Patriots Day is directed by Peter Berg and stars Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman and Kevin Bacon. It tells the horrific story of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and how the police and FBI mounted a desperate manhunt to capture the bombers.
In classic Berg style (following his most recent work Deepwater Horizon) he takes a notorious event and creates an incredible drama, skilfully avoiding making a sensational action film. Patriots Day shows us again that Berg is extremely gifted in creating films that are more for reflection than simply for enjoyment. Beautifully thrilling and suspenseful, the film starts off with a striking style of cinematography, filmed like tv rather than a feature length movie. This may be an acquired taste to some, however as the film goes on you understand Berg's directorial concept for the film, feeling up close and personal with the characters and the breathtaking street shots of downtown Boston.
Tear-jerking from start to to finish, Patriots Day shows us the scarily realistic threat to our streets. Extremely versatile, the film prides itself on allowing the audience to feel an array of different emotions. You feel truly powerless with the weight of the film laying on you. The majority of these conflicted feelings are driven by the stunning performances from the entire cast. The young and wonderfully sickening Alex Wolff played the film's antagonist, who truly brought out the hatred within us.
The film's lead Wahlberg performed just as excellently as he did in Deepwater Horizon, showing us a different, more broken side whilst caught in the middle of the tragic events. We see all of this running around his head just through his posture and eye movement within the line of the camera. Patriots Day doesn't just deliver as a gripping recollection but offers a gritty history lesson with all the trimmings. Suspenseful throughout, as we see the build up to the event and the aftermath, a few jokey one liners are scarcely yet perfectly slipped into dialog adding more of a human feel to the characters and their reactions to everything happening around them.
In the end, Patriots Day is a fantastic piece of film that offers much. Sensitively handled and deeply tense, with a Marmite type 'love it or hate it' style of filming, the film wow's its way into audiences minds
Gritty, heartbreaking and traumatic, I am going to give Patriots Day:
Hidden Figures is directed by Theodore Melfi and stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monàe, and finally brings the hidden story of how three african-american women served a vital role during the early years of NASA to the big screen.
The industry's latest space bio-pic aims high with a perfect launch and landing whilst incorporating some exceptional star power throughout. Hidden Figures is a shining example of how bio-pic's should be made, reimagining a story that everyone knows but the women we don't. As the film gets's its message across, showing us the inequality of the racial divide at the time it never becomes forceful or overly preachy. Heartwarming in every way possible, moments that can easily become corny are delivered so well by its fabulous line up of stars they only ever feel charismatic. 'At NASA we all pee the same colour' was just one of many brilliant lines as part of a fantastically written script.
As I mentioned the actors are one of the biggest reasons Hidden Figures will not be a Hidden Treasure, whilst Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons and Kevin Costner perform excellently, every scene is quite clearly stolen once these three ladies are on screen. The film achieves exactly as promised and doesn't just show us the story of the women's roles at NASA but reveals their personal lives as well, it pleasingly highlights on the women slightly more than the space race therefore restraining itself from being an astronaut movie.
Not only standing out individually as we see the women's separate home lives, the sensational chemistry between the three ladies, swapping playful banter at times but then there to assist each other in more testing situations. The quality that enables this film to stand out from other bio-pics is how it tackles such a serious topic and yet still feels so fun and lighthearted without being too schmaltzy but still being serious enough in the right moments. Although Monàe and Spencer perform effortlessly providing many hilarious moments, the best performance was quite clearly Henson not only a victim of racism but staying up to it as well, more light should definitely be shed on her stunning performance. The 60's is beautifully interpreted for contemporary audiences, every camera shot was lovingly and painstakingly created. This was also helped by a sensational soundtrack of classic soulful music which added style and helped provide a colourful period feel to the film.
In the end, Hidden Figures tells a truly remarkable untold story, focusing not only on the racial but the gender divide as well. Never taking itself too seriously, Hidden Figures both informs and entertains equally, with it's unique whimsical charm. It's 60's backdrop still feeling refreshing, this film is a shining example of how empowering and enjoyable films that tackle racism can be. Although Moonlight was sensational Hidden Figures is slightly more enjoyable.
I am going to give Hidden Figures:
Moonlight is directed by Barry Jenkins, staring Mahershala Ali, Namoi Harris and Janelle Monáe and tells the story of a young black boy growing up in Miami.
In oscar season, which here in the UK means they all hit cinemas at the same time, there are always some nominees that feel either over rated or just there because it fits the purpose of a certain category. However every oscar nominee so far this year has been stunning such as 'La La Land' and 'Jackie'; and Moonlight certainly keeps this trend going.
Moonlight feels like the kid at the back of the class who doesn't say much but unknowingly has a lot to offer. Moonlight has ever so quietly been keeping it's head down in the crowd of all the oscar nominees until it suddenly, one day, makes a huge entrance. The entire film follows to story of a young boy named Chiron who we see grow up after life constantly knocking him down. The movie chooses to take on various different themes throughout, primarily the effects of drug abuse, race and sexuality, from a distance it seems to bite off more than it can chew, however the film literally tackles every single situation head on, therefore they are all fully explored to their full potential. In not one moment does the film focus on anything other than this young boy, there is an abundance of sub plot opportunities for the film to be easily led astray but it still keeps the focus on him showing how the world around him effects HIM and not how anyone else is effected. With little dialog throughout the film, Moonlight tells it's story through stunning camera work and a chilling ensemble of strings, every shot in the film stood out in it's own way and in the film's most crucial scenes all it uses to tell the story is a mix of colour and some tense music in the background. However done so professionally it's as if a character directly telling us what has just happened would still of had the same effect. This can also be helped by the absolutely stellar performances for Ali and Harris, who in the film's more talkative moments give it their absolute all.
At times unbearable to watch as we are hit with so many different situations as the film beautifully depicts loneliness and self discovery. One almost unnoticeable aspect to the film is how it ever so subtlety shows us crucial things in the story without beating us over the head with it, the film somewhat treats us as if we're clever, as it maturely conveys various adult themes throughout. The film then goes on to sensitively show Chiron as he explores his sexuality, sex scenes are notably uncomfortable for the majority of people watching however a particular moment in this film makes it tastefully artistic rather than being vulgar, Fifty Shades borderline offensive. An intentional slow burner, Moonlight at times feels almost a little too slow paced however this allows the film to takes it's time to fully tell us this character's story, however some people (understandably) may feel a little too bog down in the movement of the film. What some people may view as a backlash to the Oscars So White controversy last year; Moonlight, quite rightly, gives us a film with not only a black director but an entirely black cast making the film so much more empowering as it sticks to it's cultural roots.
In the end Moonlight sensitively tackles many different life issues and how it effects just this one person. With a stunning depth of emotion and a truly beautiful art house film, Moonlight is an instant classic that never boasts on it's phenomenal story telling through music and vision.
I am going to give Moonlight:
The LEGO Batman Movie is directed by Chris Mckay and stars Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis and Ralph Fiennes, and is the highly anticipated spin-off to 2014's The LEGO Movie. Here we see Bruce Wayne not only trying to clean up the streets of gotham, whilst it's greatest super villains run amok but he must also face trying to raise the young orphan he mistakenly adopted.
The LEGO Batman Movie takes everything fun and exciting from the Batman universe and turns it into a high energy animated adventure. From the explosive opening scene, we are instantly hit with a quick and quirky joke as Batman pokes fun at the opening credits. As we then see every villain in Gotham terrorise the streets in the classic Batman style we all know and love, from there on the movie is incredibly faced paced, hitting us with joke after joke after joke. Although, it's fair to say after a while it became a little exhausting, whilst still being hilarious, at times the movie really needed a change of pace so we as an audience can sort of take in what has just happened. As the film is so high energy, it feels like it goes too quickly and you didn't get to appreciate every single treasure that the film had to offer.
The LEGO Movie, undoubtedly, had one of the best messages a kid's movie could ever offer and the entire film chooses to focus on it's rather well structured plot than it's action. The LEGO Batman Movie choses to focus on a different kind of message that in the end still had as much of an emotional impact on audiences as it did in the first movie but in a different way. Aside from focusing a lot more on jokes and action scenes, it also focuses on the development of Batman. As you go out of this movie you may feel that the storyline didn't challenge you as much as The LEGO Movie did however after going away and thinking about it this whole film suddenly has a lot more meaning to it than one would think. Whilst it's plot is so enjoyably simple as it is so rewarding to just see Batman kick and punch his way out of a situation where his greatest enemy's crowd onto the screen. The whole film is dedicated to Batman, and what is done so incredibly well is development of the character, as we see him progress throughout the film.
One thing the film certainly did well was of course it's wide variety of Batman villains. We are shown enough of each wonderful villain, who are all redesigned in beautifully new Lego moulds. Cera was just the right amount of adorable annoyance as Robin, so thankfully never became over bearing which due to the trailers I feel he may have. Other characters like Galifianakis who does a wondeful take on the joker, Harley Quinn's cutesy psycho, Alfred who offers a lot more of the films more heartfelt moments, also kicks butler ass. And of course the sulky, narcissistic, Batman, offering us nearly all of the film's tropes as the movie skilfully creates even more classic slapstick moments. Not only referring to other Lego characters, the abundance of pop culture references constantly hitting us whilst being seamlessly smart and inventive, that it really is one of the film's best traits, as it not only recreates past Batman movies in Lego, but makes huge references to films like Harry Potter and The Matrix. The usually dark and dismal streets of Gotham are brought to life in some seriously impressive Lego structures and wonderful arrays of technicolour bricks, expanding the world of gotham making the film a fun, if not frenetic blast.
In the end The Caped Crusader is back in what is probably the best Batman movie since 'The Dark Knight', though it doesn’t quite capture the magic of ‘The Lego Movie’, Lego Batman is a character led, family adventure.
I am going to give The LEGO Batman Movie:
Sing is directed Christophe Lourdelet and Garth Jennings, staring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett Johanson and tells the story of a Koala named 'Buster Moon' who's theatre is struggling after many years usage, therefore decides to pump life back into his flagging business by running a singing competition.
Illumination Entertainment more often then not, create wonderfully fun flicks that are usually targeted at younger audiences as they seem to present more lighthearted and forgettable story lines like 'The Secret Life of Pets' or 'Despicable Me 2' have done in the past. However Sing is certainly a family friendly experience. The opening sets up the protagonist's back story however doesn't take too much of our time to explain the premise, we are briefly told all we need to know as the film then proceeds to excellently set up each character with a short burst of musical accompaniment. This quickly sets up the array of characters whilst maintaining the energetic buzz as the film opens. From there on, Sing is a highly enjoyable adventure throughout.
Wisely, the film chose to take no inspiration from it's works previous storylines and crafted a plot that's so simply sweet yet never feels like a rehash of recent animations. As many children's films mainly chose animals as their core characters, Sing may seem like something we have seen very recently such as Disney's 'Zootropolis' however it's ingenious use of animals with human characteristics, still feels refreshingly original. And that certainly is the film's main triumph, it could have easily over crowded itself with its abundance of characters. However it successfully shows us enough of each character allowing us to relate to them as we see their development throughout the film. Each character complimented one another nicely as they all had completely different personalities which helped the film branch off into more heartfelt moments as the story explores different people and their contrasting relationships, this of course works in favour of the film, adding more depth to the story. It also succeeds by retaining itself from the over usage of annoying characters; it still gives us them... but in short bursts. This could have easily ruined the entire movie but thankfully all loud mouth, irritating characters were shied away from this particular movie.
Whilst at times it can get a little overly silly by repeating the same gags and slipping in a few fart jokes for the little ones, on the whole Sing was incredibly humours and at times made the adults laugh even more than the children. Choked full of quick whited one liners and laugh out loud slapstick moments that reminisce over hollywood greats like 'Laurel and Hardy'. Mainly resulting in the accidental beat up of the hundred and something year old receptionist, the film's comedic timing was perfect. By now it is expected for animations like these to be visually impressive and with just a quick mention, the films graphics just as usual are wonderful.
A strong message that I felt was apparent in the film was the classic underdog story. Instead of superheroes as it's theme, Sing originally uses Music as it's main inspiration and shows us a group of ordinary animals who aren't your classic skinny, perfect looking singers. A chunky pig, an enormously shy elephant, a moody porcupine, a boyish young gorilla and an aspiring, charismatic koala is what truly makes the film heartwarmingly sentimental. The characters add so many layers to the plot helping it stand out as a film in the genre.
In the end, Sing is a heartwarmingly family friendly film that adds some more originality the genre, beautifully characterised and a fantastically put together soundtrack helped by the stunning voices throughout the film.
I am going to give Sing:
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.