Review – Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, is a film that absolutely succeeds at establishing, and then fully developing, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, as a character. It also achieves something I was not expecting; and that was a character relationship that truly transcended everything else in the film. But of course the film is not without problems, and I think those problems might sadly hold the film back from being something more than just another superhero movie. Through my review, we can hopefully explore more of what it is that makes the film stumble but also shine, so let’s get to it. Read more

Review – War Machine

War Machine, written and directed by David Michôd, is a film that approaches its main topic in a tonally surprising way. It then also evolves its tone in a way that doesn’t usually work out well, but in War Machine, it actually elevates the effect of the overall film, and helps it to surprise you with a few emotional gut punches that you don’t see coming. And then there is of course the very interesting performance from, Brad Pitt – a performance that I think will divide opinion. But let’s dispense with the intro and the sweeping statements and actually get into the more detailed review. So let’s get to it. Read more

Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

*This review will contain minor spoilers for, Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge*

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, further proves that this franchise of films has well and truly had its day. It contains a laughably weak story that only becomes more uninteresting as the film goes on, and a host of characters who you don’t care about, and very much over-stay their welcome. This is a film that is unnecessary, tedious, and by the end, something you just want to be over. Let’s get onto the review – one that won’t be to kind, but that unfortunately can’t be avoided. Read more

Review – King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, directed by Guy Ritchie, is a film that does not skimp on style. A quick, witty editing style, music that elevates every moment it is a part of, and action that is exciting to watch; King Arthur is undoubtedly a well-made film, from a cinematic standpoint. However the film has the big issue of being all style and no substance. With characters that lack individuality and a story that is predictable; the film undoubtedly struggles to offer anything new or narratively memorable. And so that leaves me to wonder: Is the film’s bombastic, fun, exciting and rewarding to look at style, enough to make this summer blockbuster experience, one worth seeing? Well, let’s find out through this review, shall we. Read more

Review – Miss Sloane

Miss Sloane, directed by John Madden, is a film that offers both a powerhouse performance by, Jessica Chastain and a powerhouse of a character; one that dominates every scene she is in, and has your full attention at all times (quite deservingly). And then beyond that it also has a tightly woven narrative that keeps you engaged in a subject that isn’t always the easiest to make compelling on-screen. There are many complexities to discuss within, Miss Sloane so let’s dispense with the introduction and get onto the review. Read more

Review – Alien: Covenant

*This review contains minor spoilers for Alien: Covenant.*

Alien: Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott, suffers from quite a few of the same issues that plagued its predecessor, Prometheus. But, it also overcomes some of the failings, and to an extent, offers a little of what some were probably hoping for from Prometheus. However, I don’t think it is enough – or maybe it is, I don’t know yet. The best way to figure it out is to write all my thoughts out in this review; almost like a therapy session. So let’s move on from the intro and get on with the main review. Read more

Review – Tramps

Tramps, written and directed by Adam Leon, is a very small, very simple film. In fact it’s perhaps a little too small and simple for its own good – at times. It is in the films leads that this film shines, and through their new, fast developing relationship that I found the most enjoyment. Beyond that it is a very bare bones affair, which isn’t actually an overall negative, but it certainly is an issue that causes the film to stumble and not fully complete what it sets out to do. But let’s wrap-up this intro and get on with the review itself, and see what it is that Tramps has to offer. Read more

Review – Horizon Zero Dawn

Horizon Zero Dawn, developed by Guerrilla Games, is certainly one of Sony’s new top-tier franchises; one that will surely have many more instalments to come – and for good reason. With a story that is expansive and well-told (though I did feel it struggled at times – conceptually) a diverse selection of characters (which is one of the few positives I can think to say right now), and gameplay that – when you get the hang of it – is really rewarding and ever so slightly addicting (prepare to find yourself running around various environments looking for the right animal skin to get you that next ammo-pack upgrade). Horizon has much to offer (but that’s not necessarily a positive). So let’s wrap-up this intro and get onto the full review and see what it is that makes this game so mixed, yet worthy of praise. Read more

Review – In the Shadow of Iris

In the Shadow of Iris, directed by Jalil Lespert, is a film that at first feels meandering and without a clear direction; a film that felt like it was going down a pretty predictable path and wasn’t going to add up to much. Those were my initial thoughts as I watched this film, but boy did that completely change by the end. In the Shadow of Iris is filled with unexpected twists, well-woven, juicy characters, and an overall feeling that is intoxicating. So let’s dispense with the introduction and slip into the fuller, more exploratory review. Read more

Review – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, written and directed by James Gunn, once again delivers some of the most fun and rewarding character interactions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, structurally the film is not your normal affair, and despite it really working for me, I do feel that some audiences will struggle with the slower, less direct pace of the film. But one of the biggest questions that everyone probably has, is does the film out-do its predecessor? Well let’s get into the fuller review itself and see if we can answer that question, while also exploring the many offerings of Vol. 2. Read more

Review – The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending, directed by Ritesh Batra, is a film that struggles with its pacing; some of the film can feel slow and meandering – but it’s all worth it. The growth of the main character; how the story is slowly fed to you over the course of the film; how it all comes together in a satisfying package. ‘The Sense of an Ending’ is a film that some will struggle with, but if you give it a chance, you will find something sweet and rewarding at the end of it all. But let’s dispense with the intro and get on with the main review itself. Read more

Review – Sand Castle

Sand Castle, directed by Fernando Coimbra, is a pretty basic war film. It has a simple, small story and apart from its main protagonist, it doesn’t boast characters of much note. But, it is a film that does do a good job of telling that simple, small story, and it is able to hold your attention throughout. But is it enough? Is Sand Castle a film worth your time? Well let’s get onto the full review and find out. Read more

Review – The Void

The Void, written and directed by Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski, is a film that is clearly inspired by, and attempts to be like, the low-budget horror films that were so prevalent in the 80’s. Now while it does achieve some of the elements, it sadly isn’t really able to capture the charm or the fun that made those types of film so popular and memorable. There is just something missing; something that unfortunately leaves the film unable to make an impact. But let’s move into the full review and breakdown what it is that doesn’t work in The Void. Read more

Review – The Handmaiden (Director’s Cut)

*This review will contain spoilers for, The Handmaiden. I usually avoid any and all spoilers, but with this film it is just too difficult to write a review and not go into greater detail about particular plot points or character revelations. So be warned, if you haven’t seen the film, this review will spoil some major elements of the expansive story.*  

The Handmaiden, directed by Chan-wook Park, is an exquisitely constructed piece of cinema. Every aspect of it seems so meticulously handled; each part of the intricate story is weaved in such a way that you can’t, and don’t, ever want to avert your attention. And then each character is continually evolving; causing you to completely re-map your initial assumptions of them. Quite often would this film make me wholly redefine everything I first assumed of it, and that is an incredible film watching experience to be a part of. This is one of those films where I don’t feel I have the writing ability to properly give it its due, but I’m going to try, and so on with the review. Read more

Review – Raw

Raw, written and directed by Julia Ducournau, is not a film for those with a weak stomach, nor a weak sensibility. With viscerally overwhelming sounds, images, ideas etc. Raw is able to pull you into something you are understandably reluctant to watch. But this is one of those situations where you want to look away but find yourself unable too. Its concept is disturbing, but it’s melding of that concept with things that every teenager experiences, makes it something that is utterly watchable. There’s much to get into with this film, so let’s finish with the intro and get to the meat of this review. Read more

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