Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road Review

by J. Dalgleish

***** 5 Stars

‘Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of over-the-top special effects which cost millions of dollars in budget, but they use the effects in this film so unbelievably well that it’s a stunning watch in every sense of the word.’

Director: George Miller

Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron & Nicholas Hoult

Plot Synopsis: Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. When the warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads the despot’s five wives in a daring escape, she forges an alliance with Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a loner and former captive. Fortified in the massive, armored truck the War Rig, they try to outrun the ruthless warlord and his henchmen in a deadly high-speed chase through the Wasteland.

This is easily one of the best movies I have watched in my lifetime. After watching the other Mad Max’s before this, I was relatively scared to view this as the other ones were also a joy to watch, but Fury Road is easily the best movie of the Mad Max series. A brilliant performance from Tom Hardy is a true highlight in this movie. The story-line is extremely simplistic but so effective, as the whole film is just being a huge chase scene, full of action and adventure along the way.

Usually, I’m not the biggest fan of over-the-top special effects which cost millions of dollars in budget, but they use the effects in this film so unbelievably well that it’s a stunning watch in every sense of the word. After watching so many movies which include car chases, I was expecting this to be a run-of-the-mill ‘car chase’ movie which included near death scenes and intense scenes in which we’re at the edge of our seat for. The film is essentially that but it also felt different to these other movies as they technically aren’t on a road – they’re in the middle of a desert setting. The open and vast setting makes this movie look and feel so much better than other car chase movies which include a motorway or a road of some sort. The desert being so open and huge, it makes the journey seem so long and strenuous but adds a sense of the characters being a mere dot compared to the desert which is quite intense to think about.

What also adds huge tension to this film is the lack of dialogue. The director, George Miller, is very dependant on pure cinema where we have to realise what is going on through images rather than dialogue. I love how little dialogue is in this, most sounds present are either from the music, grunting noises from some characters or the sounds of engines which is really intense. Overall, there is little to no things I can say that are bad about this movie, I enjoyed it from start to finish and I would most definitely watch it again and again.

Mad Max: Fury Road is currently available on Prime Video and was rated 15 by the BBFC.

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 Review

by A. West

***** 5 Stars

Personally for me, Toy Story 3 was the best film out of the series. The ending made the whole film for me, to the point where I would’ve been okay if this was the final film in the series.

Director: Lee Unkrich

Cast: Tom Hanks, Ned Beatty, Jeff Garlin & Don Rickles

Plot Synopsis: With their beloved Andy preparing to leave for college, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and the rest of the toys find themselves headed for the attic but mistakenly wind up on the curb with the trash. Woody’s quick thinking saves the gang, but all but Woody end up being donated to a day-care center. Unfortunately, the uncontrollable kids do not play nice, so Woody and the gang make plans for a great escape.

Personally for me, Toy Story 3 was the best film out of the series. The ending made the whole film for me, to the point where I would’ve been okay if this was the final film in the series. Although, that said, Toy Story 4 is also amazing! The character depth is deepened further in this movie, as Woody continues to wrestle with the idea that maybe he isn’t meant to be with Andy forever, and that he should stick with his friends. It’s honestly a little disheartening to see the toys at such odds, with Buzz and the others feeling they should move on, while Woody is still stuck in the past.

The combination of seeing Woody’s loyalty to Andy and wanting to stay helps to give a deeper meaning to the film that the older generations watching could pick up on: sometimes in life, friendships come to an end and that is okay because you will always have other friends, or even make new friends. Cleverly, the film also sets up the idea that Andy’s conflict with what to do with the toys is his way of trying to keep ties to his childhood and that he isn’t quite ready to grow up and get rid of them for good. This whole story-line was an amazing choice, as not only can children watch this movie for fun but the people who grew up watching them would also feel the nostalgia of the series. This might speak to them as it would be something they were either currently battling and or in a few years to come, would be battling. Honestly, this heart-warming sequel has the perfect ending as it beautifully had the right amount of enigma fulfilment.

This film brings an end to the trilogy and left me happy with how it ended, as this brought together all of the toys left, and new toys they met along the way at a new house with a new child to be there for. While they lost characters along the way, we see them all together and it just leaves us fulfilled that they are going to be okay.

I personally loved this film – the animations are amazing, the story-line was perfect (although it would’ve been even more perfect if it was the end of the Toy Story series). It has the most heart-warmingly perfect ending and the deeper meanings help to not only bring an end to the Toy Story trilogy but also to some of the audiences’ childhoods.

Toy Story 3 is currently available on Disney + and was rated U by the BBFC.

The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist Review

The 100th Review on the site!

by E. Stevens

**** 4 Stars

‘Franco’s acting as the mysterious Tommy Wiseau is completely exceptional, and he pulls off this eccentric character to perfection.’

Director: James Franco

Cast: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen & Ari Graynor

Synopsis: Aspiring actor Greg Sestero moves to Los Angeles with his new friend Tommy Wiseau. Funded by $5 million of his own mysterious fortune, Wiseau writes, produces, directs and stars in a film that is truly unique.

In 2003, a film was released that was arguably the worst ever made. However, this movie was so terrible, and the creator so intriguing and mysterious, that it became a classic. The Disaster Artist tells the story of two men and the creation of the world’s greatest bad movie.

The story begins in San Francisco with aspiring actor Greg Sestero meeting eccentric Tommy Wiseau in an acting class. Greg wants Wiseau to help him rehearse, as he admires his fearlessness and complete lack of embarrassment on stage. The pair quickly become friends, and it is not long before Wiseau suggests they move to an apartment he owns in LA to pursue their careers. Sestero is taken aback, but agrees. However when they arrive in Los Angeles they discover that becoming an actor is more difficult than they had anticipated.

After almost giving up, Wiseau has a brainwave, to write his own movie for them both to star in. At first Sestero is shocked, but eventually agrees to take one of the starring roles as Mark. The filming of The Room doesn’t exactly run smoothly, as Wiseau constantly arrives late to set, forgets lines that he wrote himself and refuses to provide his actors with water. The cast and crew are also completely confused by Wiseau’s inexplicable acting choices and nonsensical plot. After a heated argument on one of the final days of filming, Sestero storms out and doesn’t reunite with Wiseau until the film premiere, eight months later.

Franco’s acting as the mysterious Tommy Wiseau is completely exceptional, and he pulls off this eccentric character to perfection. Another aspect of this film that I enjoyed was the ending scene, which contained side by side comparisons of The Room’s original scenes and the recreated ones with the cast of The Disaster Artist. This really showed the quality of acting from the cast, who all recreated the iconic scenes almost exactly. On the other hand, I did feel that the character of Tommy Wiseau was a little too unlikeable, as I personally could not really find much to like about Franco’s character. This made the ending where Wiseau and Sestero meet again not as effective as it could have been. On the whole though, this film was very entertaining and a far better movie than the one it is based on.

The Disaster Artist is currently available on Prime Video and was rated 15 by the BBFC.

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game Review

by E. Stevens

***** 5 Stars

‘The tragic ending leaves a lasting impression on the viewer and is a harsh reminder of the prejudice that thousands of people have faced throughout history.’

Director: Morten Tyldum

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode & Alex Lawther

Synopsis: Mathematician Alan Turing joins a team of cryptographers trying to break the Enigma code during the Second World War. Turing soon realises that the current method of trial and error is failing, and that it may take a machine to beat a machine.

The Imitation Game showcases arguably one of Benedict Cumberbatch’s best performances. His portrayal of the brilliant mathematician, who doesn’t exactly have a way with people, immediately entrances the viewer and helps to create an exquisite movie. Watching this film, you will be sucked into Turing’s journey to building a revolutionary machine that can break the Enigma’s code.

The story takes place over three different time frames, which runs the risk of confusing the audience, however Tyldum executes the time jumps in such a way that they work perfectly. The film opens in 1951, where two policemen begin to investigate Alan Turing over a break-in at his house. The main part of the film however, takes place at the height of the Second World War, when Turing joins a team of cryptographers working to break the Enigma code at Bletchley Park. Throughout this, Tyldum introduces various flashbacks to Turing’s youth, revealing how he first became interested in cryptography, as well as him discovering his homosexuality.

Keira Knightley also gives an amazing performance as Cambridge graduate Joan Clarke. Turing is introduced to her when he starts to seek replacement cryptographers, by setting them various puzzles. Turing expects no one to be able to solve the second puzzle in under six minutes, as it takes him eight, but Joan proves him wrong and starts work at Bletchley Park. Turing’s homosexuality is soon revealed, but in order to allow Joan to remain at Bletchley, he must get engaged to her. However, he later begins to have doubts if his decision was the right one.

The final scene is arguably the best out of the entire movie. It is completely heart-breaking, as we see Turing near the end of his life in the 1950s, having been treated inhumanely as a result of his homosexuality being exposed. Joan Clarke visits him, and is shocked at his condition and the pair proceed to have one of the most emotional scenes I have ever seen. The tragic ending leaves a lasting impression on the viewer and is a harsh reminder of the prejudice that thousands of people have faced throughout history.

The Imitation Game is currently available on Prime Video and was rated 12 by the BBFC.

Finding Dory

Finding Dory Review

by H. Thomas

***** 5 Stars

‘The animation of each character and object in the film, down to the reflections in the water, is flawless, and each well-known character is brought to life again with the same lovable personalities.’

Director: Andrew Stanton

Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill & Hayden Rolence

In this long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo, the story picks up one year after Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a lost fish with short-term memory loss, befriended Marlin the clownfish (Albert Brooks) on his quest to find his son Nemo (Hayden Rolence). She has settled into life with Marlin and Nemo at the reef perfectly – that is, until, something extraordinary happens. For the first time, she remembers her parents, and where they are living, and instantly sets upon a journey to find them. In her haste, however, she is captured by a marine life rescue team and put into quarantine at a Californian marine life centre. Unbeknownst to her, this is the place she is looking for, and she strikes up a deal with Hank (Ed O’Neill), a sarcastic octopus with a fear of going back to the ocean, to help her find her parents in one of the many exhibits. Meanwhile, Marlin and Nemo enlist the help of territorial sealions, an outcast seabird, an over-talkative clam and many other sea creatures living at the centre, all in their mission to find Dory.

In the thirteen years between the release of Finding Nemo and the release of this film, it is very clear that the Pixar team have been working endlessly to make this sequel live up to fans’ expectations, and it has paid off. The animation of each character and object in the film, down to the reflections in the water, is flawless, and each well-known character is brought to life again with the same lovable personalities. This is particularly prevalent in Nemo, as Hayden Rolence is the second voice actor to play Nemo and has maintained his character perfectly. These well-loved characters combine wonderfully with new introductions, who bring new friends, story-lines and comedy into the franchise, and overall, this second film in Pixar’s World-under-the-sea is just as brilliant and heartwarming, perhaps even more so, than the first.

Finding Dory is currently available on Sky and Disney + and was rated U by the BBFC.

Hollywood

Hollywood Review

by E. McDonnell

***** 5 Stars

‘One of the best series Netflix has produced in a while. Dreamland is waiting…’

Directors: Ian Brennan & Ryan Murphy

Cast: David Corenswet, Darren Criss, Laura Harrier, Jeremy Pope, Samara Weaving, Jim Parsons & Dylan McDermott

Plot Synopsis: In post-World War II Hollywood, aspiring actors and filmmakers will do almost anything to make their showbiz dreams come true.

From the opening silent film title cards and lavish, metaphor filled opening credits of Hollywood, the new series from Netflix, where characters climb to the top of the Hollywood sign overlooking the bright lights of La La Land to a 1950s swing soundtrack that just makes you want to get up and dance, I knew this was going to be a great watch…

From the outset, the series promises to immerse the audience in the world of the ‘golden age of Hollywood’, a world of glitz and glam, spotlights and studio lots, and it did not disappoint. The world is amazingly recreated, with an authentic feel of the 1950s, from the ‘diner’ sets, to the cars, the Oscar ceremonies, the studio sets and the outfits, which all look straight out of a film from the time.

There is a surreal and eye-popping aesthetic, jumping from black and white films, to authentic images of real people, to the new 1950s created. The attention to detail is astounding and you can feel the passion for the project from everyone involved. The feel of the series, perfectly captures the essence of Hollywood then, and perhaps, now; as well as the joyful excitement of the movies and what they can mean to everyone involved in heir creation and the world around them, but more importantly how they can shape that world.

But the centre point for the series really is the incredible acting talent of familiar faces, although not particularly stars (yet), which really helps us go on this journey with the characters. In a way, the characters themselves are archetypes of the films of that era, from suave film noir characters, to the everymen, wannabe actresses and corrupt studio owners. Although, the show flips these ideas on its head and explores every aspect of each of the characters, not one of them is two-dimensional and the creators leave no stone unturned when it comes to exploration of this world. Certain characters are shown in a certain way, only for the series to make the audience rethink how they should perceive them, making for an exciting watch. There is also an inception-esque element to the show, with the actors acting as actors, acting to become actors, and playing characters in the films that the characters spend the series trying to create- all without becoming disjointed or confusing. This delicate balance truly demonstrates the great writing, editing and acting.

Another inventive aspect is that every character plays a major part in the story, and the way their paths cross and intertwine, miraculously around the creation of one movie, is extremely clever and exciting to watch. It is also very emotional, with numerous heart-felt moments of sadness, joy and overwhelming feelings that transcend the time of the show and make it extremely poignant today.

But what else the series does exceptional well is expose the dark underbelly of Hollywood and the dark side to fame, exploring the extent of what the characters (and so many real people even today) are willing to do to become a star. There are also many social and political themes in the series, however, that are never explored in such a way that become too preachy, often through moving monologues, again demonstrating the exceptional acting talent. The exploration of sexuality, misogyny and race, in post-war America is extremely poignant and powerful to watch as the characters fight to be heard. The show is also extremely subversive often ending in cliff-hangers and situations that make for an entertaining and powerful watch.

Although, there are obviously explicit scenes that are essential to highlight the lengths certain characters have to go to, to get their shot at stardom – don’t let this put you off. Not only is the series very gracious with these scenes, more concerned with the morality of the situations and feelings of the characters involved, but the series condemns these actions and characters eventually get their comeuppance. While the first few episodes are at times very explicit, conveying the characters journeys to the fictional ‘Ace studios’, it is necessary to tell the true-life stories of these people and reveal the dark side to Hollywood.

However, the series progresses to an outcome that is both shocking, emotional and satisfying, showing no matter your background, feelings or race, movies and film-making have the power to bring people together and change the world.

Overall, this is a truly beautiful, uplifting and inspiring series, that is perfect for anyone who has a love for film and television, one of the best series Netflix has produced in a while. Dreamland is waiting…

Hollywood is currently available on Netflix and was rated 15 by the BBFC.

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane: Classics Review

by 0. Spooner

***** 5 Stars

‘This film is great and should be strongly recommended as one of the best films ever made.’

Director: Orson Welles

Cast: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton & Dorothy Comingore

Synopsis: After one of the biggest Newspaper tycoons dies, a group of reporters go to everyone he used to know to find out the meaning of his last word- ‘Rosebud.’

First off, why do the reporters need to know the meaning behind the famous last words – rosebud? The truth is that they think it will lead them to discover everything about his life. The story is very unique and I’ve never heard of any idea like this. It’s very good how the story is presented, in a series of flashbacks showing his life from a little kid to his dying moments, when he utters his final word. What is also great about this film is that the director stars in the film and co-writes the original screenplay. That is an incredible achievement. The whole film is very emotional as you go through the more unfortunate phases of his life but there are also some truly happy parts too that cover the more successful phases of his life.

There are some problems, as at first the film is quite slow but as the film goes on, it becomes more fast-paced. Some scenes feature eerie music and thunderous weather, which would usually be seen in a horror film but this film is not that. Speaking of which, one of the strangest things that happen during the film is when something appears on the screen and makes a loud noise – it can come as a bit of a shock! But even though there are these minor flaws, the film is still a very great film.

Overall, this film is great and should be strongly recommended as one of the best films ever made.

Citizen Kane is currently available on BBC iPlayer and was rated U by the BBFC.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park Review

by E. Stevens

***** 5 Stars

‘One of the most impressive features of Jurassic Park is the special effects. Despite the film being made in 1993, almost all of the dinosaurs look reasonably realistic, an impressive feat considering how rapidly technology has improved over the years.’

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Sam Neill, Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern & Jeff Goldblum

Plot Synopsis: John Hammond opens a unique wildlife park that has brought dinosaurs back to life. However, when the security system breaks down, the dinosaurs are let loose and chaos ensues.

This film is an extremely well-loved classic for a reason. The amazing acting and various beautiful shots combined with the iconic score make for a near-perfect movie.
The story follows palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant who is introduced to John Hammond and his brand new wildlife park. But there is one thing that makes this park different: it contains real, breathing dinosaurs. Grant soon learns how these giant reptiles were brought back to life; their DNA was extracted from mosquitoes preserved in amber. Hammond then offers to take Grant, lawyer Donald Gennaro, paleobotanist Dr Ellie Sattler, chaos theorist Ian Malcolm and his two grandchildren Tim and Lex on a tour of the island. However Hammond remains behind in the control room to oversee the journey. The group doesn’t see the dinosaurs at first, and soon the tour is cut short due to a tropical storm. Meanwhile, lead computer programmer Dennis Nedry sabotages the security system in order to steal dinosaur embryos for a rival company. The tour group are stranded in front of the Tyrannosaurus Rex section, and as the power has gone out, the various dinosaurs escape and wreak havoc across the park.

Spielberg is truly at his best in this film. One of the most impressive features of Jurassic Park is the special effects. Despite the film being made in 1993, almost all of the dinosaurs look reasonably realistic, an impressive feat considering how rapidly technology has improved over the years. What makes this even more remarkable is that the dinosaurs appear in the majority of scenes. Spielberg doesn’t just rely on suspense (as seen in Jaws), but instead risks frequent use of special effects that could be in danger of looking outdated in the future. However, in my opinion, this was a risk that paid off, as this is a film that I believe will stand the test of time.

Jurassic Park is currently available on Prime Video and was rated PG by the BBFC.

The Wrong Missy

The Wrong Missy Review

by J. Dalgleish

*** 3 Stars

The Wrong Missy could be the weirdest thing I have watched this year.

Director: Tyler Spindel

Cast: David Spade, Lauren Lapkus

Synopsis: Disaster strikes when a man invites his dream girl to an island resort — but a previous blind date shows up instead.

The Wrong Missy could be the weirdest thing I have watched this year. Lauren Lapkus produced a few laughs from me but this film did not have a good structure to it and the story was pretty simple. A man meets a crazy girl on a blind date, falls in love with another woman and invites her on holiday. It turns out the two women have the same name and he takes the wrong Melissa on holiday and everyone is weirded out by this, but by the end he falls in love with the crazy Missy. It is not your classic romance movie but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I enjoyed watching it, but I feel that there could have been many things done to this film to make it a bit better. For instance, it was a relatively short movie and they did not give much time to give reasons why Tim actually fell in love with Missy.

I appreciate the Vanilla Ice cameo at the end, that was pleasing. Some scenes were very well shot and the place they went on holiday was a beautiful place to film. Some of the scenes that needed hard editing such as Missy’s fall scene and the shark scene were very well put together and that surprised me considering the pretty lacklustre story-line. The ending was satisfying enough as they just end up back together after weeks of her ignoring him as she saw texts between him and the other Melissa about how crazy she is before him falling in love with her. There is no issue with acting in this, every character arc is fine. There are no problems in that sense; it’s just the story-line annoyed me. If that was improved a little bit, I would’ve enjoyed this movie a little bit more than I did. I laughed quite a bit because the movie was very funny but that’s what they were aiming for I reckon.

The Wrong Missy is currently available on Netflix and was rated 15 by the BBFC.

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel Review

by O. Spooner

**** 4 Stars

‘The animation for Alita, and all the other cyborgs, is amazing. The clearly fake metal body combined with the almost human facial features are extremely good.’

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz & Keean Johnson

Synopsis: 300 years after the fall, a cyborg surgeon repairs a girl he found in a junkyard, with no memory of who she is. The girl begins to learn many things about her surroundings, including the person who rebuilt her secret life as a hunter warrior.

First of all, what is a hunter warrior? A hunter warrior as basically a bounty hunter and a very emotional backstory explains why the cyborg surgeon, Dr Dyson Ido, became one. Second of all, what is ‘The Fall’? The Fall was a massive war which separates the place the film is set into two parts. Anyway, Alita is obviously the name of the main character. The animation for her, and all the other cyborgs, is amazing. The clearly fake metal body combined with the almost human facial features are extremely good. The scenery also looks amazing as it seems realistic and blends in, but you can tell that something about it is fake. One thing that is also incredible is Motorball, a crazy fast-paced sport in which you ride around an arena with a strange ball and try to score, whilst also trying to be the last one standing. The idea is great and the arena where it’s played in the film looks incredible!

There are obviously some bad parts and for most of the film, the villain seems confusing. During one of the first scenes, a ‘wanted’ poster explains that there is a murderer on the loose, who has murdered 6 people. It seems like this is forgotten because this has nothing to do with the film. Another one is this large cyborg called Grewishka, he also turns out to be a dead end. And finally, there’s Vector who is technically a villain, but at the same time, he isn’t really – he’s more of an anti-hero then a villain. Another bad thing is that the film is extremely dark, with some very graphic scenes, including someone’s severed head which might be a bit frightening for some viewers.

Overall, this film is great but you can tell why this film has its age rating.

Alita: Battle Angel is currently available on Sky and was rated 12 by the BBFC.