Prisoners (2013) – Film Review

Combining some incredible performances from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal with some phenomenal cinematography by the legendary Rodger Deakins alongside an effective original score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson. ‘Prisoners’ is truly a masterclass in both filmmaking and storytelling. Although some audience members may be turned-off by the film’s depressing subject matter and few graphic scenes, this story of two family’s lives being turned upside-down is nevertheless an enthralling thriller/drama throughout.

Plot Summary: Shortly after their Thanksgiving dinner, parents: ‘Keller’ and ‘Grace Dover’ discover their six-year-old daughter and her best friend are missing. So after contacting the authorities, the driven: ‘Detective Loki’ is assigned to lead the case. But as hours turn into days, knowing his daughter’s life is at stake, frantic father: ‘Keller’ considers taking matters into his own hands…

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner: 2049), Villeneuve further proves here that he is one of the best filmmakers currently working. As every one of his films are always engaging and visually-breathtaking, with ‘Prisoners’ being no exception. As throughout the entirety of its lengthy runtime, ‘Prisoners’ manages to be a compelling, tense and emotional experience that will leave most viewers on the edge of their seats. Making the viewer long for the truth just as much as the film’s characters do, with the film’s main theme of parenthood even exploring the idea of how far a parent would truly go to protect their child, most notably through ‘Keller’s questionable actions later within the story.

The film’s main pairing of Hugh Jackman as ‘Keller Dover’ and Jake Gyllenhaal as ‘Detective Loki’ is the perfect combination of two talented actors, as both give brilliant performances as their respective characters with Hugh Jackman in particular, giving one of the best performances of his entire career. Especially in the scene: ‘The Interrogation’. In which, ‘Keller’ repeatedly tortures the potential kidnapper of his daughter, resulting in the scene soon becoming one of the film’s best moments mostly through Jackman’s incredibly intense performance. In addition to the two leads, the supporting cast of Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Dylan Minnette, Paul Dano and Melissa Leo are all excellent, with each member of the main cast adding to the film’s realistic portrayal of two concerned families, going days without rest as their thoughts dwell purely on their missing children.

From the opening shot through to the very last, the cinematography by Roger Deakins is nothing short of phenomenal. As ‘Prisoners’ elevates its already gripping narrative through its many stunning shots, alongside the film’s absolutely superb lighting, which makes fantastic use of darkness and silhouettes wherever possible (a staple of Roger Deakins’ cinematography) which only backs-up the film’s grim tone and tense atmosphere further. Another element of the film that also adds to its visual aesthetic is its use of weather. Being set in a small town in Pennsylvania, ‘Prisoners’ makes great use of the state’s dreary weather for a number of scenes, meaning many shots are enhanced due to the constant barrage of rain and snow within them.

The late Jóhann Jóhannsson handles the original score for the film, most known for his work on ‘The Theory of Everything’ along with plenty of other films from director Denis Villeneuve. The film’s score really adds to many of its dramatic moments, as the soundtrack mostly focuses on the story’s more emotional and tragic aspects, and while not overly memorable, the tracks: ‘I Can’t Find Them’ and ‘Through Falling Snow’ both fit the bleak tone of the film flawlessly. While the track: ‘The Keeper’ is also worth a quick mention simply due to its impactful feel.

Although it isn’t a major problem, my only real issue with the film is the lack of depth for some of its characters, as ‘Detective Loki’ and ‘Alex Jones’ both have many interesting traits, with ‘Detective Loki’ having a variety of tattoos, rings and facial ticks (many of which were actually Jake Gyllenhaal’s ideas). Whilst ‘Alex’ has the I.Q. of a ten-year-old due to his learning difficulties. Yet even with these unique traits, I never felt like either of these two characters were explored enough, even with the film’s many attempts at subtle characterisation through visual storytelling.

In short, ‘Prisoners’ is not only one of my favourite films from 2013, but one of all my all-time favourite thrillers in general. Through its spectacular cinematography, tense atmosphere and compelling plot among many, many other elements, ‘Prisoners’ is honestly unmissable. Being just another piece of the beyond-excellent filmography of director Denis Villeneuve, this thriller is certainly one I’d recommend to anyone in need of a memorising mystery. If you’ve never seen a film by Villeneuve, I’d say ‘Prisoners’ is a tremendous place to begin, despite the film not quite beating-out my personal favourite film of his, that being: ‘Blade Runner: 2049.’ Final Rating: 9/10.

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Jurassic Park (1993) – Film Review

One of Steven Spielberg’s most iconic and beloved films of all-time, ‘Jurassic Park’ based on the science fiction novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, is a classic from many people’s childhoods including my own. From it’s incredible practical and CG effects which still hold-up today, through to its memorable characters and beautiful original score by John Williams. The film has made a gigantic impact on cinematic pop-culture and is a true joy to experience for all ages.

Plot Summary: On the tropical island of: ‘Isla Nublar,’ three-hundred and sixty-five miles off the coast of Costa Rica. Billionaire ‘John Hammond’ has become the first man in history to bring back an extinct species with genetically engineered dinosaurs. But when a tropical storm wipes-out the island’s main security systems, his newly invited guests are thrown into peril amongst the prehistoric creatures…

Not only does ‘Jurassic Park’ have an extremely fun and original narrative when compared to many films before it, but the film is also very important when it comes to CG effects, as Spielberg and his team we some of the earliest filmmakers to explore the idea of computer-generated imagery and implement it into film. As Spielberg initially wasn’t impressed with many of the stop-motion effects which had been shown to him up to that point, and surprisingly, many of the visual effects throughout the film are still quite impressive, even by today’s standards for CG effects.

The entire cast of: ‘Jurassic Park’ are truly brilliant, as Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck and of course, the outstanding Jeff Goldblum who portrays: ‘Dr. Ian Malcom’ (possibly his most popular character) are all excellent in their respective roles, and despite each character not getting an enormous amount of development throughout the story, all the characters still manage to feel very varied and memorable. However, my only real issue with the film does relate to the characters, as there has always been a few scenes throughout the film where characters seem to make ridiculous decisions for no apparent reason, and while this isn’t a major problem, it can be a little irritating on rewatches.

The cinematography by Dean Cundey is unfortunately, one of the weaker aspects of the film, as although the film isn’t lacking in attractive or iconic shots. The cinematography is mostly very average for the majority of the film’s runtime, with many of the film’s most memorable shots being mostly due to the film’s practical dinosaur effects. However, the film also makes excellent use of its sets, as every location from the iconic: ‘Visitor Centre’ through to the ‘T-Rex/Raptor Paddocks’ are always very eccentric and memorable.

Probably one of the most recognisable soundtracks in history for film fans, the original score by John Williams is simply incredible throughout the entire film. Having a great blend of beautiful calming tracks in addition to many tracks that help build tension, the soundtrack is truly something to be admired, with the tracks: ‘Welcome to Jurassic Park,’ ‘Journey to the Island’ and ‘Hatching Baby Raptor’ being my three personal favourites.

In addition to the CG visual effects, Stan Winston, most known for his work on iconic films such as: ‘Predator,’ ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ and ‘Aliens.’ Created a variety of practical effects for the film, as Spielberg wanted every close-up with the prehistoric creatures to be a practical animatronic, all of which of course are completely life-size and look outstanding, this is even more impressive when considering some of the issues the filmmakers ran into when it came to the rain during the scene: ‘The T-Rex Paddock’ (my personal favourite scene of the film). As the Tyrannosaurus Rex animatronic would constantly break-down due to the enormous amount of water it’s rubber skin absorbed, usually having to be wiped-down in-between takes.

In conclusion, I personally don’t have many issues with the original: ‘Jurassic Park,’ as the film is nearly perfect in many ways for me. As, in my opinion, a few unbelievable character choices and some small plot holes don’t take away from what is still an exciting adventure filled with great performances, some fantastic practical and visual effects as well as so much more. ‘Jurassic Park’ is a film for the ages, and I definitely believe it deserves its place among the most iconic films of all-time. Final Rating: low 9/10.

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Ex_Machina (2014) – Film Review

One of my all-time favourite films, and a truly incredible science fiction story, ‘Ex_Machina’ is directed by Alex Garland, the director of: ‘Annihilation’ another sci-fi film that I absolutely love. As the film combines some stunning cinematography and visual effects alongside a smart, original and thought-provoking story that any film fan is sure to adore from beginning-to-end.

Plot Summary: After a young programmer (Caleb) is invited to participate in a ground-breaking experiment involving artificial intelligence by evaluating human qualities in the subject, he soon discovers not everything is as it first appears…

The majority of the film takes-place within ‘Nathan’s home, and the film uses this to its best advantage, as every set for each room of the house always feel as if it’s attempting to be comforting, yet always feels very isolated, cold and sleek at the same-time. The entire film also has a great flair for feeling futuristic yet still grounded. However, easily one of the best elements of the film for me has to be the visual effects, as the film actually won an Oscar for its effects back in 2016, and it’s easy to see why. As there are so many amazing shots within the film that are very well-crafted, combining real visuals with CG effects and blending it brilliantly.

Whilst all the style is great throughout the film, it shouldn’t take your attention from the excellent performances on display here, as Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and especially Oscar Isacc, all bring their ‘A’ game to the film. As the entire cast has a lot of chemistry with each other, and their performances only elevate the tension-filled scenes throughout the film, not to mention their characters are given a decent amount of depth or though they definitely could be explored further.

The beautiful cinematography by Rob Hardy makes use of a variety of different shots, having the camera constantly in motion at various points throughout the runtime. Always being quite slow yet still very appealing to the eye, with the original score by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury also contributing to the film, as the score manages to be both extremely eerie yet also very beautiful, all whilst sticking to a classic science fiction type of soundtrack.

The writing is also another element of the film that cannot be ignored, as each line of dialogue feels both real and fits the film perfectly. Without ever losing the audience along the way, if I had to give any criticisms of the film however, as already mentioned it would be the character writing. As although the characters do get some development as the film goes on, we are never given anything that truly makes us invested in them, only bits and pieces. If the characters were developed further throughout the story, I do feel this would’ve made the film a little more engaging.

In short, I still adore ‘Ex_Machina,’ as not only is the film gorgeous to look at as well as being a smart sci-fi-thriller, which really isn’t afraid to delve further into the world of A.I. no matter how dark it may become. If I had to express my criticisms with the film, it’s simply the overall lack of characterisation, and perhaps the conclusion to the film (although this may be just my personal opinion) as I personally found it slightly unsatisfying and a little out of character for some of them. But overall, I highly recommend this one, and I really can’t wait to see what Alex Garland does for his next project. Final Rating: 9/10.

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Nightcrawler (2014) – Film Review

Held-up by an incredible performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘Nightcrawler’ is a visually beautiful and very tense thriller from director Dan Gilroy (Roman J. Israel Esq, Velvet Buzzsaw), focusing on the dangerous life of a freelance journalist who ends-up falling deeper and deeper into a world of greed and accomplishment. Gripping from start-to-finish (as well as being one of my personal all-time favourite films), ‘Nightcrawler’ truly ends-up being an amazing experience any film fan is sure to enjoy.

Plot Summary: When ‘Louis Bloom,’ a con-man desperate for work, muscles his way into the world of Los Angeles crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story, determined to rise to the top regardless of competition, or even morals…

Being shot over the course of twenty-eight nights. The film does a brilliant job of blending a narrative of what the life for a freelance journalist is actually like, as well as focusing on the more personal story of: ‘Louis’ at the same time, with both of them fitting the dark tone of the film extremely well. This alongside the exploration of the city of Los Angeles gives the film a great personality, as the film explores every seedy corner of the city, always using real locations over any visual effects, unlike many other films nowadays.

Jake Gyllenhaal also gives one of the best performances of his career here, coming-off as a creepy, sly and selfish character who excels at his work, yet despite being mostly unlikable. He still manages to be an engaging protagonist mostly through his charisma and intelligence, even as he descends further and further down the line. Gyllenhaal even went to the extent of losing over twenty-pounds for the role, which was actually Gyllenhaal’s own idea, as he visualised ‘Lou’ as a hungry coyote. Riz Ahmed also appears in the film as ‘Rick,’, ‘Louis’ underpaid and underappreciated partner who serves as almost his complete opposite in many different ways. These two alongside the supporting cast of Rene Russolate and the late Bill Paxton are all brilliant throughout the film, never failing to impress within their respective roles.

The cinematography by Robert Elswit is some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in a film in a long-time, utilising an enormous amount of varied shots, including a large amount of wide and mid shots, which are always a joy to see, with the film always using its cinematography to increase the amount of tension or drama that’s on-screen. The film also makes great use of it’s dark blue and orange colour palette as well as large amounts of street lighting, which both definitely help give the film a distinct visual flair and make many of the bright colours stand-out amongst the darkness of Los Angeles at night.

This is also backed-up by the calming and yet also eerie original score by James Newton Howard, and while perhaps not incredibly memorable on itself, I do like this composer for much of his previous work (The Sixth Sense, King Kong, I Am Legend) and the soundtrack here does back-up the film pretty well for the majority of its runtime, aside from the occasional track which can come-off as slightly cliché.

Another element of the film I really enjoy is it’s grasp on realism, as although I’m no expert in regards to the world of crime journalism. The film never really seems to go beyond believability within its story, even when the story begins to enter more dangerous territory for its characters. One element of the film that didn’t really exceed my expectations however, was the film’s editing. As although the editing throughout the film is decent, I was never overly impressed by it, as I always felt it was one of the few areas of the film which could’ve been slightly improved.

In conclusion, ‘Nightcrawler’ still retains it’s spot on my list of favourites, with its outstanding cinematography in addition to the pretty fantastic original score and performances throughout. The film has a lot to offer, and I’m still thrilled the film came out as well as I did. As due to both its filmmaking and it’s appeal, I’d absolutely recommend anyone give ‘Nightcrawler’ a watch. Final Rating: 9/10.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) – Film Review

One of my all-time favourite films, my favourite Edgar Wright film, and a film I’d always recommend to any film fan. ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ is a super stylised, incredibly fun action-comedy, utilising some great CG effects along with brilliant editing and writing, I honestly can’t see anyone not enjoying this well-crafted piece of filmmaking.

Plot Summary: ‘Scott Pilgrim’ is an unemployed twenty-three-year-old gamer in a going nowhere garage rock band, while dating an underage seventeen-year-old high-school girl: ‘Knives Chau.’ He comes across the girl of his dreams… that is, until he discovers that he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to win her heart…

This over-the-top concept for a narrative is taken from the comic book series of the same name, and provides an insanely fun, hilarious and surprisingly emotional story. Edgar Wright truly directs the film with all his creativity and charm, using the ‘comic book nature’ of the story to its full advantage, with every scene usually containing many visual jokes or comic book like effects, mostly inspired by ‘Scott’s internal love for video games, music and comic books.

Speaking of: ‘Scott Pilgrim,’ he is portrayed expertly here by Michael Cera. Always coming-off as awkward, funny and charismatic from beginning to end. The rest of the cast are also fantastic however, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Kyle Culkin, Ellen Wong and Jason Schwartzman all being great within their roles. Truly giving life to their characters, and bringing Edgar Wright’s dialogue to another level. I also personally enjoyed Chris Evans as ‘Lucas Lee’ (the second evil ex), as he always manages to get an enormous laugh out of me every watch, but this isn’t to say all of the evil exes aren’t given their own distinct personalities and fighting styles.

The cinematography by Bill Pope is very well done throughout the film’s runtime and greatly adds to the already impressive editing style. Once again similar to the CG effects, the cinematography and editing are also used for comedy many times throughout the film. Many techniques like these really help the film feel fresh and really fit with the tone. The film also has the usual bright colour palette to be expected from this director, this also backs-up the tone very well and feels reminiscent of the comic book series in a few shots.

Although the original score by Nigel Godrich is heavily overshadowed by a great choice of songs, very similar to Edgar Wright’s other film: ‘Baby Driver.’ Every piece of music whether created by the band within the story or not, always seems to fit the scene very well and backs-up ‘Scott’s passion for music.

The action scenes are also extremely well-done throughout the film, utilising stunts very well mixed-in with some nice effects. All alongside the interesting locations used throughout the film. The film also does a great job of combining music with the visuals throughout, both within and out of the various action scenes during the runtime.

If I had to give any criticism of this film it would most likely be the reincorporation throughout the story, as some characters/ideas do sometimes appear and then never appear again within the story, can make the film feel a little jolted at times. This along with the pretty quick pacing, the film can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. However, as the story is based on multiple different comic book issues with a similar story structure, I wouldn’t say it’s an enormous problem and can be overlooked.

‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ is the pinnacle of a stylised film, in my opinion, making great use of all elements of filmmaking to create a truly incredible experience. Along with the enjoyable story and likeable developed characters, there really isn’t much to dislike about ‘Scott Pilgrim.’ Personally, I adore this film to pieces and would always recommend giving it a watch. Final Rating: 9/10.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Film Review

Wes Anderson’s visually spectacular tale of murder, elegance and crime is far more light-hearted than I was initially expecting. Utilising a bright colour palette, unique cinematography and a wonderful score by Alexandre Desplat. The film brings all the usual elements of Wes Anderson’s style that I adore, especially coming straight-off the back of Anderson’s animated flicks.

Plot Summary: ‘Gustave H,’ a concierge of the legendary ‘Grand Budapest Hotel,’ alongside his new lobby boy: ‘Zero.’ Embark on a dangerous journey following a mysterious murder and the disappearance of a priceless Renaissance painting, soon leading them into the middle of a feud over an enormous family fortune.

The film definitely does have a particular artistic flair which his animated flicks do not carry, as in nearly every wide-shot in the film we are greeted with what almost looks like a painting. These paintings are almost used as backdrops throughout the film, and blend seamlessly with the bright pale colour palette of the film. Even with this colour palette and mostly upbeat tone however, the film is not afraid to dive into darker territory if needed in order to serve the story.

In addition to his style, Anderson also does a brilliant job when it comes to the writing, as the film is gushing with hilarious and memorable lines throughout. Many of the comedic lines caught me completely off-guard, with some of the humour being extremely dark. But with a cast this large and talented, you’re almost guaranteed to get comedic gold. In particular, I really enjoyed the performances by Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe, who you could really tell they enjoyed their time on-set.

Robert D. Yeoman handles the cinematography within the film, which is of course brilliant. As not only does it contain the usual style expected from Anderson, but the cinematography even backs up the narrative of the film, as many characters within the story feel isolated, and as a result are framed completely alone. But pretty much all the cinematography throughout the runtime is fantastic of course. The original score by Alexandre Desplat is also a great aspect of the film, as he creates a very memorable soundtrack here which fits the tone of the film perfectly and really backs up many of the comedic scenes, with the tracks: ‘Mr. Moustafa’ and ‘The Cold-Blooded Murder of Deputy Vilmos Kovacs’ being my personal favourites.

For the most part, the protagonists of the film are well-written, we understand who they are within the early stages of the story. Yet as the story continues along, we continue to learn more about them. However, if I had to point out a flaw in the film it’s definitely the antagonists of the film, William Dafoe does an excellent job as the deadly hitman, whilst Adrien Brody also does a decent job as his boss. Beyond that however, the characters are very flat and are given little to no development throughout the film.

Wes Anderson once again also pays serious attention to detail, as in many shots there’s always small hidden gags or visual references hidden away to spot. The filmmaking itself is also used for a lot of visual storytelling e.g. the lonely characters and their framing within the shots as already mentioned.

In conclusion, I was very impressed with ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ as aside from the issue I have with the antagonists of the narrative, the film succeeds in nearly every category for me, and was a very enjoyable watch throughout. Combining Wes Anderson’s great visual style with a brilliant main and supporting cast as well as many comedic moments. The film is certainly worth a watch, and it’s fair to say that Wes Anderson will always have a viewer in me going forward in his career. Final Rating: 9/10.

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The Thing (1982) – Film Review

One of John Carpenter’s many horror classics, and one of my all-time favourites. ‘The Thing’ is a violent, eerie and creative sci-fi body-horror icon. As I personally adore this film and believe its one of Carpenter’s best, as the film always uses isolation and paranoia to it’s best extent, never failing to keep you on edge and invested throughout the entirety of its story and runtime.

Plot Summary: Members of an American research outpost in Antarctica find themselves battling a parasitic alien organism capable of perfectly imitating its victims. As time passes, they realise that killing the creature will be harder than they initially thought, as paranoia begins to sink-in as to who has already been assimilated by the shape-shifting entity…

Although ‘The Thing’ is actually a remake of the classic: ‘The Thing from Another World’ from 1957, I would say this is one of the rare times that a remake is better than the original. As it’s constant tension building alongside the outstanding practical creature effects, make the film an incredible experience. Very similar to films such as: ‘Alien’ or ‘The Fly,’ ‘The Thing’ also has a very slow opening, using its introduction to build tension and give the audience a great view of the location before the film descends into the gory chaos.

Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, David Clennon and the rest of the cast are all decent, while Kurt Russel’s character: ‘MacReady’ is easily my favourite simply due to his charisma, but none of the cast are terrible by any means. However, I do feel there are too many characters within the story, as it can get confusing at many points as to which character is wrapped up within their large fluffy coats. As while I understand the need for a high-body count for a film like this (which is the reason for the lack of development for many of the characters) but I simply just find it a little too easy to get lost at points.

Dean Cundey handles the cinematography within the film, which is decent throughout but nothing amazing, placing more of an emphasis on the practical effects within the shots, rather than the shots themselves. However, the cinematography does still help to build tension effectivity through its many still shots and dark colour palette. The original score (surprisingly not composed by John Carpenter himself) is by Ennio Morricone, but suitably does feel like a traditional Carpenter soundtrack and helps towards the eerie atmosphere as soon as the opening begins, as while maybe not as iconic as some of Carpenter’s other scores such as: ‘Halloween’ or ‘The Fog’ etc. The original score is still brilliant in its own right, and truly sets the tone for the film.

All of the creature effects throughout the film are completely practical, giving the amazing creature designs true life by many of them being puppets or costumes rather than CGI like most modern-day horror or sci-fi flicks. These effects truly create some very memorable scenes, as make-up artist Rob Bottin (RoboCop, Total Recall) truly did some of his best work on ‘The Thing.’

As the film takes place in an extremely isolated location and features a creature that can morph into any character, the film also never fails to keep the viewer on constant edge. As one of the best elements of the film is the paranoia the film builds-up, as any of the characters could be infected with the alien creature. So we never know who is going to be the next unfortunate victim, and who is their killer. Interestingly during filming, John Carpenter didn’t even tell the actors who was ‘The Thing’ on-set, only adding to the mystery.

To conclude, ‘The Thing’ is a phenomenal entry into the genres of science fiction and horror, truly being an iconic staple of what to expect from an alien film from then on. From it’s building of tension to the outstanding phenomenal practical effects as well as the constant threat we feel whilst watching, almost placing us into the shoes of the characters themselves. Soon going on to be a true sci-fi/horror classic and becoming one of the best remakes to ever grace the silver screen. Final Rating: 9/10.

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – Film Review

A superhero film like no other, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is an extremely entertaining animated adventure, filled with plenty of humour, heart and exciting action scenes throughout its runtime. All displayed through some stunning illustration-like animation which looks as if the audience was thrown straight into the colourful pages of a ‘Spider-Man’ comic book, giving every location, character and even movement/action it’s own unique visual flair.

Plot Summary: When Brooklyn teen: ‘Miles Morales’ one day obtains strange new abilities, he soon finds himself in an unusual situation. Encountering the beloved superhero: ‘Spider-Man,’ alongside many other spider-people from multiple different dimensions, as New York City begins to collapse in on itself when a super-collider attempts to merge the other dimensions into its own…

From the opening scene of the film through to its closing credits, it’s very clear that the filmmakers behind ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ have a great love for this character. As the attention to detail throughout the film as well as the sheer amount of references to ‘Spider-Man’s long history and his enormous list of villains. The film feels like it was made for the fans, by the fans, and overall does a great job at expressing it.

When it comes to the cast, Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld and Mahershala Ali are all fantastic as their respective characters. Whether they are the villainous antagonists, or the iconic heroes we all know and love, they all give very charismatic and ranged performances, with Liev Schreiber personally being true stand-out for me, portraying the villain: ‘Kingpin’ almost as brilliantly as Vincent D’Onofrio did before him. Soon becoming one of the most intimidating antagonists ‘Spider-Man’ has ever faced on film. I also have to give the hilarious ‘Spider-Ham’ portrayed by John Mulaney an honourable mention, purely for the cartoonish and over-the-top nature of his character, which always had me laughing many times.

The animated cinematography within the film also helps back-up the incredible animation, as the film is brimming with beautiful shots throughout, many of which contain large amounts of movement as characters soar across New York City. The original score by Daniel Pemberton is also fantastic, as the soundtrack (similar to the film itself) is very unique and filled with style, blending tracks that sound as if they should be from different films entirely into one modern-day superhero flick, which is surprisingly very effective.

Even though the animation style is without a doubt one of the best elements of the film purely through its striking visuals, the action scenes throughout the film are also very impressive. Matching many of the actions scenes you’d see in your standard live-action blockbuster perfectly combined with the film’s varied colour palette and comic book style, creating many memorable and exciting moments. My personal favourite being the action scene in ‘Aunt May’s house, containing a variety of characters all in one singular small room. This is also when it becomes very clear that each version of: ‘Spider-Man’ has their own completely distinct design, movements and personality, with the clear example of this being: ‘Spider-Man Noir’ portrayed by Nicolas Cage, as the character is always seen in black and white and delivers all his dialogue very intensely, almost like a parody of: ‘Batman.’

My only issue with the film is the lack of time some scenes are given within the narrative, as for example, some characters not from ‘Miles’ reality discover that certain people are alive/dead in the universe they have now arrived in. As this could’ve been a really interesting piece of characterisation if done well, as well as adding another emotional scene to the film’s story. Unfortunately however, most of these moments are skimmed over, mostly due to the film’s very fast-pacing.

Altogether, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is some of the most fun I’ve had in a cinema, an absolute visual treat for the eyes alongside its original story, phenomenal animation and fantastic original score. The film truly becomes an amazing experience for any comic book or film fan. I highly recommend this one, especially if you’re a ‘Spider-Man’ fan like myself, as this is without a doubt the web-head’s best film to date. Final Rating: 9/10.

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The Shape of Water (2017) – Film Review

Without question one of my favourite films from director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pacific Rim, Crimson Peak), ‘The Shape of Water’ is for sure not a film that everyone will enjoy, but for those who do, this strange story of a woman falling in love with an other-worldly fish creature inspired by the horror classic: ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ will truly push visuals and storytelling to their limits. Combining some outstanding cinematography with stunning make-up effects and plenty of absorbing performances from Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones and Michael Shannon, all equalling to one truly incredible cinematic experience.

Plot Summary: In the midst of the 1960s, inside a high-security government facility, a lonely cleaner named: ‘Elisa’ is trapped in a life of silence and isolation, stuck in a familiar and mundane routine. But when the facility she works within captures a mysterious fish creature in order to study its unique physiology, ‘Elisa’s life changes forever as she becomes more and more attached to the creature…

‘The Shape of Water’ is undoubtedly a Guillermo del Toro film through and through, as with another director at the helm, I could definitely see this film not working, as the completely bazaar plot is no doubt an instant turn-off for some viewers. But del Toro truly brings his ‘A’ game here, bringing every inch of his creativity and passion to the film. And as such, the film is an absolute pleasure to watch from beginning-to-end, which is even more impressive considering both of the film’s protagonists, a.k.a. ‘Elisa’ and ‘The Amphibian Man,’ are completely mute for the entirety of the runtime. In fact, one of Octavia Spencer’s favourite things about the film was that by the main couple being mute, most of the dialogue comes from a black woman and a closeted gay man, who would’ve both experienced real oppression during the 1960s setting of the film.

Despite actor Doug Jones being in heavy make-up prosthetics to portray ‘The Amphibian Man’ for all his screen-time, he actually is able to invoke a variety of emotions, and shares plenty of chemistry with his co-star Sally Hawkins as ‘Elisa,’ with the supporting cast of Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Lauren Lee Smith also being surprisingly excellent given their character’s limited time on-screen. As well as the marvellous cast, the writing throughout the film is also fantastic, as del Toro writes the screenplay almost like poetry. Forming a romantic bond between the two main protagonists as the film progresses, all the while integrating plenty of social commentary on the time-period, backing-up the film’s main theme of what makes us different, whether that be because we are deaf, blind or possibly, not even human, which I personally found very compelling.

The phenomenal cinematography by Dan Laustsen elevates ‘The Shape of Water’ drastically, which contains an unbelievable amount of beautiful shots throughout the narrative, with the film’s dark blue/green colour palette only helping to add to the film’s visuals. Furthermore, many shots within the film play into aspects of various characters, most notably, ‘Elisa’s isolated life, displaying the facility where she works as a cold, dirty and segregating place.

Additionally, ‘The Shape of Water’ adds another remarkable score to composer Alexandre Desplat’s already-overflowing catalogue of work, as this unusually-beautiful romantic score with an almost French-esque feel, is very impactful in many moments throughout the film. Particularly with the opening scene however, as the opening shot glides slowly through a flooded room set to the my personal favourite track of the film: ‘The Shape of Water,’ preparing the viewer for the strange story that lies ahead. Desplat also provided recordings of his own whistling to be featured in the soundtrack, as del Toro wanted the score to feature whistling so it could contrast with the film’s many scenes that feature water.

One of my personal favourite elements of the film is definitely the make-up and prosthetics, as every second of screen-time we get with ‘The Amphibian Man’ the make-up effects look completely flawless, with many aspects of the strange and original design being inspired by real animals. Which is nothing new to this director however, as del Toro has always been known for creating incredible creatures of dark fantasy, such as in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and the ‘Hellboy’ series. Although used less than what many may initially think, the CGI throughout the film is also very effective, amplifying many of the small effects around the creature rather than distracting from (or overpowering) them.

In conclusion, I honestly believe ‘The Shape of Water’ may be one of my all-time favourite films, and certainly one of favourite films of 2017, as the relationship between the two protagonists and the journey their relationship represents is truly memorising from start-to-finish. Backed-up by some amazing cinematography, a great original score as well as the make-up and CG effects, whilst perhaps not a film for every cinephile, it is an extremely well-made film regardless, and one that I would surely recommend. Final Rating: 9/10.

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