Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) – Film Review

An unexpectedly memorable romantic-comedy from 2011, ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ tells an engaging and touching story of a selection of good-hearted people finding love in their lives and experiencing the many hardships that come along with it, and although romance has always been one of the lesser-interesting genres of film for me personally, ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ almost acknowledges what kind of film it is. Always taking a simple yet effective approach to its filmmaking and placing its well-written characters and narrative before anything else.

When a middle-aged husband (Cal Weaver) discovers his wife has had a recent affair with one of her co-workers, his perfect life quickly begins to unravel. But after encountering the handsome womanizer: ‘Jacob’ in a bar, ‘Cal’ is soon taken-on as his wingman and protégé as ‘Jacob’ opens his eyes to the many new opportunities that lie before him.

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris, Focus, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) and written by Dan Fogelman, ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ actually has a fairly strong script for a rom-com, and although this shouldn’t be too surprising considering Fogelman has written a number of superb animated Disney flicks in the past such as: ‘Bolt’, ‘Cars’ and ‘Tangled’, before later moving-on to more adult-focused comedies with ‘Last Vegas’ and ‘The Guilt Trip’. ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ only features a handful of characters, with every-one of them receiving a decent amount of characterisation and becoming quite likeable over the course of the runtime. The film even manages to feature a couple of unexpected reveals later-on within the story, which only further elevates the script.

The all-star cast of Ryan Gosling, Julianna Moore, Emma Stone and Marisa Tomei are all brilliant in their respective roles, but of course, with three Oscar-winners as well as two Oscar-nominees among them, this isn’t much of a shock. Its the film’s protagonist: ‘Cal’ portrayed by Steve Carell that is the obvious stand-out though, as ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ was actually one of the first films that Carell put aside his usual goofball schtick in exchange for a more grounded-character, as he portrays a miserable divorcee now with little direction in his life, before his eventual transformation into an ego-driven womanizer similar to ‘Jason’ himself. However, on the opposite side of this, Kevin Bacon as ‘David Lindhagen’ (aka. the romantic rival) is the obvious weak link of the cast, as aside from only two shorts scenes, his character and the threat that he poses to ‘Cal’s ruptured marriage is barely explored, making him feel incredibly under-utilised.

The cinematography by Andrew Dunn never displays anything that will leave its audience in awe, yet does still feel like a slight step-up from the usual bland camera work of many other romantic-comedies. The cinematography truly reaches its peak in the scene: ‘Great Dress’ however, in which, ‘Cal’ (now with his newly-found manhood) flirts with various different women on a number of different nights, all the while the camera gently glides through the bar displaying the passage of time through ‘Cal’s large wardrobe of stylish outfits.

Christophe Beck and Nick Urata take-on the original score for the film, which for the most part, does suitably back-up the film’s story and displays a large amount of range in regards to instruments that are used, despite the score overall being far from astonishing. Yet bizarrely, the film’s soundtrack was never officially released by production company Warner Brothers, resulting in many fans of the film having to create their own playlists to combine the film’s many recognizable songs once again.

Although ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ does primarily focus on its aspects of romance and comedy, the film also handles its drama fairly well. Never interrupting any of its more-serious moments with scenes of over-the-top humour, most of which usually coming from the film’s main subplot which focuses on ‘Cal’s son: ‘Robbie’ as he lusts after his older babysitter. Occasionally, the film also indulges in a variety of more self-aware jokes, as the film references some of the many over-done clichés that infest films like ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘Love Actually’ through its dialogue, e.g. an immediate rainstorm after a heartbreaking argument/break-up.

In my opinion, ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ is more than successful in its attempt to craft an emotional and amusing story even in spite of the little innovation the film displays when it comes to its cinematography or original score. As the film’s upbeat approach to its tight plot leaves it an enjoyable flick that fully embraces what genre it’s only a small-piece of, serving as somewhat of a homage alongside remaining quite a leisurely watch itself. A low 8/10 altogether. Whether you usually drift towards this genre or not, I feel most viewers would struggle to dislike ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’, as simply put, the film is just a delightful experience to sit through.

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Super 8 (2011) – Film Review

A few years before ‘Stranger Things’ hit our Netflix accounts, director J. J. Abrams (Mission Impossible III, Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) tried his hand at creating an 80s sci-fi throwback with ‘Super 8’. While the film did get mostly positive reviews from both critics and audiences alike on its initial release, I’ve never been a huge fan of this science fiction flick, with many strange decisions at play in addition to its overreliance on borrowing story elements from classic films of the 1980s, ‘Super 8’ has always seemed more like pandering than an enjoyable and nostalgic throwback for me.

During the summer of 1979, a group of young friends shooting a short zombie film are witnesses to a devastating train crash. Soon after, the group find themselves investigating the subsequent unexplained events throughout their small town.

Even with legendary director Steven Spielberg on-board as a producer, ‘Super 8’ mostly lacks the fun tone many of Spielberg’s classics usually overflow with, taking itself pretty seriously aside from a few short moments. Although ‘Super 8’ may not feature this aspect of Spielberg’s work however, the film does utilize many different ideas from his filmography. As while most throwbacks do usually contain a few story elements taken from the films they are inspired by, ‘Super 8’ begins to feel a little derivative at points, eventually developing a plot which feels almost identical to ‘E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ without much experimentation.

Although Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Gabriel Basso, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee and Zach Mills all do a great job at portraying their young characters, the writing throughout the film definitely has room for improvement, as many of the younger characters never quite manage to become incredibly amusing or likeable, with most of them receiving barely any development at all. Following this, as the film’s narrative becomes more tense and dangerous nearing its end, the group’s frustration and panic begins to surface, which although realistic, does result in them becoming rather irritating after a while due to their constant screaming and arguing. Kyle Chandler also makes an appearance within the film as ‘Jackson Lamb’ one of the group’s parents, who does give a decent performance as a strict yet caring father even with his limited screen-time.

The cinematography by Larry Fong is visually pleasing for the most part, creating many different and attractive shots throughout the film. Due to its colour palette and lighting however, the film’s visuals are dragged-down by simply how dark the film is, as a large majority of the story takes place at night, ‘Super 8′ relies heavily on dim lighting and shadows (alongside Abrams’ continued obsession with lens-flares). The film’s CGI effects are also serviceable, with many of the film’s more CGI-heavy moments taking-place at night, meaning any of the CGI visuals which may be lacking are usually saved as a result of them being covered by darkness.

Michael Giacchino is a composer I usually adore, from his astonishing work on films such as: ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Jojo Rabbit’. He normally succeeds far beyond expectations. However, in the case of: ‘Super 8’, his score is simply just ‘okay’, as although it does serve the film’s story decently well, the film’s soundtrack isn’t very unique or memorable. Being a traditional orchestral like many other modern blockbusters, I couldn’t help but feel a classic 80s synth score more along the lines of: ‘Stranger Things’ would’ve worked extremely well for this kind of film, even with the film’s narrative technically being set in the 1970s.

An aspect of: ‘Super 8’ I do truly enjoy is the film’s sound design, an aspect of filmmaking that I rarely mention, ‘Super 8’ actually does a fairly brilliant job of building tension or mystery through its eerie sci-fi noises. In particular, in the scene in which the young group of friends are attacked by an otherworldly creature whilst on-board military transport, as mostly in part to its sound design, this is in my opinion, one of the most effective and memorable scenes of the film.

‘Super 8’ overall feels like a huge waste of potential, as whilst the film is far from awful and does have some interesting aspects scattered throughout its runtime. The film’s weak writing and forgettable original score make the film feel a little bland in areas. In addition to its lack of anything truly original (which is the film’s biggest flaw in my opinion). As unlike ‘Stranger Things’ where the show’s story at least introduces concepts like ‘The Upside Down’ which are somewhat creative, ‘Super 8′ lacks much of anything that hasn’t be explored in sci-fi before. While this film is still a perfect example of J. J. Abrams’ talent for visuals, ‘Super 8’ never really manages to elevate itself beyond being just a simple nostalgia-fest. Altogether a high 5/10.

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Rango (2011) – Film Review

From the director of: ‘The Ring’ and the first three entries in ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’ series, Gore Verbinski. Comes ‘Rango’, an animated-western featuring a bizarre cast of ugly animals, and although that strange concept may not sound as if it couldn’t possibly work, ‘Rango’ is without a doubt one of my favourite animated films in recent memory. As the film’s entertaining story and classic western visuals make the film an incredibly fun watch, regardless of your age.

When ‘Rango’, an ordinary pet chameleon accidentally winds-up in the small town of: ‘Dirt’ following a car accident, he begins to realize the dry, lawless outpost is in desperate need of a new sheriff. Being the talented actor that he is, ‘Rango’ soon poses as the answer to their problems.

Whilst ‘Rango’ is front and foremost a family flick, ‘Rango’ also serves a pretty successful throwback to classic westerns, balancing plenty of hilarious moments with more serious scenes and even some exciting action sequences throughout its story. The film even features a reference to the icon of the western-era himself, that being Clint Eastwood as ‘The Spirit of the West’, which I really appreciated as a fan of the genre. However, the character himself isn’t actually portrayed by Clint Eastwood, which I did feel slightly took away from the scene he appears in despite its short length.

Although all the supporting cast of Isa Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Bill Nighy, Alfred Molina and Ned Beatty are all fantastic as the residents of the small town of: ‘Dirt’. Each having a western accent which sometimes even makes their voice unrecognisable in Isla Fisher’s case. Johnny Depp as the protagonist: ‘Rango’ is truly some flawless casting. As Depp always portrays ‘Rango’ as likeable and funny, yet cowardly, with plenty of humourous lines throughout the runtime. The film’s antagonist: ‘Rattlesnake Jake’ is also worth mentioning, as Bill Nighy lends his voice to this gigantic menacing gunslinger, actually mirroring the two actor’s characters within ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean’ series, whether intentional or not.

‘Rango’ is also one of the rare animated films which actually has some pretty stunning cinematography, as all of the film’s animated cinematography is very reminiscent of classic westerns. From extreme close-ups of character’s faces during stand-offs, to wide-shots of the barren desert, to even close-ups of hanging broken bottles on a porch, every-shot really adds to the narrative, whilst also displaying the film’s large variety of distinct locations. Truly utilizing the limitless potential of animated cinematography. Legendary cinematographer, Roger Deakins, who worked on films such as: ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘No Country for Old Men’ and ‘Skyfall’ in the past, was even consulted when it came to the film’s cinematography.

Iconic composer Hanz Zimmer returns to the work once again with director Gore Verbinski, and once again with another magnificent original score. This time replicating classic western scores without taking-away from the film’s adventurous tone. Making fantastic use of both electric and acoustic guitars, tracks such as: ‘Rango and Beans’ and ‘Rango Returns’ feel as if they were ripped straight-out of the golden age of film. The soundtrack even includes a unique western-esque version of the orchestral classic: ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, which backs-up what is already a pretty memorable action scene.

The animation itself is wonderful throughout the film, as ‘Rango’ takes a more daring and unique route when it comes to its animation. As rather than being overly colourful and cartoonishly attractive similar to films like ‘Toy Story’, ‘Frozen’ or ‘Despicable Me’. ‘Rango’ focuses far more on being rather realistic and dirty, with each location always feeling very old and rustic. The character designs themselves also reflect this, as every-piece of clothing and every-object is coaked in scratches and dirt, giving the film an overall unpleasant yet not unattractive look. This animation style also continues to the film’s colour palette, as the pale beiges and browns give the film a true western feel. Due to ‘Rango’s reliance on this highly-detailed kind of animation however, there is the occasional shot where the animation looks slightly dated by today’s standards.

Packed with plenty of great comedic moments, attractive visuals, a great original score and of course, its marvellous cast. ‘Rango’ stands as one of the best modern animated films to date, as this western adventure truly does anything it can to make itself stand-out. As despite the film’s few fourth-wall-breaking moments (which come-off as slightly cheesy) and the film’s sometimes overly fast-pacing, ‘Rango’ still remains an 8/10 for me. Although this animated flick may seem pretty unusual when compared to many other films the family can enjoy together, this true oddball of a film is sure to please those who decide to give it a chance.

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Contagion (2011) – Film Review

Strikingly similar to current events in the world, ‘Contagion’ explores a scenario in which nearly every-country is rapidly infected from a freak virus, eventually leading to a large number of deaths. Utilising some decent performances and unique story structure alongside its effective original score by Cliff Martinez, the film is both very bleak and very realistic through its eerie portrayal of a worldwide pandemic.

After her return home from a business trip to Hong Kong, ‘Beth Emhoff’ dies from what is believed to be flu or some other type of infection, soon leading to an enormous outbreak across the world. For doctors and administrators at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, several days pass before anyone realizes the true extent of this new infection. Leaving most of the world in the midst of a pandemic as the CDC works to find a cure.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Side Effects, Unsane). ‘Contagion’ is truly dripping with the Soderbergh’s usual style as a director, as the film is constantly tense and unnerving throughout its tight runtime, with the film even having an element of uncertainty during many scenes, as any of the various characters we cut between within the story could be infected without even knowing it.

Despite the film jumping from character to character during its story, the all-star cast of Laurence Fishburne, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Gwyneth Paltrow are all great in their portrayals of various characters thrown-into this chaotic event. As our perspective changes throughout the narrative, from the eyes of an average family isolated within their home, through to high-up government officials scrambling to devise a plan. However, due to the film being structured like this, the film also displays plenty of wasted potential, as Bryan Cranston actually appears in the film as ‘RADM Lyle Haggerty’. Who is only given a few short scenes and is hardly utilized within the story, making the brilliant actor feel incredibly wasted. There is also a similar issue with the internet blogger: ‘Alan Krumwiede’ portrayed by Jude Law, as this character actually adds very little to the overall story and barely interacts with any of the other characters, resulting in most of his screen-time feeling like more of a distraction than anything else.

The cinematography within ‘Contagion’ is surprisingly by Steven Soderbergh himself, under the fictional name of: ‘Peter Andrews’, and whilst nothing incredible overall, it is fairly effective throughout the film. Having said that, I couldn’t help but feel whilst watching that the film could’ve made much better use of close-ups during many scenes. As due to the film’s focus on a spreading virus, I really feel these shots would’ve further added to the building of dread and uncomfortable nature of skin contact the film puts an emphasis-on at many points.

Cliff Martinez’s original score does help to add to the drama and tension throughout the film however, as the score usually appears during key moments to add more impact to the film’s montages of footage. This is most effective during a scene set in the early days of the initial outbreak, or when the film finally reveals where the virus originally came from, and although the soundtrack itself may not be incredibly memorable, I do still feel it suits the film’s tone very well. In particular, the film’s opening track: ‘They’re Calling My Flight’, which starts the film off strong by jumping straight-into the narrative.

My main issues with ‘Contagion’ are mostly related to the film’s structure, as the pacing nearing the ending of the film seems to slow-down drastically in an attempt to wrap-up every-aspect of the story, and although I feel cutting between multiple different characters is an interesting way to approach a story like this, I could see it being frustrating for some viewers if one character’s plot is more compelling than another. Yet this is somewhat redeemed by ‘Contagion’s realism. As the film has actually been proven to be very accurate when it comes to its science, even receiving praise from ‘New Scientist’ magazine when the film was initially released in 2011.

Whilst ‘Contagion’ doesn’t break-any-new-ground when it comes to filmmaking, the film is still fairly entertaining and frightening throughout most of its runtime, while it definitely has its weak aspects, I would say ‘Contagion’ is certainly worth a watch, and is most likely a 7/10 overall. However, do bear in mind that I probably wouldn’t recommend this film if you are already in a panicked mindset over current events, as I feel this film could make those who are already concerned panic even further through its mostly realistic execution of a story like this.

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – Film Review

Many years after the original: ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise ended, the series was rebooted in its entirety with a new ‘Planet of the Apes’ trilogy, with these films almost serving as prequels to the original films despite being set within their own timeline. ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ was the first of this new series, and surprised many people on its initial release.

When a substance designed to help the brain repair itself and cure Alzheimers gives advanced intelligence to a chimpanzee named: ‘Caesar’, he soon begins to enhance other apes in order to lead an ape uprising through the city of San Francisco.

Although I was never an enormous fan of the original: ‘Planet of the Apes’ film, as I was always familiar with the sci-fi classic purely through its iconic plot twist near the end of its narrative, I personally feel that director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist, The Gambler, Captive State) did a pretty great job overall. As despite the film having plenty of sci-fi elements throughout its story, the film is mostly grounded in reality, focusing more on being a tense thriller with small elements of science fiction scattered throughout.

Andy Serkis takes on the difficult role of portraying the completely CGI protagonist: ‘Caesar’, and does a superb job of it. As he manages to capture the movements and mannerisms of an ape perfectly through motion-capture (which is even more impressive when considering that the film was one of the earliest to use a motion-capture set-up on location) all whilst ensuring the audience sympathises with ‘Caesar’. In addition to Andy Serkis, the rest of the cast of James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow and Brian Cox are all decent in their roles, despite the film having the occasional cliché line of dialogue for most characters.

The cinematography by Andrew Lesnie is visually pleasing for the most part, having a variety of attractive shots as well as having plenty of movement especially when following the apes sprinting or climbing. The way many of the shots are also framed further feeds into the theme of man controlling nature (which is present throughout the film). Many of the scenes set within the ape sanctuary also link back to this theme, including my personal favourite scene of the film: ‘Caesar Speaks’, which is executed perfectly.

Despite the later films in the trilogy being composed by the fantastic Michael Giacchino, the original score by Patrick Doyle is decent throughout the film. As while it definitely doesn’t have a variety of memorable tracks, the soundtrack does back-up many of the action scenes and more emotional moments quite well. I also thought the sound design throughout the film helped add to the film’s realism, mostly through the enormous amount of ape roars, squeals and grunts.

The CGI effects throughout the film still hold-up surprisingly well, as although the visual effects have definitely aged since the film’s initial release in 2011, and the CGI visuals are for sure the weakest when it comes to the entire trilogy. The visuals effects are still heavily detailed and feel very real when placed into their locations, which is lucky as if not, I do feel the weak CGI effects could’ve possibly derailed some of the excellent performances from the cast. Aside from the flaws already mentioned with the visual effects however, the action scenes throughout the film are handled pretty well, as many would probably know this film mostly for its huge action set-piece on San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ may not be the best film within the new trilogy, but it definitely is a very solid start. As although the visual effects may be lacking at points, the great cinematography, decent original score and brilliant motion-capture all backing-up Andy Serkis’ outstanding performance, all leads this initial entry to be a solid 8/10 in my opinion, with plenty of entertainment value throughout its runtime, I’d be very surprised if this first film doesn’t make many viewers want to continue-on with this sci-fi series.

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Source Code (2011) – Film Review

Talented science fiction director Duncan Jones (Moon, Warcraft, Mute) brings us an original, engaging and fast-paced sci-fi thriller with: ‘Source Code’. Combing futuristic technology, drama, and some short action scenes. All equalling to a pretty enjoyable experience, which I personally believe still holds-up today, aside from a few small issues here and there.

When a soldier (Colter Stevens) awakens in someone else’s body, he soon discovers he’s part of an experimental government program. Created in order to find the bomber of the commuter train he is aboard. A mission he has only eight minutes to complete.

Despite this time limit however, the film always manages to deliver its story very effectively, as this sci-fi flick builds-up a decent layer of mystery and tension as to who is responsible for the bombing throughout. Giving the film an almost mystery-type structure alongside its science fiction elements, using the story’s original ideas to their best extent as we follow our protagonist: ‘Colter Stevens’ as he searches for his target over the course of the film, encountering many different characters on-board the train along the way.

The supporting cast of Vera Farmiga, Michelle Monaghan and Jeffrey Wright all do a pretty great job throughout the film. However, Jake Gyllenhaal as: ‘Colter Stevens’ is obviously the stand-out, proving that he can hold his own as a leading hero, regardless of whichever genre he finds himself in. Unfortunately however, the characters within the film definitely lack development, as aside from a few short scenes, the film never really seems interested in exploring it’s characters any further it needs to. Yet, with the film’s tight runtime, I definitely feel this was a missed opportunity.

The cinematography by Don Burgess is decent for the most part, never really experimenting with anything incredibly creative, but staying at a fairly decent level for the majority of the film. The original score by Chris Bacon is without a doubt the worst element of the film however, as I simply feel the score doesn’t suite this genre of film at all. Feeling more like a soundtrack from a generic action blockbuster, rather than a slick sci-fi such as this one. In addition to this, I feel the train set (where a large majority of the film takes place) could do with some improvement. As although this is only a small criticism, and won’t bother most, I personally found the set to look and feel a little ‘too’ much like a set at points, with the green-screen view from the windows not helping towards this.

The film does manage to blend many of it’s more outlandish sci-fi aspects with the more grounded science fiction elements very well however. Cutting between the past and the present at various points throughout the film, always utilizing the lighting as well as the different sets very effectively as a great visual indicator for the audience. I was also very surprised on my initial viewing to find that the film contains quite a few comedic moments throughout, as: ‘Colter’ experiences the strange reality he now finds himself in through some of his funny interactions with the various people on-board the train. However, this did lead me to wonder if the film could’ve been improved should the story have fully embraced a more absurd tone, perhaps this then would’ve made the film extremely unbelievable, but I personally feel this way the film could’ve explored some of its interesting ideas further.

‘Source Code’ overall is pretty enjoyable, as while I personally find the film much more interesting for its story and ideas, as the cinematography and original score throughout the film can sometimes be a little bland and uninspired (in addition to the film’s lack of characterisation). Regardless, I still find the majority of the filmmaking pretty decent, and it results in a mostly entertaining sci-fi thriller, and a pretty easy watch on a Saturday night, a 7/10 overall.

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Attack the Block (2011) – Film Review

From producer Edgar Wright and director Joe Cornish (The Kid Who Would Be King) comes a violent, thrilling and exciting sci-fi spectacle. Despite a smaller budget, the film manages to create an incredibly entertaining film with a variety of brilliant effects. All equalling to a super enjoyable British thrill-ride.

An unlucky women and a tough teenage gang in South London attempt to defend their block of flats from an invasion of savage alien creatures which fall from the sky in large meteorites.

After I first heard about this film’s plot, it’s fair to say I went into my initial viewing with intrigued yet cautious, as I genuinely didn’t know what to expect. After watching, I was very surprised that the film was more than just a simple science fiction thriller, as the film is not only very tense during some scenes, but also funny, and even somewhat thought-provoking at points. Having themes of racism, crime and abandonment. Most of the action in the film is also very well-executed, not being overly edited, or shot with too much hand-held camera (unlike many action films or thrillers today). The film also manages to keep a really fast pace throughout, only ever having small breaks in between action scenes to develop the characters and give the audience a quick breather.

The main gang of teenagers are portrayed by John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones and Simon Howard. Who I think all do a great job acting like a rebellious group of London teens, having many comedic moments playing London ‘chavs’, without taking their portrayals a little too far. Jodie Whittaker also appears in the film, as a young woman who gets mugged by the group, and while she is less interesting as a character, I still felt she really helped to give the audience more of a perspective throughout the story. Even Nick Frost gets a small appearance as ‘Ron’, a drug supplier who has many hilarious moments.

On a rewatch, I also noticed the cinematography by Thomas Townend is surprisingly well-done, while I wasn’t expecting to be terrible by any means. It isn’t nearly as bland as I remembered it being, utilizing many different shots in both the action and non-action scenes. The cinematography also benefits many of the various effects in the film, both practical and CGI. The film’s effects still hold up today and work very well within the narrative, even many of the gore effects for various character’s death scenes are still impressive, and remain shocking to me even now.

The original score by Steven Price is another element of the film I really enjoy, combining a decent sci-fi soundtrack alongside an almost hip-hop like beat works really well with the idea of the inner London city clashing with outer-space. I personally believe this to be one of his most underrated scores right to next his original scores for both: ‘Fury’ and ‘Gravity’.

Personally, I think the only really weak element of the film aside from a few slightly cheesy scenes here and there, is the film’s sound design. As although I really like the various noises of the alien creatures themselves (as I believe it goes along with their amazing designs extremely well) there are a variety of other sounds I simply don’t feel fit with their placement in the film. Whether that’s because they feel out-of-place or simply come off as a little cringy at points.

‘Attack the Block’ is simply awesome, it remains a very exciting film from start-to-finish. Knowing exactly what it is whilst not afraid to push itself ever so slightly further to elevate above other films within its genre. While I don’t think the film is perfect by any means, and I don’t believe the sound design could be improved. ‘Attack the Block’ is still a solid sci-fi thriller. A high 8/10, definitely give this underrated film a chance if you’re interested.

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The Cabin in the Woods (2011) – Film Review

A personal favourite horror classic of mine, Drew Goddard (Bad Times at the El Royale) directs his first feature film with this creepy yet hilarious original story. The plot alone is enough to watch this film, as without spoiling anything, it near enough becomes impossible to predict where this film is going. The more the film unravels, the more interested you become, and by twenty minutes in I found myself incredibly entertained.

We begin the story with the usual horror set-up, a bunch of teens all fitting the stereotypes of the slasher genre head up to an old cabin in the woods for a weekend of partying. Yet things soon turn out to not quite be what they seem, as it appears someone (or something) is manipulating events.

The film overall is basically a dissection of horror films and the clichés that come with them, whilst also being a horror film at the same-time. However, although the film does build-up a decent atmosphere throughout, the horror aspect of the film is easily its weakest element. As I always found myself laughing far more at its comedic scenes, rather than finding myself on edge over during the tension-filled ones.

Being a typical horror story like this however, always comes the risk of using young unknown actors for the teens, with the exception of maybe Chris Hemsworth of course (who was mostly unknown at this point). Yet I think the entire cast did a phenomenal job, especially Fran Kranz as ‘Marty’, who got many laughs out of me and completely nailed the ‘Stoner’ type attitude, mostly as a result of the extensive prop and behaviour training he went through before filming in order fo further fit his character. Richard Jenkins from: ‘Step Brothers’ and ‘The Shape of Water’ is also great within the film as ‘Sitterson’, as for his role in the story, I’ll leave that a mystery for now.

Many of the visuals in the film come off as your usual standard horror flick, alongside the cinematography by Peter Deming, which of course is nothing special. But there is the occasional pleasing shot, or even a throwback shot to classic horror film every so often, with ‘Friday the 13th’ being the most noticeable. However, the actual design of the cabin set itself, as well as many of the creatures throughout the film, is easily one of my favourite elements. As the costumes are nothing short of incredibly detailed, and really help give each creature it’s own distinct look and feel.

The original score by David Julyan is your standard horror film soundtrack, further playing into the idea of a dissection of the genre, and despite being very bland it does back-up many of the eerie scenes regardless. The editing is also nothing phenomenal, but with a narrative this original and the writing being as hilarious as it is. I’m willing to give them a thumbs-up. Especially when you consider the last twenty minutes of the film, which is probably some of the most fun I’ve had watching a horror flick.

Another weaker aspect of the film is also related to the visuals, as the film was made on a smaller budget the CGI in many of the scenes is very noticeable, and although it doesn’t completely ruin a scene, it can take you out of the film for a second or two. Thankfully, CGI isn’t used very heavily throughout the film. I also feel this smaller-budget might have had an impact of the runtime, as the film feels a little short to me and could’ve done with being slightly longer to further flush elements out.

In conclusion, I love ‘The Cabin in the Woods’, from the wonderfully crafted creatures to the way the story unfolds, to the various nods to previous entries in the horror genre. I think Goddard has made a flawless dissection of why we love horror films and the traits within them. Although not prefect, I’m still eagerly anticipating his next film and I really hope he keeps this trend of interesting filmmaking going. An 8/10 from me, a definite watch for any horror fan.

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