Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) – Film Review

Matthew Vaughn, critically acclaimed director of: ‘Layer Cake’, ‘Kick-Ass’ and ‘X-Men: First Class’ tries his hand at another comic book adaptation with ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’. Based on the comic book series of the same name by Mark Millar, and serving as a throwback to (and occasional parody of) classic spy/espionage films such as: ‘James Bond’ series and ‘The Bourne Saga’, ‘Kingsman’ very quickly became a beloved franchise after just its first instalment, mostly as a result of its hilarious self-aware moments of humour and exhilarating action set-pieces.

When the British spy organization: ‘Kingsman’ recruits an unrefined, but promising London street teen into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program. ‘Eggsy’ begins to follow in his father’s footsteps as he takes-part in the organization’s many dangerous training exercises. All the while, the twisted tech genius: ‘Valentine’, begins to execute a master plan which will put the entire world at risk.

Violent, thrilling and fun. The first ‘Kingsman’ film was actually made partly in conjunction with the comic book itself, as director Matthew Vaughn and comic book writer Mark Millar have been good friends for many years since they collaborated previously-on ‘Kick-Ass’ in 2010 to great success, prompting them to reunite for: ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’. Which aside from a few minor changes, is actually a mostly faithful adaptation of the first entry in the comic book series, alongside also being a superb gateway into the world for any non-fans of the comic series as the film establishes who the ‘Kingsman’ are and what they do, in little time.

Protagonist: ‘Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin’, usually going by his nickname, is portrayed by Taron Egerton in one of his earliest film roles, who does portray a reckless teenager very well, becoming an instantly likeable character within only a short amount of screen-time. Its Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson who both steal the film with their fantastic characters however, as both actors play completely against their usual type here, with Firth taking-on the deadly spy: ‘Harry Hart’ who rarely even smiles (creating quite a contrast from his usual romantic-comedies) and according to second unit director Bradley James Allan, even did 80% of his own stunts during filming. Whilst Jackson also gives one of his most memorable performances to date as the film’s antagonist: ‘Valentine’, who throughout the film retains an aggressive lisp and occasionally-childish demeanour, a big leap from much of his previous work.

Although not as outrageously creative as it could’ve been in my opinion, the film’s cinematography by George Richmond does serve the story very effectively. As many of the film’s over-the-top and exciting action scenes are displayed proudly and clearly without too much use of hand-held camera or excessive editing. During a few scenes, the camera even begins to spin around the characters as they fight, giving the film a real sense of movement.

The original score by both Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson has quickly become very beloved similar to the film itself, and it’s easy to see why. As the film utilises its trumpet-heavy orchestral score to create a soundtrack which would fit perfectly within a classic espionage series like ‘The Avengers’, ‘The Ipcress File’ or ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’. From ‘Manners Maketh Man’ and ‘To Become a Kingsman’ to especially ‘Valentine’s theme (which is noticeably more electronic to fit with the tech-savvy character). Nearly-every track featured in the original score is both memorable, and usually, also cut in sync with the film’s stylish editing to great effect. 

Needless to say, the aspect that ‘Kingsman’ is most known for is certainly its variety of impressive action sequences, which as already mentioned, do away with the usual overly-shakey and chaotic execution of most modern action flicks in favour of more fast-paced and exaggerated fight choreography with plenty of graphic violence to boot. Resulting in many entertaining action scenes even if they aren’t completely flawless, as the majority of these scenes do unfortunately still suffer from their overly-heavy usage of CGI effects (usually for blood and severed limbs) which I feel does somewhat take-away from many of these thrilling moments, even if they are still sure to impress most on their initial viewing.

Overall, while many spy films may be far more focused on delivering more grounded and gritty missions for their audiences these days, ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ truly revels in its absurdity. As even in spite of the problems this stirring espionage film faces, it still manages to remain an amusing and exciting experience throughout its runtime. Combing its array of phenomenal action scenes with some outstanding stunts and a now-iconic original score, the first instalment in ‘The Kingsman’ series may have now launched a blockbuster franchise, but for many, I feel it will always remain their favourite part of this continuing story. A low 8/10 from me.

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Inside Out (2015) – Film Review

From the iconic animation studio Pixar, who brought-us animated classics such as: ‘Toy Story’, ‘Monsters, Inc.’, ‘Finding Nemo’, ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Ratatouille’ among many others. Comes another emotional and beautifully animated adventure with some surprisingly deep concepts and ideas to boot. As ‘Inside Out’ takes-place nearly entirely inside the mind of a young girl, focusing on how her various emotions handle new and unexpected changes within her life.

After young ‘Riley’ is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions: ‘Joy’, ‘Sadness’, ‘Fear’, ‘Anger’ and ‘Disgust’ all being to conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school. But after a freak accident causes ‘Joy’ and ‘Sadness’ to be flung from ‘Headquarters’ with ‘Riley’s core memories, the two have to find their way back before its too late.

Even though ‘Inside Out’ usually streamlines many of its story’s concepts and themes to make them more understandable for children, the animated flick also never fails to remain both very imaginative and very colourful throughout its runtime. As with the film’s story taking-place within the mind of an eleven-year-old girl, ‘Inside Out’ doesn’t hold-back from bringing-to-life the world within a child’s head, a world not confined by the barriers of logic and psychics. From ‘Imagination Land’ to ‘The Train of Thought’ and ‘Long Term Memory’, ‘Inside Out’ constantly explores plenty of amusing locations and is always building on its enchanting ideas.

Despite some characters not receiving quite as much screen-time as others, ‘Riley’s various emotions are portrayed superbly by Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling, with Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith as ‘Joy’ and ‘Sadness’ being the true stand-outs of the cast. As their two characters bounce extremely well of each other due to the polarity of their friendship, which also makes for plenty of humorous moments. Richard Kind also makes an appearance within the film as ‘Bing Bong’, ‘Riley’s imaginary friend from when she was younger, who in many ways is the true heart of the film. As alongside his variety of entertaining quirks (some of which do result in a few immature jokes). ‘Bing Bong’ also ends-up becoming a very likeable and charming character mostly as a result of the scene: ‘The Memory Dump’, easily one of: ‘Inside Out’s most impactful and heartbreaking moments.

Filled with plenty of inventive shots throughout, the animated cinematography does add to the film’s already incredibly vibrant colour palette and varied locations, with a constant array of attractive shots, the film’s visuals are always appealing to look at when inside ‘Riley’s mind. Yet when the viewer is thrown back into the real world, the colour palette is far more pale and tame, creating a clear visual contrast between the two.

Featuring a number of memorable tracks such as: ‘Bundle of Joy’, ‘Team Building’, ‘Rainbow Flyer’ and even the track that plays over the film’s ending credits: ‘The Joy of Credits’, the original score by Michael Giacchino is truly one of the best scores Pixar has to offer, even when taking into account their already impressive list of soundtracks. As nearly all of the film’s best moments whether comedic or emotional are elevated by the film’s wonderful score, with many of the tracks throughout ‘Inside Out’ displaying great variety and talent.

Similar to many of the other films from Pixar’s catalogue, the animation throughout ‘Inside Out’ is simply gorgeous. As not only do all of the designs of the different emotions differ drastically depending on which emotion they representing, but the level of detail on every-character and location throughout the film is astounding, with the individual particles that make-up each emotion even being visible during many of the film’s close-ups. Interesting, when ‘Inside Out’ was in the very early stages of its development, many other emotions were also considered as characters (around twenty-seven in total). After it was eventually settled on the core five to make the narrative less complicated, leaving many other emotions to be left on the cutting-room floor, e.g. ‘Surprise’, ‘Pride’, and ‘Trust’.

Overall, ‘Inside Out’ is definitely worth an 8/10. Although this animated flick isn’t without its faults, ‘Inside Out’ still remains a delightful experience from start-to-finish, mostly due to its unique story, great voice performances and extraordinary visuals, the film really feels as if there isn’t the slightest ounce of laziness put-into crafting it. Whilst there has been plenty of other exceptional animated classics produced by Pixar in the past, their fifteenth animated feature is certainly one of their most experimental yet least discussed to date, which I think is a shame. As while ‘Inside Out’ may be aimed mostly towards children, I feel this film might speak an even deeper volume to adults.

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Bone Tomahawk (2015) – Film Review

Brutal, tense and emotional, ‘Bone Tomahawk’ is one of those rare films that isn’t afraid to mass-up genres, as throughout the film we go from a violent horror to a classic western and back again, all without the film ever feeling as if it’s tone is unclear. Whilst I have always enjoyed classics such as: ‘True Grit’ or ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, I don’t think this is just down to personal bias towards westerns however, as ‘Bone Tomahawk’ definitely excels in more aspects than one when it comes to this genre.

In the dying days of the old west, an outlaw unknowingly leads a band of cannibals to the small town of: ‘Bright Hope’. Leaving the town’s elderly sheriff and his posse to set out on a mission to rescue the town’s residents from the tribe of savage cave dwellers.

Directed by S. Craig Zahler (Brawl in Cell Block 99, Dragged Across Concrete). This underrated director has always had a talent for gritty storytelling, this time crafting a narrative which is both very engaging and tense (despite being fairly straightforward and simplistic overall). In addition to this, ‘Bone Tomahawk’ manages to perfectly capture the tone of a classic western, and sometimes even elements of 1970s horror. As the film actually reminded me of: ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ at multiple points, although this may just be coincidental.

Kurt Russell leads the brilliant cast of Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins and Lili Simmons very well. As throughout the runtime all of the characters receive a decent amount of characterisation, with each member of the cast having at least one scene between them. My only issue when it comes to the characters is the lack of a flushed-out character-arc for Kurt Russell’s protagonist: ‘Sheriff Hunt’. As although his character is explored within the film’s story (usually subtlety through dialogue). I personally feel his character-arc was never developed quite as much as it could’ve been, despite the fact that this would’ve resulted in a more investing protagonist.

Although the film features a little too much hand-held camera in my opinion, the cinematography by Benji Bakshi is mostly solid throughout. As the film contains plenty of attractive shots, a few of which even feel like throwbacks to iconic shots from old westerns. The cinematography also makes great use of the film’s variety of remote locations, as the comfort of the small town feels completely distant when compared to the barren rocky landscapes where the cannibals thrive, usually resulting in a very tense atmosphere.

The original score by Jeff Herriott and S. Craig Zahler himself is very similar to the tone of the film, in the sense that it’s a perfect mixture between western and horror. As the soundtrack utilizes trumpets and acoustic guitars to perfectly fit with the western visuals, before then completely changing to tenser and more uncomfortable tracks, putting the viewer on-edge. However, the original score also manages to have a genuine feeling of tragedy within it, as the score uses intense violin strokes to envoke emotion wherever possible. Especially in the track: ‘Four Doomed Men Ride Out’, which fits this idea perfectly.

Of course, the scene that ‘Bone Tomahawk’ is most known for is without a doubt its infamously violent scene set within the cannibal’s cave, and whilst this scene may be extremely disturbing for a large majority of viewers, I do feel that is director S. Craig Zahler’s exact intention. As this moment perfectly displays the horrific nature of the cannibalistic tribe, truly playing into their merciless and barbaric ways of life (despite not actually being that heavily present throughout the story). This scene also displays a range of excellent practical gore effects, making this savage moment even more difficult to watch through its gruesome realism alongside the agonising screams of the cannibal’s victim(s).

For the most part, ‘Bone Tomahawk’ definitely achieves what it sets-out to accomplish, as although the film won’t appeal to everyone through its simplistic plot, slow-pacing and graphic violence, the film utilizes it’s great performances and isolated locations pretty effectively, resulting in a film that’s just as enjoyable as many other classic westerns despite being a little bland in a few areas. Overall, a decent 7/10 for me. I personally can’t wait to see more of S. Craig Zahler’s work in the future, as I feel this director has some real promise when it comes to telling dark yet gripping stories.

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Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) – Film Review

Based on the romantic novels by E. L. James, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was the first instalment of the now enormous franchise, and despite me definitely not being the film’s target audience, the film itself is a near-complete disaster in regards to both it’s writing, and it’s filmmaking. As unless you’re looking for a weak romantic story with bland acting, uninteresting characters and one of Danny Elfman’s weakest original scores to date. This is not the film for you.

When literature student: ‘Anastasia Steele’ goes to interview billionaire: ‘Christian Grey’, she discovers an attractive yet troubled man, soon leading her to discover more of herself, as she later desires to be with him, despite his stalker-like tendencies.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is one of those few films that turned itself into a successful series purely though pulling in its specific type of audience. As the film doesn’t really have much to offer besides the occasional sex scene or romantic moment, which really left me wondering what many viewers actually got out of the overall experience, as take those elements away, and the film truly has very little left, and I can’t really say I feel the need to continue on through the franchise after watching this first instalment.

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan portray the main couple of the film: ‘Anastasia Steele’ and ‘Christian Grey’, with the supporting cast of Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle and Victor Rasuk. All of which give very dull performances throughout the film, especially with the lack of characterisation between them other than ‘Christian’s (overly dramatic) backstory. This is also where one of my biggest issues with the film comes into play, as Jamie Dornan as ‘Christian Grey’ could easily be seen as a dangerous psychopath throughout the film, as his performance genuinely gave me a feeling of unease whenever he is on-screen. Unfortunately however, I don’t feel this is what the filmmakers intended, and I couldn’t help but think of the huge shift in tone if ‘Christian Grey’ was older and less attractive.

Seamus McGarvey handles the cinematography throughout the film, which despite not being anything incredibly impressive, the film does have the occasional pleasing shot throughout its runtime, this also applies to the lighting throughout the film. However, this doesn’t improve the film much overall, as the writing within ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is without a doubt one of it’s worst aspects. Resulting in many scenes becoming unintentionally hilarious or extremely cheesy, especially when the film is attempting to catch the viewer off-guard with its dialogue. Interestingly, during the filming of the film’s various sex scenes, remote-controlled were utilized so that the set could be more private for the actors, which is actually quite a creative way around the problem of the cast feeling incredibly awkward due to the huge number of film crew watching nearby.

Despite being a composer I usually adore, the original score by Danny Elfman is also very bland, as the score throughout the film always feels out-of-place and isn’t memorable in the slightest. The film also uses a variety of songs throughout its story, many of which being remixes of modern pop-songs, which again, usually don’t fit the tone of the film even remotely. The direction throughout the film is quite minimal regardless however, as director Sam Taylor-Johnson hasn’t actually directed a feature-length film before this one, yet she eventually would go on to direct the drama: ‘A Million Little Pieces’ in 2019.

Although only a small element, one slightly redeeming aspect of the film I actually did enjoy is the film’s colour palette, as throughout the narrative a variety of locations are given grey walls and floors, with ‘Christen Grey ‘ also wearing grey clothes alongside some other grey-coloured furniture within his apartment. All of which plays into the theme of: ‘Christian Grey’ being in constant control. But going by the rest of the film, this was more than likely accidental.

In conclusion, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is a film that will only appeal to the audience that has most likely already seen the entire trilogy, as the dull performances, awful writing and forgettable original score all leave the film with very little to offer. As the sex scenes and decent cinematography/lighting simply aren’t enough to carry the film through, resulting in a film that doesn’t really even understand what its purpose was to begin with. Overall, a 2/10. Definitely give this one a miss, as this boring experience simply isn’t worth its runtime.

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It Follows (2015) – Film Review

‘It Follows’ is easily one of my favourite modern-horrors to date, as the film utilizes some amazing cinematography by Mike Gioulakis, alongside an extremely eerie atmosphere and some decent performances. All tied-in perfectly with an original and engaging story, resulting in a film that’s both very memorable, and very tense throughout.

After a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, teenager: ‘Jay’ finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone (or something) is following her. Faced with this burden, ‘Jay’ and her friends must find a way to escape the nightmare, that seems to always be a few steps behind.

Mostly due to the direction by David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover, Under the Silver Lake) the film feels very polished throughout, as every scene usually plays out very slowly, always using the screen-time to build more tension, which I quite enjoyed. I also found the underlining themes of the film very interesting, as the film’s narrative subtly explores ideas of sexual diseases through its unique plot. However, one element of David’s direction I personally don’t like is the lack of any specific time-period for the film’s setting. As although the majority of the film does feel like a classic 1980s monster flick, the film constantly shows many modern devices and cars, in addition to a variety of old films on ‘Jay’s TV. Making the film feel very inconsistent with itself, despite this being an intentional decision.

As a cast of mostly unknown actors, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Lili Sepe and Olivia Luccardi all give decent performances here, as while nothing truly phenomenal of note, all the characters do feel as if they have chemistry with each other, with Maika Monroe being the obvious stand-out of course. As although her character doesn’t get much development, she portrays: ‘Jay’ quite well, coming off as a mostly innocent and likeable teenager.

The cinematography by Mike Gioulakis is nothing short of brilliant, especially in regards to many other horrors. As aside from a few too many hand-held shots, the film constantly uses the camera to build tension and paranoia throughout the entirety of its tight runtime. As in addition to filling the film with a variety of beautiful shots (many of which contain large amounts of movement). The film also uses plenty of P.O.V. shots to see through: ‘Jay’s eyes, placing the audience in the terrifying position of the protagonist themselves. ‘it Follows’ is also mainly using wide-angle lenses, which according to David Robert Mitchell, gave the film a more expansive, intimidating feel.

One of my favourite aspects of the film is definitely the original score by ‘Disasterpeace’, as this synth score (which was composed in only three weeks) really lends itself well to the eerie atmosphere, creating an original soundtrack which is just as tense and chaotic as it is memorable. However, this does fall back on the problem of the film not being set within the 80s, as this original score would fit in perfectly, especially with the two tracks: ‘Heels’ and ‘Title’.

As opposed to many other modern-horrors, ‘It Follows’ has a noticeable lack of jump-scares, as the film is usually in favour of attempting to use simple yet creepy visuals hidden within the background of shots, which really gives the film a very fresh feel. ‘It Follows’ also separates itself from many other modern-horrors by having many of the scenes involving the creature take place during the daytime and/or in locations such as: a sandy beach or ‘Jay’s home, locations many would think to be safe for our characters.

I truly enjoy ‘It Follows’ from beginning-to-end, as the film is a genuine horror experience which takes risks and doesn’t simply feel like more of the same ideas we have seen before. As the fantastic cinematography and original score help create a film that we keep any horror fan engaged in this thrilling story. An 8/10 overall, as while the film may not be entirely flawless, I really do hope more films within this genre can succeed as well as this one does.

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Goosebumps (2015) – Film Review

Based on the iconic children’s book series by R. L. Stine, the film adaptation of: ‘Goosebumps’ actually takes a very different approach to its source material. By this time actually having the book series itself play a part in the story, allowing for multiple different monsters from the classic series to appear, alongside Jack Black’s extreme portrayal of ‘Goosebumps’ original author: ‘R. L. Stine’ of course. This all leading to a somewhat fun but overall flawed adventure.

When an angsty teenager (Zach) moves in next door to the children’s horror author: ‘R. L. Stine’ and his teenage daughter, as he soon finds himself in a strange scenario. As the writer’s own monsters are brought to life from their own stories to inflict chaos onto their small town.

I was always a huge fan of Cartoon Network’s ‘Goosebumps’ show when I was younger, as not only did I find the stories interesting and many of the monsters very creepy. But I truly loved how the show wasn’t afraid to be frightening despite being aimed at a younger audience. Sadly, this is where the film fails for me. Choosing to focus more on comedy than light-horror to appeal to it’s newer generation of kids, which I personally think is a huge mistake.

Most of the cast here give decent performances for a family flick, as Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush portray a couple of teenagers thrown into this mad adventure fairly. Alongside their friend: ‘Champ’ portrayed by Ryan Lee, who I found extremely grating after a while. All lead by Jack Black’s portrayal of: ‘R. L. Stine’ as already mentioned, in addition to his portrayal of the film’s antagonist: ‘Slappy the Living Dummy’. Who as both characters, gives a performance a little too over-the-top for me.

The cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe is overall nothing amazing, coming-off as mostly bland and generic throughout, but it does it’s job regardless. Danny Elfman also takes on the original score for the film, and again whilst not being anything super memorable, the score is a decent mixture between a creepy horror score alongside a more traditional family film soundtrack. The CGI effects however, are actually one of the better aspects of the film for me, as while not outstanding they do succeed in bringing the various creatures to life, alongside many of the make-up effects and costumes, which I personally thought added to many of the action scenes throughout the runtime.

Rob Letterman (Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu) directs the film with a fun Halloween-like atmosphere, bringing together many different monsters and creatures ripped straight from their own books, with most of the designs of the monsters being recreated perfectly based-on their original designs, despite many of them only getting a few seconds of screen-time, with the haunted dummy: ‘Slappy’, being the leader of the monsters, and the main focus of the narrative, portrayed as an almost more sinister side of: ‘R. L. Stine’ himself.

Although there are a few funny lines throughout the film, the writing here is one of the film’s biggest issues. As the somewhat original story is dragged down by some awful jokes and very cringy moments, which again falls back on why I would’ve preferred for the film to go for more of a creepy tone over a completely comedic one. The colourful end title sequence of the film is also a great throwback for classic ‘Goosebumps’ fans (despite not adding much to the film as a whole).

Overall, ‘Goosebumps’ was disappointing for me, as I was really expecting something more along the lines of: ‘Coraline’ or ‘Monster House’ on my initial viewing. A creepy family flick with plenty of eerie atmosphere, a few original ideas and plenty of throwbacks to the classic books. While I’m not completely against the idea of comedy within the story, the film simply comes down to nothing more than your standard family adventure with an over-reliance on goofy jokes, with the only difference being the slapped-on: ‘Goosebumps’ name. Of course, I’m also not the film’s main target audience, and I could definitely see some families enjoying this creepy adventure for what it is, a 4/10 for this one.

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Chappie (2015) – Film Review

Neil Blomkamp has always been a director I’ve admired, famous mostly for his smash-hit: ‘District 9’ in 2012, shortly then followed by his second film: ‘Elysium’ which split many sci-fi fans down the middle. He’s always managed to impress me through his incredible use of CGI and explosive action set-pieces. However, I’ve always found his narratives to be kind of lacklustre, and this is definitely where the main issue lies with his third film: ‘Chappie’.

In the near future, crime in the city of Johannesburg is patrolled by a mechanized police force created by the company: ‘Tetravaal’. But when one police droid: ‘Chappie’ is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first machine ever with the ability to think and feel for himself. Leading ‘Chappie’ to eventually realize the chaotic world he has now become a part of.

I find the initial idea very interesting, coming-off almost as a mixture between: ‘Robocop’ and ‘Short Circuit’ and I think the film could’ve been very entertaining if they would’ve chosen to explore these ideas of synthetic life vs. actual living consciousness. Strangely however, this is not the direction the film actually goes, as we see ‘Chappie’ enter the world of crime alongside a criminal gang, making the film less of an interesting sci-fi with themes of artificial intelligence and more along the lines of a straight crime thriller. Now with a less-likeable protagonist.

Sharlto Coply, Deon Wilson, Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver all give decent performances in the film, and while I would’ve preferred Sigourney Weaver to have a bigger role in the overall narrative. I feel Sharlto Coply as: ‘Chappie’ and Hugh Jackman as the antagonist of the film: ‘Vincent Moore’ were both great in their respective roles. However, in easily one of the worst decisions in the film. The band: Die Antwoord portray some of the main protagonists (with their real names for some reason) and ignoring from their mostly poor performances, they also come off as very unlikeable characters throughout. Ensuring the audience roots for the criminal gang even less than before.

Trent Opaloch handles the cinematography in the film, which is pretty great for the most part, however as similar to the rest of Blomkamp’s films, there is far too much use of hand-held camera techniques. Although this is fine when it comes to the action scenes, when the pacing slows-down and the story focuses on more dialogue-heavy scenes or crucial character moments, I find it very distracting. The CGI effects however, are gorgeous throughout the film, as every visual effect has enormous weight to it, truly feeling as if it is part of the scene, this is especially clear with the CGI on: ‘Chappie’ himself, as the character interacts with every location, prop and character flawlessly.

The original score by Hanz Zimmer is phenomenal as per-usual, combing a typical sci-fi soundtrack alongside a more gritty crime score. Fitting the film perfectly, and really adding tension to many of the scenes throughout the runtime. I was also very impressed with the sound design throughout ‘Chappie’, as although most sci-fi flicks usually have decent sound design, I felt ‘Chappie’ really used its sound design effectively to add to the film’s gritty tone.

More than likely just a personal issue, but I also feel the song choices within the film were very poor. As a large number of songs from the indie band: ‘Die Antwoord’ are used throughout the film, all of which just don’t fit with the pacing or tone of the film at all. In addition to this, the fact that their characters share the real-life names as the actors portraying them as already mentioned, just makes the entire thing very confusing.

I’m still not entirely sure what I think of: ‘Chappie’. Whilst it definitely has many flaws and is easily Blomkamp’s weakest film in my opinion. The film still has certain elements I really enjoy, as some of the cinematography, action scenes and CGI effects still impress me to this day, and all display that this director still has a keen eye for visuals. But his storytelling really does need to show improvement in the future. Regardless of this, I hope Blomkamp gets another shot at directing again. But for now, ‘Chappie’ is unfortunately, a 4/10.

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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – Film Review

One of the most insane action blockbusters and best soft-reboots I’ve seen in a cinema for quite some-time, as ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ delivers on nearly every aspect of what you would want from both an action film, and a ‘Mad Max’ sequel. As the great cast of Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, alongside talented director George Miller, bring us an absolute visual feast which is sure to please any viewer in search of a unique and exciting thrill-ride.

Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman (Furiosa) rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search of her original homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a rogue drifter named: ‘Max‘.

From five minutes into the runtime, to five minutes after the film is over, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is truly a thrilling experience. Utilizing incredible stunts, plenty of action scenes and attractive locations/sets throughout the story, the film always manages to feel gritty and real (despite having an incredibly over-the-top tone). Surprisingly, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ was even confirmed to be a sequel to the original: ‘Mad Max’ trilogy, meaning the film actually continues the story (in a way) from: ‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome’, and although I’m not a huge fan of the original films, this does make me excited for the future of this franchise if we can expect this kind of quality.

The whole cast of Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Alice Huntington-Whiteley and Hugh Keays-Byrne are all excellent within their roles, with Nicholas Hoult as: ‘Hux’ and Hugh Keays-Byrne as the intimidating antagonist: ‘Immortan Joe’ being my two personal favourites. As all of the characters are fairly likeable and somewhat interesting despite not being given much characterisation throughout the narrative.

The cinematography by Jon Seale really helps elevate many of the scenes throughout the film however, as the film makes brilliant use of a variety of wide-shots, all which look absolutely fantastic. Director George Miller also really pushes the film’s varied and overly-bright colour palette, giving each the desert a bright orange and blue look to make it more visually appealing, which later contrasts with the dark blue of the swamplands or the harsh red and orange when the characters are inside the vicious sandstorm.

‘Junkie XL’ or Thomas Holkenborg lends his hand to the original score for the film, utilizing amazing guitar rifts to sound as if the soundtrack had been ripped straight from a classic rock album. Backing-up many of the fast-paced action scenes perfectly, which was surprising as this composer’s other scores are usually very forgettable. The original score is even given reference within the film, as we later see the character: ‘Coma-Doof Warrior’ who plays an electric guitar.

Of course the easiest criticism of: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is its lack of story and developed characters, and although the film definitely does have a fairly simplistic story and relativity weak characters. I’d argue this works to the film’s benefit, as the film does have plenty of great world-building, and fills the majority of it’s runtime with exactly what it’s audience desires to see, which is obviously the main goal of the film. As the film never pretends to be something that it isn’t. Another element of the film I don’t personally like is the editing, as although I understand the need to have quick editing to keep-up with the film’s fast-pacing and action. Most of the editing throughout the film feels very chaotic and even slightly messy at points, coming off as a distraction from what’s on-screen more than anything else.

I really adore ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, as although it may not be a masterpiece when it comes to filmmaking. It’s definitely up there with some of the best action flicks of this decade. As some unbelievable action scenes and stunts, a brilliant cast, and some outstanding cinematography, leave ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ a true breath of fresh air for the action genre, despite the film’s pretty basic story and bizarre editing choices. Overall, a solid 8/10. Very well-deserved, and I can’t wait until George Miller brings us another exciting instalment in this franchise.

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