review

Deadpool Review – Merc with a Mouth may need a Muzzle

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After finishing my countdown we reach the film that inspired it in the first place: Deeadpool! Now in comparison to the usual superhero epics that have been coming – the films where earth-sized stakes are at hand and the universe must join together to defeat a dangerous threat – Deadpool is very… small in scale. And that’s including Ant-Man.

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The Good Dinosaur – Good…but not Great

The Crap Dinosaur

A meteor hurtles towards prehistoric earth while dinosaurs munch on grass and trees. We expect the inevitable, yet in a twist of fate the comet brushes past our atmosphere, sparing those giant lizards: and so the concept of The Good Dinosaur is introduced – what would happen if humans and dinosaurs coexisted? It’s a simple idea filed with potential just like all the Pixar films before it, as Arlo the apatosaurus and Spot the human trek the western landscape with some bumps along the way.

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Suffragette, Early Review – The Past Made Prescient

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Rather than try to tackle the decades of history leading up to the British government’s granting of limited voting rights for women in 1918, Suffragette collages a particularly tumultuous eighteen-month period of violence and retaliation in a real and present way. Avoiding broad strokes, director Sarah Gavron and writer Abi Morgan paint each character with detailed grit and infectious idealism, and the prestigious cast, gravitating around an excellent lead performance by the quietly brilliant Carey Mulligan, lends each historical event an uncanny familiarity. The film sells a world-gone-by while also tapping into the never-more-relevant zeitgeist of radical feminism, reminding audiences that the work towards equality is far from done.

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Steve Jobs, Early Review – Unastonishing Macintoshing

Jobs

One of the most high-profile biopics of the year, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs seems like one of the ‘sure things’ of this year’s awards cycle. Featuring a bevy of Oscar-friendly performances, a snappy and funny screenplay with some key highlight reel Big Quotes, the newest account of the divisive tech figurehead is bound to feature in many of the major award categories. Yet, there is also something missing at the core of Steve Jobs. While individual parts of the film are rarely less than good and quite often excellent, it doesn’t really coalesce into anything particularly moving. For Apple geeks, this detailed if mythologised look at the rocky history of some of the company’s products accomplishes just that, but for everyone else, it’s an effective prestige piece that is never quite the sum of its parts.

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Straight Outta Compton – Not Worth Avoiding

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into the cinema, cookie dough ice-cream in hand, for Straight Outta Compton. This time around, I broke my usual rule of going in completely uninformed, as I had read a fair bit about the film during its breakout success in the States. I was intrigued, hesitant, and, full disclosure, am not much of a gangster rap aficionado (though my brother has certainly tried his best to help me foster an appreciation for the genre). All this said, I left the film certain of one thing: Straight Outta Compton is a film constructed to perfectly mirror the musical revolution it sets out to catalogue, coupling explosive energy with sequences pregnant with fear and distrust. It is both a thrilling tribute to a game-changing period in music history and a confident and well-crafted piece on race in America, tying together many echoes of contemporary injustice to the context that catalysed N.W.A. in the first place.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E Review – From Ritchie with Love

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In the year 2015 there are five blockbuster spy films vying for the box office zeroes, including such well-established franchises as 007 and Mission Impossible. However, among the Kingsmen and secret services, The Man from U.N.C.L.E takes the cake as the worst titled out of all of them. Perhaps with a better name and more marketing, Guy Ritchie’s new flick could get the numbers it deserves. Yet overall, it stands as a perfectly enjoyable (and soon-to-be obscure) espionage romp.

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Jurassic World Review – Visual Dino-mite

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Having gone through two previous sequels, 14 years of production hell, and a budget of $150 million, Jurassic World certainly feels like a film 65 million years in the making. The effort has seemed to have been quite literally worth it in this case as the flick has stomped on previous box office records with a tremendous $511 million – blockbuster numbers worthy of the kings of lizards. Of course, the wonder of the Jurassic franchise has lost some of its bite over the years, and that Spielberg magic can never truly be revived from the original. Instead, the film it does what all sequels are expected to do: bigger set pieces, better carnage, and longer t-rex arms. The Indominus Rex is a mutant meta-saurus of the film designed to get over the problem that ‘no one’s impressed by a dinosaur these days’.

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Unbroken, Early Review – World War Zamperini

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With her first widely released directorial debut, Angelina Jolie tells the All-American story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic-runner turned bombardier made castaway and prisoner of war. After purchasing the rights to his story, Universal went through decades of production hell to bring it to the screen. Tony Curtis of Some Like it Hot fame was originally in talks to portray the Olympian, illustrating truly how long this film has been in the works. Universal pictures finally green-lit the production after Jolie took the helm as a team of screenwriters (including the Coen Brothers) ironed out the structure. After telling such a remarkable story of perseverance, it seems fitting that the film also had its own trials. Unfortunately, perhaps because of all those involved in finally getting to tell Louis Zamperini’s story, the film lacks character, both in content and execution. A reverent salute to the man who suffered so much for his country, Unbroken has a big heart but not nearly enough spirit.

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Rosewater – Using the Real Weapon

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After violent protests broke out after irregularities in the 2009 Iranian election, journalist Maziar Bahari faced a choice: risk his life and career by videotaping totalitarian abuse, or drop his camera and run. He chose to release the footage. When I first heard the premise of Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, I couldn’t think of a more compelling personality to deftly negotiate its weighty subject material with a sense of scope and a light, often comedic, touch. Based on Then They Came for Me, Bahari’s memoir on his 118-day imprisonment in notorious Evin Prison, what elevates Rosewater isn’t strict adherence to documenting past events, but its ability to capture the essence of one man’s experience and expand it beyond its physical and temporal boundaries. Bahari himself has explained that though the film is not true to the letter of his experience in Evin, it captures a higher truth of imprisonment. This crafted, whittled-down truth drives Rosewater in way that only fiction can.

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Interstellar – Going Very Gently into That Good Night

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Let’s be honest here: space is pretty dang awesome. If we had the technology, we would boldly go where no man has gone before; whether it be in a galaxy far, far away or on some distant forbidden planet. For a director with such a hit streak as Nolan’s, his first proper science fiction exploit comes with high expectations to say the least. While there may be some turbulence along the ride, I am confident in writing that Interstellar blasts off into the science-fiction world marvellously in what is one of the director’s most emotionally striking films yet.

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