Review – City of Tiny Lights

City of Tiny Lights, directed by Pete Travis, does not deliver a unique or original story by any stretch of the matter, but what it does do is offer up a lead character that you are interested in, and soon fully invested in, and thus you can’t help but want to be a part of his story. And it is his personal story, the past that is now resurfacing, that makes this film as compelling as it is. So there is of course more to be said about this film and this review in its fuller form is the best way to do that – so let’s get on with it, shall we? Read more

Review – Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell, directed by Rupert Sanders, doesn’t feel like it achieves its full potential, but it still does offer enough that you are continually engaged by what it is tackling, and it never feels like it loses its way. It also helps that the film is visually stunning and there are characters that hold your interest. So while it is certainly not a film that explores everything to its fullest potential, there is still something about it that keeps you wanting to watch. But let’s dive into the full review and breakdown the many points (some good and some bad) that make up Ghost in the Shell. Read more

Review – Free Fire

Free Fire, directed by Ben Wheatley, is a contained wild ride. Filled with an eclectic assortment of characters who all have their quirks, which in turn all play off of each character to the delight of the audience, who are treated to a hilariously filled 90 minutes of wise cracks and gunfire. It’s surprising how easily the film is able to hold your attention throughout all the carnage, but it does, and it all makes for an experience that you gleefully want to be a part of. So let’s get on with the full review and see what exactly it is that makes Free Fire so much fun to watch.

Set solely in a warehouse, we watch as two gangs of increasingly incompetent individuals attempt to buy and sell guns from one another. Things continually escalate until there is a popping off point and all hell breaks loose. What we end up watching is a night of gunfire, insults and the desperate want to get out alive; and if you can get the briefcase full of money out with you, well then happy days.

It is in the strength in which the characters of the film are established and written that makes this one shine. For a film that is only 90 minutes in length, it is refreshing to see how easily and how much time it gives to making sure each of the characters are set-up and clear to remember. It then from that builds upon them; establishing the dynamics between each of the characters, which pays off later on as they each encounter one another during the gunfight. It is something that was really important to the overall experience when watching the film –  a film in which you feel very much a part of.

And it is in those dynamics which have had the opportunity to be set-up and then flourish, that so much of the films enjoyment comes from. This is a really funny film; with quirky characters who are not only incompetent but also willing to double-cross their partners at the drop of a hat. But while every character is easily able to play-off of one another, the film still makes the effort to have personal grudges influence certain decisions. A perfect example would be, Frank – played by Michael Smiley – and Ord – played by Armie Hammer –  who just take an instant disliking to one another from the beginning and when bullets start flying, they two quite gleefully taunt one another; always hoping that the other hasn’t survived the most recent round of shooting. But there’s great fun to be had from it. Everyone in this film is utterly reprehensible, and you enjoy watching them torment and insult one another.

I can’t stress enough, just how integral the relationships between the multiple characters are to the film. In total you have 10 characters who are all contained within an old factory, somewhere in Boston. And by the end of the first act you have a really good grasp of who everyone is and what it is that primarily makes up their personality. From brain-dead druggies, to no-nonsense Irishmen, to a man who wears beard oil or an oddball arms dealer with a temper; Free Fire offers so much in the way of eclectic characters. None of them fade into the background and they are always a treat to watch. It is just a constant stream of individuals who stand out and hold your attention.

I think that factor is also helped by the great cast of actors who all deliver their characters brilliantly. Actors like Sharlto Copley, Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Michael Smiley, Jack Reynor, Noah Taylor, Babou Ceesay, Sam Riley and Enzo Cilenti. And while I really enjoyed all of their performances and thought they all brought it – it was Sharlto Copley who for me stole the show. He had the majority of the best lines and his character was forever stealing the scene and offering up the most laughs. Now that’s not to diminish the rest of the actors, it’s just that for me personally, he was my favourite.

But my enjoyment for all the character and the actors playing them didn’t help to solve an issue that cropped up as the film went on, and it relates to the fact that everyone in the film is completely reprehensible. I struggled to find anyone to root for. I saw all of these people who either had done terrible things or were currently doing terrible things and I just couldn’t bring myself to support any of them, no matter what dangers were upon them. But then maybe it didn’t matter? I’m not sure. I mean, my time and my experience with the film were never hampered; I never found myself losing interest or engagement with it. I was at all times interested to see how things would play out and who next might bite the bullet. It is an issue that I feel might affect some people’s time with the film and I can to an extent understand that, for me it is something I will continue to mull over.

Beyond the greatly defined characterisation of everyone, there is also a well-made film. From a blocking standpoint, the film does a good job of keeping you in the loop as to where everyone is in relation to one another, and it also utilises particular landmarks, which help you to understand the geography of the factory floor and where each person either is or is moving to. Now it wasn’t always the case; sometimes when the bullets would start flying, it became a little difficult to get a handle on who was shooting at whom and where they might be moving to. It was in the calmer of moments where you could easily re-centre yourself and begin to understand fully, how the layout of people had changed. So while it never properly affected my watching experience, it was something that I felt I had to continually do.

There is also the sound design and sound mixing which helps to communicate a lot of what is happening. Whether it is bullets ricocheting of off multiple surfaces or it is being able to hear the dialogue of a character while they are in a different area of the factory; a lot of time and attention to detail was put into making sure everything lined up and was really easy for the audience to understand where and what was happening. Simply from a filmmaking standpoint, Free Fire is very deliberate and smart in how it is executed.

Overall, Free Fire is a hilarious, carnage filled ride with characters who you want so see much more of and a situation that couldn’t be easier to get a handle on. It all adds up to a really fun time, that also surprisingly has a satisfying ending.

I’m absolutely recommending Free Fire – such an easy film to sit down and simply be a part of; where your attention will never waver and your laughing will never stop. I am confident you’ll have as much fun watching this film as I did.

I’d of course love to hear what you thought of Free Fire, or my review. So please leave any thoughts or feedback in the comments down below. If you’re interested, you can follow my blog directly or follow me over on Twitter – @GavinsRamblings. That way you’ll always know when I post something new. Thanks so much for reading my writing and I hope you’ll come back some time.

Review – Life

Life, directed by Daniel Espinosa, is not original in any way; it is a story and a concept that has been done many times before, and better (‘Alien’ being a prime  example). But, despite it not offering anything ground-breaking or different, I did still find myself engaged and rooting for the main characters. I was intrigued by how the film approached the philosophy of the situation, and it gave just enough to make me care for people who I felt I had a decent understanding of. So there are certainly some pros and cons to the film, and getting onto the full review will help clear some of them up (hopefully). So let’s get on with it. Read more

Review – The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z, written and directed by James Gray, fails to achieve or offer anything compelling enough to warrant its 2 hour and 20 minute runtime. With a lead character who is void of the necessary time or exploration to ever make you invested in him, and a story that struggles to hold your attention from worryingly early on in the film makes the film a tough one to get on board with. The lack of anything to properly connect to or care about, made The Lost City of Z a real struggle to get through. But let’s break down specifically where this film goes wrong in more detail – on with the review. Read more

Review – Get Out

Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele, has you hooked by its unsettling mystery and oddball characters. This is one of those films that never really allows you to relax or feel at ease. At all times there is that hint of tension; there is the worry of some impending horror. For someone who is most known for his comedy chops, director Jordan Peele is able to effortlessly keep you on edge and playing his game. But when it all unravels, and some of the more interesting decisions become ever more present, I found myself feeling ever so slightly disappointed. The best way to break it all down is to get on with the fuller review. So let’s do that. Read more

Review – The Love Witch

The Love Witch, written and directed by Anna Biller, is one of those films, that if you’re willing to get on-board with its kooky, indulgent approach, you’re going to have an absolute blast. It’s want to harken back to a time in cinema that is long forgotten (60’s Technicolor melodramas) makes it such a fun watch, but also its want to explore the more free, uninhibited times of 60’s cinema, goes towards highlighting the frankly stinted, fearful ways in which films of today are presented. There are many points to touch upon in this review and I’ve not even scratched the surface, so let’s get on with the fuller review, shall we? Read more

Review – Elle

Elle, directed by Paul Verhoeven, is a very honest, twisted film. The lead character in the film might be one of the most compelling and fascinating characters I’ve watched in quite some time. She forever surprised me, and I never knew what she was going to say or do next. This is also a film that balances many plot threads effortlessly; fully enveloping you in a group of people who all have their particular quirks and issues. And then every so often, it blindsides you with some disturbing events that play out in a way that I’m still thinking about. So let’s get on with the fuller review itself, and see what it is that makes this film so unforgettable. Read more

Review – Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, delivers an unexpectedly brilliant experience. I was forever amazed at just how enjoyable and fulfilling this films was; always delivering on what it set up and then building further upon it. This is a film that knows what it needed to do, and then went on to offer up, and achieve exactly what was needed. There are of course a few issues that pop up in the film – and they will be touched upon in this review – but for the most part, you have a monster movie that is more than what it could have simply been. And so, let’s jump on into the detailed review itself and see what it is that makes, Kong: Skull Island such a rewarding watch. Read more

Review – Logan

logan

Logan, directed by James Mangold, delivers the film that both the character of Wolverine and the actor, Hugh Jackman have always deserved. A focus on characters and the support of a contained, simple story, make this not only the best the X-Men franchise of films has to offer, it also now puts it in contention for one of the best superhero films. It is also a touchingly fitting end to a character that has been played by the same actor for the last 17 years. I’m eager and excited to get into the review so let’s get to it. Read more

Review – John Wick: Chapter 2

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John Wick: Chapter 2, directed by Chad Stahelski, takes what was a film that understood itself, and knew how to overcome the tropes of the genre, and unfortunately relies on what it once had overcome. This film still boasts the unrivalled action (in western cinema) that the previous had, and the work and time that goes into it cannot be overlooked. I still found much enjoyment in the film, but it doesn’t fully capitalise on what the first film set out with. This will be a mixed review; some good and some bad, so let’s get to it and see what works and what really doesn’t work in, John Wick: Chapter 2. Read more

Review – The Founder

the-founder

The Founder, directed by John Lee Hancock, is a film that by the end of it, I felt defeated and completely detached from all that happened. The film’s main focus is a person who is utterly reprehensible. I had no want to see him succeed and as his success grew, I only became more and more disconnected from the film – soon wishing it to just end, so that I could go on with my day. My review will be unkind but fair, so let’s get to it. Read more

The 2017 Oscars – Best Picture Nominations: Watched, Reviewed and Ranked

In my opinion, this is the best selection of films nominated for ‘Best Picture’ in quite a few years. That’s not to say that the previous years have been lacking, as there have been some outstanding films nominated. It’s just that this year is near enough a clean sweep in terms of the overall deservingness and quality, when all the films are considered.

But let’s stop waffling on about the quality of the overall list, and actually talk about each film individually – giving them the time and the praise they deserve. I’ll be ranking these films from my least favourite one to the one that I thought was the best. But if I’m being honest, only 1 of the films on this list is out-of-place when compared to the rest – anyway, on with the list. Read more

Review – Moonlight

moonlight

Moonlight, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, is raw, real and human. I was instantly pulled into this film; the characters and their stories was something that I just wanted to watch, and become a part of their journey. Jenkins achieves a lot in this film – it’s actually kind of unbelievable the feelings this film elicits. I was stunned by the characters and the performances behind them, and I was in awe of just how upfront and honest the film was in its filming and overall approach to its subject. I’m looking forward to writing this review, as there is much to say, so let’s get to it. Read more

Review – Hidden Figures

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Hidden Figures, directed by Theodore Melfi, does a good job in telling the stories of some remarkable women, whose stories have gone unseen. But other than that the film itself is pretty unremarkable; making no real effort to standout from any other biographical film. I actually feel that other than its three main characters, it seems to want to gloss over and demean the work accomplished by everyone at NASA during the time. This review will be an interesting one, as I feel my opinions on the film aren’t going to match up with what many people are touting this film to be. So let’s get to it. Read more

Review – Fences

fences

Fences, directed by Denzel Washington, is a brilliantly focused look on some truly honest and damaged individuals who all bring so much of their lives to the table. The film is limited in what it offers, but what it offers is just so commanding that you almost never notice. I was engrossed in the meaty, real feeling dialogue, and I genuinely became connected to the lives of the characters. So much so that I almost wanted to stand up and start shouting at some of them. But people may struggle with the length of the film (due to how limited in scope it is). I know I found many things to love, but is it enough to make this film worth seeing? Well, let’s get this review underway and see. Read more

Review – Hacksaw Ridge

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Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, is a rousing film that is very giving, in terms of the time it offers the audience to understand and connect with its main character. But it is also a film that is completely unflinching in its depiction of the battle that took place on Hacksaw Ridge. It was in that generous amount of time with the main character, that the film finds its footing, which later on makes the experience all the more poignant. So there is much to take in when watching the film, which is good for me as that makes for a review with much to say. So let’s get to it. Read more

Review – T2 Trainspotting

t2-trainspotting

T2 Trainspotting, directed by Danny Boyle, does the seemingly impossible, it returns to a well-known and beloved film with a sequel, and somehow is able to both be its own film, while still paying respecting the original. Now, the film isn’t perfect – one or two flaws do standout – but the film is able to add to the characters in a way that feels meaningful, and doesn’t ever feel like it is tarnishing the legacy of a film phenomenon; like the original Trainspotting was. So let’s make our way into the fuller review, to see just what the film is able to achieve. Read more

Review – Jackie

jackie

Jackie, directed by Pablo Larraín, is a hauntingly, distressing film, with an incredible lead performance from Natalie Portman. From its very first shot, to its very last shot, I was nearly in continuous awe of this film. It is one of those experiences that almost makes you uncomfortable in how unflinching it is. The approach that the film takes is one that doesn’t shy away from the bleak honesty of a situation that is unimaginable. This is one of those reviews were I don’t think I’m talented enough to do the film justice, but I’m going to try. So here we go. Read more

Review – Denial

denial

Denial, directed by Mick Jackson, at its core has an extremely compelling story, one which had me completely engrossed in its journey and subsequent outcome. The film does struggle at times to keep everything cohesive – large jumps in time, and some shaky character portrayals, did leave me scrunching my brow in confusion. But ultimately, there is something wholly interesting and slightly addicting about seeing the films story play out. So let’s get onto the fuller review and see just how this film shapes up. Read more