Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan (Screenplay)

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Harry Styles

 

Plot: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Epic War Thriller

 

Story: Dunkirk starts as we English soldier Tommy (Whitehead) desperately making his way to the beach on Dunkirk for the evacuation of the British Soldiers, all 400,000 are waiting for this moment, as Commander Bolton (Branagh) is arranging this on the beach as the soldiers are being picked off from the air. Back home Mr Dawson (Rylance) is taking his son Peter (Glynn-Carney) and friend George (Keoghan) by his small weekend yacht to Dunkirk as the private boats are being called upon to rescue the soldiers. In the air spitfires pilots Farrier (Hardy) and Collins (Lowden) are leading the battle from the skies as they look to defend the returning ships.

The three stories play out through the different time leading up to the final moments of the film in what is known as one of the greatest rescue missions of all time in any war.

 

Thoughts on Dunkirk

 

Characters – Tommy, Gibson and Alex are three soldiers stuck on the beach of Dunkirk, they try their hardest to get off the beach of Dunkirk, we see their struggles like many of the soldiers who would have wanted safety in the horrors of war. Mr Dawson, Peter and George show three figures who couldn’t fight in the war but will do everything for their own part in saving the soldiers. The Shivering soldier shows us the effects of war on these soldiers as he doesn’t want to return to the horrors. Commander Bolton shows us how a leader should act on the battle field, being prepared to wait for his men to be saved before himself. Farrier and Collins show us the risk from the air and just how dangerous this side of the battle. We might not learn too much about the characters backgrounds but we also don’t need to, this story is about the heroic story not what these men did before became soldiers.

PerformanceTom Hardy is easily the stand out star of this movie, but it does help that he plays the character with the most intense scenes. Cillian Murphy shows us once again he doesn’t need to be the main star of a movie to be the star and Mark Rylance follows up his recent war time Oscar win with another brilliant supporting performance. We also get to see Kenneth Branagh give us the great leader role. Extra praise must go to the unknown actors here too, Fionn Whitehead in the leading role, fantastic, Aneurin Barnard who I recently saw in a terrible horror film was also fantastic, Tom Glynn-Carney and jack Lowden both seem to shine next to Rylance throughout too. The biggest talking point about this film came in the casting of popstar Harry Styles, I have always defended this choice, and even the biggest haters of this ‘singer’ will be left applauding the guy who is wonderful in this role.

StoryThe story is known as one of Britain’s greatest rescue missions, when all hope looked lost the miracle that stop 400,000 soldiers being slaughter happened, yes, we do know the end of this story from the start. The story is split into 3 times, one covering a week, one covering a day and the other covering hours but this is designed to build up to the one moment showing the struggles the character’s involved must face. I believe this does reward by the end but at times could be difficult for some people to follow.

Action/History/WarThe action sequences are fantastic throughout the film, we don’t see the blood and gore of the war like in Saving Private Ryan or Hacksaw Ridge and for me that was good. The history of this war time event will live long in the memory of those involved and is easily one of Britain’s finest moments of unity.

SettingsEach setting looks fantastic and you can fully believe you are part of this war with these soldiers.

Special EffectsAll the effects are created to show us the stark reality of the war for the men involved, we don’t have anything going over the top which also helps.

Scene of the Movie – Spitfire over Dunkirk, this scene feels haunting throughout.

I always get annoyed by one thing in a movie, this is that moment I would say the scenes when Farrier is looking at the instruments in the cockpit, everything just went over my head there.

Final ThoughtsThis is the best British story from a World War II film that could stand on the same levels as Saving Private Ryan any day of the week.

 

Overall: Breath taking experience from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

Director: Andrew Adamson

Writer: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (Screenplay) C.S. Lewis (Novel)

Starring: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Williams Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Sergio Castellitto, Peter Dinklage

 

Plot: The Pevensie siblings return to Narnia, where they are enlisted to once again help ward off an evil king and restore the rightful heir to the land’s throne, Prince Caspian.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Magic Lost

 

Story: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian starts in Narnia where Prince Caspian (Barnes) is taken away from the kingdom for his own safety when his Uncle Miraz (Castellitto) has a son. We move to London, post-war now as we meet the Pevensie children, Lucy (Henley), Edmund (Keynes), Peter (Moseley) and Susan (Popplewell) who find themselves magically transported back to Narnia, a different Narnia to the one they left though.

With Narnia on the verge of another war the children must lead the resistance against Miraz as they all wait in hope of Aslan’s return, but with a battle from within as Prince Caspian clashes with Peter as the children must answer questions to why they abandoned Narnia all those years ago.

 

Thoughts on The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

 

Characters/PerformanceThe children are now all back in London, they get called back to be the leaders Narnia thought they were going to be. The children all seem to have smaller parts in this film and just doing less of the more we saw first time around. Prince Caspian is a solid character but nothing too important in this battle with the villain just being human makes the threat not are scary as the first time around.

Performance wise, it would be fair to say we have nothing but average at best performances here, the kids are all fine coming off slightly too posh with the rest all feeling like no bigger name actors wanted to get involved in the film.

StoryI feel the story just doesn’t seem to have the magic we had first time around, first the idea the kids just go back after the war seems out of place because the first story seems to be about escaping the war. The battle within Narnia is just a power struggle again but the animals don’t talk as much and it is mostly a human battle losing all the fantasy elements which made the first fun.

Adventure/Family/FantasyThe adventure side of the film does feel lost here, as does the family and fantasy side which showed how Harry Potter was the dominate force at the time.

SettingsThe settings also don’t seem to be as well created as first time, nothing comes off memorable through this one.

Special EffectsWith this seeming to be a human battle the special effects are no as needed in what should be a big fantasy battle film.

Final ThoughtsThis was a huge step back, with a huge budget I just don’t get how it came off as dull as it did.

 

Overall: Poor sequel that should have continued what was created.

Rating

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves (Screenplay) Pierre Boulle (Novel)

Starring: Andy Serkis, Judy Greer, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Ty Olsson, Amiah Miller, Sara Canning, Max Lloyd-Jones

 

Plot: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blockbuster of the Year

 

Story: War for the Planet of the Apes starts as two years have passed after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Caesar (Serkis) has had his ape herd in hiding with the humans desperately searching to finish the job on the apes.

The conflict between the humans now led by The Colonel (Harrelson) and the apes has intensified and after Caesar is pushed past his limits of peace he sends the ape herd to safety and goes on his own mission with his three most trusted allies Maurice (Konoval) often the voice of reason, Rocket (Notary) who would fight to the death to save Caesar and Luca (Adamthwaite) who sees his own kind betraying the apes to work for the humans.

Without giving too much more away we see how Caesar searches to find an end to the war be it peaceful or not, so his herd can just live in peace instead of watching out for humans wanting to kill them.

 

Thoughts on War for the Planet of the Apes

 

Characters/PerformanceCaesar is the hero of the previous two films, he leads the apes, he wants peace between humans and apes but this time he is pushed two far as we see a darker side of Caesar come out. We get a full story arc for Caesar through the films now but his nature has always stayed true, protect the apes from humans. The Colonel is the villain of the piece, he wants to eliminate all apes and he will not blink in his methods, he does have plenty of twists to his story arc too. Maurice has been by the side of Caesar since Rise and still his voice of reason when making any decision, the heart this character shows also brings the human child along too. Bad Ape adds the only comedy to the movie, but we didn’t need to much either, Nova shows the consequences of the war that has now been raging for 17 years has had on the Earth. Rocket is the loyal soldier willing to die. We do have other characters that don’t get flushed out as much but otherwise they do all fit their role in the film.

Performance wise, Andy Serkis completes his third outing as Caesar and shows just how fantastic he is, give this man an Oscar nomination. Woody Harrelson is a great villain and easily the best human villain the trilogy has seen, I saw parts that reminded me of what Negan is like in the Walking Dead where he comes onto the screen gives a speech seemingly never blinking and having you just want to hear more from his. The rest of the motion capture cast are all brilliant too and the humans we see are good too.

StoryThe story does continue on the Planet of the Apes saga, we get to see how the end of the last film effected the world with the military ruthlessly hunting down the apes now. We get to see just how far Caesar could be pushed with his arc being told perfectly, the film does also go in a direction I wasn’t expecting which I did like too. If you have followed and enjoyed the first two this will feel like the bow on top of the packet it is that interesting of a story.

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/WarThe action sequences are tied in with the war side of the film as most are the elaborate battle sequences which all work and do something different on each battle. The adventure side of the film does suffer now though as we do get part adventure but in the end, we just fall into focusing on the other elements of the film. the sci-fi side of the film does show the future world that apes look to control.

SettingsThe settings bring another fresh look to the trilogy, first it was the big city, then it was the woods and the city now it is the mountain range with snow being added into the mix, the settings all work and look great through the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are brilliant, the motion capture is fantastic and this film shows just how to use special effects to their upmost.

Final ThoughtsThis has completed one of the best film trilogies of modern cinema, sure we could knit pick a couple of moments but otherwise the emotional rollercoaster you go on will leave you needing to take a breath by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Brilliant, stunning and the best modern cinema trilogy.

Rating

 

 

Okja (2017)

Director: Joon-ho Bong

Writer: Joon-ho Bong (Screenplay)

Starring: Seo-Hyun Ahn, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins

 

Plot: Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal named Okja.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Adventure

 

Story: Okja starts in the year 2007 as Lucy Mirando (Swinton) and her company have created super pigs to help halt the starvation problem the world is facing, these pigs will be raised in different countries around the world too.

10 years later Mija (Ahn) lives with her creature Okja as they live a peaceful life in the countryside. Here we see how the two help each other out through the challenges of a small farming life. The peacefully life is about to change when zoologist Johnny Wilcox (Gyllenhaal) arrives declaring Okja the winner of the super pig contest, wanting to take her back to New York.

Mija leaves home in search of Okja after learning the truth about what the super pigs are being bred for. Mija locates Okja in Seoul where activists ALF led by Jay (Dano) help release her to cause chaos in Seoul. Mija finds herself going on a world adventure with Okja becoming the face of Mirando while ALF continue to look to expose Mirando for what they really are.

 

Thoughts on Okja

 

Characters/PerformanceMija has lived with Okja for the ten years but once Okja is taken to America she sets out on a mission to find her life long friend in an adventure that takes her around the world. This is a brilliantly created vision of innocence, determination and exploitered young girl. Lucy Mirando is the owner of the company that created Okja, this is a PR stunt to help improve the image of the genetic experiments going on within the company. She is a brilliant business mind that is just waiting for her company to come good again. Johnny Wilcox is the expert and face of Mirando who has been working on the project for ten years, but slowly going insane with questionable morals and drinking problems. Jay is the leader of the latest ALF project, his team has been working to release the Super Pigs and expose the Mirando cooperation.

Performance wise, Seo-Hyun Ahn is the latest star to come out of South Korea giving us a brilliant performance in the leading role. Tilda Swinton once again show just how talented to she is even in dual roles. Paul Dano continues to know how to make his character stand out in any film too. It is Jake Gyllenhaal that steals nearly every single scene here with his completely over the top delivery that will have you in stitches everything single scene.

StoryThe story shows us how evil cooperation are willing to create animals just for consumer reasons, we see how the friendship can create an adventure that goes across the globe but this isn’t just a PG adventure this is an adult one. There are plenty of warnings in the story too, mostly around the idea of how to treat animals and not take things for granted. We do have moments of laughter and tears too so be prepared on all accounts.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action side of the film is mostly about the chases to get the freedom that Mija and Okja desire so much with the adventure being the two leaving a small farm and travelling the world. The sci-fi side of everything shows us the warning about the potential food crisis in the future.

SettingsThe settings are used wonderfully as we see the beauty of the home farm and the big city where Mija is lost searching for her friend.

Special EffectsThe effects are great through the film as we do have the CGI Okja and other super pigs that just seem to blend into the worlds perfectly.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the films that is part warning, part friendship and part social commentary as we learn the problems the world will face and how they are thinking of solving them.

 

Overall: One of the must watches of 2017

Rating

 

 

The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

Director: David Yates

Writer: Adam Cozad, Craig Brewer (Screenplay) Edgar Rice Burroughs (Creator)

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson, Margot Robbie, Djimon Hounsou

 

Plot: Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easy to Watch but Nothing Memorable

 

Story: The Legend of Tarzan starts when Leon Rom (Waltz) goes in search of diamonds in African Congo for the king Leopold of Belgium. Making a deal with Chief Mbonga (Hounsou) which involves bringing John Clayton (Skarsgard) back to the Congo.

In England John Clayton has reclaimed his title and now is being convinced into return to Congo with American George Washington Williams (Jackson) as an open invitation for England to work on building relationships with Belgium.

John along with his wife Jane (Robbie) returns to Africa to guide George and along the way he gets to reconnect with his friends both human and animal, while remember how he came to be known as Tarzan.

When Leon’s plan comes together he kidnaps Jane using her as bait to capture Tarzan but Tarzan knowing the land better than anyone joins the tribe to hunt down Leon and his men. Along the way Tarzan learns of the bigger plan in motion and must save the animals and people who raised him.

 

Thoughts on The Legend of Tarzan

 

Characters/PerformanceJohn Clayton is known as Tarzan, raised in the jungle but now living his royal title in England. He must face his past by returning to Congo and save it from invasion. This is a different look at how you would imagine Tarzan not facing much of his animal side. Jane is the feisty wife of John or Tarzan that returns to the jungle using all her knowledge to survive once she is captured. George Washington Williams is the American trying to prove the plan of thee Belgium King and a killer shot. Leon Rom is the man leading the invasion upon the Congo, his character is slightly mixed for me, one minute he is a deadly military leader the next he comes off quirky.

Performance wise, Alexander does look the part of Tarzan but he doesn’t reach all the leaves of potential you feel Tarzan needs. Margot is good as we have come to expect from this star for many years to come, Sam Jackson does his usual, turns up in a film brings a few lines of intensity even in a supporting role. Waltz continues his trend of being a bland villain in big blockbuster movies, partly because of the character or maybe because of him, we never seem to see if he is over the top or calm.

StoryThe story looks at life after the legend of Tarzan, which I did think works because how many times can we do a Tarzan meets Jane. The story does also battle the idea of stopping slavery within a country and returning to face your past which Tarzan must do. This comes off a lot more serious that I think people would imagine by not having any light-hearted moments but then it does turn into what you would expect from it.

Action/AdventureThe action is all standard to what you would expect from a jungle based movie. The adventure does take on a travel across the country feeling which does work.

SettingsThe settings look nice when they are real but too many are green screens.

Special EffectsThe special effects are weak here because you can see green screen through most of the animal human scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at the Tarzan character but in the end we have seen most of this before.

 

Overall: Simple and Entertaining.

Rating