Darkest Hour (2017)

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Anthony McCarten (Screenplay)

Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily James, Ronald Pickup, Stephen Dillane, Nicholas Jones

 

Plot: During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.


Tagline – Never give up. Never give in.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Historical Drama

 

Story: Darkest Hour starts as we come to London in 1940, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Pickup) is forced into resignation to help unit the divided parties as they faced in impending Nazi invasion. Who to turn to next is the question, they turned to Winston Churchill (Oldman) a formerly disgraced government member who is known for never backing down.

Churchill takes the reigns in Britain’s darkest hour as they faced certain defeat or peace talks with Hitler, but Churchill isn’t taking into lying down as he comes up with a plan to rescue the stranded troops on the beaches in Dunkirk, even with fellow members of his office trying to push him into peace talks.

 

Thoughts on Darkest Hour

 

Characters – These are all based on real people, in a rea time of crisis, which would have changed Britain as we know it today. Winston Churchill is considered one of the greatest world leaders the Earth has ever seen, he we only follow around two weeks of his career, as people are using his past mistakes against him even after picking him to be the leader, he has always been honest, he doesn’t care if you didn’t like him and he will listen to the people when searching for answers in one of the most difficult times Britain ever faced. Cemmie is Winston’s wife and one of the few people that could control him and bring out his nice side, she proves an important part of his life during this tough time because she knows how long and hard he has worked to be Prime Minister. King George VI admits to Churchill he is scared of him, he didn’t want him, but will support him decisions if they are best for the country, he gives us the most important scene in the movie. Elizabeth Layton is the new typist for Churchill, she represents the everyday person that is concerned about what might be coming and her fear helps Churchill make the decisions he does.

PerformancesIt would be fair to say that Gary Oldman has the Oscar in the bag this year, any actor that can make you not realize it is him after 2 hours of watching him deserves all the praise in the world. Jumping into the supporting cast we have wonderful performances throughout, Kristin Scott Thomas, ben Mendelsohn and Lily James take their characters and make them shine.

StoryThe story focuses on two weeks of Winston Churchill’s life, starting the day Neville Chamberlain resigned to the moment Britain refused to surrender to the Nazi invasion heading our way. This is a huge moment in history and seeing the political divide between the people in office shows the terror, fear and panic the minds would have been going through during this horrendous time. The story does shine a spotlight on the idea that the public were not completely sure what was going on and had to trust the government to make the right decision too.

Biopic/History/WarChurchill was an inspiring leader, we have seen three versions of him in the last 12 months too, to show of him in this time is important too and a moment in history that will never be forgotten during our time of need World War II.

SettingsThe settings are well constructed, but at times the military view points seem added because no one knew how to describe the situations or didn’t trust the audience to understand the terms.


Scene of the Movie –
A Royal visit.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The look up moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant look at how Churchill help guide Britain to victory during World War II, he stood up when no one else would to be the leader Britain needed to win.

 

Overall: Brilliant, Masterclass performance from Oldman.

Rating

 

 

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The Disaster Artist (2017)

Director: James Franco

Writer: Scott Neustadter, Michael H Weber (Screenplay) Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell (Book)

Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Lizzy Caplan, Zac Efron, Ari Graynor

 

Plot: When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fantastically Hilarious

 

Story: The Disaster Artist starts as we meet young aspiring actor Greg (Dave Franco) who meets the mysterious fellow actor Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in San Francisco, learning Tommy has money to support him Greg agrees to head to LA with him to try and make an impact in the acting world.

Finding themselves struggling to find a job they decide to make their own movie, ‘The Room’. They get their own crew with script advisor Sandy (Rogen) trying to keep things under control during the shot. As Greg starts his own relationship with Amber (Brie) he starts to become distant from Tommy who starts to become a dictator on set putting the production into turmoil as we learn how the most notoriously bad movie The Room is made.

 

Thoughts on The Disaster Artist

 

Characters – Greg is an aspiring actor who at a young age heads to Hollywood with a stranger Tommy Wiseau as he looks to make an impact in the industry. He is filled with the enthusiasm any young actor must make it in the business. Tommy Wiseau is the mysterious man that offers Greg a chance to move to Hollywood, he has an accent no one seems to be able to figure out, has money to support this dream, he ends up writing, directing and starring in the movie, that has bigger meaning to him that anyone could imagine. Sandy helps with the script and shoot, knowing just how strange the film seems and working with Tommy is strange experience for him. We do get to meet the rest of the people who are involved in movie and the lives of Greg and Tommy during this time.

PerformancesJames Franco is fantastic in this role, this is easily the best of his career to date and the chemistry he shows with his real-life brother Dave comes through on screen too. Dave Franco continues to improve, movie to movie and steps up to plate here. Seth Rogen is great in this role with his restrained role that never goes into full Rogen mode. The rest of the cast are great and we do get big names appearing in different moments of the film.

StoryThe story follows the making of the film branded the worst ever ‘The Room’ and how the unlikely friendship help build this movie to become the cult sensation people still talk about today. It does show chasing dreams can get what you want even if it isn’t the best quality, it shows that if you want to be able to say you did something, then this shows you how to achieve this.

Biopic/Comedy/HistoryThe biopic side of the film only covers the meeting of the two till the premier, which is good, but as the film implies Tommy is a man of mystery we would like to learn more about. The comedy hits every time in this film, we have laugh out loud moments that are genuine reaction to what is being shot and this history side of the film shows how one of the most famously worst movies was made.

SettingsThe settings fit the film perfectly showing us just where the film would have taken place and how weird set choice were too.


Scene of the Movie –
The Screening.

That Moment That Annoyed Me That I haven’t seen ‘The Room’, you don’t need to see it but now I want to.

Final ThoughtsThis could easily be one of the funniest films I have ever seen, while I have never seen The Room this movie opened my eyes to follow dreams however farfetched they seem and now I want to see it. This is one of the best movies of 2017 without a doubt.

 

Overall: Funniest film of the year.

Rating

 

 

The Greatest Showman (2017)

Director: Michael Gracey

Writer: Jenny Bicks, Bill Condon (Screenplay)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Austyn Johnson, Cameron Seely

 

Plot: Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.


Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Magical Musical

 

Story: The Greatest Showman starts as we see how P.T. Barnum (Jackman) stars as a street kid dreaming of being a star on the stage, he works his whole life to improve the life for his wife Charity (Williams) who has come from riches. When he loses his job, he decides to risk everything by starting his own circus for everyone who has been rejected in life.

When the money pours in, he hires Phillip Carlyle (Efron) a man who has connections and needs a way to continue his fame, as P.T. is desperate to get rave reviews from the snobby side of time. This will push him to limits that will risk him losing everything he has worked for.

 

Thoughts on The Greatest Showman

 

Characters – P.T. Barnum is a man with a dream, to escape his poor life after he falls in love with Charity at a young age, he drives to impresses and give her a life she came from, this includes making a decision to make his own show with the rejected people in society. We see his rise and potential fall from the top because of his obsession. Charity is the love of the life of P.T. she came from a rich family, but never cared for the money side only wanted happy. She supports P.T. on all his decisions and dreams. Phillip Carlyle is a play writer that gets talked into helping P.T. with the promise of becoming part of something nobody has seen before. He takes time to accept his place, but a smile from Anne changes him for the better. Anne Wheeler is one of the acts in the show a trapeze, along with her brother she wows the audiences, she opens the eyes for Phillip to see the potential of the show. Jenny Lind in an opera singer famous throughout Europe, she agrees to come to America to be part of P.T. next idea which puts the biggest risk on his dreams.

PerformancesHugh Jackman in an all singing, all dancing role, this guy is fantastic and is the Showman the film describes. Michelle is brilliant in the supporting role, her character does slip from the screen as the story unfolds at times though. Zac Efron has been trying something different in recent years, it has work at times, but returning to his singing and dancing roots shows us the talent he has. Zendaya has had a great year, this shows that she could step into a musical film whenever she wants to. Rebecca Ferguson is good, but we do tend to not see enough from her character. The whole cast in the show a fantastic with Keala Settle being a potential scene stealer through this film.

StoryThe story follows the life of P.T. Barnum, who he started as a poor street kid that worked for his money, married the woman of his dreams and opened the show that offered the rejected members of society the spotlight their talents offer. This does turn into watching one man’s obsession which getting recognition from people who have always looked down on him and his father. This being based on the real person, once again shows that people were trying to break ground for people who were considered different in the world because of their colour, size or general look.

Biopic/MusicalThe musical side is filled with fantastic performances from the team, it has memorable songs that have brilliant meaning. The negative is something I found in the film was how the biopic side of everything unfolds, we don’t get any timeline to the events of the film which I feel disappoints greatly, but this is how it is told, not who he was.

SettingsThe settings for the most part look fantastic, but we have a couple of awful looking CGI backgrounds, which can take away from the scenes.


Scene of the Movie –
Rewrite the Stars performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain CGI for large landscape is poor.

Final ThoughtsIf you love a good musical with fantastic songs, strong performance and a success story, this will be for you, I was sat there in the cinema enjoying every moment of the performances.

 

Overall: Spectacular Musical that delights.

Rating

 

 

Chasing the Dragon (2017)

Chasing the Dragon is coming to DVD on the 22nd of January 2018.

 

Director: Jason Kwan, Jing Wong

Writer: Jing Wong (Screenplay)

Starring: Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Philip Keung, Kang Yu, Kent Cheng

 

Plot: An illegal immigrant from Mainland China sneaks into corrupt British-colonized Hong Kong in 1963, transforming himself into a ruthless and emerging drug lord.


Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brutal Gangster Movie

 

Story: Chasing the Dragon starts as we follow Ho (Yen) as he illegal immigrates from China to the British-colonized Hong Kong in the early 60s. we see how two different gangs are trying to take over Hong Kong while the British will go to any force to stop them. Police Detective Lee Rock (Lau) has been rising the ranks of the force for years now, he sees what Ho has to offer and helps him for his own personal corrupt reasons.

When Ho and Lee make a move to take over the troubled neighbourhood, Ho gets wounded taking away his fighting abilities, while Lee is lucky to walk away. The pair refuse to take this backing down and come up with their own plan to be the ruthless crime lords in Hong Kong, showing how far they will go against anyone that gets in their way.

 

Thoughts on Chasing the Dragon

 

Characters – Ho starts as a young man immigrating illegal to Hong Kong, he gets involved in fights and petty crimes before climbing up to more serious offences, his combat skills strike fear into his enemies, after he is crippled in an attack, he changes, he becomes psychotic with his behaviour killing, injuring anyone who gets in his way or disobeys his orders. Lee Rock is a detective that has risen in the Hong Kong force even though he has been against the British involvement in the country, he works with Ho to become a force that could take on the British, but with the corruption investigation in the force, he must step away from the light. He always seems to be thinking one step ahead of anyone he is working with. We do meet rival gangs, the British officers that abuse their power.

PerformancesDonnie Yen is known the world over for his combat skills in any movie, he has shown us year after year he could be the best combat actor in the industry today. In this role he has that skill removed and must show us his acting chops, he impresses big time here showing he is more than just a combat actor. Andy Lau on the other hand is an actor we know for his more serious roles in the Infernal Affairs movies being the most notable for the Western audience, he is great as this shady cop figures and this is no different.

StoryThe story follows two men either side of the law that rose to power in the drug battle in Hong Kong, one a petty criminal, the other a cop, the partnership took them to new heights and controlling the streets that the British have been taking over. The story shows how both use their skills and go after the people that cross them. If you want a gangster movie based on real people and see people outside of the normal American related gangsters.

Action/Biopic/Crime/HistoryThe action in the film does mix the start has more hand to hand combat before jumping into gun battles which entertain throughout. Diving into the biopic side of things, we only focus on the time in Hong Kong which focuses on the crime world for that moment in history.

SettingsThe settings show us the compact setting of Hong Kong which shows how the tensions will be rising during the drug war going on.


Scene of the Movie –
The final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Brits are painted well in this.

Final ThoughtsThis movie flows nicely, it has a pace which increases to the explosive conclusion and offers us the story of one of the more notorious gangsters in the history of Hong Kong.

 

Overall: Must watch for gangster movie fans.

Rating

 

 

Victoria and Abdul (2017)

Director: Stephen Frears

Writer: Lee Hall (Screenplay) Shrabani Basu (Book)

Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Olivia Williams, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith, Adeel Akhtar

 

Plot: Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.


Tagline – History’s most unlikely friendship

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enlightening Historical Moment

 

Story: Victoria and Abdul starts as Abdul Karim (Fazal) and Mohammed (Akhtar) are selected to travel from India to England to present Queen Victoria (Dench) with a gift from the Indian Empire. When Queen Victoria sees something in Abdul, sees becomes friends with him, learning about the Indian culture in a way she could never understand from the English textbook.

While their relationship becoming the talk of the palace, they even start to question whether it is good for her, but the relationship gives Queen Victoria a chance to express the lost loves of her life, a face she could never have on front of her subjects.

 

Thoughts on Victoria and Abdul

 

Characters – Queen Victoria is the elderly Queen of England, Albert has passed on, her children have their own lives and now she goes for countless routines of meeting different people, with most people almost waiting for her to die. When she befriends Abdul she gets a new lease for life and she looks to embrace the Indian culture. Abdul is a clerk from India, he gets selected to present Queen Victoria a gift, he soon finds himself being her closest aid, teaching her about the Indian culture, causing a potential rift in the royal household. He treats Queen Victoria like a person rather than a royal figure which is what helps her enjoy her later life.

PerformancesJudi Dench is fantastic in the leading role, bringing us a performance that could rival her Mrs Brown performance as Queen Victoria too. Ali Fazal is brilliant in the partnership role with Dench, he helps give the light to the role that at times is treated with racial hate. The supporting cast across the board is great too showing all the different levels people treated outsiders.

StoryThe story follows the later years Queen Victoria who became friends with an Indian clerk against the will of rest of the palace. We see how this gave her a new lease for life if only for a couple of years. The story that history wanted you to forget about becomes a fascinating watch because like most interesting moments in history they have faced being erased.

Biopic/HistoryQueen Victoria was one of the great known members of the royal family, the former longest ruling monarch, she had many stories and this is another one that shows us what she was like.

SettingsThe settings all feel authentic for the time showing us what it was like for Abdul to learn the new culture.


Scene of the Movie –
You will respect Abdul speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end while following history is frustrating to see.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great history lesson on the iconic leader of the country. It has two wonderful performances and enough charm to enjoy for everybody watching.

 

Overall: Enjoyable historical film.

Rating