The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It Review

Horror films are something that either appeal or they don’t. Some people absolutely love them, others see no reason as to why you would want to pay for a ticket to be scared, but personal pretense aside the newest release in The Conjuring series ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ is a bit all over the place. Revolving once again around the protagonists and notorious ‘demonologists’ Ed and Lorraine Warren the two are once again faced with yet another strange demon story and yet another demonic force to face off against, the result is what can really only be described as a disappointingly mediocre entry to a legendary series .

It’s hard to sit on either side of the fence as far as The Conjuring 3 goes, there are some great parts but also some truly destructive ones that take away from the experience as a whole, with the added unfortunate overwhelming amount of cliché that tends to plague so much of this genre in the modern day.

The film is based on the true story surrounding the events of Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson in 1981 in which Arne was said to be ‘possessed by the devil’ when he murdered his then landlord, his defence henceforth claiming that he did not hold personal responsibility for the crime. It was said that Arne had become possessed by the demon during the exorcism of then 11 year old David Glatzel whom under Ed and Lorraine’s watch had been exorcised as a last-effort move from the family whom had supposedly witnessed increasingly and continuous concerning behavior from the young boy. The exorcism was recounted as a violent, disturbing event during which time Arne, whom was present as Debbie Glatzel’s partner demanded that the demon ‘take him instead’. Ed and Lorraine Warren claimed it was then that the demon exited David Glatzel and entered Arne Johnson, later bringing him to murder his landlord Alan Bono, stabbing him over 20 times with a pocket knife.

This was the first unlawful killing in the history of Brookfield, Connecticut and ‘The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It’ follows the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren as they try to discover the source of the demonic behavior that allegedly led to the possession of Arne Johnson.

Before anything is said about the plotline or creative direction of this misguided piece of work it would only be fair to recognize the cast for doing the best they could with what they had. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have well and truly proven themselves in the horror genre and despite a less-than-great film still hold a very good standard of individual work. After all these years their chemistry on screen is something to be regarded very highly for any future endeavors. Ruairi O’Connor as well was fantastic in his depiction and arguably the best on-screen as he played the mentally wayward and demonically possessed Arne Johnson, he was able to perfectly depict down to the constant shifting of the eyes exactly what you’d imagine someone possessed by demons would look like. Sarah Catherine Hook and Julian Hilliard also deserve considerable applause for their work depicting the Glatzels.

But unfortunately the cast can only do so much, and even with a proven level of quality in your people ‘The Conjuring 3’ isn’t able to back it up with the same quality of writing or creative direction. Turns of plot that have no real depth, little character development outside of Arne-Johnson and a strange overarching agenda all of which leading to a long, drawn out climax lead the film off the path of success and away from it’s roots which had proven so prolific in the past.

That being said, the set pieces of this film are fantastic, the continued creativity of the scene work and the big-budget effects coupled with impressive camera shots make for a visually impressive and undoubtable eye-pleasing viewing. Scenes such as that with the waterbed or the (albeit cliché) proceeding terrifying scene in the bathroom when David Glatzel faces the demons that have grasped onto his consciousness make for a film that still keeps a viewer on the edge of their seat here and there, but doesn’t quite live up to the bone-chilling quality of its predecessors.

Period accurate and extravagant set design aside, a mismanaged pace of plotline and wayward choice of direction seem to slow ‘The Conjuring 3’ down past the point of necessity and become destructive to its success. Switching with no real grace between several convoluted plotlines the film seems to disregard the terrifying simplicity that had made the previous entries into this series such powerful works. Various scenes feel unnecessary and whilst expansive set work is nice here and there it should never become center-stage to the plotline. You can’t help but feel disappointed by the lack of creativity as far as actual horror goes for a series that had done so well in the past to capture the essence of what made human beings crumble.

Unfortunately, perhaps the most redeeming factor of ‘The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It’ is the intrigue in the fact that the events depicted (regardless of the actual truth of that depiction) are based off real-life events, something that has impressively never previously played so much of a redeeming role in the series. ‘The Conjuring 3’ seems to have lost sight of what made the previous films so successful and attempts to push the confusingly positive agenda that the case of Arne Johnson was one that deserved sympathy. Occasional comedic relief is well timed and overall the piece still holds a respectable level of terrifying suspense, however it can be said without a doubt that the latest release in ‘The Conjuring’ series is by far its weakest.

5/10

Godzilla vs Kong (2021) Review

Whoever brought this idea to the table deserves a raise because, lets be honest, plotline and creative integrity aside who doesn’t want to see two behemoths go to war. The entertainment factor of this film concept derives almost solely from the sheer amount of chaos and destruction that the producers can possibly shove into it’s two hour span and to be completely honest on that front Godzilla vs Kong actually does pretty well.

Godzilla vs Kong reawakens the franchise and injects some of the Japanese  films' spirit, without the substance - ABC News

There really isn’t much context provided regarding the state of affairs leading to the events of the film but in many ways that is absolutely fine, all we need to know is that Kong and Godzilla are existing in the same space and for whatever reason they need to be contained and kept away from each other to avoid all out war. That is until Godzilla starts attacking the humans for no apparent reason and so they decide the weaponize Kong and roll him out in an attempt to stop Godzilla, little to their knowledge it is a group of humans behind the entire thing (surprising right).

There are two main ‘plotlines’ that occur in the film and realistically they are just sidepiece necessities that are just there to somewhat justify the chaos of Godzilla and Kong going at it. Whilst these aren’t terrible the cuts to the Millie Bobby Brown and Julian Dennison plotline most of the time feel somewhat unnecessary and could probably have been compacted down further so that the audience could be back into the main action. That being said it was good to have some sort of character arcs occurring alongside those of Godzilla and Kong’s which helped explain the entire situation as it unfolded, they just at times seemed somewhat unnecessary and a misuse of time.

All of this in mind the casting for the film was well done and though at times Julian Dennison and Shun Oguri felt a little stiff, the rest of the cast and particularly Rebecca Hall and Kaylee Hottle put in notable performances, nothing mind-blowing but certainly good enough for the film.

Now to the main point, the fight scenes in Godzilla vs Kong were quite simply everything that could’ve been asked for and more. The visually were mind blowing and the sheer amount of destruction and chaos was pushed to the absolute maximum for this one, which is the exact thing that makes the film. Realistically nobody was going to this one for the plot, sure it was a nice little added bonus but the make or break was always going to be in the battles themselves and they seemed to succeed on every front nearly every time. Buildings, homes, warships and everything else in the way of Kong and Godzilla fell like they were nothing as the two giants went to war, it removed the need for a fantastic plotline savior and was exactly what you’d expect to see upon seeing the title.

You don’t need to know anything about the backstories of Kong, Godzilla or any of the characters to enjoy this film and that is arguably it’s greatest success. It takes into account the need for a decent plot whilst clearly prioritizing the Godzilla-Kong conflict that the audience is obviously there to see.

The twist at the end of the film was surprising enough to still be called a twist and the ending was (whilst not necessarily the most satisfying) able to put a nice bowtie on the chaos of the previous two hours.

Is this a top quality creative endeavor that pushes the boundaries of film to create something meaningful and lasting? No, but that was never the intention of Godzilla vs Kong and for a film revolving solely around two giant creatures fighting it out it actually handles that side of things considerably well. Jaw-droppingly good effects and visuals make the absolute destruction of Godzilla vs Kong all the more satisfying to watch and with a decent plotline and cast behind it the work certainly has it’s flaws, but generally comes out firing on most fronts.

7.5/10

The Pursuit of Happyness: A Triumph of Human Nature That Lacks The Final Blow…

The Pursuit of Happyness is one of the most quoted films ever made, you see it all the time plastered all over the internet. Chris Gardner standing against the fence telling his son “Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it.“. One of the most recognised and mainstream biopics ever made the film is made so much more powerful by the fact that it is based off the true story of now globally recognised American businessman Christopher Gardner. But that isn’t to say the film doesn’t have it’s ups and downs.

The film follows the story of Chris Gardner whom goes through the ‘stages’ of his life over the course of the entire movie and in many ways this foundation sets a strong pace that leads The Pursuit of Happyness to be neither to fast or two slow and rather somewhere in the middle ground exactly where a piece like this needs to be. The audience experiences the harsh reality of a man whom is so powerfully devoted to himself, his family and to the seeking of ‘Happyness’ but at the same time comes up against the strain of a bad investment made in his naïve youth.

Chris battles a broken relationship, financial instability, homelessness and mental torture all whilst trying to do right by his son. In an attempt to escape the mundane difficulties of staying put Chris puts everything on the line to become a stock broker on Wall Street leading him to lose his relationship, his home and himself for much of the film.

19 Crushingly Beautiful Movie Scenes That'll Make Parents Ugly Cry

The casting work of The Pursuit of Happyness has to be applauded, a young Jaden Smith puts in a top performance as ‘Christopher’ the son of his same named father Will Smith (Who could’ve guessed the family relatives would have great on screen chemistry). This is certainly one of Will Smith’s best and most substantial works and his effort portraying Chris Gardner is not to be understated either. You’ll very quickly take a strong attachment to Chris and his Son which is obviously partly due to the writing but in many ways equally so the top performances in those main roles. Thandie Newton as ‘Linda’ also gives a really emotionally charged performance that adds to volatility of the scenes in which herself and Will Smith interact, particularly as the film progresses.

The character arks and plotline (Although based off a true story) were also extremely well done. No character of importance was left without significant development with some powerful moments packed in between. Although it has to be said that the end of the film whilst putting a nice tie on things felt somewhat rushed and cut short, giving the audience a sense of finality but not so much the satisfaction that the events previous really merited. Chris seems to go through such an immense journey of highs and lows, rushing through the experiences most have in a lifetime in such a short amount of time just to end it all with some fist bumps and the deeming of the final stage of his life as ‘Happiness’. Whilst this does the job it perhaps doesn’t quite hit the mark perfectly.

With that being said The Pursuit of Happyness delves into some pretty intense and profound themes and ideas and does so in a clever, witty and enthralling way throughout most of its journey. Various scenes here and there probably weren’t necessary but the concept of the Rubix Cube (And the scene in the Taxi), the word happiness being spelt ‘Happyness’ on the outside of Chris’ son’s daycare and a lot of the advice that Chris gives to his son being really advice to himself were all catalysts for success in battling the life story of Chris Gardner in a creatively impressive way.

The life lessons were always going to be the focal point of a film like this and what The Pursuit of Happyness does right that so many other films like it don’t is that it does not preach, choosing to show rather than tell and avoiding cliques (not entirely but mostly) to get it’s point across not just about happiness, but really the nature of being human as a whole also.

The Pursuit of Happyness is a powerful and witty biopic that takes the example of Chris Gardner to delve into some of the harshest faucets of life that some may choose to ignore. Excellently casted and written The Pursuit of Happyness rarely gives you reason to take your eyes off the screen, boasting well rounded character arks and impressively compacted messages. An emotional rollercoaster The Pursuit of Happyness falls short in its ending but it’s successes make it nonetheless a fantastic watch.

8/10

Afterlife Season 1: A Ricky Gervais Masterclass A Huge Win For Netflix

Just six 20-30 minute episodes AfterLife is without a doubt a massive win for Netflix on account of a Ricky Gervais masterstroke. Written and produced by Gervais the first season of AfterLife adds to the list of quality Netflix feature series and to some could easily be one of the best to come out of the streaming giant.

Following the story of ‘Tony’, a widower whom has been affected so immensely by grief that it has led him to lose faith in all people, all emotions and really life itself. In a both hilarious but also significantly profound way Tony does and says what he wants whenever he wants because in his mind he could always ‘fall back on suicide’. The concept itself is super super dark and the plotline and characters stand up to the subject matter.

After Life | Ricky Gervais 'in talks' for Christmas special - Radio Times

In essence Gervais is taking you on a journey and exploration into grief with some pretty funny moments thrown in there too, and that’s really the novelty of AfterLife which is able to take a really original type of angle to the concepts of loss, grief and existentialism through a plotline and character ark that will keep eyes glued to screens.

The first season of this show almost feels like one big film and is more of a just under three-hour experience. Gervais is absolutely top notch and given the fact that he both wrote and produced the series you can just see the creative freedom that he had here paying off tenfold. For that you really just have to credit Netflix whom now get to reap the rewards of them actually keeping for the most part out of the production process (which is pretty rare).

As Tony finds himself completely exposed to anything and everything due to his mentality he finds solace in the strangest of places and equally so the strangest of people, but soon enough it’s those very people whom will get him to question whether he truly is now ‘invincible’ but rather ignorant to his true self.

The simplicity of the settings and the small community that takes shape within the life of Tony and within the AfterLife storyline only adds to it’s quality, there’s nothing flashy or any flexing of productive resource muscles nor should there be for something like this and Gervais has put creative integrity, quality writing and even better acting above all else in the production of AfterLife which no doubt is littered with his own essence as a creator.

With AfterLife Intrigue quickly turns to investment and investment rapidly devolves into binge watching episode after episode until you reach the end. We’ve seen the loved one with cancer before, we’ve seen the loss of someone close before and we’ve seen characters in self conflict over and over again yet AfterLife still is impressively able to produce an immensely original type of experience.

There is a lot that Netflix can take from the success of AfterLife, and the first season is Absolutely worth a watch and with the second season out that’s next on the agenda.

8.5/10

2067 Review: A Misfire Frustratingly Full Of Potential

Seth Larney’s climate change sci-fi ‘2067’ is frustratingly mismanaged. With such a clever concept behind it this is one of the misfires in it’s field that is a bit harder to take, playing with time is never an easy endeavor and in all honesty looking upon its stripped back storyline ‘2067’ fiddles with the concept in a way that you just can’t help get pulled in by. Is it enough to turn heads away from some pretty poor performances in the cast and odd creative decisions perhaps not, however the intrigue of the idea itself does have the capability to retain interest.

Larney’s idea of a future not so far down the line is quite clearly a bleak one. With the planet facing collapse and the human race on the brink of extinction all ecological life has been overrun by humans and the Earth’s air becomes subsequently unbreathable as a result of a global disease. This leaves Ethan Whyte, the orphaned son of the scientist whom developed a one way time machine to push 407 years into the future in search of a cure. No doubt about it ‘2067’ is pretty clearly pushing the idea of a race which failed to recognize climate change at the forefront of issues some years prior.

2067' review: A boring, time-traveling climate change film

Let’s start with the casting performances. Though he wasn’t the protagonist Ryan Kwanten as ‘Jude Mathers’ is probably my pick of the bunch and even he didn’t put in a performance to be raved about. Kodi Smit-McPhee puts in a strange up and down type of performance as ‘Ethan Whyte’ in which he had some moments of quality and equally so quite a few moments that mustered a deserved cringe or two. Deborah Mailman was stiff and unnatural in her role as ‘Regina Jackson’ and Aaron Glenane wasn’t terrible but most of the time just added to the awkwardness of the scene, and the rest of the cast were, to put it lightly, pretty poor.

Visually though this film is stunning, something made all the more impressive considering the fact that the piece was filmed entirely out of South Australia. Sci-fi is a genre in which astounding visuals are becoming more commonplace with each addition to the field but there is no doubt about it ‘2067’ looks good. Whether it be the serene green forests of the future or some awesome zoom outs of Ethan standing atop a cliff, for a clearly low-budget Aussie work you have to appreciate the vision and standard of visuals that ‘2067′ has to offer.

The main problem with ‘2067’ is the plot management. The sheer amount of cringeworthy moments in this film don’t help you take it seriously and as the film takes steps to progress it seems to have the idea that the emotional intensity of the plotline does tenfold. This means that there are countless scenes of Ethan crying, breaking down or just outright screaming at nothing out of the blue that seem to make absolutely no sense whatsoever and are pushed in a film no way deserving of them given the events prior to those breakdowns. The inconsistency of emotions and abrasive character decisions come with little to no contextual reasoning and the onslaught of cliques doesn’t do ‘2067′ any favors either.

The actors aren’t great, but as far as the main two go it seems that they put in what they could for a poor writing and directive effort which misuses them in almost every faucet, but the idea is conceptually intriguing enough to retain your attention. ‘2067‘ is one of those movies that you pay attention to just in order to see how the events unfold, even though a fairly lackluster ending awaits.

‘2067’ boasts all the tools for a quality sci-fi film, a quality idea, decent actors in the main roles (though less to be said for the supports) and some stunning visuals to pack a punch, but it still no doubt underperforms. Poor writing and several cringeworthy scenes along with a muddled direction can be attributed as the main catalysts for the lackluster nature of ‘2067’ which whilst very intriguing out of the gate, begins to crumble and fall apart from there.

4/10

TBT: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Why not kick off the very first of hopefully many throw back Thursday’s with Guy Richie’s feature directorial debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Released back in 1999 just before the turn of the century the film ventures into the underground London crime scene following the story of various crime groups and mobsters all of which quickly become intertwined in each others business to a level that I can only describe as stupidly hilarious.

The plotline centrally follows the story of Bacon (Jason Statham), Tom (Jason Flemyng), Eddy (Nick Moran) and Soap (Dexter Fletcher) and begins when Eddy rings the rest of the group into lending him money to play cards against a notorious mob boss Hatchet Harry (P. H. Moriarty). Little to any of the men’s knowledge Harry has his second hand man watching in on Eddy’s cards from another room on a camera and eventually runs a cocky Eddy down into half a million pounds worth of debt, which is either paid off with cash or their lives.

In their pursuit of making the half a million back Eddy and the boys manage to almost unintentionally involve seemingly every group of mobsters, drug dealers and street criminals in the local area. All of which seem to be ironically either paying back debt or taking revenge on others trying to pay back debt. Making for a pretty funny looped chain of events.

Now that all the background is out of the way let’s get to looking back on the film itself.

The idea/concept of the film is a quality one, and though it isn’t anything most aren’t already somewhat familiar with, is well written. You’ve always got to be careful when you mix an element of comedy with a thematically fairly serious setting but Guy Richie in his debut feature film seemed to balance the two with considerable success. Some moments don’t land as favorably as what may have been intended and various scenes for a while leave you pretty confused as to just what exactly you are watching, but overall Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels delivers in most of it’s key areas.

Once you figure out the main characters and things start to get moving, the ability for this film to invest you into the story and the characters but yet also find yourself cracking up at the onslaught of both jokes and purposely over the top scenes, accents and characters is impressive and always crucial for films like this. Witty and creative in it’s plot choices Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels may not appeal to all, but for those can get past the confusion of being thrown straight into the deep end in the first 10-15 minutes lies an experience worth going back and having.

For a film made just before the turn of 2000, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels visually isn’t anything immensely impressive but stands up to expectation and with some decent camera work and a couple outside-the-box shots matching the mood there really isn’t much to complain about.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is well casted, and most of the main cast puts in quality performances to bolster the quality of the film, and given there are some particularly strange characters in this one there had to be a set of talent capable of taking on the roles, thankfully for the most part this proves to be the case. Does this necessarily mean all the characters are fantastic outside of the actors performing them, no, and there are certainly some odd moments that perhaps could’ve been left out of the final cut.

However, overall the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels cast proves to be well put together with particularly notable performances from a developing Jason Statham and Nick Moran.

A small budget witty English crime piece, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels burst Guy Richie onto the scene and proved his indisputable gift for intricate yet hilarious storytelling. Everything about this film is over the top, but in that lies it’s very novelty. Energy, action or pace don’t prove a problem for this piece and with a well casted team of actors putting in for a compelling plot you can’t help but look back on Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as whilst not anything groundbreaking, certainly one of the better works in it’s field and arguably Guy Richie’s finest.

7.5/10

Malcolm And Marie Review: Zendaya and John David Washington Shine in an Underwhelming Netflix Original

Malcolm and Marie was released on Netflix about a week ago, the original starring Zendaya (Marie) and John David Washington (Malcolm) follows a dysfunctional couple returning home from Malcolm’s film premiere. Things quickly get heated between the stubborn and emotionally distant filmmaker and his ex drug addict turned actor partner whom claims she was the basis of his film’s success before being discarded without any thanks.

A story told in almost real time, the two go back and fourth throughout the course of the film going deeper and deeper into personal attacks of character and uncovering the true nature of their relationship that goes far deeper than Malcolm failing to thank Marie at the premiere. Each segment being swiftly cut up with periods of briefly calm interactions before the flurry of raised voices and verbal abuse.

Malcolm and Marie is an intriguing concept from it’s outlook, but in many ways falls short in attempt to be something that it isn’t and in the end coming off as more pretentious than purposeful. For starters the entire film is shot on Kodak and in black and white, there is no explanation for that decision as far as the actual film goes as it seems to be set in the modern day with phones and various other modern devices shown throughout. The language is modern and the setting (whilst limited to just one place) is without doubt modern in its architecture and design.

So why film this in black and white?

The only practical reason that I can muster for the choice is the production going with the black and white feel as some form of comment on the nature of both relationships and life itself being at the surface level black and white but inherently complex should you dig a little deeper. Whilst this is a considerable point to make, it just doesn’t make sense in a film so evidently trying to reject the idea of unnecessarily politicism in the art form. Malcolm spends big portions of the film just ranting about the problem with the industry’s need to constantly politicize and find social impact in every film that comes out, which is why the choice for Malcolm and Marie to film in black and white is just a bit strange.

The crux of the film from the outside is promising but although there are some quality moments sprinkled across Malcolm and Marie the film just doesn’t pack the emotional punch it so desires in it’s subject matter. There are a lot of different reasons for this, whilst the back and forth between Zendaya and John David Washington as Malcolm and Marie is impressive it starts to lose it’s kick after a while and you end up losing the feeling of suspense or intrigue and rather find yourself on a merry-go-round of a heated statement from either Malcolm or Marie, followed by a calm or even inexplicably happy period which then loops back to the other producing some abuse of their own.

Rather than packing the emotional impact that seems to be intended from a film like this Malcolm and Marie loses it’s novelty fairly quickly and feels more like watching an emotionally based yet still pretentious debate of ideals rather than a gut-wrenching exploration of the implicit issues that Malcolm and Marie find in their relationship and that some viewers may find in their own.

However, there certainly are some heavy hitting lines and more than valid points made throughout the film and the back and forth is definitely entertaining however in a film so rooted in the dialogue it’s important to also consider what that dialogue is actually attempting to achieve/convey and in the case of Malcolm and Marie it seems to fall short of the mark.

Zendaya and John David Washington clearly gave this piece the best that they possibly could and in many ways the successes that it does have is due to their personal performances, even if the production itself is somewhat mediocre. Zendaya puts on the role of a now sober drug-addict turned actress who is intelligent yet equally mentally estranged and traumatized by her past life, a tough role to take on in a film centralized around dialogue and body language rather than setting or chronological events, but Zendaya has proved her worth once again as a far more flexible actress than many may choose to accept her as.

John David Washington seemed the perfect fit for his role as ‘Malcolm’, an emotionally devoid man-child yet creative intellect whom seems to put his artform above all else and suffers personally from it. You can’t help but get attached to Malcolm in some way throughout the film and for a character with so many fundamental flaws you can only say that feeling is due to such a fine effort on the actors part.

Points made about politics, social climate and society as a whole aside, Malcolm and Marie at it’s core is a film about the nature of love itself, yes that nature is explored through one particular story of love but it is clear that Malcolm and Marie is attempting to do more than just tell a story but rather comment on the intensely complex and dysfunctional nature of love itself through the intensely complex and equally dysfunctional nature of Malcolm and Marie’s partnership. Is this concept executed to the best of it’s ability absolutely not but with two fine actors putting in performances far outweighing the script itself, Malcolm and Marie is not an entire waste of time.

Watching the interactions between Malcolm and Marie throughout the course of the film swing back and forth, teetering between straight up emotional nuclear warfare and love for the other is extraordinary to see and the jagged changes of pace (whilst becoming quite predicable over time) will hold your interest enough to still appreciate Malcolm and Marie for what it is.

What really is able to push this film just above mediocrity is the underlying topicality and the clever dialogue (mostly out of Malcolm) that is put across in a both comedically charming yet also thoughtful manner, questions of political correctness, the status quo of the film industry, the basis of what ‘art’ truly is and questions on the basis of human existence itself are littered throughout the back and forth between Malcolm and Marie. The argument about whether or not much of the consideration of foreign idea’s outside the crux of the film is necessary is of course one to consider but although an element of comedy is present in much of that dialogue, Malcolm and Marie contains plenty of truth said in jest.

Malcolm and Marie has all the tools to put on an impressive display, and though leaving much to be desired despite the quality performances from both Zendaya and John David Washington is still an experience worth undertaking. It is the various moments that make Malcolm and Marie worthwhile rather than the culmination of all it’s parts and taking this film for what it is rather than what it attempts to be is the best course of action upon hitting play.

5.5/10

The Dig Review: A gentle but powerful true story brought to life

Based off a true story Netflix has once again proven it’s ability to make quality originals, even if there are a few lackluster attempts sprinkled in between…

In the build up to World War Two there was little else on the mind of Basil Brown but one thing, a mound on the property of his then employer Edith Pretty. A self proclaimed ‘excavator’ with little formal qualification Brown had been sent to the property of Edith Pretty on what appeared to be a simple dig, it was that same simple dig that turned very quickly into the nationally recognized treasure hunt of a lifetime in which he proved his worth to be far beyond that perceived by his peers.

The twice widowed Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) decides to finally pay for the excavation of some mounds out in the paddocks of her land in Suffolk England, Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) is sent from the local museum and quickly gets to work. With a few stumbles along the way Basil unearths a site like no other in one of the mounds and quickly finds himself surrounded by credit hungry archeologists whom alongside him get digging. All the while Edith is suffering from a slowly debilitating condition with her son watching on.

Where to start, ‘The Dig’ was filmed in a picturesque Suffolk very near the actual discovery site, and the visuals in this film are nothing short of jaw-dropping. From the vast, green, hilly plains to the simple pre-WW2 home interiors scene by scene ‘The Dig’ makes use of simplicity beautifully and chooses the times and places to extract all else but the scenery from the shot almost to perfection. I really can’t understate the beauty of this film, and in many ways it is that very visual beauty that both dictates the mood and sets the scene all throughout ‘The Dig’.

Director Simon Stone chooses grey sky’s and foggy outlooks on vast plains with simple but both comforting and melancholy piano scores suited their climate to hit home the idea of an impending Second World War but equally so the impending events far closer to Edith Pretty and Basil Brown.

‘The Dig’ is well casted and in my opinion Ralph Fiennes was the perfect man for the job of Basil Brown. Quiet and humble yet likeable and daring when needing to be Fiennes takes on the role of a man with a primal passion for both his craft and his values and plays it to perfection. Carey Mulligan also puts in a strong performance going outside her comfort zone as Edith Pretty but particularly her chemistry with Fiennes is what makes the film as engaging as it was.

Taking on a whole array of different ideas and concepts thematically ‘The Dig’ is a gentle but gritty story of life and death, of love and loss, and of past and present. Does it consider these ideas all to their greatest potential, perhaps not, but it certainly has the kick to make one consider their own thoughts on them. The backbone of the plotline being the ‘Dig’ itself the film splits itself into quite a few noticeable character arks and storylines, that of Edith Pretty and her son Robert, of archaeologists Peggy Preston and her husband Stuart Piggott and of course that of Basil Brown himself.

Action isn’t the goal of this film and pace isn’t either, however substance is. The main problem that ‘The Dig’ faces is the fact that it may just consider too much to really have considered anything in the best way. This isn’t to say that the ideas of love, loss, life and death in this story aren’t provocative of reflection in a viewer, however in it’s attempt to tackle so much there definitely is the sense maybe a better job could’ve been done hadn’t so many different idea’s and storylines come into the picture at once.

With that being said ‘The Dig’ is a humble British period piece that is able to produce far more than one might expect from the outset. Based off the true events of one of the great archeological finds in British history and pushed by the powerful performances of all in lead roles this film chooses to do more than just tell a story, but equally teach a lesson. Whilst a straying storyline and competing ideas may hinder from ‘The Dig’ reaching it’s full potential, it is a subtle yet powerful Netflix original watch that well and truly exceeds expectation.

8/10

Netflix’s ‘Outside the Wire’ Takes on big ideas but struggles to impress

Just a few days ago ‘Outside The Wire’ was released by Netflix as one of their first films of the New Year, the plotline takes on the scenario of a 2036 civil war between Russia and Ukraine over territory. US marines along with newly developed robotic soldiers known as ‘Gumps’ (Genius name right) are sent in as ‘peacekeepers’ and the film follows the journey of Lieutenant Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), a disgraced drone operator whom is punished for disobeying orders in his attempt to save troops. Sent into the field with no specialized training nor experience initially as a way to fully ‘Understand his work’ Harp quickly learns from his superior Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie) that there is a much more complex reason for his field call. Oh and did I mention Captain Leo is a one of a kind cyborg developed by the military under a developing program to institute types of ‘supersoldiers’ into the military, the catch is that they’re completely similar to humans in almost every way. The two quickly get moving and set out on a winding journey to ‘Save the World’.

As far as casting goes this film has been done very well, Anthony Mackie puts in a near perfect performance in his role as a difficult to understand, secret harboring yet frustratingly likeable cyborg/soldier and has some clever moments. Damsin Idris likewise does extremely well in his role as the ‘rookie’ thrown completely into the deep end but whom is slowly developing his moral compass and ability to act upon situations not just behind the screen. Supporting roles are done well also and there really isn’t much to complain about from a casting perspective.

Visually and effects wise, the film also stands up well, are there any completely mind blowing scenes no, but there are some nice shots particularly towards the end of the film along with various well put together gunfights across the nearly two hour runtime of ‘Outside the Wire’

However outside of casting and visuals ‘Outside the Wire’ begins to struggle. After watching the film and taking some time to consider, it’s hard not to say there was misplaced potential there, taking on some big ideas in the form of AI involvement in both military operation and general human life in the future along with the state of human conflict and the unfathomably destructive path that may be heading towards. Coupled with the constant questioning of morality as to what makes something right or wrong ‘Outside the Wire’ really did have some serious subject matter to make use of and to be completely honest it struggles to produce.

The violent sci-fi adventure decides to choose safety over potential and in doing so we are treated to almost every clique you could possibly muster through originality gold level lines such as “Sometimes you gotta get dirty to see the real change” along with a bomb countdown with big red numbers at the film’s climax (Which nobody has ever seen before). This doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘Outside the Wire’ is horrible or even difficult to watch but it is somewhat disappointing to be shown such a promising couple of ideas and then receive the same type of dystopian action we’ve seen over and over again.

The timeline of the film is good and the pacing isn’t bad, rarely leaving you feeling neither left behind or requiring things to speed up, however in some ways this also takes away from the film’s ability to tell a meaningful or truly thought provoking story. There are plenty of gunfights and fight scenes with a healthy amount of violence for the type of film this is attempting to be, however considering the fact that Captain Leo is basically a super-soldier it takes quite some time before we see any sort of real power out of him. It just seems that ‘Outside the Wire’ moves too quickly to even consider the weight of its own supposed ‘message’ and decides to place action and pace above all else and in doing so misses the mark.

Decent, Alright, Mediocre, whatever word you want to use ‘Outside the Wire’ is one of the films that will probably achieve more for casual watchers and isn’t necessarily a bad watch. However unfortunately it’s inability to properly address it’s strong subject matter nor deliver any sort of legitimate emotional punch coupled with some other obvious downfalls lead to a gritty and chaotic but in the end disappointing Mikael Håfström film…

5/10

‘Swiss Army Man’ Risk-taking and astoundingly unorthodox yet strangely good…

Now, before anything is said about Daniel Kwan and Dan Scheinert’s ‘Swiss Army Man’ this is without doubt one of the strangest film’s I have ever come across in my entire lifetime of watching movies, which is quite the achievement. So with this in mind I can only come to the conclusion that this one will completely divide opinion between ‘Weird Genius’ and ‘What did I just watch’. Just thought I’d mention that.

Released back in 2016 ‘Swiss Army Man’ follows an inherently bizzare let alone unsettling premise and theme which does absolutely everything in its power to completely derail any idea that a proceeding a chain of events leading to a logical conclusion was to follow. Which, to some may prove to be just too much but in many ways it also felt like a breath of fresh air to watch a film in which for the most part, you grasp its core premise yet have quite literally no idea what is going to occur in the next scene. It is absolutely impossible to categorize the experience of this film and in a sense that’s why its such a rewarding one.

Let me just set the scene as to educate you on exactly why this is the case. The film opens by showing it’s protagonist Hank attempting to commit suicide after being clearly stranded on a deserted island, however in the process he notices the body of Daniel Radcliffe, the dead but flatulent body mind you. He then proceeds to mount the body and use the mans farts in a glorious gassy miracle to ride back towards land. Yes, you read that correctly. Once reaching mainland Hank and his now sidekick dead body whom he names Manny embark on a journey through the wilderness to reach society.

Now whilst that may seem like a complete trainwreck of a film the direction taken on this one is yes without doubt risky, however with strong lead performances from both Danielle Radcliffe, whom once again proves his value outside of his infamous role as Harry Potter coupled with Paul Dano in a role that completely changes the usual protagonist into a completely new acting job entirely, there are a lot of good things to be said about ‘Swiss Army Man’. Without doubt the fully committed performances from both leads is why this film is able to achieve its goal with a far more unsettling and profound response from any viewer. Not to mention the fact that Danielle Radcliffe performed nearly all of his own scenes in the mud and on the ground playing a literal dead body.

‘Swiss Army Man’ doesn’t make major usage of setting or impressive visual effects but instead opts for a far more primal feel to evoke response from audiences, whether that be shock, laughter or discomfort and in many cases all of the above. For the type of film ‘Swiss Army Man’ attempts to be it can’t deemed a creative failure and you just absolutely have to hand it to Radcliffe and Dano for their willingness to do whatever it takes for their art, although by the same token it is understandable why some may find this one a tad too far.

However well this film does in it’s mission to both entertain and unsettle, there definitely are moments when surely even the most intrigued and appreciative viewers would find unnecessary and hindering to the experience, something which was inevitably going to happen when pushing the line of what is and isn’t too much.

Some scenes feel somewhat dragged out and perhaps could’ve been wrapped up far quicker and allowed more time for other events to occur. The jokes of the film do also feel old after a certain point and whilst the piece in a general sense definitely does grow on you there may be points particularly through its duller mid-section where you may wish things progressed a bit faster. Although that being said with a strong (but highly confusing) ending that in some ways makes up for previous shortfalls ‘Swiss Army Man’ may just grow on you and will definitely remain in your head for quite a while.

There are very few films which completely revoke the ability for a viewer to class it into any genre, but that is exactly what ‘Swiss Army Man’ is so unbelievably successful in doing via it’s risk-taking and original methods that never fail to provoke almost every emotion there is to muster. Through committed and impressive performances in the lead roles batted with a surprisingly depth-filled plotline upon further thought, this is without doubt one of the most peculiar films going around, but perhaps that is its genius. Although smartly written ‘Swiss Army Man’ at times falls short of the mark but it’s intriguing outside-of-the-box approach has to be respected.

7/10