He lives and breathes! Yes, after a month or so of intense school work and exams HMBW makes a triumphant return. This may or may not be the greatest comeback since The Force Awakens - but I thank you all for hanging on so long. I have seen a plethora of movies since I've been gone and I'm thrilled to finally catch you up on them. So enough of the chinwagging - here is my first in a series of cluster reviews, summarising the ups and downs since Easter...
It has taken a staggering eight months for comedian Bo Burnham's directorial debut to hit UK cinemas. Released in the same weekend as a small film named Avengers: Endgame - Eighth Grade stood quietly in the corner, overshadowed by others - much like our introvert protagonist Kayla Day.
Eighth Grade follows this shy teenager as she tries to survive her disasterous last week of middle school before moving up. Elsie Fisher blossoms as a young wallflower consumed by social media and modern societal expectations. Burnham's tremendous coming-of-age tale is remarkably in touch with the youth of today, as well as his uniquely uncomfortable exploration of teenage girlhood. From practising slobbery wet kisses on your hand, to experimenting with a banana - Eighth Grade realises the struggles girls must face at this age and the lengths they go to in order to gain social acceptance.
Burnham isn't afraid to drop you right in at the deep end, taking his time to present the painfully awkward reality of adolescence. It's endearing yet heartbreaking to see Kayla stutter over a single sentence for about five minuets, to see her father haplessly try to connect with her - but sometimes the scenes drag on a little too long.
Furthermore, the music choices feel quite jarring. Anne Meredith's plunky, electro score stands out but not always in the best way. Whilst it cleverly echoes the snapchat dependent teenager wildlife, sometimes it breaks up the pleasant toe-nail curling flow of the movie. That being said, Eighth Grade has produced a promising new filmmaker who has an eye for the discomfort of human experience, and a young actress who cleverly understands the subtlety of performance.
Tolkien feels as long but no where near as magical as a read of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The family of the legendary author have shunned the movie - and with good reason too. According to Sky News, Tolkien's estate put out a statement saying how they neither "approve of" or "endorse" the Finnish director's movie. To be perfectly honest, Dome Karukosi couldn't have made this extraordinary individual seem more ordinary if he had tried.
A war-time biopic without any enchantment - Tolkien misses everything that makes the mythical author so significant. We see glimmers of his inspiration: a bird shadow cast by a spinning lamp and wicked thorn branches creeping through a moonlit window both hint at the middle earth setting. Sadly Karukosi lapses into a crummy Dead Poets Society-esque drama instead, and isn't helped by Nicholas Holt's incredibly dry performance.
There is no dynamism between the group, even the faint mention of Bilbo Baggins rings more exciting than these bland individuals. Likewise, Holt's relationship with Lily Collins is functional rather than romantic. Swords replaced for pencils, horses exchanged for bikes - Tolkien makes the man behind the magic seem even more improbable.
You could not imagine a more unlikely couple than this - but oh my does Long Shot make this relationship click. Johnathan Levine (from 2017's truly trash Snatched) takes a brilliantly impossible pair who stick two fingers up to the dating algorithm that said they could never make it. In this funny and fresh comedy we see Journalist Fred Flarsky reunite with his now extremely powerful childhood babysitter crush Charlotte Field. During her campaign for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speech writer and the two begin to connect.
Sparks fly in this progressive rom-com that gives contemporary politics a run for its money. Playing over one of the film's montages is Bowie's "Modern Love" - and no song could summarise this weirdly charming flick better. Steering away from her typical Atomic Blondness Charlize Theron proves to be a dab hand at comedy, while Seth Rogen delivers probably the most charming performance of his career. But put together though this oddball couple are inseparable. Beyond their marvellous performances Theron and Rogen have a genuine connection, impressively ping ponging off one another comedically. Nevertheless, it takes a while for the jokes to pick up - especially in the first twenty minuets.
Long Shot is certainly a special rom-com. Levine updates the typical genre conventions and expectations of the male and female characters, Theron is depicted as powerful and willing, she holds a great deal of responsibility but shows reasonable vulnerability - wearing the trousers in the relationship, yet Rogen is the one who pursues her. As the film cleverly mentions at one point - it's Pretty Woman but he's Julia Roberts and she's Richard Gere.
Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah mould their screenplay to fit the modern climate - literally. Cleverly criticing a certain president who simply doesn't believe in climate change - Long Shot advocates for environmental preservation through Charlotte's ultra green agenda. This is one of many examples that prove how relevant and important this rom-com is, although it shoots itself in the foot with unnecessarily crude humour - this long shot isn't as impossible as it seems.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu
The release of Detective Pikachu is a big deal - not just for fans of the quirky manga but for Japanese pop culture itself. In fact Pokémon's success has been so momentous, many would even argue that the pocket monsters are a key aspect of the country's current identity. Though we've previously seen Ash and the gang in TV shows, games and straight to DVD movies - Detective Pikachu is the first major Pokémon flick.
From Dan Letterman (Monsters vs Aliens and Shark Tale), this story takes place in a world where humans and Pokémon live in harmony. Our hero Tim stumbles upon a talking Pikachu - the two band together to unravel a dark mystery that threatens the tranquility of Ryme City.
A candy-coated mix of Blade Runner and Who Framed Roger Rabbit - Detective Pikachu zaps like a bolt of lightning. This neon-drenched caper shows clear influence from staple sci-fi movies, vibrant street light lurks into the shadows similar to how Ridley Scott plays with artificial lighting in his 1982 masterpiece. I know that's a grand comparison to make - nevertheless Letterman's eye popping visuals intelligently pay homage to previous genre greats. But ultimately this is a detective story, and thanks to a reasonably well constructed script Detective Pikachu is "very twisty". When we reach the third act, things become fairly by the book but overall this wacky comedy will keep you guessing.
One of the biggest concerns with this movie was Ryan Reynolds voicing the yellow fluff ball. Quite simply, he works as Pikachu because he doesn't - the casting choice is so outrageously left field yet so marvellously distinct. As an amnesiac caffine addict, Reynolds brings even more of his Deadpool wit to the table - and suffice to say, he is absolutely hilarious.
Detective Pikachu has this zippy energy that really gives it momentum. There are enough colours and big set pieces to feast your eyes on, as well as a scattering but not an over abundance of your favourite Pokémon. Tim's quest to find his dad is as cute as it needs to be, but perhaps not as cute as the furry detective himself. However, most integrally, it was an amazing experience to see Pokémon fans' collective awe over the film from an outsider's perspective - without a doubt the most pleasant takeaway from this dazzling feast.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu:
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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.