The Upside (2017)

Director: Neil Burger

Writer: Jon Hartmere (Screenplay) Eric Toledano, Oliver Nakache (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, Tate Donovan, Genevieve Angelson

 

Plot: A comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy man with quadriplegia and an unemployed man with a criminal record who’s hired to help him.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Laugh Out Loud Comedy

 

Story: The Upside starts as we meet ex-criminal Dell Scott (Hart) who needs to apply for jobs to remain out of prison, his final application sees him appearing at the wrong location for a carer for quadriplegia for Phillip Lacasse (Cranston), Phillip doesn’t like most of the candidates and forces his executive Yvonne (Kidman) to offer Dell the job.

What follows is Dell learning how to care for Phillip and teaching him to enjoy life after the struggles he has been through. The two different worlds collide to teach each other about life and offer the next steps in both their lives.

 

Thoughts on The Upside

 

Characters – Dell is an ex-con who is out on parole, his ex-girlfriend doesn’t want him around their son and with options running down he is forced into interviews, which leads him to apply for Phillip’s carer, he has no experience in this role and shows how he can learn, use his mistakes in his life to move forward in his life. He pushes Phillip into making decisions in his life to continue living. Phillip is the quadriplegia billionaire who is feeling suicidal, he doesn’t like relying on people to care for him, Dell starts to show him what life can still offer, while Phillip shows Dell what he can achieve if he puts his mind to it. Yvonne is the executive that is now running Phillip’s business, she has given up most of her life to help Phillip and doesn’t like the selection of Dell in this role. We do get to see the rest of the household who must work with Phillip to make his life easier.

PerformancesKevin Hart is selected because of his comedy, he does a very good job with the serious scenes, even if he does turn to his comedy routine too often. Bryan Cranston is a great choice for this role, he does have to use his expression to tell the story and pulls of each and everyone required for his character. Nicole Kidman doesn’t get as much time as we did want, she does well with everything she needs to do.

StoryThe story is a remake of ‘Intouchable’ which is one of the best movies you will see, this does follow the same story for the most part with a few changes that come in the final acts of the film. the core part of learning to make the most of life is still here which is the important side of the film still takes centre stage. It does show how giving people a chance can help people who never got one and by the end you will have laughed enough to ignore certain plot holes. While I mentions certain final act changes, for me they don’t work quite as well because they miss the point of the people whose lives this story is really about, but they do work for how these characters are written.

ComedyThe comedy in the film is going to divide the audience because it does have slightly too much on Kevin Hart’s routine, while the original felt like it was a man that wasn’t known to be a funny man making jokes which felt more natural, though the cinema enjoyed this a lot.

SettingsThe film is set in New York this time, which shows how rich Phillip is, though it loses a spark about the location he is living in the original offered.


Scene of the Movie –
Paragliding

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too much Kevin Hart routine.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard American remake of a much loved movie, it doesn’t do much to be original in its own way, but does have great chemistry between Hart and Cranston.

 

Overall: Standard remake.

Rating

 

 

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Aquaman (2018)

Director: James Wan

Writer: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall (Screenplay) Geoff John, James Wan, Will Beall, Mort Weisinger, Paul Norris (Story/Characters)

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

 

Plot: Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.


Tagline – He’s not from around here.

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: True Blast

 

Story: Aquaman starts as we learn about Arthur’s (Momoa) parents, mother the Queen of Atlantis Atlanna (Kidman) and father a mortal lighthouse keeper Tom (Morrison), Atlanna had to leave Arthur on land after her failed attempt to escape the rulers of Atlantis. We see how Arthur is being pressured into going to Atlantis and claiming his throne by Mera (Heard) to stop his half-brother King Orm (Wilson) who wants a war with the land by uniting the armies underwater.

Arthur must go on the quest to unlock his own position in Atlantis to prevent a war which will have mass causalities, along the way he will learn the truth about the ways of the Atlanteans if he is going to take the throne.

 

Thoughts on Aquaman

 

Characters – Arthur is the Aquaman, not wanting to be a hero on either land or in the ocean, he has always been against Atlantis because of what they did to his mother, he does protect the water from the helpless, while not being as friendly as the other heroes in this universe. He must go on a quest to take on his half-brother and become the true king of Atlantis. He does try to give us plenty of one liners through all the film. Mera is the princess and daughter to King Nereus, she knows that Arthur is the right person for the throne, though she is arranged to marry King Orm, she does come off as the smarter of the two while on the quest. Vulko has trained both to be prepared for fights, he is the advisor to King Orm, even if he believes that Arthur is the rightful king. King Orm wants to go to war with the land, he believes and is tired of how the oceans are treated, he wants to unite the different factions even if it means by going with force. He will use both sides to his advantage to put himself in the position of power. Atlanna is the mother of both Arthur and Orm, killed for her actions, one of the few people that commanded respect from all kingdoms. We do have the kings from each kingdom being pushed into following King Orm and Manta who wants revenge for Arthur’s action, he is human and a pirate, even if he ends up looking like a Power Rangers villain.

PerformancesJason Momoa is great in the leading role, he looks like he is having fun at times, which feels important, while he can get serious when needed, he also looks the part too. Amber Heard is good in her role where she gets to fill in the gaps for the audience. Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman and Dolph Lundgren are good in the supporting roles which you could watch them play for days. Patrick Wilson deserves praise too because he is one of the best villains in the DC universe.

StoryThe story gives Aquaman his first solo adventure after his appearance in Justice League, where he must learn about Atlantis and take on his half-brother before a war between the land and the ocean starts. This is kind of an origin story, which seems to be the way DC are doing them, lets us meet them in a team up movie before moving into their own story, this is that movie. The idea that two half-brothers are fighting to power does seem to borrow from the Thor first movie, which does have a different game as Arthur is the one that doesn’t want to be king. The idea that one man must learn his place and stand up and be counted is a great hero story which is needed for Arthur.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action in this film is good with the battle in Sicily being the highlight for me, we get a unique use of camerawork too for shooting the action. The adventure does take Arthur around the world in search for answers above or below the ocean. The fantasy world plays into the idea that Atlantis has been living under the ocean to make their own technology which again plays into the sci-fi elements being used in the film.

SettingsThe film does use the settings well, with Sicily being a new fight location, though the underwater sequences look fantastic to be absorb within.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are fantastic for the ambitious scale of the world needed to be created, there are a couple of shots which do look weaker than the rest though.


Scene of the Movie –
Sicily fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story does feel safe for an origin story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a blast for an origin film, we can have a lot of fun with everything happening in the film and we now have a character in the DC universe to make us excited that we don’t only have Wonder Woman.

 

Overall: Great fun to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Writer: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Alicia Silverstone, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Bill Camp, Sunny Suljic

 

Plot: Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.


Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not Sure!

 

Story: The Killing of a Sacred Deer starts as wee meet surgeon Steven Murphy (Farrell) who has a friendship with Martin (Keoghan) whose father died on his operating table. Steven has his family, wife Anna (Kidman) and children Kim (Cassidy) and Bob (Suljic) with their own dreams at home.

As Martin starts to become overly attached to Steven, he starts to find a way to force himself into his life by befriending Kim, while Bob becomes sick with no explanation to what is causing his problems. It isn’t long before Kim gets sick too, this pushed Steven into trying to find out what Martin has done to make this happen, giving him the option to save his family.

 

Thoughts on The Killing of a Sacred Deer

 

Characters – Steven Murphy is a surgeon, he has years of experience and a family, but when the son of one of his patients starts getting to involved in his life, he must look into his past to save his family. Anna is the wife of Steven, she starts to go in his case to learn the truth in a way to hopefully save her children from whatever has been done to them. Martin is the son of a patient who died on Steven’s table, he starts by striking up a friendship only to show a sinister reason for the friendship which puts Steven’s family in danger.

PerformancesColin Farrell brings us another good performance, it does feel like he does just continue to use the same style of performance that he gave us from The Lobster. Nicole Kidman is good in this role using her beauty to get what she can from her character. Barry Keoghan continues to make an impact on the business this year after Dunkirk, he gives us a haunting performance as Martin.

StoryThe story follows a doctor whose life comes crashing down around him once the son of a former patient comes into his life. We see how the actions lead to Steven needing to make a difficult decision, one that would change his life, but we are mostly left to see just what is causing the actions to happen, the true motivations behind it and just what he wants.

Horror/MysteryWhen you look at the horror side of the film we get moments of disturbing behaviour, which is the mystery behind everything that just keeps us interested in to where the horror could go.

SettingsThe setting doesn’t do too much for the film, we don’t seem to be located in any locations which makes a true impact on the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The elevator.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The almost pointless dialogue.

Final ThoughtsThis movie is weird, this is the understate of the year I think, it has random dialogue style, moments that just seem random and most importantly keeps us wanting to know what the hell is going on.

 

Overall: Too strange for the casual viewer.

Rating

 

 

The Beguiled (2017)

Director: Sofia Coppola

Writer: Albert Maltz, Irene Kamp (Screenplay) Thomas Cullinan (Novel)

Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Riecke

 

Plot: At a girls’ school in Virginia during the Civil War, where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world, a wounded Union soldier is taken in. Soon, the house is taken over with sexual tension, rivalries, and an unexpected turn of events.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Thriller

 

Story: The Beguiled starts as the injured Union soldier Corporal McBurney (Farrell) is taken into a girl’s school run by Miss Martha (Kidman), teacher Edwina (Dunst) and their students Alicia (Fanning), Amy (Laurence), Jane (Rice), Marie (Riecke) and Emily (Howard) as they look to treat his wounds before turning him over the confederation soldiers.

Working together the women decide against turning him and keep him around the house to help out while he finishes he recovery, but when there is a sexual tension between McBurney and the girl’s things take a turn that no one could imagine.

 

Thoughts on The Beguiled

 

Characters – Corporal McBurney is a soldier hiding from the civil war after he is injured. He has a speedy recovery in the school but grabs the attention of the women but this will only make his life being put in danger. Miss Martha runs a strict school, with no men around, she reluctantly helps McBurney being the doctor of the house. Edwina is the teacher that takes a shine to McBurney which ends up being the straw that breaks everything down. The students are all different ages showing the levels of innocence we could see broken.

PerformancesColin Farrell gives one of his best performances of his career here being kind one moment and the broken man the next. Nicole Kidman is great in her role too as the head mistress of the school, she shows the mentoring figure of films just how it is done. Kirsten Dunst also continues to give us the mature performances we like seeing from here now. The young actresses who have been giving us good work in other projects all do great here too.

StoryThe story follows how the women of the school must keep themselves safe during the Civil War from the men who might come into their lives, we only focus on one who disrupts their calm life leaving nothing the same once they are finished protecting themselves. It is a slow-paced story but it flows past quickly making us want to see where things will go next.

SettingsThe film is set inside the girls school, this takes us away from the battlefield the war has been creating make us see how distant these women have become from the world too.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good thriller that shows the effects of the Civil War on the innocence people while people were fighting.  

 

Overall: Thriller that is edge of your seat from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Julia Roberts Weekend – Secret in Their Eyes (2015)

secretDirector: Billy Ray

Writer: Billy Ray (Screenplay) Juan Jose Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris, Alfred Molina, Joe Cole, Michael Kelly

 

Plot: A tight-knit team of rising investigators, along with their supervisor, is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacklustre Thriller

 

Story: Secret in Their Eyes starts as we see Ray Kasten (Ejiofor) meeting his old team and now DA Claire Sloane (Kidman) Chief Investigator Jessica Cobb (Roberts) and fellow political roles Reg Seifert (Kelly). We flash back to when they were a team of investigators with Bumpy Willis (Norris) when they are tracking terrorists only for one of their own daughters Carolyn Cobb (Graham) being murdered next to their investigation.

Ray has spent the last 13 years of his life searching for the killer and now he believes he has figured out the person responsible and wants the case re-opened between the old team.

 

Thoughts on Secret in Their Eyes

 

StoryThis is an American remake of the Oscar winning movie that has a very bland story which should be a very intense story, the scenes all flow so slowly you just don’t believe this is a case unfolding and the jumps in time are too often leaving us all over the place in the end.

Crime/MysteryThe crime story should be one of the most intense ones we have seen, but it doesn’t work out that way because the film spends way too much time balancing the murder case with a potential terrorist investigation without even giving us the mystery to try and solve ourselves.

Characters/PerformanceThe team are all believable as a unit but as solo characters you just don’t feel the desperation in Ray, the power in what should be a power-hungry role in Claire but you do like get to feel the grief through Jess’s character.

Ejiofor, Kidman and Roberts are all solid but just don’t reach the ability we know all three are capable off. The rest of the performances are all solid without stealing the scene.

SettingsWe have the setting in and around LA without managing to use any settings which are easy to help us identify where the film is set.

Final ThoughtsFor the talent involved this is a very slow, poorly acted thriller that lacks any suspense to the levels it could have got too.

 

Overall: This will always be forgettable in the arena of remakes.

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