Midsommar (2019)

Director: Ari Aster

Writer: Ari Aster (Screenplay)

Starring: Florence Pugh, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Liv Mjones, Anna Astrom, Julia Ragnarsson

 

Plot: A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Wicker Man on Acid

 

Story: Midsommar starts when young lady Dani (Pugh) has her family die suddenly, turning to the only person left in her life, her boyfriend Christian (Reynor) who has started to move away from their relationship. Christian and his friends Josh (Harper), Mark (Poulter) and Pelle (Blomgren) are planning a trip to Pelle’s home in Sweden for a special mid-summer festival.

Christian trying to do the right thing for Dani, invites her along, but it isn’t long before the festival turns into a cultural nightmare for the outsiders who have never seen the customs before.

 

Thoughts on Midsommar

 

Characters – Dani is a young lady that has suffered a heart-breaking tragedy in her life, leaving her along in the world, struggle to get over the loss of her family, she is unsure about her relationship with her boyfriend and agrees to go with him on the trip to Sweden. Dani is trying her best to get on with her life, which is seeing her have the good and bad days, while on the commune she starts to relax more in life. Christian is the student boyfriend of Dani, he is starting to question the relationship about to end it before the tragedy strikes, he invites her believing she won’t go, while also hoping to find out whether they should stay together. Josh is a student friend of Christian, who has been working on his paper on different cultures, he sees this event a major part of his studies, only he doesn’t seem to respect enough cultures. Mark is the comic relief, he wants to go to Sweden to meet women, he is quick to turn to drink or drugs, while always putting his foot in it.

PerformancesFlorence Pugh is the star of the show, she does show the grief required in her role, which shows us how hard to is finding life. Jack Reynor has finished turning his career around after Transformers, with one that must make people take him seriously now. Will Poulter will make you laugh with nearly everything he says, while William Jackson Harper will make you dislike his characters arrogance quickly.

StoryThe story here follows a young woman dealing with grief of losing her family, trying to get away from her past by getting away from the world with the festival which soon sees her trapped with her friends with a cult that has strict rules. Much like Hereditary, we are tackling grief on a personal level, unlike Hereditary we find ourselves not seeing a timeline to make us understand the recover process that Dani is trying to go through. The story does have a huge problem for me though, is that this is a story which the people should just walk or run away after seeing the first major incident, not just calmly say ‘sure this is a different culture we should see what happens next’ this is easily one of the biggest let down in any horror. We also do spend way too much time just turning to drugs as an excuse rather than trying to solve the real problems and the students just being arrogant not seemingly wanting to do anything with their lives.

Horror/MysteryThe horror in this film comes from graphic imaginary that we see from the injuries, we do have tension growing and the make up team should be praised for just how real everything looks. The mystery comes from just what is happening with this cult and what they will do next.

SettingsThe film is set in the Swedish countryside away from the world, the only type of place a cult could operate in around the modern day. The sets are the best thing about this film because they are crafted which such love and you can’t help but think everything you see is a clue to what is happening.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film do bring us the graphic images of the injuries that people are going through. The make up team work wonders on this film.


Scene of the Movie –
Dancing.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just using drugs to explain why these people are friends.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror that is set and created wonderfully on the outside, only to fall short on the story which only drags along without reaching any levels of scares.

 

Overall: Not reaching the potential.

Rating

 

Advertisements

Fighting with My Family (2019)

Director: Stephen Merchant

Writer: Stephen Merchant (Screenplay)

Starring: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Dwayne Johnson, Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost, Stephen Merchant, Jack Lowden

 

Plot: A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.


Tagline – A Comedy About a Family That Fights a Little Differently

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny & Inspiring

 

Story: Fighting with My Family starts as we meet the Knight family, father Ricky (Frost), mother Julia (Headey), children Zak (Lowden) and Saraya (Pugh) who are wrestling family, they have their own gym where they put on the shows, train the children from the local area of Norwich. Zak and Saraya both have a dream, that dream is to become WWE superstars and champions.

When the WWE offer them both a tryout with coach Hutch (Vaughn) only Saraya gets offered a place in the developmental brand NXT. Saraya will need to move to Florida at the age of 18 to follow her dream, where she must learn the difficulties of the training and adapting to life in another country, while Zak starts to spiral out of control after seeing his own dream shattered. Can both put their lives back on track to be a supporting and successful family?

 

Thoughts on Fighting with My Family

 

Characters – This is based on the real Knight family, while certain performers and coaches tend to have their names changed. Saraya is the youngest member of a wrestling family, she has been in the ring for years and at 18 she gets her chance to try out for the WWE, getting the job, moving across the world, isolated and alone, she is different to the rest of the other women selected, she has a wrestling background, while they have an athletic or modelling background. We see how she must learn to grasp her chance to follow her dream, which would see her lead a revolution in women’s wrestling. Zak is her brother, he has been working in the ring longer, dreaming that he could make it, he has a child on the way and is the main teacher at the wrestling school, he is left shattered by the idea he can’t follow his dream, closing off from the world, ready to follow in his step-brothers violent reaction to not making the cut. He needs to learn to enjoy his sister’s success and live his own life where he is achieving amazing things nobody else is. Ricky and Julia are the parents that fell in love over wrestling, they turned their own lives around to make something of themselves and push their children to succeed in the ring. Hutch is the coach that selects the potential talents, he is strict with the candidates and knows his decisions will make or break dreams. Dwayne Johnson is playing himself in this film, he gives the speeches where needed and shows that he is the good guy we all know.

PerformancesFlorence Pugh has made a big impact in her short career and this showed her puling off another role that required a lot of physical training to go with the emotional side of the story. Jack Lowden impresses here too, his character deals with the lose of the dream and he shows us this in every scene as the look of disappoint grows as time goes by. Lena Headey and Nick Frost show wonderful chemistry through the comedy of the film, while Vince Vaughn is strong in the coach role, which must be the calming pushing presence. Dwayne Johnson is mainly playing himself and isn’t in too many scenes that you haven’t seen in the trailer.

StoryThe story follows the career of WWE superstar Paige, from her wrestling family in Norwich through the life changing opportunity to be part of the WWE developmental brand NXT, while her brother much deal with the fact he didn’t get selected and must focus on living a life where his dream doesn’t come true. This is based on the real family, the real journey, the real moment bought a tear to my eye watching it live. This does bottle down to the idea of t chasing the dream, taking the chance given to your movie, which is the Saraya side of the film. I did however think the Zak side of the story is handled well because seeing him dealing with losing his own dream and seeing his life feel like he is worthless, his hard work was for nothing shows just how hard the news can be. This does feel like a feel-good story of inspiration dreaming.

Biopic/ComedyThe biopic side of this film shows how hard the family has worked to be successful in the wrestling business, it shows the life changing decision being made. The comedy will have you laughing at every joke, with many being British humour.

SettingsThe film does show the different worlds, the small-town Norwich wrestling which could see people falling into the wrong side of the law, to the big glossy heights of the WWE, it shows how you can start at the bottom to reach the top.


Scene of the Movie –
Training.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Skipping the success Paige has in NXT.

Final ThoughtsThis is a feel-good inspirational story that will give you a smile, even if you do know how the story ends, both in the film and the years after.

 

Overall: Delightfully funny biopic.

Rating

 

 

Outlaw King (2018)

Director: David Mackenzie

Writer: Bathsheba Doran, David Mackenzie, James MacInnes (Screenplay)

Starring: Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh, Billy Howle, Paul Blair, Sam Spruell

 

Plot: A true David v Goliath story of how the great 14th Century Scottish ‘Outlaw King’ Robert The Bruce used cunning and bravery to defeat and repel the much larger and better equipped occupying English army.


Tagline – Based on the Untold True Story

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Brutality of War

 

Story: Outlaw King starts after William Wallace has been defeated and the English have taken over Scotland, accepting the surrounding kings and lords. Robert Bruce (Pine) is ready to take over his father’s role with King Edward I (Dilldane) controlling the land, with Elizabeth (Pugh) being married to Robert.

When Robert kills, he breaks the peace between the two nations with Scotland naming him King, England brand him the Outlaw king forcing him to build a new army to fight back against the English against all the odds.

 

Thoughts on Outlaw King

 

Characters – Robert Bruce is the son of his father’s name, next in line for royalty during a time of peace under English control, his action start a new war where he becomes King and must lead the fellow Scots in battle against the odds. He offers the people a chance to be by his side or against him without holding their decision against them, remaining fair to everyone in conflict. Elizabeth Burgh is the English lady that is forced to marry Robert, the two do get on which helps complete the peace, when the peace is broken she stands by his side and is used to bait Robert out of hiding. James Douglas joins the battle with Robert as he looks to regain the honour his family name deserves. Prince Edward is leading the English army in hunting down Robert and the rebels, he is doing this to impress his father with his place of King in his future.

PerformancesChris Pine gives us a wonderful performance showing us once again how he can adapt to any role given to him, never looking out of place playing a Scotsman. Florence Pugh continues her run in the period piece films, she shows us once again that she does have the talent for someone as young as she is. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is strong in the supporting role, he looks like the desperate man that he is meant to be playing. Billy Howle is strong too, we see how he can make his desire for power be the thing which drives his performance.

StoryThe story here shows us the story of Robert Bruce the Outlaw King of Scotland who fought against the odds to reclaim the kingdom of Scotland from the English. We know how ‘Braveheart’ has its own version of the battle which the English won, this story takes place in the aftermath of the real story which peace couldn’t be kept leading us to battle once again and showed us just how confrontational the two nations were. We get a lot of different titles which can become slightly confusing to keep up on who is what and in what line to become king of whichever nation they are fighting for.

Action/Biopic/HistoryThe action is massive scale battles which are shot in the same style of Game of Thrones, this being realistic is great for effect, but difficult to watch when it comes to see the horses getting slaughtered in the battle. The history lesson and biopic side of the film shows who Robert and his men were along with they would end up becoming.

SettingsThe film gives us locations that feel like they could be from the same time, we get the beauty of the Scottish countryside which only shows how they made their own advantage.


Scene of the Movie –
The battles.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Keeping on top of who is what ranking.

Final ThoughtsThis is a new brutal battle movie, it gives the history lesson needed and shows how people defined the future for people in the world.

 

Overall: Brutal history lesson.

Rating

 

 

Malevolent (2018)

Director: Olaf de Fluer Johannesson

Writer: Eva Konstantopoulos, Ben Ketai (Screenplay) Eva Konstantopoulos (Novel)

Starring: Florence Pugh, Celia Imrie, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Scott Chambers, Georgina Bevan, Daniel Campbell

 

Plot: Siblings Jackson and Angela run a profitable ghostbusting racket; swindling the bereaved with fake detection equipment and Angela’s paranormal ‘visions’. Hired to investigate a haunted old foster home, the team uncover its terrifying past: young girls brutally slaughtered, mouths stitched shut; silenced by a sadistic killer. And Angela’s on the edge – sleepless, strung out and losing her mind, no longer certain what’s actually real; convinced she hears the girls crying out to her from the darkness… But supernatural terrors are the least of their problems when they discover the very real evil lurking in the isolated house


Tagline – A group of fake paranormal investigators suffer the ultimate reality check when confronted by the true horrors that lie hidden within a haunted orphanage.

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow & Dull

 

Story: Malevolent starts as we get to see the fake ghostbusting team of Angela (Pugh), brother Jackson (Lloyd-Hughes), Elliot (Chambers) and Beth (Bevan) show their methods of getting people to give them money to pretend to rid them of ghosts. Angela does have a gift, but for now it is just about making money.

When Jackson finds himself struggle for debts he owes, he talks Angela into taking a big high paying job for Mrs Green (Imrie), this case however, turns out to be real and the full abilities that Angela possesses will be put to the test.

 

Thoughts on Malevolent

 

Characters – Angela has been given the same gift as her mother, the ability to connect to the dead, she uses the gift to help people rid them of ghosts, only her brother takes advantage of the people who believe. She has been struggling with the hauntings over the past few cases not wanting to take more, she reluctantly takes the next case to help her brother, though it will test her resolve. Jackson is the brother that runs the show, he keeps people believing everything they are doing no matter how wrong it might be, he has also collected debts which need to be paid off. Mrs Green is the latest client that needs help in her mansion where the secrets of her past only increase the hauntings.

PerformancesFlorence Pugh made a massive impact last year, so going into this film I was expecting something great, in the end she doesn’t do much to make us care, giving us a bland performance, we can’t support through the film. Celia Imrie is ok in her role, though we don’t get enough dimension about her character. Ben Lloyd-Hughes is ok the mostly disappoints not giving us anything in this role, which is the same the rest of the cast.

StoryThe story follows a ghostbusting team that pretend to help people for extra cash, facing a real situation with the ghosts of a mansion they must prove that Angela can communicate and save themselves before it is too late. This is follow the lines we have seen before it doesn’t do anything to make us feel like we are part of this atmosphere and it ends up feel like it rushes everything to try and get to the twist which doesn’t make the most sense and by the end of the film you will most likely forget anything you saw.

HorrorThe horror aspects of this film get sucked out of the film by telling us how the team fake their hunt, they try to explain things as pranks which just doesn’t make it interesting to watch. Anything horror related just doesn’t draw your attention at any point during the film.

SettingsWhen we get to the mansion we instantly get the isolated feeling about where the film could go, only it doesn’t use it well enough.

Special EffectsThe effects look disturbing at times, but we don’t get enough time for that shock value.


Scene of the Movie –
Preparing the victim.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The team is never believable.

Final ThoughtsThis is mostly a dull horror that doesn’t give us anything to really enjoy in this film. by the time the horror starts we will have lost interest.

 

Overall: Disappoint and boring.

Rating