Alien: Covenant (Film Review) – Flawed but Good

Alien: Covenant is a science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and stars Katherine WaterstonBilly CrudupDanny McBride and Michael Fassbender. This film serves as a sequel to Prometheus and as a prequel to Alien. It is the sixth instalment in the Alien franchise. The story follows the crew of the Covenant in the year 2104 who are embarking on a colonising expedition to Origae-6. Yet, they find a different planet which seems ripe for colonisation. However, they find David (Michael Fassbender), the android from Prometheus, who is the sole inhabitant of a world which is not the uncharted paradise the crew hoped it would be.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Alien: Covenant

I would be lying if I said that I was expecting Alien: Covenant to be good. Honestly, Prometheus was a huge disappoint for me and, even after The Martian, I did not have confidence in Ridley Scott to recapture the quality of Alien. As I said in my review of Get Out, horror is not my favourite genre of film but I make exceptions. Alien and Aliens are exceptions. These are two films which I hold in high regard.

Xenomorph in Alien: Covenant

Yet, they are the only films that I like in this franchise. I do not like Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection is terrible and Prometheus was a very underwhelming film which did not feel like it belonged in the franchise. Consequently, I had no idea what to expect from Alien: Covenant. Still, I wanted to see what this film would be like and, at the very least, I expected some good performances from the likes of Michael Fassbender and Billy Crudup who are very talented actors.

My Thoughts on Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant has its flaws but, overall, it is a good film and a considerable improvement over Prometheus. One of the elements of the film that worked for me was the ensemble cast. All of them give good performances with Michael Fassbender probably standing out the most. This was simply because he played two different characters in David and Walter. He excelled in both roles though Katherine Waterston and Danny McBride were good too.

Michael Fassbender as David in Alien: Covenant

The cinematography in Alien: Covenant was stunning. Indeed, every Ridley Scott film is beautiful to look at and he continues that trait in this film. Yet, the thing that impressed me most in the way Scott directed and shot this film was the fact that Alien: Covenant has a gritty feel. This was something that Prometheus lacked. That film felt too clean and pristine but Ridley Scott remedies this in Alien: Covenant. The aesthetic felt more like Alien and Aliens and it was little things such as the lighting and the characters sweating which helped the film succeed in this regard.

The Flaws of Alien: Covenant

Still, why Alien: Covenant succeeds on some levels, it fails on others. It has flaws. For instance, this film has severe pacing issues. The first act was unnecessarily slow while the final 10-15 minutes felt too fast. Indeed, the last moments of the film were an homage to Alien. However, Alien was patient and suspenseful. The homage to this film in Alien: Covenant felt rushed and, to be honest, a bit convenient and easy. Alien was neither of these things.

Engineer Ship in Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant also feels like two films meshed together and the blend is not smooth. Obviously, the film is designed to be a bridge between Prometheus and Alien but it could have done a better job at being this. Additionally, some of the dialogue in the film is a bit stiff and the ending is very predictable. Despite this, I want to see more after seeing this film which is more than I could say after I watched Prometheus. Alien: Covenant does not reach the same levels as Alien or Aliens but there are enough things in the film to make it good, worth your time and one of the better entries in this franchise.

Their Finest (Film Review) – Serviceable but Forgettable

Their Finest is a British war drama directed by Lone Scherfig and is based on the 2009 novel Their Finest Hour and a Half which was written by Lissa Evans. The film stars Gemma ArtertonSam ClaflinBill NighyJack HustonJake LacyRichard E. GrantRachael Stirling and Jeremy Irons. The story is set in Britain during World War II (WW2) and focuses on the making of a morale-boosting film by a British Ministry of Information film team. The film being made is about the Dunkirk evacuation but the filming is taking place during the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Their Finest

To be honest, I knew little about Their Finest. I had seen little marketing for the film, I had not seen any trailers for it and had not read or watched any reviews. ­The only thing I knew was that Bill Nighy was in it and I thought I might as well give Their Finest a chance. Certainly, I like Bill Nighy but I also like films set during WW2 and I had a feeling that I could be pleasantly surprised by this film.

Sam Claflin and Gemma Arterton in Their Finest

My Thoughts on Their Finest

I was wrong. I did not like Their Finest. It is a serviceable film but it did not impact me. I was never emotionally invested in the story or the characters and I feel as though a big reason for this is down to how boring the film is. For me, it does not have a point to exist and it is very forgettable.

There were a few things I did enjoy to a small degree. Bill Nighy was my favourite part of Their Finest but this was simply because he was being himself. He was not acting and his natural demeanour in the film was probably why he was the character I liked the most. I thought Gemma Arterton was fine in the lead role and it was nice to see Jeremy Irons pop up in one scene.

Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy in Their Finest

Still, none of this elevated Their Finest to a place where I am gasping to watch it again. For me, this film is very disposable, boring, pointless and disappointing. I cannot recommend that you should see it as soon as you can.

Star Wars: Thrawn (Book Review) – A Great Origin Story

Star Wars: Thrawn is a canonical Star Wars novel published by Del Rey Books and written by Timothy Zahn. This book takes place before his introduction in Star Wars Rebels but in the period between Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope. The story focuses on the discovery of Thrawn and his rise to power in the Empire alongside his aid; Ensign Eli Vanto.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Star Wars: Thrawn

I have been highly anticipating this novel ever since it was announced that Thrawn would be returning to the Star Wars universe in this new Expanded Universe. My excitement was enhanced because this book would be written by Timothy Zahn who is a notable figure in the Star Wars franchise. Indeed, Zahn was the author who created the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn in the old Expanded Universe. Thrawn was the central character in Zahn’s critically acclaimed Heir to Empire Trilogy and he quickly became a fan-favourite.

But, most of the material in the old Expanded Universe were re-branded as Legends and were no longer canon after Lucasfilm redefined Star Wars continuity in 2014. This included Zahn’s Trilogy and, consequently, Thrawn. Consequently, Star Wars fans were unsure whether Thrawn would return as a character in the new Expanded Universe. However, at Star Wars Celebration 2016, it was announced that this book would be released in April 2017. This announcement came alongside the news that Grand Admiral Thrawn would be re-introduced into the Star Wars franchise in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels.

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While I knew how revered Thrawn was by Star Wars fans, I never had an affinity with that character. This is because I never read any material from the old Expanded Universe. However, I have read a lot of the material from the new canon that Lucasfilm has released since 2014. On the whole, I have been impressed from what I have read and watched in this new Expanded Universe.

Moreover, if you have read my reviews of the episodes in Season 3 of Star Wars Rebels, you know that Thrawn is one of my favourite things about Rebels. I love how suave, confident, methodical and calculating the character is. Thus, I was fascinated to learn about how Thrawn became part of the Empire in this novel and I had a lot of faith in Zahn to meet my lofty expectations.

My Thoughts on Star Wars: Thrawn

Star-Wars-Rebels-Season-3-Through-Imperial-Eyes-Thrawn

Overall, Star Wars: Thrawn gave me everything I wanted. I loved the fact that we got to delve into the mind of Thrawn. It was brilliant to see how he meticulously studies everyone he meets in terms of there mannerisms, body language and tone. It was also fascinating to learn more about his philosophy on warfare, his love of art and the loyalty he has to his race; the Chiss. This added more layers to a character that already has a lot of depth and it expanded on what we saw from Thrawn in Season 3 of Rebels. In fact, certain tactics that we saw from Thrawn in Rebels are in this book which was a nice tie-in.

Furthermore, I liked Thrawn’s relationship with Eli Vanto. Eli starts out as Thrawn’s aide but he quickly develops into a protégée. Eli learns about the art of warfare from Thrawn and Thrawn learns from Eli too. Indeed, Thrawn lacks political nous and he relies on Eli to guide him through the pitfalls of the Empire. Thrawn also has Governor Arihnda Pryce as an ‘ally’ to school him in political matters.

Pryce’s Backstory and Thrawn’s Motives

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Arihnda Pryce is also a character in Star Wars Rebels and, like Thrawn, we also see her rise to power in this book. We get to know more about Pryce’s backstory and we see how far she is willing to go in her quest for power. This was good to see and it was also cool to see Colonel Wullf Yularin appear in this book. He too is a very influential presence and factor in Thrawn’s rise to power. Still, while Pryce and Yularin are necessary to allow Thrawn to rise through the ranks in the Empire, Thrawn does not fully commit himself to the Empire.

Throughout Star Wars: Thrawn, we piece together what Thrawn’s true intentions are. While he seemingly pledges his allegiance to the Empire and the Emperor, he is loyal to the Chiss and the Chiss Ascendancy above all else. Essentially,  Thrawn sees the Empire as a tool to safeguard the Chiss from unknown threats in the galaxy. This was a fascinating revelation and I hope it is developed in future stories in the Star Wars universe.

Overall, Star Wars: Thrawn is another fine addition to the new narrative that Lucasfilm is telling in the Star Wars universe. While a very dense book, it is a much easier read than a similarly dense book in Star Wars: Tarkin. Yet, Star Wars: Thrawn is not my favourite canonical book. It does not reach the same level of quality as Lost Stars or Star Wars: Bloodline do. Still, it is a great read, a great character study of both Thrawn and Pryce and it leaves me excited for Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Film Review) – A Worthy Sequel

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a superhero film directed by James Gunn and stars an ensemble cast featuring Chris PrattZoe SaldanaDave BautistaVin DieselBradley CooperMichael RookerKaren GillanPom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. This is the fifteenth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and takes place right after the events of Guardians of the Galaxy. In Vol. 2, we focus on how the team are coping with their status as Guardians while also delving deeper into the parentage of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt).

My Knowledge and Expectation of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

My expectations for this film were extremely high…until last week. I should set this review up by stating that, while I have enjoyed most of the films that I have seen in the MCU, they are disposable. The reason for this is down to the fact that I did not grow up with the characters in the MCU. I never read the comics or watched the animated shows. As a result, I do not have an emotional connection to the characters in the MCU and, consequently, no emotional connection to the films.

However, my favourite film in the MCU is Guardians of the Galaxy. I loved the humour and the fact that the film was completely separate from the rest of the films in the MCU. It worked as a standalone superhero film and I was eagerly anticipating Vol. 2 as I would be reunited with the characters I love such as Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) who is now in baby form.

Baby Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Yet, early reviews for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 tempered my expectations slightly. While the majority were good, I interpreted a consensus that Vol. 2 was not as good as Guardians of the Galaxy. As a result, I was expecting a good, entertaining experience rather than a near-flawless film.

My Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Overall, I found Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to be a tremendously enjoyable and a worthy sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy. While not as good as the original, there was a lot to love about Vol. 2. For instance, I found the humour in this film to be brilliant. Drax was the character who provided most of the film’s funniest moments but the chemistry between the entire ensemble cast was a big factor in how funny this film was. You can tell that the cast had a great time making this film and it benefited the quality of it in the process.

The use of music was another element of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that worked very well. For me, the highlights were the use of Mr. Blue Sky’ in the opening scene and I liked the re-occurrence of The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac throughout the film. I was a bit disappointed that ‘Fox on the Run’ was not in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 after its use for the films’ trailer. However, that is a very small nit-pick and it did not worsen my experience.

I also thought that the visuals in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were vibrant and they really added to the fantastic viewing experience I had. In terms of character development, while I found Peter Quill’s arc to be good and at times quite poignant, it was surprisingly Yondu (Michael Rooker) who was developed as a character to the best extent. That was one of the nicest surprises in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Still, it is a film which could not recapture the freshness of the original.

Yondu and Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. But, in hindsight, it was a difficult task for James Gunn to recapture the originality and freshness that Guardians of the Galaxy had. Vol 2. also has a story which is more incoherent than its predecessor and the second act is a bit slow. I also thought that Karen Gillan gave a performance as Nebula which was a bit over-the-top.

Yet, as I have said, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a worthy sequel and a worthy entry in the MCU. I cannot wait to see the Guardians show up in future Marvel films. Additionally, I am really pleased that James Gunn is returning for a third Guardians of the Galaxy film which will hopefully provide the same amount of enjoyment I had with Vol. 2.

13 Reasons Why Season 1 (Television Review) – Important, Powerful Television

13 Reasons Why is a television series developed by Brian Yorkey for Netflix and executive produced by Tom McCarthy and Selena Gomez. Gomez was originally going to play the lead character in what would have been a film adaptation of 13 Reasons Why. However, that did not transpire; it was created as a TV show instead and it is based on the 2007 novel by Jay Asher. The story focuses on Hannah (Katherine Langford), a high-school student who kills herself after an accumulation of traumatic failures, brought on by select individuals within their school, including Clay (Dylan Minnette), a shy, introverted classmate of Hannah.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why

I did not know anything about 13 Reasons Why until a couple of weeks ago when it became a phenomenon. Everyone was talking about it whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube; it was being praised across the board and it made me want to watch it as soon as possible. From reading the synopsis, I knew that this was going to be a show which dealt with very serious, deep issues such as suicide, mental health, bullying and cyber-bullying. I was interested to see how well 13 Reasons Why would handle them.

Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford in 13 Reasons Why

My Thoughts on Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why

This is one of the best seasons of television that I have watched in a long time. One of the many things that impressed me about 13 Reasons Why was the performances of the young, diverse cast. Certainly, Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette are brilliant as Hannah and Clay. They show immense range in their acting and they had great chemistry together which makes their relationship believable. You really connect with these two characters and deeply care about them as the show progresses. I really liked Christian Navarro’s portrayal of Tony who was one of my favourite characters along with Clay and Jeff (Brandon Larracuente). Brandon Flynn also gave a layered performance as Justin.

In fact, every character in 13 Reasons Why is layered. No one in this show is a superficial stereotype. It may seem that way at the beginning. But, as all great shows do, the characters are fleshed out and developed to a point where you are invested in every person in the show, even the ones you don’t like (*cough* Courtney *cough*). They feel like real people. As a collective, the young cast achieved the difficult feat of outshining the adult actors in the show who themselves were very good, especially Kate Walsh who played Hannah’s mother.

Dylan Minnette and Christian Navarro in 13 Reasons Why

Mature and Respectful

13 Reasons Why brilliantly deals with its heavy themes with a remarkable deal of maturity, grace and respect. It could have been very easy for the show to have an overbearing message or have an abundance of clichés. Instead, 13 Reasons Why is sensitive and authentic in portraying themes such as suicide, mental health and the struggle of adolescence in an extremely powerful way. There are many times where this show is difficult to watch, especially in the later episodes, but it is never offensive or exploitative.

A lot of this is down to brilliant storytelling. Each episode focuses on one side of the tapes that Clay listens to and, through this, each episode tells us something new about Hannah, Clay and/or the other characters/relationships in the show. The story grips you from the beginning, it never lets go and it will stick with you well after it is over.

Hannah and Clay in 13 Reasons Why

I also appreciated how, after Hannah’s death, Clay’s life is shot with a blue lens whereas, in the flashbacks where Hannah is alive, Clay’s memories are shot in lens’ of bright, warm colours. I appreciated that subtle cinematography. Additionally, the use of music in 13 Reasons Why is fantastic. The music ranges in songs from the 80s to obscure indie bands and it really added to a lot of the emotional moments in the show.

Overall, I am extremely confident that 13 Reasons Why will help millions of people dealing with hardships in their life, especially millennials who can relate to a lot of what the show deals with. I also think it can be informative for older generations of people. There is something for everyone in this show and it has a lot of great qualities which helps it rank amongst shows such as Freaks and Geeks as one of the best high-school dramas ever made. Moreover, unlike Freaks and Geeks, I feel like 13 Reasons Why will be given the chance to continue its story in a second season as a lot of things are left unresolved and I am eager for more.

Fate of the Furious (Film Review) – Ridiculous Fun

The Fate of the Furious is an action film directed by F. Gary Gray and stars Vin DieselDwayne ‘The Rock’ JohnsonJason StathamMichelle RodriguezTyrese GibsonChris ‘Ludacris’ BridgesScott EastwoodNathalie EmmanuelKurt Russell and Charlize Theron. This is the eighth instalment in The Fast and the Furious franchise and the first since the tragic death of Paul Walker. The story of this film focuses on Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) who has left his old life behind and settled down in Havana, Cuba. However, cyber-terrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) forces him into working for her and turns him against his team and, more importantly, his family.

My Knowledge and Expectation of The Fate of the Furious

Without a doubt, The Fast and the Furious franchise is my ultimate guilty pleasure. I know that these films are not exactly masterpieces in film-making, especially the first four entries in the franchise. They make no sense and I do not care. They are fun, action-packed and highly entertaining. I expected the same from Fate of the Furious and was very much looking forward to the next family adventure and seeing how this film would cope without Paul Walker.

Charlize Theron and Vin Diesel in The Fate of the Furious

My Thoughts on The Fate of the Furious

I had an absolute blast with this film. Is it the best in the franchise? No, but it is a great ride nonetheless. What I have appreciated in the most recent instalments in this franchise is the fact that these films know what they are; dumb fun. There is plenty of that in this film. There were many times where what I was seeing on screen left me laughing to the point of tears. Some of the action in Fate of the Furious is ridiculous but it has worked before and it works now.

The humour in this franchise is a key element to its success and the comedic moments in Fate of the Furious were excellent. A lot of the comedy came from Roman (Tyrese Gibson) but the chemistry between Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) provided some brilliant lines in the film. I hope they collaborate in future films in this franchise.

Jason Statham and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

A Stronger Story Than I Was Expecting

Surprisingly, I felt that the story in Fate of the Furious was one of the better ones in this franchise. Usually, the plots in these films are secondary to the action but the story from beginning to end felt like an actual story, not a device to serve the action. The reason why I felt this way was down to Dom’s reason why he betrayed the family. Once we found out why this happened, it is very understandable why Dom went rogue due to his loyalty to family.

The only major critique that I would have about Fate of the Furious is that it is a bit too long for a film like this. However, if you are a fan of this franchise and appreciate these films for what they are, then the length is not going to be a big deal for you. More importantly, the film manages to set up a new chapter in this franchise while staying true to what makes the films so popular with its great humour and over-the-top action. If you do not take Fate of the Furious too seriously, then you will enjoy it.

Rick and Morty Season 1 + 2 (Television Review) – Crazy But Fun

Rick and Morty is an adult animated series created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon. The show premiered in December 2013 and there are two full seasons which you can watch right now with a third soon on the way. The story of the show focuses on Rick Sanchez, a pessimistic mad scientist who enlists the help of his fretful, easily influenced grandson Morty in his inter-dimensional adventures while, at the same time, dealing with his domestic family life.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Season 1 + 2 of Rick and Morty

I did see a few episodes of Rick and Morty at University before I binged the full two seasons on Netflix and I enjoyed those episodes. Rick was the standout character from what I saw but I never had the time to watch the show from start to finish. However, I recently found some time to watch this TV show which has a fanatic fan-base and I was interested to see if Rick and Morty would be as funny on a consistent basis.

Rick Sanchez in Rick and Morty

My Thoughts on Season 1 + 2 of Rick and Morty

No doubt about it, Rick and Morty is one of the weirdest shows I have ever watched, but it works for the most part. I really enjoyed bingeing Season 1 and 2 and a big part of that was down to Rick. He was my favourite character and provided some brilliant moments in the show. I also thought that the animation in Rick and Morty was fantastic. You notice a real difference in the quality of the animation between the first and second episode of Season 1 and it just gets better as the series progresses. It is very striking and it certainly helps Rick and Morty set itself apart from other animated shows.

Indeed, the whole show is very original. While Rick and Morty is obviously inspired by Back to the Future, The Simpsons and Futurama, it is not afraid to take risks and try new things with its storytelling. While it does not always pay off, the effort and intention must be commended. This is especially true with the existentialist themes that are interwoven into the show’s wacky story-lines which, at times, gives Rick and Morty some poignant moments.

Rick Sanchez and Morty in Rick and Morty

As I said, Rick and Morty does not always execute well on its ambitious storytelling and some of the comedy does not always hit. But when it does, it hits hard and I can confidently say that you should give this show a chance. While it is not for everyone, there are many things to admire about the show whether it is the animation, the originality and/or Rick. Moreover, after watching the Season 3 premiere, which was recently available for a limited time, I cannot wait to watch the next full season of Rick and Morty.

Big Little Lies Season 1 (Television Review) – A Predictable but Stylish, Well-Acted Miniseries

Big Little Lies is an HBO drama miniseries created and written by David E. Kelley, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott and Laura Dern. The show is based on the novel of the same name which was written by Liane Moriarty and the story is set in Monterey, California. The show focuses on Madeline (Witherspoon), Celeste (Kidman) and Jane (Woodley) who live seemingly perfect lives which, under the surface, are far from perfect. We gain insight into their lives while also having a murder mystery interwoven throughout this miniseries.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Big Little Lies

This was a show that came on my radar through, weirdly enough, Reese Witherspoon’s Snapchat and Instagram accounts. While filming Big Little Lies, she would post behind-the-scenes videos on the set of the show and it got me interested. Moreover, with a cast this good and with HBO behind the show, I would be foolish to not give Big Little Lies a try and see if it lived up to the hype.

Alexander Skarsgård and Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies

My Thoughts on Big Little Lies

Overall, Big Little Lies is a good miniseries. I don’t think it’s as spectacular as a lot of people do but I was entertained and engaged through its 7-episode run. A big reason why this was the case was due to the calibre of the acting. I thought all of the cast were great, especially Reese Witherspoon who, in real life, comes across as a very likeable and genuine person. To me, this shows how great her performance was in Big Little Lies because her character in this show was a complete b***h. Funny at times, but a complete b***h.

Nicole Kidman probably gave the performance with the most depth as her arc in the show is pretty tragic, disturbing and quite difficult to watch at times. Yet, the themes that her arc dealt with such as abuse did make for some compelling television. Shailene Woodley was another whose arc was somewhat alarming yet she also added to Big Little Lies.

Shailene Woodley and Reese Witherspoon in Big Little Lies

Another aspect of Big Little Lies which impressed me was the cinematography. This is a beautifully shot show with the use of lighting being a big factor in how stunning Big Little Lies looks. I give credit to Jean-Marc Vallée and Yves Bélanger, the cinematographer, in giving this show a very stylish look.

A Predictable Story

There are a lot of great qualities in this TV show but, in the end, I also found the story to be quite predictable. As each episode went by, it was getting clearer and clearer where this story was heading which meant that I was not shocked by anything that happened in the finale of Big Little Lies. I knew who would be killed in the murder, I heavily suspected that the person who was killed had a “connection” with another character and none of it surprised me.

Maybe I have been conditioned through television shows such as Game of Thrones to expect shocking twists and events to happen in everything I watch! Still, despite the predictability, Big Little Lies is worth your time due to the calibre of acting, its stunning cinematography and a story which does deal with some important issues.

Free Fire (Film Review) – An Enjoyable Surprise

Free Fire is an action-comedy directed by Ben Wheatley and stars stars Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Jack Reynor. Free Fire is set in the 1970s and the story of the film focuses on a group of criminals who meet up in a warehouse for an arms deal. However, tensions run high and a disagreement quickly sparks a full-scale shootout between the two parties who were making the transaction.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Free Fire

I knew very little about Free Fire before I watched it at my local cinema. Nowadays, it is very hard to go into a film and not know anything about it due to an abundance of trailers, reviews and, unfortunately, spoilers. Apart from one trailer and a few reviews of the film coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last year, Free Fire was an unknown quantity and, because of this, I did not know what to expect from this film.

Brie Larson in Free Fire

My Thoughts on Free Fire

On the whole, I really enjoyed Free Fire for what it was. It was a nice surprise. There are funny moments throughout the film thanks to the fantastic script that has some really witty, snappy dialogue. Still, any film can have a great script but you need a good cast of actors to bring the words to life.

Thankfully, Free Fire succeeds on this level. On an individual basis, each actor in the film is good and particular standouts, for me, were Sharlto Copley and Armie Hammer as they were involved in the most humorous moments in the film. Yet, it is the actors’ interactions with each other, as an ensemble, where Free Fire shines. The cast had great chemistry and I found it to be the films’ strongest element.

Armie Hammer in Free Fire

The Flaws of Free Fire

This is why I felt that the third act of Free Fire was the weakest and the film did fall off during that period. At that stage, let’s just say there were not as many people in the film than there were at the start. As a consequence, there were fewer moments where the cast could interact with each other and provide consistently funny moments. The third act relied more on action than comedy and, while the two were intrinsically linked throughout the film, the comedy was stronger than the action in Free Fire.

Despite this, I still enjoyed the film. Moreover, I preferred it much more than Ben Wheatley’s previous work in High-Rise and I feel that Free Fire is a great foundation for Ben Wheatley to build upon and become more of a mainstream name. In the end, if you are interested in watching Free Fire, I do not feel like you will be let down.

Beauty and the Beast (Film Review) – A Wonderful Adaptation

Beauty and the Beast is a musical fantasy directed by Bill Condon and is a live-action remake of the 1991 Disney animated version. The film stars Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Dan Stevens and Emma Watson. The story of the film is based on the 18th century fairy-tale and focuses on Belle (Emma Watson) who is imprisoned in an enchanted castle by the Beast (Dan Stevens), a cursed prince. Belle is also pursued by Gaston (Luke Evans) who wants her hand in marriage.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Beauty and the Beast

This film is continuing the recent trend of Disney remaking their animated classics into live-action films. The only one I have seen is The Jungle Book which I really enjoyed and I expected the same from Beauty and the Beast. Now, I do not have the same emotional attachment to the animated version that a lot of people do, simply because I only saw it for the first time a couple of weeks ago (I know, I know). I really liked the animated film but I do not see it as the masterpiece that a lot of people do which meant that I did not expect this live-action remake to be a masterpiece either.

Emma Watson and Kevin Kline in Beauty and the Beast

My Thoughts on Beauty and the Beast

I know I am in the minority, but this live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, to me, is better than the animated film. That’s right, better. The main reason why this is the case is down to the way in which this film vastly improves on a major part of the animated version. This was the building of the romance between Belle and the Beast.

One of my issues with the animated film is that the romance between Belle and the Beast in that film felt very rushed. In the live-action remake, Bill Condon adds new story elements to develop both the characters and their romance which makes their budding love more natural and believable. Condon take his time with telling the story in this film and, for me, this was something that the live-action remake improved on the original.

The production design on Beauty and the Beast is phenomenal. The costumes and the sets were awesome and the way that the practical effects blended with the CGI was brilliant to see. While that was brilliant to see, the new songs were brilliant to hear. While the classics songs such as ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Tale as Old as Time’ will always be the best, I really liked the new songs.

Luke Evans as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast

The Cast

The cast were great too. While Emma Watson’s singing in the film is not as good as Paige O’Hara’s from the animated film, she is good as Belle but my highlights in Beauty and the Beast were Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as Lefou. Their chemistry was great, they embraced their roles and they were a joy to watch as were Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor as Cogsworth and Lumière.

To be honest, I cannot find anything that I did not like in this film. Truly, Disney has continued where they left off with The Jungle Book and created another great live-action adaptation of one of their classic animated films which, for me, is better than the animated version. If you have not already seen Beauty and the Beast, then see it as soon as you can because you will not be disappointed.