Black Mirror – Striking Vipers

Director: Owen Harris

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Beharie, Pom Klementieff, Monique Cynthia Brown

 

Plot: Two estranged college friends reunite in later life, triggering a series of events that could alter their lives forever.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Largely Forgettable

 

Story: Striking Vipers starts as two former college friends Danny (Mackie) and Karl (Abdul-Mateen II) reunite at Danny’s birthday, even though they have gone in different directions, Danny is married with a family, while Karl is a womaniser. Karl buys Danny a birthday present called Striking Vipers which is a virtual reality game.

The game takes Danny and Karl into avatars of their favourite characters, where they can actually fight and experience other feelings that can be replicated from real life.

 

Thoughts on Striking Vipers

 

Characters – Danny is a happily married man who is looking to have his second child with his wife, he has grown up a lot since his wild college years which saw him party a lot, with this new game, he starts to see life differently starting to question his own views on life, which could start to put a strain on his marriage. Karl is the old best friend of Danny from college, he has become distant from Danny, only to return with a new game which could change their lives, he is still acting like he is in college despite the fact they are reaching 40, he is often seen as the bad influence on Danny. Theo is the wife of Danny, she starts to notice the change in him, which sees her wanting to connect with her husband once again before losing the marriage.

PerformancesAnthony Mackie is great in the leading role without struggle to balance his characters emotional dilemma through the film. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II continues to show he has continued to impress in the last year as an actor fast becoming a name to watch for years to come. Nicole Beharie shows us how to make a supporting character make an impact as we see how she bring us the wife that is losing it.

StoryThe story here follows two former college friends whose lives change when they start using a virtual reality video game, it reaches dangerous levels of obsession and offers up the questions of sexually desires. For the calibre of storytelling we are used to seeing from a Black Mirror story, we look at the reluctant behaviour in relationships and how people can become overly reliant on certain ways of finding love. The way this story flows does feel off for the most part leaving us like a moment of impact in missing.

Sci-FiFor the sci-fi elements used within this film, we get to see just how the world of virtual reality can be used to achieve things you can’t do in real life and shows us that not everybody will turn to needing to find help from this source.

SettingsThe settings in the film come from the idea that everyday life can need refreshing at times.

Special EffectsThe effects come from being inside the virtual reality world, which does show how they movements could be real, which is beautiful to see.


Scene of the Movie –
The first entry to the virtual world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does go way to slowly.

Final ThoughtsThis does just about become a forgettable story, it does want to examine real issues only to just pull out from them follow through.

 

Overall: Disappointing addition to the black mirror.

Rating

 

 

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Us (2019)

Director: Jordan Peele

Writer: Jordan Peele (Screenplay)

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, Elisabeth Moss, Anna Diop, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

 

Plot: A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begin to terrorize them.


Tagline – We are our own worst enemy.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Horror That Will Stick with You for Days

 

Story: Us starts as the Wilson family, Adelaide (Nyong’o), Gabe (Duke), Zora (Joseph) and Jason (Alex) are on a vacation at a seaside resort, what starts as a routine vacation takes a turn when Adelaide’s past starts to see her acting differently.

That night the Wilson’s are visited by a mysterious family, who look and act just like them, they are in fact doppelgangers, the battle to survive is on, just as the world starts to turn to chaos.

 

Thoughts on Us

 

Characters – Adelaide is the mother and wife of the family, she has a past which sees her feeling uneasy about returning to the beach area, once that attack happens, she is determined to keep her family safe. Red the other version of Adelaide is the leader of the family that has come to terrorize has a story, fills in the blanks to just what is going on. Gabe is the father of the family, he is laidback which helps him be the good guy in the parental situation, he is the physical threat when it comes to the other version of the family, he also gets the laughs at times. Zora is the oldest child of the family, her athletic ability has always been encouraged, while she is meant to be like a moody teenager, only not the disconnected version of one. Jason is the youngster member of the family, he enjoys magic tricks, which will be his best for of defence against his doppelganger.

PerformancesLupita Nyong’o in the leading role is fantastic where like most of the cast takes on two roles, she brings both to life showing the determination to survive in one and the determination to live in the other. Winston Duke leads the supporting cast, he handles the comical moments in the film well too. The young stars Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex brings tow characters each to life too, the whole family does feel like they are together, with the chemistry shining through.

StoryThe story here follows a family that get terrorised by their own doppelgangers and must fight to survive their sinister motives. This is a story that is a lot deeper and one you really need to experience without knowing too much more. The concept behind the doppelgangers is dark, very dark one aspect of the film which will make you stop and think more after the film, than during. The pace of the story is great because unlike many home invasions, because it gets underway quickly, instead of just holding back the tension to why they are doing this. This is one story that will stick with you long after the experience, because you will come to realize just what we have been through.

Horror The horror in this film blends home invasion with bigger side of horror that is one that is only disturbing to think about.

SettingsThe film is set in and around a lake house holiday home which puts the character in an isolated location, the second location is around the beach with the funfair which should be a place of happiness.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the effects, we have the basic wounds which do look realistic, but the other side of the praise must come with how the actors can appear to be in the same location without looking out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown between Adelaide and Red.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Gabe’s injury comes and goes too often.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the best horrors in recent years, it won’t make you jump, but it will leave you feeling disturbed and thinking about everything you have just witnessed.

 

Overall: Disturbing horror.

Rating

 

 

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

 

 

First Match (2018)

Director: Olivia Newman

Writer: Olivia Newman (Screenplay)

Starring: Elvire Emanuelle, Jeanette Branch, Jimmy Gary Jr, Kim Ramirez, Colman Domingo, Jharrel Jerome, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

 

Plot: Hardened by years in foster care, a teenage girl from Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood decides that joining the boys wrestling team is the only way back to her estranged father.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Power Drama

 

Story: First Match starts as we see troubled teenager Mo (Emanuelle) getting kicked out of her latest foster home, she turns tricks for money while trying settle in a new foster home waiting for a chance to return home to her recently released from prison father Darrel (Abdul-Mateen II).

Looking to get her life on track Mo joins the high school wrestling team to help with her discipline after her father used to teach before prison. As her skills increase so does the pressure from her father to make money from her to get rich quick, can Mo make the right decisions for her own life at this difficult moment in life.

 

Thoughts on First Match

 

Characters – Mo is a troubled teenager, she has been through the foster system making her defensive and aggressive to the world, out of her latest home she does find one that tries to care for her, she doesn’t let people into her life, but high school wrestling gets her focus back on track until her father returns leaving her to decide how to take on her life. Mo is a wonderful character to watch because she is an example to just how difficult the foster system can be in the wrong area. Omari is the oldest friend of Mo’s he has always tried to have her back through the hardship of her life. Darrel is Mo’s father, fresh out of prison and struggling to make ends meet who decides to push his daughter into a life of crime. We do get to see a new foster mother that is willing to look past Mo’s flaws and just care for her, the coach willing to give her a chance and the unlikely friend in the team.

PerformancesElvire Emanuelle is fantastic in this leading role, she gets the emotional decision making correct throughout the film and handles the wrestling well through the film, this is a true breakout performance for the young actress. The cast works well around Elvire with each performer letting her shine in each and every scene.

StoryWhen it comes to the story, we are given the traditional troubled teenager that learns discipline from a sport, wrestling, we see how they have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes until they are ready to admit their own problems. It could be argued that we have seen this performer, but it is a tried and tested formula. The story has little glimpses at certain parts of Mo’s life, the most notable one I enjoyed was the foster mother Lucila and just how much she wants to care for any child that comes in her life. The conflict Mo goes through is hard to see because we know the right decision, but family is harder to turn away from.

SettingsThe film is set in Brooklyn which is known to be a rougher neighbourhood, which reflects just how the hard life would be for Mo.


Scene of the Movie –
The biggest decision.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The wrestling sequences are difficult to understand the scoring.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama about sport offering discipline to a misguided teenager that needs to get her life sorted before it is too late for her.

 

Overall: Sports drama that is a must.

Rating