Annihilation (2018)

Director: Alex Garland

Writer: Alex Garland (Screenplay) Jeff VanderMeer (Novel)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez, David Gyasi, Tuva Novotny


Plot: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.

Tagline – Fear What’s Inside

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Visually Stunning, Mind Testing Sci-Fi Spectacular


Story: Annihilation starts as Lena (Portman) is still feeling the effects of her husband Kane’s (Isaac) yearlong disappearance, only for him to turn up randomly. Kane has returned from a secret mission, which has bought Lena into the mysterious shimmer that has had strange effects with nobody known to return other than Kane.

Learning about a new team of scientist of military, Lena joins the team of Dr Ventress (Leigh), Anya (Rodriguez), Cass (Novotny) and Josie (Thompson) to learn the answers of what happened to her husband. As the group go further into the Shimmer the bigger the threats they find, something they have never had to explain as science isn’t working the way they are used too.


Thoughts on Annihilation


Characters – Lena is a biologist that has spent the last year wondering just where her husband has gone, only for him to return and finding herself drawn to a secret investigation. Lena uses her skills to help a team of scientists in this mysterious Shimmer where science isn’t what she has spent her life learning. Out of the five women team, she is the calmest, not picking a side, just planning on seeing where this science takes her. Dr Ventress is leading the team into the Shimmer, she has her own motivation for leading the team and does her best to keep the team together. Josie is the youngest member of the team, quiet genius inside, but not experienced in the field compared to the rest of the team. Kane is the husband soldier that went missing, returned he isn’t the same man, he is the motivation for Lena to go into the Shimmer.

PerformancesNatalie Portman is great in this leading role, she must balance a scientific mind, a broken-hearted character and truth hunter role, which she does with ease. Looking into the supporting cast we get great performance from all involved, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez.

StoryThis is a sci-fi mystery that will make you think, it follows a team of scientists that go into an unknown Shimmer, where the previous teams have never returned from. The rules of science have gone out the window which only add the questions we love to see and offers up the chance to be left wondering just where things will go next in this one. We do go through the idea that each member of the team changes through their experience and for scientist this does seem strange. This is what the cinema audience has been craving for, a story we need to see over plenty of the different popular movies.

Adventure/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe film uses the adventure elements of the film by taking our five women into the unknown land which has elements of fantasy as the mystery side of just what is happening in the sci-fi world our characters enter. For a sci-fi movie this both creates a wonderful world and poses the questions we enjoy asking ourselves about how the world goes around. We do get horror moments too which surprise when they hit.

SettingsThe Shimmer is one of the most interesting, visually beautiful places we have ever had a sci-fi movie, it feels like a new world even if it is set on Earth.

Special EffectsIf this movie isn’t an early contender for the Oscar for best visual effects, I really don’t know what else could beat it. This uses the effects to make this one of the most beautiful movies you will ever see.

Scene of the Movie –
The final act, will make you question everything you have seen, while also keeping you on edge through the film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not being able to see this in the cinema! Not by choice either.

Final ThoughtsThis is the sci-fi movie of the year, the one I have waited for, the one I want to see again. It makes you think, it looks beautiful, it sounds the disturbing and engaging with each use of the sound and music, making this the must watch movie of the year.


Overall: Must watch sci-fi movie





ABC Film Challenge – Random – M – Mojave (2015)

Director: William Monahan

Writer: William Monahan (Screenplay)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, Louise Bourgin, Mark Wahlberg, Walter Goggins


Plot: A suicidal artist goes into the desert, where he finds his doppelgänger, a homicidal drifter.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Thriller with Potential


Story: Mojave starts as Tom (Hedlund) a suicidal artist who works in film goes off the radar into the Mojave Desert, but when he meets drifter Jack (Isaac) and the two clash leading to Jack tracking down Tom once he goes back to his life in the film world.

With Tom adjusting back to his normal life he must deal with everything he didn’t want to in the first place. Jack however shows his true colours as a ruthless serial killer that tracks down Tom to get the revenge for the fire camp incident in the desert.


Thoughts on Mojave


Characters/PerformanceTom is an artist working in Hollywood, we never seem to learn just what his job is but we do know he isn’t enjoying life right now. Jack is a drifter that hunts in the desert but after clashing with Tom he sees a chance for a new hunting ground, LA who calls everyone ‘Brother’

Performance wise, Oscar Isaac is good in this role keeping up his ability to play someone slightly strange, Garrett Hedlund does ok but you don’t seem to buy into his broken rich man character.

StoryThe story has moments that you could see borrow from Insomnia and The Hitcher, I say this because we have an innocent man that accidently kills someone and must work with the true criminal to move on but ultimately this is a cat and mouse chase between the two.

ThrillerThis is a thriller that does pull us in even though it does take its time getting going, there are some wonderfully crafted scene that are filled with tension though.

SettingsThe desert does make for a good starting setting which shows how they can clash there, with LA making for a good setting for later in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that surprised but does take time getting going and is mixed with really good scenes and bland scenes.


Overall: Slow burning thriller.




Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson (Screenplay) George Lucas (Characters)

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, Kelly Marie Tran


Plot: Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.

Runtime: 2 Hours 32 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Spectacular


Story: Star Wars: The Last Jedi starts as the Force Awakens ends, Rey (Ridley) has tracked down Luke Skywalker (Hamill) in an attempt to bring in to join the rebel forces in the in battle against the First Order. Princess Leia (Fisher) is evacuating the Rebel Forces after the previous attack, with the First Order waiting to pick them off.

General Hux (Gleeson) is leading the assault from the First Order, with Poe (Isaac) leading to defensive assault, while Finn (Boyega) must go on his own adventure to bring down the First Order and help the Rebels escape. Kyle Ren (Driver) is trying to battle his inner demons deciding whether to make the transition to the Dark Side or not. This brings the characters into the next chapter in the saga who will have the upper hand by the end.


Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi


Characters – Let’s look at the newer characters first, Rey locates Luke and must try to convince him to return to help the Rebels only to need to learn her place in the battle, she starts to go through Jedi training showing the powers she has deep down ready to become a powerful force in the rebel battle. Fin spends most of the film wanting to find Rey, only to go on a secret mission to help stop the First Order from tracking the Rebels. Poe is still the trigger happy pilot that wants to fight more often than just survive, he has thee biggest arc to learn about through the film. Kyle Ren is now being questioned on his dark side alliance from Snoke, he must prove his alliance by taking out the threat which stands in their way.

Original characters, Luke has been in hiding after what happened with Kylo Ren, he doesn’t want to see another student influenced by the Darkside and is reluctant to help Rey, but he must learn from his own past to guide the future. Leia is leading the Rebels escape, knowing that they have dwindling numbers, she knows they must regroup in order to survive for the next battle, she does clash with Poe’s battle heavy beliefs.

There is one more character I feel deserves a mention, that is Rose, she is an engineer for the rebels, she goes on the mission with Finn and we learn just how many people have been affected by the First Order and how they are all doing their part to help somehow.

PerformancesWe can spend time going through all the individual performances here, but it would be hard to find a fault with any of them. The whole cast picks up where they left off last time around and the addition in Kelly Marie Tran and Benicio Del Toro shows we can get stars from different scales of the experience walk into the franchise without looking out of place.

StoryThe story continues from where we left off nicely, it does branch out into the four main stories with Rey & Luke, Finn, Rose and BB8, Poe trying to save the rebels and Kylo Ren showing his true colours. This helps continue the saga on to the next chapter, gives the characters the development needed for the next stage of the battle and gives the story a real time feel about it, as the film follows the Rebels trying to escape from The First Order for the most part of the film. it does have a darker town to everything, but this is needed because this is the middle of the trilogy story and now we are ready to see how the saga concludes.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action here is big battle set pieces, we have space battles, land battles and one wild race through a city, they entertain throughout the film. the adventure takes some of our characters to new worlds, with new fantasy creatures which helps them grow and learn the size of the battle they are part of.

SettingsEach world has its own unique style, the island Luke lives on feels abandoned and isolated for a reason, the rich person planet shows the type of people that could be using the battles for their own good and the space sets look brilliant too.

Special EffectsThis is one of the best looking special effects filled films in this whole saga, nothing looks out of place for this movie and it shows from the first shot to the final one.

Scene of the Movie –
Lightspeed, this moment had the whole cinema gasp in amazement.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I did find the timeline slightly confusing, Rey & Luke seem to be together for days maybe even weeks, while everything else seemed to be one or two days or nights only.

Final ThoughtsThis movie has bought the saga to new levels, our characters know their place in the battle and now they are ready to get to the next level of this battle, we know the stakes are at a critical level in the battle as we wait to see where things will go next.


Overall: This is the best addition to Star Wars since the Original Saga.




The Two Face of January (2014)

twoDirector: Hossein Amini

Writer: Hossein Amini (Screenplay) Patricia Highsmith (Novel)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Daisy Bevan, Babis Chatidakis, David Warshofsky


Plot: A thriller centered on a con artist, his wife, and a stranger who flee Athens after one of them is caught up in the death of a private detective.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Slow Thriller


Story: The Two Faces of January starts as we meet vacationing couple Chester (Mortensen) and Colette (Dunst) who are visiting Athens where they meet American tour guide Rydal (Isaac). As the three spend a day together this turns into nothing special.

The film takes a big twist when we learn that Chester is a con artist who has been tracked down by a private detective that he kills but Rydal witnesses this and joins them on their escape from Athens then Greece and the mess they find themselves in.

The Two Faces of January has good without saying special performance from the three leads in the movie, as for the rest of the cast they are just your average supporting cast never doing anything to push the story further than our three leads. Viggo would be considered the stand out of the three as he must play the calm character at times but also show his darker side when needed.

As for the thriller side, we are kept guessing as we do always get the feeling something is going on between the characters without being told this, this happens from the looks but most importantly from the music being used through the film. We get a very loss romantic story going on that doesn’t get a chance to come through enough which disappoints. The settings are all beautiful just like the back drops of Greece would be to any film.

In the end this is a slow-moving thriller that just doesn’t get to pull us in enough even though it has an idea of keeping us guessing what is going on.


Overall: This is one of those thrillers that you know there are twists coming but in the end just doesn’t suck you in enough.




X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

casting cardDirector: Bryan Singer

Writer: Simon Kinberg (Screenplay) Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris (Story)

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Josh Helman, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Luca Till, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy


Plot: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Disappoint Sequel


Story: X-Men: Apocalypse starts as we see a fail ritual to bring Apocalypse alive in ancient Egyptian, move forward to 1981 we get to meet our fresh set of mutants with Scott Summers/ Cyclops (Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee), Angel (Hardy), Jean Grey (Turner) and Storm (Shipp). Scott being the brother of Havok (Till) gets enrolled in Professor Xavier’s (McAvoy) school while Magneto (Fassbender) is living a normal life back in Poland.

It isn’t long until Apocalypse is being raised from the dead with the higher power mutants being able to sense him rising. With Magneto driven to the man he didn’t want to live anymore he unleashes his rage, while Professor Xavier seeks an old friend Moira Mactaggert (Byrne) for answers to the rising of Apocalypse.

Apocalypse builds himself an army of mutants with increased powers as he searches for the most powerful mutants to help him reclaim the Earth that was once his with Magneto, Storm, Angel and Psylocke (Munn) by his side. It is up to Professor Xavier to take his student into battle to stop the end of the world.

X-Men: Apocalypse is yet another restart timeline X-Men movie that for some reason tries to reference future outings but also erasing other moments. This just confuses the timelines but as for it being a solo story you do need to have seen the previous films to understand certain moments. The introducing of younger versions of the mutants we have known in previous films but they all seem suddenly powerful enough to handle themselves in a fight. We get the same odd Professor X and Magneto dealing with what they want without agreeing. In fairness this is just another wildly over the top X-Men movie that can be enjoy from a casual point of view but for story telling it’s just not up to the standard we are used to.


Actor Review


James McAvoy: Professor Charles Xavier is now just trying to just teach the young mutants to deal with their mutant powers trying to keep peace between the two kinds. He ends up having to come face to face with an enemy that is controlling his closest friend/enemy Magneto. James is solid but just doesn’t give us the character we fully enjoy.

Michael Fassbender: Magneto is now trying to live a normal life in Poland, he has started a family but when his identity becomes apparent tragedy strikes and we see Magneto want vengeance against the human race as he stands next to Apocalypse. This is the best and most tragic back story Magneto has ever had making him the best youngster version we have seen before. Michael is one of the stars of the show with his performance but the character does seem to get forgotten in the second half of the movie.

Jennifer Lawrence: Mystique is now a lone soldier trying to help mutants from around the world, she isn’t being bad just continuing to want to make sure all mutants get treated equal. Jennifer continues her paycheck franchise performances here never really being stand-out.

Oscar Isaac: Apocalypse is the first mutant and the all-powerful one at that, he has the ability to enhance the powers of other mutants. He wants to destroy the world bringing it back to the place where people respected and worshiped him, he puts together a team of what he sees as the strongest mutants to make this happen. Oscar is solid in this role but it could be fair to say anyone could have had this role.

Support Cast: X-Men: Apocalypse has a massive supporting cast with Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters and Kodi Smit-McPhee all gives us good performance but most of the rest struggle to make an impact with a lot playing the younger versions of the pre-existing characters and simply not hitting the levels of the previous outings.

Director Review: Bryan SingerBryan goes bigger yet again with this outing with more characters and more timelines to pull together but I do feel this goes one step too far.


Action: X-Men: Apocalypse has plenty of wild over the top action moments but the destruction just seems too much and unnecessary.

Adventure: X-Men: Apocalypse throws our characters into an adventure defend the world like we have seen before.

Sci-Fi: X-Men: Apocalypse has all of the different mutant powers to give us the fight we are sitting through.

Settings: X-Men: Apocalypse has the dam setting for one setting which is good connecting back to previous films but otherwise it is jut cities randomly being destroyed.
Special Effects
: X-Men: Apocalypse is filled with the special effects you would expect without being anything really fresh.

Suggestion: X-Men: Apocalypse is one for the fans of the series to watch, this isn’t one you can just pick up without knowing previous version of the film. (Franchise Fans)


Best Part: Quicksilver, give this guy his own movie.

Worst Part: Poor young casting of the popular characters.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Most likely.

Post Credits Scene: Yes


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 2 Hour 24 Minutes

Tagline: Only the strong will survive


Overall: One sequel too far that is just too much explosions and poor casting.