Song To Song Review

ASongtoSong

Actors in Terence Malick films have always had to be prepared to have their roles excised from his final edit. His masterful Thin Red Line completely cut out Mickey Rourke and left George Clooney on screen for all of two minutes, and he’s only got more ruthless with his cast in his modern output. Yet, where Malick’s wandering eye once produced gorgeous and profound mediations on nature and man’s place in it, his post-Tree of Life work has found him stuck in a self-indulgent rut, creating films that are nothing more than disconnected tone poems about the alluring emptiness found in wealth and beauty. With Song to Song, it finally feels like Malick has become everything his critics have always accused him of – slow, uninterested in character, and maybe even pretentious. Continue reading

Spider-Man Homecoming Review

SPIDER-MAN™: HOMECOMING

‘Can’t you just be a friendly, neighbourhood Spider-Man?’ Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) asks Peter Parker (Tom Holland) after one of Peter’s super-adventures. As well as being a cute nod to one of the most iconic descriptions of the world’s most popular superhero, it also cuts to the core of what makes Homecoming so good, and so different from its predecessors in both the MCU and the Sony Spider-Man series. This is a light-hearted adventure on a very small scale by superhero standards, sticking to local and personal conflicts for Spider-Man, very well-suited to the new, rebooted Peter Parker, the youngest and most fun portrayal of the character to date.  Continue reading

War For The Planet Of The Apes Review

Film Review - War For the Planet of the Apes

If you’d told someone before the release of 2011’s Rise that a series of Planet of the Apes prequels would end up being one of the decade’s best trilogies, they’d have rightly scoffed. Prequels are generally a terrible idea anyway, cashing in on a brand name to tell a story that rarely does anything except strip the alluring mystery away from its universe, and every attempt to revisit Apes after the 1968 original was met with what could be generously described as diminishing returns. Yet, with sharp writing, tremendous set-pieces, and brilliant mo-cap performances led by Andy Serkis, these films have constantly defied expectations, and the closer, War, is a powerful epic, sweeping and personal, a highlight of 2017’s blockbuster crop.  Continue reading

Okja Review

OKJA

‘What if it were your pet? Would you still eat it then?’ This rallying cry of vegetarians and vegans against meat-eating has always had its heart in the right place, but often fails to make an impact, with food animals always so inherently other when compared with pets. Enter the eponymous star of Okja. Structurally, Okja resembles a pig/hippo hybrid, bred as she is for eventual consumption, but in mannerisms, she’s pure dog. It’s an ingenious, if manipulative, conceit from Bong Joon-Ho and writer Jon Ronson, blurring the line between friend and food in a thought-provoking, but rarely preachy, sci-fi take on the horrors of the meat industry. Continue reading

The Mummy Review

Mummy

Much has been made, in the last few weeks of the marketing, of the fact that The Mummy is the film that’s meant to kick off Universal’s latest attempt at a shared cinematic universe featuring all their classic monsters. On this evidence, it’s a universe that deserves to be left on the scrapheap (as it very nearly was after the dreadful Dracula Untold), as not only is The Mummy a simply terrible film, it’s made far, far worse by its need to set up this ‘new world of gods and monsters’. A flavourless lump of exposition and repetition, it lacks all the charms of the ‘30s originals and the Brendan Fraser-led 1999 MummyContinue reading

Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is a film of many firsts. It’s the first solo cinematic outing for its titular heroine. It’s the first female-led superhero film in the new era of the global dominance of the comic book movie. It’s the first time since 2002 that a female director has been handed a budget of over $100 million dollars, with Patty Jenkins leading the charge – soon to be followed by Ava DuVernay (with A Wrinkle in Time) and Niki Caro (Mulan). And, most importantly, it’s the first genuinely good entry into the critically battered DCEU, a blast of fun and sincerity that is ever so refreshing in a world of brooding cynics in capes and quippy murderous antiheroes.  Continue reading

The Other Side of Hope Review

Other Side Hope

Midway through The Other Side of Hope, experienced immigrant Mazdak (Simon Al-Bazoon) tells new arrival asylum seeker Khaled (Sherwan Haji) to not be sad, as ‘they send the melancholic ones back first’. There’s a worldly wisdom to the line, made more poignant by just how unfair it is. If writer-director Aki Kaurismaki’s version of Finland wants to get less gloomy, they’ve got a fair few natives to get rid of before they can even consider the immigrants. A nice, if slight, tale of glum but decent people trying to do the right thing, Hope gets across its timely and important message with levity and an old-fashioned style. Continue reading