Film Review: Rogue One

rogueone_onesheetaFilm Review: Rogue One

Release date: 15th December 2016

Director: Gareth Edwards

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, Jiang Wen

Runtime: 134 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a standalone film set before the original Star Wars film – Episode IV: A New Hope. It’s about a band of rebels who plan to steal the Death Star plans from the Empire. The film fills in what was thought by many as an annoying plot hole in the original trilogy. What was good about this film is that it has a different plot. As much as I love The Force Awakens, it was basically a rehash of plots from the original trilogy.

Unsurprisingly, the visuals are stunning. We see several different worlds in the film, each of which is unique and detailed. What is amazing is how they can now create characters digitally. For example Tarkin features (he was in the original films), although the actor who originally played him passed away. A similar looking actor played the part and then they used digital effects to make him look like Peter Cushing’s Tarkin.

The acting is good. There are some typically cheesy Star Wars lines of course. But then it wouldn’t be Star Wars without them. All of the actors made me like their characters and they all interacted well together. There are some intense scenes, with a long end battle. Despite all the action the actors developed their characters well.

I really liked the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything so can’t explain why I liked it. Also it tied well to the start of A New Hope.

As we’re not getting Episode VIII until December it was cool to still get to see a Star Wars film in 2016. Coming in 2018 is another Star Wars Story about a young Han Solo. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that one yet. Rogue One is relevant to the other films and leads up to Episode IV so I can see why they made it. The young Han Solo films however, will have to be good for me to agree that they’re worthwhile making.

July Mini Film Reviews: Star Trek Beyond and Jason Bourne

Film Review: Star Trek Beyond

Release date: 22nd July 2016

Director: Justin Lin

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Idris Elba, Anton Yelchin, Sofia Boutella

Runtime: 122 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Action

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Star Trek Beyond is the third film in the rebooted Star Trek series. When the Enterprise is attacked by villain Krall, played by Idris Elba, the crew are split up and must survive and reunite to defeat this new enemy. Although I haven’t seen any of the original Star Trek TV series and films, I loved the first two in this reboot and the third didn’t disappoint.

The film’s plot was fresh enough to stop the series becoming stale, which I was afraid would happen with repetitive themes. It continues the story arcs of Kirk and Spock, who both have doubts about their positions in Star Fleet, so I’m glad they didn’t sacrifice character development for action. There was plenty of action, with some excellent sequences with great visuals and tension.

The characters are all there and the actors just work so well together to show the dynamics between the characters. This time they are accompanied by Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella, who did a great job of bringing in the new character.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable film, with plenty of action and some laughs along the way.

 

Film Review: Jason Bourne  

Release date: 27th July 2016

Director: Paul Greengrass

Starring: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander

Runtime: 123 minutes

Genre: Action

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

 

Bourne is back in Jason Bourne, the fourth film featuring Matt Damon as Bourne, and the fifth in the Bourne film franchise. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) brings new information to Jason Bourne about his past, bringing out of the shadows and back into the thick of it, with the CIA immediately tracking him down once again.

I was more than a little worried that this would be a repeat of the previous films and wondered what they were going to do with the plot, but they made enough of a story for the extra film to be worthwhile. It carried on in the same vein of the previous films, which is a style I like, but it also meant they didn’t bring anything particularly new to the table. The action sequences were good and I really enjoyed the film, but I guess it was just more of the same in the end.

The acting was good, with Alicia Vikander playing a new character in the CIA. I felt she could have been fleshed out more. At one point there are quite heavy suggestions about something significant in her past which is relevant to her motivations in the plot, but it is never explained. I don’t want to say too much and give away spoilers. Perhaps they’re planning on a sequel and didn’t want to give everything away in this film.

It was a good film with plenty of twists and turns that kept me wanting to know what would happen next. Worth watching, but nothing new.   

Film Review: X-Men Apocalypse

Film Review: X-Men Apocalypse

Release date: 18th May 2016

Director: Bryan Singer

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner

Runtime: 144 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

The latest instalment in the X-Men film series pits mutants against mutants as Apocalypse rises again to find his world changed from when he was conscious before in Ancient Egypt. He seeks to wipe the Earth clean and start again and gathers four mutants to be his four horsemen of the apocalypse. Professor X and his friends and students must defeat this enemy and ‘save the world’.

From watching the trailer I was highly anticipating seeing this film. In this one, we finally get to see the origins of Jean, Cyclops and Storm. Part of what made this film for me was that it included some of my favourite characters from the original film trilogy and the new film trilogy – Jean, Cyclops, Storm, Kurt, Quicksilver and Hank among others (and unsurprisingly a cameo from a certain mutant). There were also some new characters such as Psylocke who seemed pretty cool, although we didn’t get to see much of her character. The acting overall was really good. I once again ended up having my heart torn out for poor Eric/Magneto, whose life always seems to get ruined (I can hardly blame him for hating humans after all that has happened to him).

I think they could have done more with Apocalypse, he ended up coming across as a pretty generic villain which seemed to be more to do with the scripting as Oscar Isaac is a good actor. They have a super powerful mutant who emerges from a thousands of years sleep to find his world ruined. There is conflict/motivation with his character but they don’t really utilise it. They had an opportunity to have a really developed three-dimensional villain but ended up with a pretty two-dimensional I-want-to-destroy-the-world antagonist.

As they changed the timeline with Days of Future Past it’s interesting to see what direction the story and characters take (though I don’t want to say too much and spoil anything). It was definitely good watching it having seen all the previous X-Men films, as there were some references to the previous films in there. The action scenes were good and gripping with the final battle being particularly good. I enjoyed the story overall, although it was a little slow to start. I mean, obviously it was the typical superhero-we-have-to-save-the-world plot but that was expected so wasn’t really a problem for me. Although it has some flaws, I couldn’t help but absolutely enjoy watching it.

 

Film Review: Allegiant

Film Review: Allegiant (Divergent Series #3)

Release date: 10th March 2016

Director: Robert Schwentke

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Octavia Spencer, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Zoe Kravitz

Runtime: 121 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Allegiant is the third film in the Divergent series. Allegiant is the third and final book in the series put as per the popular move at the moment it is being split into two films, the first titled Allegiant and the second titled Ascendant (slightly different to calling them Part One and Part Two I suppose). At the end of the previous film the people of Chicago received a message from the outside world inviting them to go beyond the wall. Former leader of the Factionless Evelyn has essentially taken over and stops people from going over the wall. Tris, Four, Christina, Peter, Caleb and Tori get past Evelyn’s defences and go over the wall to find what is left of the rest of the world.

The book was undoubtedly my least favourite in the series. I felt it went massively downhill in quality from the first two books and was quite disappointed by it. So, unusually, I was happy for them to make changes to the film in the hopes of making it better. The film was fairly similar to the book, though with some changes obviously.

One of the best aspects of the film was the set designs. The design of the future world outside the wall was amazing and really imaginative. Unfortunately though it felt like a step down from the previous film, which itself wasn’t quite as good as the first film. I can’t quite place my finger on why it wasn’t as good. Perhaps it was the acting that wasn’t quite as sharp in this one. And obviously they had a flawed novel to work from, although I think they took a lot of the better aspects from the book to use in the film.

My confusion lies in where they are going with the fourth film, Ascendant. The third film was pretty similar to the book in terms of the plot arc, concluding in a kind of similar yet also different way to the book. So I’m not entirely sure where they are going with the fourth film. It will have to contain new material, as they have used up almost all of the book.

Overall I enjoyed the film but it wasn’t spectacular. It could have been better and although I really liked some of the things they added I felt they also left some important ideas out. I’m most intrigued to see what they will do with the last film, and to look back on this film once the last film has been released in terms of their adaption of the final book in the series.

Film Review: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2

Release date: 20th November 2015

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks

Runtime: 137 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action, Thriller

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Mockingjay Part 2 is the final instalment of the series and the second part of the final book. My expectations were high for this one, as the previous films had been so good and so well adapted from the books. I went in not really being able to remember much of the book as it was a while ago since I read it. So it was nice to be able to sit and watch without waiting for what I knew was going to happen the whole way through (like sometimes happens when watching book to film adaptions).

I’m not sure how well splitting Mockingjay into two parts worked. I think it would be much more impactful watching them together. I like that it meant all the major things that happened in the book got to go into the films. A lot happens and if it were one film it might have felt a bit butchered. Yet somehow I think the plot progression would be more effective over one film. Although it would have had to be a very long film to fit everything in, so maybe two films was the right path.

This film reminded me why I love this series so much. There are so many twists and turns which are so unexpected so that the first time you read the books or watch the films (having not read the books) you’re on the edge of your seat. I like that there is no binary of good and evil. You realise that’s a model which isn’t really realistic.

The acting was top notch once again and the costumes and effects were brilliant. I’m going to have to watch it again though as I didn’t take in much of the first fifteen minutes as the kids in the row in front of me were talking so much.

A great end to the series, though I’m sad it’s the last time I’ll see a Hunger Games film in the cinema.

Film Review: Spectre

Release date: 26th October 2015

Director: Sam Mendes

Starring: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomi Harris

Runtime: 148 minutes

Genre: Action

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Usually at the beginning of my film reviews I provide a quick synopsis of what the film is about. In this case, I’m not really sure what to say. It’s your typical Bond affair really.

For all the hype surrounding this film I found it disappointing. The opening sequence in Mexico was the best bit, but it went downhill from there. I was expecting the tension/suspense and excitement to build but the whole thing just stayed very flat. I’m not saying this was a bad film, it was good, but I didn’t exactly come out saying ‘oh wow that was great!’.

I’m not a fan of the theme for this film – Sam Smith’s ‘Writings on the Wall’. It lacked the same oomph and impact a James Bond theme usually does. It wasn’t exactly a stand out tune and not at all memorable.

The plot was okay but nothing new, just the same old stuff really. The one thing I did very much like about the plot is how they tied it to the previous Daniel Craig films, linking them all together. I thought that was clever and liked that aspect of it. There were a lot of allusions and nods to older Bond films which was a nice touch. There were also moments of greatness glimmering through and moments of humour that were good.

Some of the acting was better than others. Ben Whishaw as Q was great and Lea Seydoux was also quite good. I’ve not been the biggest fan of Daniel Craig as James Bond so maybe that didn’t help my impressions of the film. The writing wasn’t as strong as it could be. It felt like the script needed more work before they started filming.

Overall for me it just fell short and I’m not sure why. It just didn’t have the same ‘wow’ factor or impact that Skyfall had. It’s almost like they were trying too hard to make it better than Skyfall and it didn’t come off as well, at least in my opinion anyway. I didn’t feel excited, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. This one just didn’t come together for me I’m afraid.

Film Review: The Scorch Trials

Release date: 11th September 2015

Director: Wes Ball

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aiden Gillen, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson

Runtime: 131 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopia, Action, Thriller

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the second film in the Maze Runner series, based on the book by James Dashner. It is very different to the book, diverting from the plot quite substantially, although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing anyway.

The film carries on moments after the first film finished as Thomas and the survivors from the Glade are rescued from WCKD by a mysterious alternative group. After discovering a truth about their rescuers the Gladers escape from the compound they have been taken to into the Scorch – outside where the world is like a desert and Cranks (basically zombies, at least in the film anyway) try to attack them. Their aim is to reach the Right Arm (a rebellion group in the mountains).

Once I got over the fact that it was very different to the book I read (something which is probably a good thing to accept when going to see any film based on a book to avoid disappointment) I enjoyed it and found it very exciting and gripping. The Cranks were done extremely well and were absolutely terrifying, and would have been even more scary if I hadn’t been anticipating it from having read the book! All of the CGI/special effects stuff was very good.

The acting was good, considering what the actors had to work with – in the book the characters aren’t fleshed out that well.

Although it didn’t bother me too much that the plot was quite different to the book, the end section didn’t make much sense and ended in a completely different way to the book, meaning I’m not sure what they’re going to do in the last film.

It was a good film, but I preferred the first one, which isn’t that surprising as I preferred the first book to the second book. If you haven’t read the book then it’s an exciting film, and if you liked the first one you’d like the second one. Though I would avoid it if you’re getting tired of YA dystopia film adaptions…