Gifted (2017)

Director: Marc Webb

Writer: Tom Flynn (Screenplay)

Starring: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer, Michael Kendall Kaplan, John M Jackson

 

Plot: Frank, a single man raising his child prodigy niece Mary, is drawn into a custody battle with his mother.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Truly Charming Engaging Drama

 

Story: Gifted starts as we meet single boat repair man Frank Adler (Evans) who has been home teaching his child prodigy niece Mary (Grace), he wants her to experience more of the world trying to push her into attending school against their supportive neighbour Roberta’s (Spencer) ideas.

When Mary finds herself stuck in a class she is clearly too smart to be a part of, it is up to her teacher Bonnie (Slate) to challenge her in class as Mary must learn social skills with other students. When Frank’s mother Evelyn (Duncan) returns to the scene, she wants the custody of Mary and get her into all of the gifted schools forcing her to follow in her mother’s footsteps, the very thing Frank wants to stop happening. We are left to follow the court case unfold leaving us with the questions on what we think would be best for a child with Mary’s gifts.

 

Thoughts on Gifted

 

Characters/PerformanceFrank is the single uncle of Mary, he has given up his life to raise his niece to make sure she doesn’t get forced into the same routines her mother had to go through and be a normal kid. He always wants to do the right thing for Mary. Mary is the niece that has an exceptional gift when it comes to numbers, raised by her Uncle who has kept her grounded she finds herself in the middle of the court case. Evelyn is the Frank’s mother and Mary’s Grandmother who wants to take Mary into her own custody to make sure she gets the best education to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Bonnie is the teacher that challenges Mary but ends up being a love interest for Frank, with Roberta being the good neighbour that is the only other adult Mary has befriended.

Performance wise, Chris Evans is fantastic in the leading role playing each scene perfectly, Lindsay Duncan is also great throughout the film as is Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer is the always reliable supporting actress. Mckenna Grace bursts onto the scene in the film where she is brilliant throughout the film.

StoryWhen you look into the story you must understand this is all about what would be right for Mary. We see both lives she could end up living, one with her Uncle and one with her grandmother. Watching how the court case unfolds shows us just how difficult the discussion could be as both have the positives. I think the story is paced perfectly to tell the story without creating a true villain and is just about two people who want the best for Mary.

SettingsThe settings show the different worlds Mary could live in, the regular person or the higher class, I do think this is important to everything that goes on.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best feel good movies of the year, it shows human issues without making anything aggressive towards each other just people wanting the best for a gifted little girl.

 

Overall: In a summer filled with mega budget films, this film shines brighter than any so far.

Rating

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 (2017)

Director: James Gunn

Writer: James Gunn (Screenplay) Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Steve Englehart, Steve Gan, Jim Starlin, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen (Characters)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell

 

Plot: Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Character Building of the Galaxy

 

Story: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol, 2 starts with the guardians Peter Quill (Pratt), Gamora (Saldana), Drax (Bautista), Rocket and Baby Groot protecting the galaxy once more doing a paid job for Ayesha (Debicki). The payment is none other than Nebula (Gillan) who they aim to target her bounty, but when Rocket commits the same crime the Guardians are once again on the run.

Being saved by Peter’s father Ego (Russell) the team split up with an old friend Yondu (Rooker) the Guardians will learn more about themselves, working together and being the saviours of the galaxy again.

 

Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 

Characters/PerformancePeter gets a chance to learn about his father while still trying to be the leader of the Guardians continuing on his maybe romance with Gamora. Gamora tries to continue being the strong silent type but this time gets to deal with her relationship with sister Nebula. Drax becomes the best character in the film getting all the best line with his way of life that he once lived, having a connection with Mantis. Rocket continues to deal with his wishes to be alone and not make friends seeing himself in Yondu. Baby Groot is fun for the most part getting the cute award. Yondu continues on his arc as we continue to learn he isn’t as much of a bad guy as he wants to be. The additional characters include Mantis who does get plenty of laughs with her innocent nature, Ego is also very interesting with his past becoming the interesting.

Performance wise, I feel Chris Pratt does struggle to maintain the charm he gave us in the first film, Saldana does continue to look the part of a kickass warrior though. Dave Bautista for me is the star of the film getting all the laughs wanting you to see his next scene. Cooper continues he great work voicing Rocket and Rooker does well with his increased involvement in the film. Kurt Russell fits into an 80‘s themed movie perfectly and does well throughout. If you are going to look into Stallone to be a big part you will be disappointed as he is only in one scene building his character for future films.

StoryThe story can be described in one phrase ‘character building’, I say this because we have a lot of pairing up as the good guys work with bad guys putting their differences aside to see themselves in a new light. This is the base of the story and is great for the next stages of the Marvel Universe but in the end we are left with something slightly flat with the normal big fight feeling at the end. This isn’t the best story but can entertain where needed.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is large scale but nothing new with the adventure also not being on the level of the first film, the sci-fi is all good looking at the potential universes the Guardians could have adventures in the future.

SettingsThe settings are all created to look beautiful and unique without being something of complete wow factor.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all great and it is hard to find a fault in them for the most part.

Final ThoughtsAs a huge fan of the original film, I couldn’t help but find myself slightly let down because this film does feel slow in places and too character development heavy.

 

Overall: This is a fun film and it will be important to where the film franchise goes next.

Rating

 

 

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Director: Rupert Sanders

Writer: Jamie Moss, William Wheeler (Screenplay) Masamune Shirow (Comics)

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt, Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Peter Ferdinando

 

Plot: In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sci-Fi Action 101

 

Story: Ghost in the Shell starts as Major (Johansson) gets thee final adjustments as her mind gets place into cyber-enhanced body placed into Sector 9 an elite Police squad run by Aramaki (Kitano). When an unknown machine known as Kuza (Pitt) declares war on the Hanka the company making the cyber-enhancements including Major’s.

The deeper Major gets into the case with her partner Batou (Asbaek) the more she questions her past through Dr Ouelet (Binoche) but she is left in the middle of a battle between Aramaki, Hanka Director Cutter (Ferdinando) and Kuze to who is in fact guiding her down the right path.

 

Thoughts on Ghost in the Shell

 

Characters/PerformanceMajor is the human brained cyber-enhanced robot, she is able to make human decisions while being able to move like a robot, take bullets etc. she does end up down the curious line where she starts to question the truth about her past. Batou is the loyal partner of Major who will back her up in any fight. Aramaki is the typical boss of the team, he does what is best for the unit but will put his neck on the line to make sure they are all safe. Dr Ouelet is one of the doctors who put Major together but most of her scenes are information based scenes. Kuze is the robot hacker that is trying to take out the people in Hanka with his enhanced methods. Cutter is the CEO of Hanka that will stop at nothing to keep the information and methods secret.

Performance wise, Scarlett Johansson is built for action, she kicks ass in this leading role and also has the emotional range to back it up, Pilou Asbaek is also good in the supporting role looking the part of the character from the anime with the attitude intact. Michael Pitt does a good job in this role offering the mystery to the story while the rest of the cast all give solid to good performances through the whole film.

StoryThe story is interesting to follow as it focuses mainly on Major trying to find her true identity after learning not everything is what she believes it do have been. We do also focus on looking at how business and government try to work together but are also always battling each other. I think this is a good sci-fi story but I can already hear the anime fans not liking this as much.

Action/Crime/Mystery/Sci-FiThe action is all big and spectacle like without being anything overly original, we do enter into the crime world which is important as the focus on the cybercrime that offers the mystery for Major to need to solve in the futuristic sci-fi world.

SettingsThe world created looks beautiful for the settings, yes, it is mostly CGI but it looks like the world you could imagine this story take place in.

Special EffectsThe special effects all look great even if you can tell most are based around CGI most are hard not to enjoy.

Final ThoughtsI know people are going to compare this to the anime and I think those fans will find a way to dislike this film, but as a stand-alone sci-fi action film this is good, it has plenty of action in a beautifully crafted world that is just what a popcorn movie should be.

 

Overall: Enjoyable popcorn sci-fi actioner.

Rating

 

 

Get Out (2017)

Director: Jordan Peele

Writer: Jordan Peele (Screenplay)

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson

 

Plot: A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intensely Tense Thriller

 

Story: Get Out starts as Chris Washington (Kaluuya) a black photographer from Brooklyn agrees to go meet his white girlfriend Rose’s (Williams) parents. Travelling to this quiet country town Missy (Keener) and Dean (Whitford) along with Brother Jeremy (Jones) brings the family meeting together.

Chris is put on edge when he learns the only other black people he meets are the help, in the gardener and maid, after a haunting dream the paranoia continues to grow until he gets a stark warning from the only other black guest he meets at a party. I don’t want to get into much more but we are left wondering just what is going on and why from early on within the film.

 

Thoughts on Get Out

 

Characters/PerformanceChris is a man with a disturbing past, growing up without a parental figure, he is a self-made man with his photography and also understands that there is still casual racism in the world, not wanting to get into any arguments over someone trying to be accepting. Rose is the girlfriend who assure Chris there is no problem with his skin colour to his family. Missy and Dean are the parents trying their own way to get to know Chris both well-educated and falling into the embarrassing style of parent. Rod is the best friend of Chris and clearly is the most interesting, funny and audience feeling character, everything he says is what we are feeling about the situation.

Performance wise, Kaluuya is great in the leading role throughout the whole film, Williams, Keener and Whitford are also all great and I must say just how entertaining LilRey Howery was through the whole film.

StoryThe story is filled with racial motivation in how the characters are treated, Chris is just how you could imagine a black man in the world now, accepted by a large part of the world but still having another group trying to be nice by saying things wrong, casual racist who have no hate in their actions. While that is just the surface of the story it does have twists and turns along the way with most you know coming. I do have my own theory that this is a racial twist on Stepford Wives but the final reasoning does come off slightly farfetched in places but works for the horror when you think about it.

Horror/Mystery The horror is very much an idea that when you think about it, it will stick with you because it is shockingly disturbing what is going on here, I did like the mystery about what was going on too because we are left to work it out and even have a character give us wild guesses too.

SettingsMost of the film is in the small country town where we see how the white residents still only have black people as the help and haven’t adapted to the free world completely.

Special EffectsWe only have a few special effects here and each one adds to the bigger horror involved in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that will stick with you, make you never want to meet the in-laws but also has enough comedy not to be clouding over the big story too.

 

Overall: This is a major contender for the horror film of the year.

Rating

 

 

Goon (2011)

goonDirector: Michael Dowse

Writer: Jay Baruchel, Evan Goldberg (Screenplay) Adam Frattasio, Doug Smith (Book)

Starring: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy, Marc-Andre Grondin, Kim Coates

 

Plot: Labeled an outcast by his brainy family, a bouncer overcomes long odds to lead a team of under performing misfits to semi-pro hockey glory, beating the crap out of everything that stands in his way.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Sports Comedy

 

Story: Goon starts as we meet bouncer Doug Glatt (Scott) who comes from a family of doctors and his best friend Pat (Baruchel) who has his own ice hockey show who is starting to wonder where his place is in the world. After getting involved in a fight with an ice hockey player and laying him out, Doug finds himself getting offered a try out for team.

Proving his worth on the rank Doug gets offered a contract for a team in the semi pro level where his job is to watch the back of once brilliant potential player Xavier LaFlamme (Grondin). With Doug’s team success turning with his addition to the team it soon becomes an event to see who Doug will fight next with close to retirement tough guy Ross Rhea (Schreiber) wanting to have a final fight before retiring.

Goon is a sports comedy that takes on ice hockey a sport that can always be looked at very strangely with how violent it can become for no reason. We only look at the violent side of the sport not the beauty it can have when played professional. We do get part building of team spirit through the film which does have elements of underdog story too.

Seann William Scott is great in this leading role getting to be the nice guy off the rink but the most dangerous man on it. Baruchel gets very tiring quickly with his character that just doesn’t stop being annoying with Liev Schreiber being the more experienced player really works. This is a fun sports comedy that can be enjoyed by most sports fans that could easily be seen why it is so popular/

 

Overall: Underrated sports comedy that has plenty of fun at ice hockey’s expense.

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