Film Review: Emma

Film Review: Emma

Release date: 14 February 2020

Director: Autumn de Wilde

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Jonny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Miranda Hart, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner

Runtime:  125 minutes

Genre: Period drama, romance, comedy

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 5/5 stars

This most recent adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma is my first experience of her well-known novel. I’ve read Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility, but not yet read Emma (though I’m sure I will having thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation). I’ve also not seen any other film or TV versions before, so wasn’t familiar with the plot before seeing the film. Emma is handsome, clever, rich and admired by those in her town. She’s an ambitious matchmaker but on her mission to make matches for others, discovers love herself.   

This adaptation is brilliantly filmed and acted. I was captivated and enthralled from start to finish. Anya Taylor-Joy plays Emma brilliantly, with her facial expressions and delicate touches of body language bringing the character to life. I love how Emma isn’t a typical heroine, and how she grows over the course of the plot. The chemistry between Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn is evident from the start and I revelled in their exchanges throughout. The casting overall was superb. Bill Nighy is excellent as Emma’s father and provided a lot of the comedy moments. As a big fan of Miranda, it’s always a joy to see Miranda Hart and she was very well cast for her role.

The set design, costume design and cinematography is sumptuous and vivid. There are no drab period rooms here, but a bright, pastel palette that’s a wonder for the senses. Every scene pops off the screen. I am no historian, and have absolutely no idea whether the sets and costumes are historically accurate or not, but from a viewer perspective they were sublime.

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Film Review: Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

Film Review: Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker

Release date: 19 December 2019

Director: J. J. Abrams

Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher

Runtime: 142 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Rise of the Skywalker is the final film in the new sequel trilogy and also, apparently, the final film in the Skywalker saga. But we all know how it goes when they say it will be the last one, so we’ll see if it really is the last one. There has, once again, been a mixed response from fans.

As a film, just looking at it on its own, it was very good. The film is very action packed and exciting, with a lot going on. The pacing was very fast. In some respects, there was too much packed in. Usually I think films are too slow and drawn out, but in this case the pace needed slowing down in just a few places. Some of the scenes were rushed. Some scenes needed space to breathe. If they had been given that space, allowing the viewer just a second longer to absorb what had just happened, it would have improved the pacing of the film. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad it wasn’t slow and boring, but it felt like the film was rushing from scene to scene to try and get through everything the filmmakers wanted.

I usually try to avoid spoilers in my reviews but in this case I don’t think I can talk about this film properly without giving anything away. So, to conclude the spoiler free section of this review, it was a fun, action packed ride which I absolutely enjoyed. I’m really glad I saw it in the cinema as it looked great on the big screen. If you don’t want to see any spoilers, I’d stop reading this review now (and go and see the film!). 

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Film Review: Downton Abbey

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Film Review: Downton Abbey

Release date: 13th September 2019

Director: Michael Engler

Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Maggie Smith and many more

Runtime: 120 minutes

Genre: Period drama

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3/5 stars

Downton Abbey is the much awaited return of a very popular series. This time, the characters take to the big screen with a film version of the television programme. Downton Abbey aired between 2010 and 2015 and was very popular, so in many ways it’s no surprise it made it to the big screen. The film sees the family, and servants, at Downton Abbey preparing for a royal visit from the King and Queen.

While I was delighted to once again hear Downton’s wonderful main theme and return to the halls of the grand house, I wonder if the film was a step too far. It was charming and entertaining, but the plot was a little thin. It would have perhaps worked better as a special episode for TV, as that’s basically what I felt like I was watching, rather than a film. It will certainly appeal for fans of the show, but is not the best entrance to the world of Downton Abbey for anyone not familiar with the TV show.

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Film Review: Avengers Endgame

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Release date: 25th April 2019

Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner

Runtime: 182 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction, Action, Adventure

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

Avengers: Endgame is what the previous 21 films have been leading up to and makes an epic conclusion to ‘Phase 3’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The fact they’ve managed to sustain such a long series of films is in itself a great achievement. It was so ambitious, but they did it. They created a massive number of much-loved characters and amassed a massive fan base.

Infinity War was brilliant, and I was hoping the sequel would live up to expectations. Without spoiling the film, I can say it went beyond what I expected. I couldn’t fathom how they’d solve the dilemma of the snap. Endgame took me on a journey of laughs and tears. There were plenty of twists that kept me hooked. The final battle was very well choreographed and full of suspense.

It is a very long film, clocking in at 3 hours, but it didn’t drag too much. With so many characters, and many of them not returning due to the end of actors’ contracts, there was a lot to fit in. The film focuses on a few of the characters, with many of the others getting smaller parts, almost cameos for some of them to be honest. That just goes to show the scale of what Marvel has achieved that they couldn’t spotlight all the amazing characters in one film.

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Film Review: Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald

HO00005124-lgFantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald

Release date: 16th November 2018

Director: David Yates

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Zoë Kravitz

Runtime: 134 minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the anticipated sequel 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Following the events of the first film, Credence is looking for his birth family in Paris, and Albus Dumbledore sends Newt Scamander to find him. Meanwhile, dark wizard Grindelwald is also seeking Credence.

Having loved the first film in this spin-off series, I couldn’t wait to see The Crimes of Grindelwald. While I absolutely loved the film and was not disappointed, I can’t help but feel it could have been even better.

This film takes places primarily in Paris, and falls short on the high standard set by the setting of New York in the first film. 20s New York really came to life in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but the sequel took surprisingly little advantage of the potential Paris had to be an equally dynamic setting. There were a couple of moments where I got a sense the characters were in France, but for much of it they could have been just about anywhere. Since the first film set such a high standard, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the filmmakers didn’t utilise the Parisian setting more.

There are a lot of plot strands in this film, and I feel like I need to watch it again to completely grasp everything that happened. There are many new characters, a lot of new backstory to get your head around, and some surprising twists that throw up more questions than answers. At times the plot felt a little meandering, without an obvious end goal beyond finding Credence. This film, which we must remember is part of a whole being only the second in the series, seemed to set up a lot for the future films.

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Film Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

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Film Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again    

Release date: 20th July 2018

Director: Ol Parker    

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgĺrd, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner, Jeremy Irvine, Alexa Davies, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Andy Garcia, Meryl Streep and Cher    

Runtime: 114 minutes

Genre: Musical, Romance  

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

The much anticipated sequel to Mamma Mia!, ten years on from the original film, carries the same spark and barmy hilarity as the first. Five years later, Sophie is getting ready to open the hotel on the island that her mother dreamed of, while the story of Donna’s three love affairs many years earlier is told in flashbacks.

If you loved Mamma Mia!, you’ll probably love the sequel. If you didn’t like the first, this probably isn’t the film for you. The plot is a little flimsy, but really that’s not the point. This is a feel-good film and it definitely ticks that box.

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Film Review: Tomb Raider

tomb-raider-poster-alicia-vikanderFilm Review: Tomb Raider

Release date: 15th March 2018

Director: Roar Uthaug

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Daniel Wu, Walton Goggins

Runtime: 120 minutes

Genre: Action, Adventure

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3/5 stars

Tomb Raider is a reboot of the film franchise, loosely based on the reboot of the video game. This vision of Tomb Raider is a little different from the Angelina Jolie films you may be familiar with. Alicia Vikander portrays a young Lara Croft, unable to accept her father’s death, and living away from Croft Manor. In search of her father, she journeys to a remote island off the coast of Japan where he had been looking for the tomb of Himiko. Alicia Vikander does a great job playing Lara, but there are few other substantial performances to make the film come alive.

Those who have played the 2013 game will recognise some similarities here, but the film is quite loosely inspired by the game rather than being an adaptation of it. Some things are familiar like Lara’s bow and arrow, the climbing axe and some of the action sequences, for example when she is washed down the river. Otherwise, the film takes quite a different story to the game.

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