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Movie Review:- Joker

In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: “The Joker”.

 

 

Our last encounter with the Joker in a major release was back in 2016 with Jared Leto’s contemporary interpretation in Suicide Squad, dividing opinion during its release. I appreciate we’ve had Lego Batman (2017) since, but it doesn’t feel right to compare the latest performance in Joker (2019) with that of a plastic figurine (still an awesome Joker, though).

 

 

Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a victim of Gotham’s corrupt game, struggling to find purpose beyond caring for his sick mother. His dream of being a comedian drives him to seek a better life for them both. Crippling depression numbs him from the torment of strangers as he works during the day as a clown. His reality and imagination are blurred for a lot of the film as he pursues his dream life, soon realising that no one is laughing with him. His breaking point comes when yet another altercation goes too far. His brutal actions result in the birth of Joker and the beginning of a revolution in Gotham.

 

 

The vast majority of the film is focused on the gritty yet captivating Arthur/Joker with infrequent involvement with the rest of the stellar cast. His mother, played by Frances Conroy, is a defenceless woman with a troubled past and the only person Arthur truly loves. Robert de Niro plays late-night talk show host Murray Franklin, a beacon of hope for Arthur in his search for fame.

 

 

We’ve seen various interpretations of Joker in the past and one thing they all have in common is the total commitment to the character. Phoenix is no exception, particularly with his physical transformation; His thin, bruised body shows a vulnerable side to Joker that has never been experienced before. This isn’t necessarily shocking but definitely thought-provoking.

 

 

There’s no doubt that Joker has been a highly anticipated film, not only for the origin story of one of DC’s most popular villains but to see Joaquin Phoenix’s vision of such an iconic character. For me though, Heath Ledger‘s interpretation is the one to beat and I don’t think he’s been defeated yet.

 

 

The biggest win for Phoenix, however, is that he created a person with so much vulnerability mixed with volatility that left me feeling a bit unnerved throughout; he appears to be more human than ever before. The film as a whole reflects a lot of global issues: corrupt governments, public riots, domestic abuse and mental health to name a few. This is not a film to watch if you’re easily distressed by these topics, but a worthwhile watch to see Joker in a whole new light that I’m sure a lot of people had never considered. I rooted for him far more than I should have.

 

 

Is this a ground-breaking film? No. But it’s a decent film with a great cast and an excellent performance by Phoenix.

 

 

It’s 8/10 for me.


October 25th, 2019 by Gemma
Posted in General, Movie Review | No Comments »

Movie Review:- IT Chapter Two

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

 

 

The last decade of cinema has been saturated with sequels; many have proven to be a waste of time, while a small minority have shone through and wowed audiences. IT Chapter Two is certainly one of those welcomed sequels that certainly doesn’t disappoint.

 

We left the first film with the Losers’ Club making a pact to return to their home town of Derry if Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) ever returns. 27 years later and Mike (Isaiah Mustafa) is the only member of the Losers’ Club still in Derry. After hearing about a brutal murder in the town, Mike’s suspicions are triggered, so calls on the rest of the club to come back to help him follow his plan to bring down Pennywise for good.

 

 

The club return to Derry and after a drink-fuelled reunion, they soon witness the reality of Pennywise’s return as children are no longer his only target. While trying to unite their strengths, they all experience their own fears and demons both in life and in Pennywise’s mission to defeat them all.

 

At nearly 3 hours long, it’s a lot to take in, but it’s worth every minute. If you’ve read the Stephen King novel (or actually seen a physical copy of the 1,138-page monster), you’ll understand why both films are so long. You could argue that one or two sub-stories could have been cut such as the aftermath of Henry Bowers, who killed his father in the first chapter. Having said that, this story along with everything else still add to the suspense just as much as any other scene.

 

 

The biggest praise I have for Chapter 2 goes to the casting. I can’t recall a film that cast adult and child counterparts as successfully as this film does. James Ransone as adult Eddie is a particular highlight as he continues on from Jack Dylan Grazer’s younger portrayal as if they really were the same person. The similarity both in appearance and mannerisms is scarily accurate. In addition, casting Molly Atkinson as his wife was a genius choice as she also plays his overbearing mother in both films. It’s a Freudian slip that worked beautifully and is just one of many examples of the comedic quality the film demonstrates. This doesn’t take away from the rest of the adult cast who were excellent choices and gave fantastic performances (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, Andy Bean and Ransone). Their own backstories of growing up and moving on tackled various real-life issues, from domestic violence to lost love.

 

 

Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise was even more disturbing than the first. I’m not normally scared by horror films, but Chapter 2 completely unnerved me through most of the film thanks to his incredible performance and, frankly, Stephen King’s imagination. King’s appearance as the grouchy shopkeeper was a nice touch that held him with the same regard as the late Stan Lee’s iconic cameos.

 

 

My only complaint is that there were some poorly explained parts to the story, one being the origin of Pennywise as told by Mike. He has spent many years in Derry researching the source and purpose of the clown in their home town and how to defeat him. When the Losers’ Club become divided on whether to stick to their promise, Mike explains separately to Bill (McAvoy) what his research revealed. I may find rewatching the scene would clarify everything, but the deep explanation from Mike with flashbacks, intense CGI and Bill tripping balls on a spiked drink just left me feeling very distracted.

 

 

Despite the slight storyline issues, this was a fantastic sequel and finale with the perfect cast, a psychotic mix of terror and comedy, and the cinematic quality that horrors rarely get any more. I believe both films are the most iconic horrors we’ve had in a very, very long time, so go and see it!

 

 

A scary 9/10 from me.
~Gemma


October 24th, 2019 by Gemma
Posted in General, Movie Review | No Comments »

Movie Review: Angel Has Fallen

Secret Service Agent Mike Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must evade his own agency and the FBI as he tries to uncover the real threat.

 

 

Summer 2019 has been a bit of a bust when it comes to new film releases. It’s usually a lacklustre season that’s saved by a big superhero release. However, since that already happened in the Spring with the goliath that was Avengers: Endgame, it’s been a particularly sluggish summer for film.

 

No, I’m not here to tell you that Angel Has Fallen is our glorious saviour of Summer cinema, but for the sake of having something to watch, it makes a nice change from the continuous school holiday screenings of The Lion King and Angry Birds 2.

 

 

A failed assassination attempt on President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) sees Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) as the only surviving staff member at the scene. He wakes up in hospital in cuffs, charged with the attempted murder of the president after copious amounts of evidence point to his involvement in the attack. Banning is determined to prove his innocence, so when his prison van is hijacked, he takes the chance to go on the run to find the truth.

 

I was very sceptical about the third instalment and I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and admit to judging Butler’s appearance in the trailer. He looks tired, puffy and expressionless, reminding me of Sylvester Stallone in recent years (ok, decades). I was quick to assume he couldn’t cut the mustard anymore. Since watching the film though, his aesthetic is extremely relevant to the storyline as we see Mike as a painkiller popping insomniac pushed to breaking point physically and mentally from start to finish.

 

 

During his travels, he seeks out his estranged father, Clay Banning (Nick Nolte), a reclusive war veteran with a few tricks up his sleeve that probably provided the edge that Mike lacked in this film. Nolte’s rattled Clay resembled the late Albert Finney in Skyfall, which I think is why I warmed to this character as much as Trumbull. Without giving anything away, this guy is badass.

 

 

Angel Has Fallen is what I would call an ‘easy watch’, which may work for some as an action-driven film. On the other hand, it also means that nothing about the plot was fresh or surprising. In fact, I figured out who the main villain was the instant I saw him, which is not usually an observation I get right. Because of that, I struggled to care about anything other than if Morgan Freeman was going to be alright. I mean, he’s an 82-year-old icon pretending to get shot at every five minutes, so who wouldn’t be concerned?

 

 

There were some strong action sequences throughout, but unfortunately, much like predecessor London Has Fallen, the CGI just couldn’t back it up. The explosions towards the end of the film showed a huge weakness (that’s not a spoiler by the way. It’s not an action film without explosions at the end). Then again, according to IMDB, London Has Fallen is the highest-grossing film of the three, so maybe poor effects shouldn’t deter you from giving the latest chapter a chance. To its credit, the drone sequence featured in the trailer is the most original part about the entire film and worth a watch for that.

 

To conclude, Angel Has Fallen is certainly not a waste of time, but maybe not time well spent. Butler delivers an ok performance, but with the likes of Tom Cruise still pulling out stunts at 57 with far more skill, I think Butler’s combat days are numbered. I hope this remains a trilogy because I feel any more additions will just be as forgettable as this one. Thank God for the old boys in this!

 

With that, I give this a 6/10.


September 3rd, 2019 by Gemma
Posted in General, Movie Review | No Comments »

Movie Review: Toy Story 4

When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.

 

 

2019 is, without a doubt, a huge year for film. We’ve had the big guns of action so far in ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’, but one of the most anticipated films of the year comes in the form of Pixar’s Toy Story 4.

 

With a 25 year history, many of us have grown up with the franchise, so while younger generations are barely getting started with the films, millions of kidults are saying a sad goodbye as the 4th instalment brings the tale of Buzz (Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks) to a close. Admittedly, some audiences queried the point of the 4th film years before release; as Toy Story 3 rounded up pretty well, with Andy handing over his childhood buddies to Bonnie. However, I wasn’t disappointed in Toy Story 4. In fact, my disappointment lies in the fact that it has ended. Although producers have said “never say never”, it doesn’t seem like there are any plans for a fifth instalment.

 

 

Following the intro about what happened to Bo Peep (Annie Potts) in the last film, Bonnie has started school. Struggling to make friends, Bonnie (unknowingly helped by Woody, who feels he doesn’t have a purpose any more- deep) makes a new friend from a spork. Forky is voiced by Tony Hale, famous for the fantastic, noughties hit-show Arrested Development (if we pretend season 4 and 5 didn’t happen). In fact, if the coddled, anxious and naive Buster Bluth was reincarnated, he would come back as talking plastic cutlery for sure. Forky is one of the best new characters we’ve seen since cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack) joined the gang. He causes much of the chaos in the film as Woody tries to keep him safe despite frequent attempts to run away and put himself in the trash. Woody’s desperation to be needed is depressing, but integral to the plot and the reason he keeps stopping Forky from ditching Bonnie.

 

 

During a family RV trip, Woody becomes separated from the gang after Forky makes a quick dash from the moving van (as you do). During their trip back to the RV, Woody discovers long-lost Bo Beep’s lamp in the window of a local antique store. Whilst looking for Bo, Woody becomes the prey of a vintage doll, Gaby Gaby (Christina Hendricks), who wants his voice box to fix her faulty one so someone will finally love her. While Gaby Gaby is feeling her Soprano realness in her villainous state, her identical ventriloquist dummy henchmen are the entourage from hell. In truth, they make Annabelle and Chucky look like the cast of Sesame Street. For a kids film, they are surprisingly messed up.

 

 

Throughout the film, there’s a lot of back and forth chases, from Woody avoiding those horrid dummies to Bo saving everybody all the time, whilst Buzz and Jessie trying to stall Bonnie’s parents from leaving the RV camp. There’s a lot going on, drumming out all of the humour and drama that we’ve come to love from the franchise. Lots of new characters all contribute to the story. This includes Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), the daredevil motorcycle stunt doll who crashes better than anyone in the vintage toy market. Call me harsh, but this is the most personality I’ve ever witnessed from Reeves in any role and it works.

 

 

I absolutely loved this film. By the fourth film, most franchises are so terrible that we watch them for a cheap laugh, but Toy Story 4 is just as relevant and funny as ever. It’s kept up with the times, offers morals for the kids, and nostalgia for the rest of us. My only criticism is that most of the original characters get a lot less screen time than before. However, it makes sense to the story and with reliance on archives to voice Mr Potato Head (Don Rickles died in 2017), it would have been a struggle to include him without finding a new actor. How can you replace that voice? Not easily.

 

 

Expect to feel emotionally damaged by the ending, enjoy the endless supply of satisfying Easter eggs and make sure you stay for the credits for more hilarity.

 

It’s 10/10 from me.


July 24th, 2019 by Gemma
Posted in General, Movie Review | No Comments »

Movie Review: Shazam

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM. – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the grown-up superhero Shazam.

 

 

After almost 20 years in the making, Shazam probably felt like the film that was never going to happen; Since the early 2000s, the project has struggled to come to fruition, but this Spring it became the seventh instalment in the DC Extended Universe with director David F. Sandberg at the helm. According to IMDB, Shazam has grossed over $300 million worldwide so far, a respectable sum in just three weeks.

 

We begin in 1974 in New York, where a young Thaddeus Sivana is in a car with his father and brother. During an argument, Sivana is transported to a temple known as the Rock of Eternity, where he meets Shazam, an ancient wizard looking for a champion to replace him as the last living member of the Council of Seven Wizards. In the search for someone pure of heart, Sivana proves to be tempted by the Eye of Sin displayed in the temple, which has previously proven to be dangerous. As a result, Shazam rejects him back to his own life. In the shock and mania of his experience, the family car is involved in a car crash, leaving his father with life-changing injuries and his brother blaming Young Sivana for the incident.

 

 

In present-day Philadelphia, foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is struggling to settle in his new foster home. He’s trying to find his biological mother who he was separated from at a funfair as a child, so is reluctant to accept his new family’s hospitality. Whilst running from the bullies who attacked his foster brother, Freddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy ends up on a subway train that takes him to Shazam. In desperation for an heir, he chooses Billy to take his power and his name, transforming the fourteen-year-old into a fully grown man who looks suspiciously like Zachary Levi. With his new persona, Billy and Freddie bond over their love of superheroes to train and experiment with the powers that come with his new name of Shazam.

 

Meanwhile, a now Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) returns to the Rock of Eternity after a lifetime of research to steal the Eye of Sin, using it to seek revenge on his family and take on Shazam to obtain his power just as any respectable villain would.

 

 

For me, the humour in this genre is not unusual anymore, though it is certainly refreshing for DC as it’s presented in a way that feels natural not only for the characters but also the actors. Levi and Grazer have a great on-screen rapport and have proven in previous roles to both be excellent comedy actors. I hope in particular that fans of action-comedy series Chuck are not disappointed as Levi’s Shazam shares similarity with Chuck’s frantic, yet charming, personality as a tech wiz turned CIA agent.

 

On paper, Shazam doesn’t sound like it could translate to the big screen as well as the rest of it’s DC counterparts, but it’s proven me wrong. It doesn’t offer the serious, dark plots or the edgy characters we’ve come to love from DC, but if anything I think that has worked to Shazam’s advantage.  It’s taken what we loved about Deadpool (especially Deadpool 2) and marketed for a wider audience so that those who find superhero films either too intense or overly complicated will hopefully feel less alienated. It’s not going to suit everyone, but hey, neither did Ben Affleck as Batman.

 

 

The action scenes are strong, which according to Editor Michael Aller, were difficult sequences to work on. The plot twists are not exactly groundbreaking, but no less satisfying to watch.

 

 

I really enjoyed the film and it gets a 9/10 from me.


April 27th, 2019 by Gemma
Posted in General, Movie Review | No Comments »

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