good performances and a very strong emotional centre. All of the performances are really good, particularly from Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf, and their characters have enjoyable relationships that leads to a lot of natural humour coming from them. It's nice to see down syndrome representation in films without that big of a deal being made about it. I really like the visual feel of the film - the landscapes are great to look at and the colour palette matches the feel of the film perfectly. Most of my issues are smaller, such as some bad editing, but overall this is a fun and charming film that I would definitely recommend.
La La Land (2016)
An Excellent Musical
Typically I'm not that big of a fan of musicals. The issue I tend to have with them is that there are too many songs and too little character and story development. I'm aware that a lot of that development tends to come through the songs, but when it doesn't it can leave a lot of musicals to feel undercooked in my opinion. Thankfully, this film completely fixes that issue and then some, with fantastically written lead characters and songs that brilliantly further their motivations. Not only are the songs great on their own, but they're also fantastic within the context of the scenes they are in. The lead performances are both strong (perhaps not quite Oscar-worthy, but still really good) and both of the characters feel relatable in their own way. As with all good romantic films, I could understand where each of them were coming from during their arguments throughout the film, and it makes the dialogue a lot more interesting. Chazelle is still phenomenal behind the camera - the visuals here are just fantastic and really help to craft the vibrant world of the film. The musical score is great, the ending is outstanding - the only issue I had was that sometimes I had trouble hearing all of the lyrics of the songs over the instrumentals, particularly for the first two songs. As for the La La Land vs Moonlight debate, whilst Moonlight might be the better made film, if you had to ask me to rewatch either this or Moonlight tonight, I would choose this. Overall, this is a fantastic musical, and another excellent addition into Damien Chazelle's filmography.
A Bit Style over Substance at Times but Still Great
Wes Anderson is a director who has made numerous masterpieces over the years, but a couple of his films (e.g. Moonrise Kingdom) do slightly fall under the 'style over substance' bracket, and that's my main issue with this film. Most of the substance we do get is phenomenal - Steve has a great character arc, and the more genuine character interactions we get really do work at further developing the characters beyond the stereotypes they are given at the beginning. But I think that, with such a wide and varied supporting cast, a lot of them are pretty one note. Besides Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston and Owen Wilson, none of them are particularly developed, and having so many of them makes the film feel a bit overstuffed at times. That and the runtime was slightly too long for me - a 100 minute runtime and a smaller supporting cast would have made the film a lot better.
Still, the dramatic stuff is top notch, the visuals are marvellous from start to finish, the performances are all great, the humour is mostly really good, and the soundtrack is also just fantastic. Most of all though, it is for the most part really enjoyable. It is a bit style over substance at points, but when Wes Anderson is doing the style it's hard to complain too much.