Kicks (2016)

Director: Justin Tipping

Writer: Joshua Beirne-Golden, Justin Tipping (Screenplay)

Starring: Jahking Guillory, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Christopher Meyer, Kofi Siriboe, Mahershala Ali, Rxchie

 

Plot: Brandon is a 15 year old whose dream is a pair of fresh Air Jordans. Soon after he gets his hands on them, they’re stolen by a local hood, causing Brandon and his two friends to go on a dangerous mission through Oakland to retrieve them.


Tagline – They aren’t just shoes.

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Shoe Mentality

 

Story: Kicks starts as we meet 15-year-old Brandon (Guillory) who comes from a poor family in Oakland, whose pride and joy would be to have a pair of Air Jordans. When Brandon buys some black-market versions of the shoes, only to have them stolen by local hood Flaco (Siriboe).

Wanting to get his shoes back, he goes on an adventure with his two best friends Albert (Wallace) and Rico (Meyer) which sees him dive into the gang mentality of the neighbourhood in Oakland.

 

Thoughts on Kicks

 

Characters – Brandon has come from a poor family, he knows how to stay out of trouble usually using his running pace, he has always wanted to have his own pair of Air Jordans, which he purchases, making him feel like he is on top of the world. After they are stolen, he risks his friendship to get them back from on of the most dangerous men in the hood. Albert and Rico are the two best friends of Brandon, they have their own characteristics which makes the group complete and will help Brandon retrieve his shoes. Flaco is the man that steals Brandon’s shoes, he uses his gang to outnumber him and is considered one of the most dangerous men in the neighbourhood.

PerformancesJahking Guillory in the leading role is great to watch, he has shows us how difficult being a kid in the wrong neighbourhood can be. We understand his character’s decisions and feeling of hopelessness in the world he is facing. The supporting cast are great too, fully embrace themselves in this neighbourhood.

StoryThe story here follows a teenager that ends up starting a potential gang war after his shoes are stolen and he wants to take them back from a notorious gang leader. This story shows us how important the little things in the kids in this gangland mentality neighbourhoods mean the world and how they will do anything to get what they need. The shoes are clearly metaphors for becoming a man which in this neighbourhood is one of the most important moments in the lives of these teenagers. Watching from the outside, we are watching the people involved fighting over a pair of shoes which does seem almost pointless in the end.

SettingsThe film is set in Oakland which shows us how the neighbourhood is being operated in by the different gangs.


Scene of the Movie –
The chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The whole story is about a pair of shoes being stolen.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting coming-of-age stories in the tough street of Oakland, it shows how difficult to navigate for the locals this will be.

 

Overall: Interesting Coming-of-age tale.

Rating

 

 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Writer: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman (Screenplay) Phil Lord (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoe Kravitz

 

Plot: Teen Miles Morales becomes Spider-Man of his reality, crossing his path with five counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat for all realities.


Tagline – What makes you different is what makes you Spider-Man.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The New Best Spider-Man Film

 

Story: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse starts as we meet Peter Parker who has been fighting crime for 10-years-now, we jump to Miles Morales a kid from Brooklyn who ends up at private boarding High School a place he doesn’t fit in, with fellow new girl Gwen Stacy.

When Miles is bitten by a spider, he starts to see changes in his body, which seems him come face to face with Spider-Man who is trying to stop an inter-dimensional device from being activated by Kingpin. When Peter Parker is killed, Miles starts to learn his own power which will see him meet Spider-Man from different dimensions including Spider-Ham, Peni Parker, Spider-Man Noir and Peter B Parker, each has their own enemies, but this latest one has put all their homes at risk.

 

Thoughts on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 

Characters – Miles Morales is a kid from Brooklyn his dad is a cop and he is being pushed into a boarding school, he still has a streetwise side to him which sees him bitten by a spider that will change him into the next spider-man. He must learn to control his abilities if he ever wants to be the hero, and now he has five other versions of Spider-Man who can teach him his place in this world. this is his origin story, similar to many we have seen, only he has come from a different background. Peter B Parker is the oldest Spider-Man, he has lived a life fighting crime, seen his personal life go sour and now he gets t be one of the Spider-Men that helps Miles learn his powers. Gwen Stacy is the new kid in school who just so happens to be from another dimension where she is Spider-Gwen, she is the newest of the visiting Spider people who tries to help Miles too. We have three other versions of Spider-Men, with the Noir one which is a private investigator from the 1930s, Spider-Ham a pig version and Peni Parker from the future, each has their own kill which will help in the fight. We do get villains with Doc Ock working for Wilson Fisk, known as Kingpin who is using the collider to create the fracture in the universes.

StoryThe story here shows the origin of Miles Morales, the new Spider-Man as h must learn to control his powers, but he must learn quickly with the help of Spider-Men from other dimension as they go into battle against a villain in Kingpin that is putting everybody’s home in danger. This is an origin story, only it bypasses the simple first battle which we often see, even though it does build the character of Miles the same as other superheroes. This is easily the most ambitious superhero story you will ever see, which we can get away with in the animation side of the film. the story also gets to poke fun at other origin stories as well as previous films in the universe which give the story the heart required to make you care about the characters and just what they are going through.

Action/Adventure/Family/Sci-FiThe action in this film is massive with giant battles which put our characters through their best abilities, which is the adventure side of the film as they go in search for the answers on how to get home. The sci-fi side to the film takes us through the idea of multiple dimensions that heroes could exist in.

SettingsThe film does give us different looks at New York as we see the different dimensions the characters have come from, this gives us different comic book concepts of the city too.

AnimationThe animation is interesting, to start with it looks weird, but it grows on you making you feel like you are watching a rolling comic book strip, each version of spider-man does have a unique look too.


Scene of the Movie –
The final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Its hard to catch all the jokes.

Final ThoughtsThis is an ambitious animated superhero movie that takes everything to a new level with different Spider-Men, it has laughs and hearts throughout.

 

Overall: Massively Ambitious that delivers.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – G – Green Book (2018)

Director: Peter Farrelly

Writer: Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly (Screenplay)

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimitier D Marinov, Mike Hatton

 

Plot: A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.


Tagline – Inspired by a True Friendship

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Story of Friendship

 

Story: Green Book starts when Italian-American Tony Lip (Mortensen) sees the club he is working at close down for a couple of months, needing to find a job, he gets connected to Dr Don Shirley (Ali) who requires a driver for a tour of the deep south in 1960s America.

While on tour it is clear the two have their differences, with Tony not being fond of black people and believing Dr Don should know about black musicians, and Dr Don wanting to see Tony learn to be more accepting to people and carry himself more professionally in everyday life.

 

Thoughts on Green Book

 

Characters – Tony Lip has been a hired hand in the nightclub scene for years in New York, he has opinions on people that he holds in which does include his racist side, he is facing a couple of months without work which leads him to become a driver for a black musician going on tour in the deep south, Tony must put his opinions aside to get paid working for a man that will give him finically security. Dr Don Shirley is the musician that has built up a reputation for his ability on the piano, he hires Tony to be his driver, he carries himself proudly never letting the racist behaviour drag him down, as he looks to improve Tony’s behaviour. Most of the film follows the two on their journey with the problems they are facing along the way. Dolores is the wife of Tony that stays home while the journey is happening, supporting her husband with his decision.

PerformancesViggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali both give wonderful performances, which when you see the calibre of actor you are dealing with, you would expect, they both show the characters the weaknesses and strengths, so we can understand the struggles they must get through during the film. when it comes to the supporting cast everyone is good, though they don’t have much to do.

StoryThe story follows two men from different backgrounds going on music tour as they teach each other life lessons as they become lifelong friends. We go through the segregation problems that were still going on through America in the 1960s and how both men dealt with the problems in their own ways.  This is another example of just how behind America was about treating people equal no matter what their skin colour or talent is. While this is a personal story between two men, it is slow paced and might not be for everyone to enjoy.

Biopic/Comedy The biopic ide of the story shows us just how the two men became friends even though they came from different backgrounds, while the comedy is basic without being as good as it could have been.

SettingsThe film takes us through the South of America where the racial segregation was still happening, which gives us a road trip feeling through the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Bar performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is the same sort America was behind with racial segregation again.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good friendship movie, it has wonderful performances without being anything overly fresh with its ideas.

 

Overall: Simple friendship movie.

Rating

 

 

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis, Robert Rodriguez (Screenplay) Yukito Kishiro (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Rosa Salazar, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Christoph Waltz, Lana Condor, Eiza Gonzalez, Ed Skrein, Keean Johnson

 

Plot: An action-packed story of one young woman’s journey to discover the truth of who she is and her fight to change the world.


Tagline – An Angel Falls. A Warrior Rises.

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visual Masterpiece

 

Story: Alita: Battle Angel starts in the 26th century, Dr Dyson Ido (Waltz) searching for scraps locates the remaining parts of a cyborg, who has come from the city sky, he rebuilds her naming her Alita (Salazar) and teaches her about the world. Alita wants to learn for herself which happens when she meets Hugo (Johnson) who shows him the city.

Vector (Ali) being controlled by the villainous Nova is always seeking the best fighters to send to the city above, which attracts him to Alita knowing her abilities will give him even more power. Alita must learn about her past to fight for her future to become the hero she was always meant to be.

 

Thoughts on Alita: Battle Angel

 

Characters – Alita is the name given to the battle angel, she is from an older technology, one nobody understands one from before the great Fall. She is programmed to be like a teenager learning about the world, eager to take chance, before she learns about her fighting abilities, which will see her fight to keep her freedom and for love. This is an amazingly strong character that shows just how much motivation can come from learning one’s power. Dr Dyson Ido repairs the cyborgs, he has a heart of gold willing to help many, but he has a haunted past which gives him a secret life that Alita wants to be part off. Vector runs the city, if you want to get to the sky city, you must go through him, he knows the desire to get there and plays everybody on the idea he can make it happen. Chiren is Dyson’s ex-wife, she wants to get back to the sky city and sides with Vector to make this happen. Hugo is the young man rebel that shows Alita the city, teaches her dreams and sport. He does go against what Alita believes he is, as he like many others is dreaming of getting to the sky city. Zapan is one of the hunter warriors, used as the police within the city, they are bounty hunters who will kill for credits, he is considered the deadliest of them all and clashes with Alita.

PerformancesRosa Salazar bursts onto the scene with this performance that even though the character does feel like it is CGI, manages to give emotion through every event she learns about. Christoph Waltz shines in the doctor role, he keeps everything calm which is what is required for his character. Mahershala Ali bring a calm demanding villain to the heart of this film which will show he isn’t the strongest, but the smartest. Jennifer Connelly has the largest amount to go through with her character, she gets the chance to show us that she is the real deal. Ed Skrein does seem to bring us his Ajax from Deadpool figure, which is fine, des what the film needs. Keean Johnson completes the main cast and work in his role well have strong chemistry with Salazar.

StoryThe story here follows a former warrior being bought back to life to learn of a new world that she wants to fight to bring down, while trying to learn about her past. Now, this does have source material, so I can’t say who did it first, but this does feel like a story we have seen before, an unlikely hero coming to save the day after being mentored by an older figure that wished to do the same thing himself, must overcome the odds and gain a following. This is a tried and tested story formula and it works very well with this one too. My big issue with the story comes from the time passage, certain things that happen seem to feel like they could be weeks or months, but they play out like days, only they can’t have been days, this is the biggest disappointment in the storytelling process.

Action/Adventure/Romance/Sci-FiThe action in this movie is amazing, we get fight scenes with each combatant seemingly having a different ability which opens the doors for all possibilities too. The adventure side of the film comes from following Alita as she learns about herself, the world and her place in it. When we get to the romance side of the film this could turn people off at times, but it does show how people would be willing to fight for their unconditional love for somebody. The sci-fi concepts in this film comes from the creations, both in world and the cyborgs involved, we see a future world completely different to our own too.

SettingsOnto the best parts of the film, the settings, the city created here is one of the best you will ever see in a sci-fi film, each individual part of the city seems to have details to make us truly believe we are there.

Special EffectsThe special effects are just breath-taking, nothing seems out of place in this world filled with cyborgs. Everything in this film will make you want to love cinema even more than you already do.


Scene of the Movie –
The world we enter is just breath-taking.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The nurse character, mostly because I felt we should have seen her do more (not the actress’s fault).

Final ThoughtsThis is easily going to be the best visual film you will see in 2019, it might have a by the book story, but you will be left wanting to see more and more of this character in her battles.

 

Overall: Experience this on the big screen.

Rating

 

 

Moonlight (2016)

moonDirector: Barry Jenkins

Writer: Barry Jenkins (Screenplay) Tarell Alvin McCraney (Story)

Starring: Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, Ashton Sanders, Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, Andre Holland, Alex R Hibbert, Trevante Rhodes

 

Plot: A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Drama

 

Story: Moonlight starts as Juan (Ali) a local drug dealer who sees Little (Hibbert) being bullied and offers him help with his girlfriend Teresa (Monae), Little real name is Chiron who lives with his abusive mother Paula (Harris) that does care about him but needs to satisfy her own drug habit.

We move onto meet Chiron (Sanders) in his teenage years still having problems at home and hanging out with Juan and Teresa to help him develop into the man he could be. At this stage of his life he still gets bullied but his friend Kevin still stands by his side and at this stage of his life Chiron starts to make discovers about himself.

The third chapter of Chiron’s life known as Black (Rhodes) shows him fully grown following in the footsteps of Juan but being his own man about it embracing his own sexuality.

 

Thoughts on Moonlight

 

StoryThe story here is a braver story than what we are used to seeing movies portray the modern day black man from the streets, as we are used to seeing the gangs and bling. This film brings us a coming of age story about discovering who one boy is meant to be, not letting others hold him back. While I do think this story is brilliant I couldn’t help but have myself wondering about some of the characters through the other chapters, I also do think not everyone will enjoy this one.

Characters/PerformancesThe characters are all surrounding the central character of Chiron through his young life from boy to his own man, this character is written to be brave different and diverse to anything we have seen within this genre and environment before which is huge for this film. Paula the mother does have the story arc you have come to expect through films like this while other characters are people that come into his life at the right time. You can’t fault a single performance in this movie because everyone is brilliant in what is a true performance display from a cast that is relatively unknown.

SettingsThe settings in the movie show just how rough the neighbourhood Chiron must grow up in which shows how easily he could be led astray from a path that will get him everything he wants from life.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant performance piece that would be considered essential viewing but isn’t going to be for everyone.

 

Overall: Special film that is written to top levels, performed to the best and most importantly taking on a subject we haven’t seen before.

Ratingcard