Weslar

The greatest film blog of 'morrowland

Month: October, 2016

Thoughts on “Doctor Strange”

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A ride for the senses.

Everything about Doctor Strange is a risk for Marvel, the far out there character in their catalogue of characters stands out no more than this one. The ideas that can wow and impress can be used to the full extent in creative new ways, not since introducing a more humous tone back in Guardians of the Galaxy did they introduce something new in their platitude of themes.

Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) a famous and egotistical Neurosurgeon, famous for pushing aside social interaction with ex-lover, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) shoeing in conversation about himself rather than appealing to the norm that is a good back-and-forth, is injured in a car accident, the cause of his own doing, keep an eye on the roads or you might end up swerving, crashing of a hill and almost drowning. The injuries he sustains leaves his hands out of action. He travels to Kathmandu, Nepal to find The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), The Sorcerer Supreme to heal his fingers to get back to his old life.

He’s met with Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) & Wong (Benedict Wong) who aid him on his journey to become trained in the arts, to find his place, to possibly alter his state of mind to become better for it. Through challenges and his own mind he has to pull through to stop a traitor, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) following the ideals of a, let’s just say ‘world eater’ Dormammu of the dark dimension to bring said dimension to the world so that everyone can live forever. Not so bad, for a bad guy, it stands to reason The Ancient One has another perspective on the cycle of life.

A refreshing quality to Doctor Strange (and not that this is a dig at other Marvel films) is the structure of the film, there’s more time spent with the mystical arts and theme of the film, than there is fighting and action. Now, there is action, the film has badass moments which are cleverly tweaked with the visual prowess of a mind bending VFX god to make most of these sequences come to life, in so many mind-bending ways possible.

Most of the film concerned itself with settling into the characters and then straight to what makes this film unique in the MCU, the hallucinogenic stylings create the most interesting colour palette, and cinematography that has graced a superhero film to date.

The music, mostly safe in it’s flow spices the flavour by tweaking the Avengers theme to fit with the world of Doctor Strange. That it’s stitching Strange into the fabric that is the world of the Avengers.

With the amount of superhero films that have been made, will be made, Marvel never seem to slow down. Why should they? The diversity in characters they choose to pluck from the vaults of Marvel keeps things fresh and unique. Doctor Strange fits that movement perfectly, then mind-melds it, then twists it, then sends you flying through dimensions.

What a trip.

Thoughts on “I, Daniel Blake”

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Ken Loach impressively shunts the stigma of benefits, albeit from the truthful perspective of the titular character Daniel Blake (Dave Johns). The film presents you with an incredibly realistic look into Daniel’s life and the scrutiny of having had a heart attack hinder your benefit payments, in an economy that doesn’t value a person by who they are but what level they score at, what points they accumulate.

I, Daniel Blake is one of those films where the message is very clear throughout, that message relies heavily on the interactions. The lack of help, by JobCentrePlus employees who couldn’t care the situation, who would easily refer anyone to the internet to relieve their duty, a state of affairs disgusting to realise. The social injustice to those who are incapable of work because of disability, or lack of positions available highlights the necessity for change and a better understanding of the system as a whole.

There are multiple staples in this craft book of turmoil that is Daniel’s life, his deceased wife shows his vulnerability, a young mother Katie (Hayley Squires) and her two children in the same situation show his courage and sheer selflessness, through his commitment to help a fellow human being with her troubles show the heartbreaking side of humanity that is forever shoved aside. The governments implementations, the rules and regulations are barriers that Daniel can not break through, a man who’s never touched a computer, or the World Wide Web is in trouble. Without any guidance it highlights a genuine problem that society has been dealt, the lack of care and attention destroys any sense of worth if Daniel can’t grow accustom to the “way the world is now”.

The story runs the mill of trial and tribulations, with most of the effect lingering on Daniel as he finds himself in worse standings with financial stability than ever before. Keen to show in intricate detail the attention to the minute details that break down a person is taken care of with intimacy and thought.

For full effect and a clear sense of the system is to have gone through it, I, myself have not. But there’s no lack of empathy, for Daniel he’s an honest man, with an honest appeal and it’s people like him that have the least chance of success in a system so broken. I, Daniel Blake divulges into it in intimate detail that doesn’t show it in epidemic, overblown proportions, it’s kept grounded in reality, and to create the mundane reality of a life being pushed aside is the most powerful approach they could have done, and succeeded with.

Thoughts on “Ouija Origin of Evil”

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Ouija Origin of Evil decides its best way to scare you is to let you know who you will care for. The horror seeps through the connection to the family, that their personal lives carry emotional weight to the viewer making a judgement on whether they will care or if they will be passive.

The prequel film set in 1965 Los Angeles tells the story of a widowed mother of two daughters Alice Zander (Elisabeth Reaser). Her job, or game is to perform a ‘Seance’ for bereaved people wanting to reach out to loved ones, her end game is their money and has her kids in on the scam. Teenager Lina Zander (Annalise Basso) and younger daughter Doris Zander (Lulu Wilson).

Like any other teenager Lina sneaks out of her room, she ends up at possible love interest Mikey (Parker Mack’s) house, they decide to play a board game, that board game: Ouija. The group of four play it in Mikey’s mom’s garage, one friend convinced that it’s real has to be convinced otherwise. A clear moment of silence is followed by mike’s moms entrance, scaring a friend out of her mind, a reaction worthy of a clap, a reaction I’d expect and have myself.

Alice after learning about Ouija, is tempted by the pull to scare her clientele with the game and decides to buy one for work use. As you can tell the rules of the game indicate clearly what not to do, and for the time spent using it, they do the opposite, not treating it like it explicitly explains too. What follows is Doris unknowing discovery of a demonic presence that lives inside the house, attaching itself to the girl and using her as proxy.

The film lingers on character development for what feels like most of the film, don’t get me wrong I love learning about each character but for the horror aspect it misses out on the sustained and prolonged horror, for moments that scare enough. That being said the film does revel in its mystery and use of visuals scaring the life out of me even without a jump-scare.

There’s a particular moment that changed up the scare game for the best. Doris is looking through the eye of the Ouija – the piece that moves with your hands – we know what to expect but we don’t get it, instead in the corner of the frame the demonic ‘thing’ is there, but quickly moves out of frame, as though we shouldn’t be looking at it. This is a moment that warrants the scare because it doesn’t present itself for you to scream at it, it shies away and leaves you to contemplate more what you saw. Top marks for that.

The pacing was a struggle for me, like I mentioned before, it took longer that out should to get going. Maybe I wasn’t scared so couldn’t feel the tension right at the beginning. Down the line the film makers create sudden jarring cuts to shots that take a second to register but quite a while to forget, in that creating a tense, atmospheric horror that doesn’t want to jump-scare you, but to keep you wondering what the hell you saw.

The mystery of the film is refreshing and created a backstory that once you learn it puts all of the pieces in place, that the resolution, really isn’t what you’d expect when you least expected it. The frights and the chills come from the innocence of the family and the wonder if they will survive.

Thoughts on “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”

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Tom Cruise is definitely a draw to any film, so to have him in another round of Jack Reacher renegade action, then I’m all for it. There’s a bankability in Tom Cruise his draw is his authenticity and his passion for his projects, an endearing quality that is encapsulated in his performance of a character.

In Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, a second franchise sequel for Cruise which may hint at more Reacher in the future. Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is on the search for friend and ol’ flame Major Turner (Cobie Smulders) his journey to her leads him to discover her arrest without question he knows the setup and tracks his way to find her and set her free.

When doing so Reacher is presented with intel on a supposed 15 year old daughter (Danika Yarosh), taking her photograph in search for her and to uncover the truth. By means of stalking the girl. She projects Reachers traits giving subtle hints at the lineage of her family, that the viewers may identify her mannerisms in comparison to Jack’s.

Jack reaches Major Turner, the pair and the girl on the run to track down the killers of Turner’s unit betrayed by suspect private military firm and the three are on the run to prove Turner’s innocence, whilst in the process of bringing down the CEO of said PMF General James Harkness (Robert Knepper).

The majority of the film has the three evading “The Hunter” (Patrick Heusinger) many different dodgy goings on provide enough context for you to find hate amongst the sea of treachery and betrayal. But doesn’t present itself as surprising, like most twists in action/thriller’s.

The Moment to moment tricks and actions sequences that stick, work to its advantage, it doesn’t slow down to make way for bonding moments, but it still has moments where we are able to define why we should care; at any level of emotion, to fear for the welfare of our group.

Although the film follows trend – not that there can be much separation anymore between films in this genre – that would be impossible. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back makes you feel engaged enough to care. It’s in comparison to a thrill ride, letting your hair down and taking a seat instead of being the backseat driver and complaining. A ride that is enjoyable and full of variations on its cinematography style and pacing.

Thoughts on “Inferno”

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Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) finds himself in yet another dire situation involving a mankind disgusted billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) who reduces the worth of the population to nil, due to concerns of the ever increasing population, that he believes will wipe out the human race. His actions are radical, involving the release of a virus Inferno that will cleanse the world and leave the surviving humans to inhabit a world rid of over-population, but left with the nightmarish reality of hell on Earth.

Establishing it’s main villain in the opening credits leaves the impression of an over arching tyrant who wants to will his vision upon the world through force. Not surprising, his name would suggest – he is the villain – as an understatement, but like his name he is killed off mere minutes into the film, leaving the chase down to the retrieval of a virus in the name of Inferno.

Robert wakes up in Florence after an assault leaving him with amnesia. The first person he interacts with is Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones) who tries to make his reorientation into the world with stability. Instantly back into the fray, after an assassin; Vayentha (Ana Ularu) are Terminator on the loose hired to assassinate Langdon for something on his persons of interest to an unknown party.

The pair head to Sienna’s apartment, cleaning Robert up, regaining simple memories and uncovering a vile placed in his suit. A Hazardous vile, opened by thumbprint, Robert Langdon’s thumbprint. Revealed inside is Dante’s Inferno, the depiction of hell, only altered in a way that leaves a clue as to the next step of the journey.

There are two conflicting parties that chase down the pair as they try to uncover the mystery of Inferno, where it is, what it will do. Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey (Sidse Babett Knudson) & Christoph Bruder (Omar Sy) both on track to take down Langdon which motives are construed by interactions pointing the finger at the other party. This use of character deception distracts from any other channel of investigation leaving a third party to be the one to instantly take aim at, trying to misconstrued the perception of each to disguise any realm of truth to any of them.

The film handles the mystery like it’s about who can be trusted and why they should be trusted. How much can be believed and what truth can be understood as truth and not a fabrication. The lack of surprise affects – only slightly – the impact of what the journey has meant to the two.

Action scenes do deliver their sense of thrill, and most restart the chase once the tension has alleviated at times after each game of cat & mouse.

The tour of Italy remains the pièce de résistance of the film, seeking the historical and visually stunning locations which add to the thrill of the narrative, although does, at points feel like a lecture of Dante.

Yet, the film doesn’t distract attention away from the questions raised of who is really trustworthy, who is in it for what reason and why the hell would someone take action and not live to see it pull through if so engulfed with passion for it’s success. A better way to use Zobrist would be to have his path alter, but, would it be cliche to have the mastermind be there throughout, or is he just the catalyst setting things into motion?

Thoughts on “Blood Father”

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Blood Father is the simple story of a girl; Lydia (Erin Moriarty) a girl whose fallen into the wrong crowd after running away from home. In a moment of panic, in a situation she’d never find herself in results in Lydia shooting her drug dealer boyfriend instead of someone he wants her to shoot. Out of sheer panic she calls her father, John Link (Mel Gibson) a badass Tattoo Artist, Vietnam Vet who takes his daughter home with him, to protect and reconnect with.

The two from the get-go are hunted down by the vengeful drug dealers connected with Lydia’s ex Jonah (Diego Luna). Without intimidating Link, he shuts his trailer door and they open fire. Link’s friends – or co-trailer park inhabitants show up with a full arsenal to warn off the drug dealers. At the he’d of this posse is Kirby (William H. Macy) Links sponsor, and friend albeit in comically derogative ways of speaking. But they both understand each other.

The following story unfolds, Link and Lydia high-tail it out of California to avoid anymore unfortunate run-ins with the Cartel. From here it slows down and speeds up the pace, and in an unexpected update, John Link is a funny, quip type of guy. Most of his lines, unexpectedly pull in the laughs – a few sniggers here and there – that never feel forced.

The form of Blood Father’s presentation is keeping a tight lid on these two characters. They don’t distract by bringing in too many players into the game, other than its villain and said villains subordinates. A point-to-point chase, reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s ‘Mad Max’.

Overall, I was surprised (Happily surprised) that a film so under-the-radar had its moment to shine, and did. That didn’t take itself too seriously, but didn’t go over-the-top to tip it over the edge.

Thoughts on “The Girl on the Train”

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The Girl on the Train revolves around the months leading up to Megan (Haley Bennett) murder. The story forms it’s pacing through interactions between Rachel (Emily Blunt) and her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux). Her desperation to keep in touch and him distancing himself further. Tom’s wife Anna (Rebecca Fergusson) fears for her baby’s safety around Rachel, Rachel has a habit of showing up uninvited, pestering the family, usually drunk.

The film goes back and forth between Rachel, Megan, Anna & Tom revealing new clews and new elements to chew over whilst you work out who had the right motive and who is guilty enough, all while keeping an open perspective to work out people who can be singled out or not.

The purpose of the “Months ago” structure plays in the narratives favour, working in new details to fill in gaps, as though our experience mirrors Rachel’s. Her drunken escapades leave her memory blank, and her awakening the following morning being that of concern of the night before.

Her frivolous nature defines her struggle, a women so distraught that she can’t stay away, her worth to anyone is nil. Throughout she, as we do, becomes more and more focused and driven for a resolution that will be pushed out through touch-and-remember moments, as the memories return by being near places of interest.

Although the film from a subjective perspective is full of mystery and intriguing character developments, there’s nothing more dulling than the finale. The reveal of the big bad, the question on your mind throughout being unveiled.

I suppose that’s the point, the full-stop to the narrative is this reveal – the film handles it well – not too shocking, but it does unfold well during the films runtime.

The neat packaging of story reveals is also a great way to wrap up many of the stories plot elements, the film does so by having moments happen at the start and happen again in the end. A gesture that not only the main thread is stitched together but that characters become more understood by the time the credits role, that they’re lives and digressions are all apart of their character.

The Girl on the Train is addictive and I rarely dislike many thrillers so it’s not a surprise I enjoyed the films mystery, and the characters that inhabit the world we are presented with.

Thoughts on “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

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Tim Burton is best known for his quirky on off-beat style films that relish in the peculiarity of the execution of the story being told. That Burton touch is not lost here, but is toned down in a way that feels altered but not tampered with.

After events that shape Jakes life – he’s taken to a psychiatrist – who, by Jakes great plan suggest he try to find the orphanage, the one his grandfather supposedly stayed at as a child to fully realise its legitimacy, to essentially try and move on – get closure.

The film includes weird and wonderful, creative strokes of fun. The films central portrait is that of the home for peculiar children, run by Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) a delightfully cheery and on-the-mark guardian for children more abnormal than the rest of society in 1943. That which he would stumble across after reaching the location that the home is located.

Jake (Asa Butterfield) stumbles upon a secret entrance which found after tall tails told by his grandfather Abe (Terrence Stamp) paints a picture of another world, a world that for Jakes mom and dad disprove – with no evidence the opinion of Abe is shrouded in its uncertainty.

The film takes form of Jakes discovery of the peculiar house, to uncover his own powers, to find if that he himself is peculiar – something hinted at via possible love interest, Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell) – she’s given the most attention out of the peculiars. This focus is the anchor to why he should stay, his life in 2016 doesn’t look tempting to return too which is somewhat of a cliche as love interests always fall into a category of being the premise for the main lead rather than for her own personality.

The various peculiarities give definition and attention to each of the children, although like any ensemble the main characters achieve maximum coverage. Given the nature of the story focusing on the cooperation, this detail doesn’t deter any sense of value in the minor presence they have on screen – something that in others seems to be picked apart – but shouldn’t be too much of a negative here.

The idea is that they all use their peculiarities as connecting strengths that they’re all a part of the puzzle, that each of them can provide assistance using their abilities. Their peculiarities present themselves as showcases for the main character Jake to project to the audience that their particular skill is displayed. A quick and friendly bonding session with the children instantly connects their lives together, that they’re apart of each other.

To oppose them is Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) leader of the ‘child-friendly’ monsters, the Hollowgasts, Hollows for short – are the creepiest 12A/PG-13 monster ever created. A lot like Slenderman, less Jack Skellington. Very well monitored in their evolution and backstory which doesn’t hold back, giving you the full amount of transformation and disfigurement without being scared to cut away.

The narrative concentrates on the fun and the fantastical rather than forcing any logical reasoning, which is a contrast to other films that try to define what it’s doing is fact. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children builds a world that could easily form more stories in the future, but only time will tell if it would become a repetitious loop, or something else entirely.

Thoughts on “The Girl With All The Gifts”

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Believe it or not there’s life in zombie films. The classics and the modern take on the zombie masses stay the same – hungry for blood, hungry for flesh – but are reinvented to fit the new take in The Girl With All The Gifts. The zombies are like pop-culture has defined them, but altered – think activated by noise, on reaction. Less continuously devouring unless inclined too.

The story follows Melanie (Sennia Nanua) a girl who for intents and purposes is a zombie, or a hungry. The treatment of other children in the facility they live in provides safety and shelter from the world that is overrun by the infected. Although the approach is leaving you to wonder how bad it is on the outside without a glimpse until it falls apart – leading you straight into the chaos as fresh as the characters do.

The bunker is essentially a training ground for educating the infected children – running tests on them and working towards a cure. Dr Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close) heads up the experiments, which she picks test subjects by random selection via Melanie. Asking her to pick  number from 1 to 20, eventually picking 4; Melanie’s room number, choosing her for experimentation.

Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton) approaches the children with care, and this fact resonates with you because there are two ways to approach the information given; should you feel sad for the children because of their age &  a cruel experience of life they’ve lived. Or, is it that they’re not redeemable due to their zombification, that they are a danger and not worth the risk.

On the other hand, there’s Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) a no bullshit soldier, trained for the mission; follows protocol to the T. His approach deflects emotion for the state of reality, they’re infected; not children.

You can’t help but feel empathy for the children. Their lives cut short, via the end of the world – as abrupt as it is for the characters – it is for the viewer.

After an attack on their base the remaining survivors left alive Melanie, Dr Caldwell, Justineau, Eddie, Kieran Gallagher (Fisayo Akinade) & Dillon (Anthony Welsh) head out to find refuge in London. They come across hordes of infected, the future of the film revolves around these tense moments, where at any point they could be killed in a moments notice.

The layer of character development adds the the emotional weight burdened on you as you journey wit the characters I’m search of safety, a cure, and a future. In something that should follow the same trajectory; The Girl With All The Gifts changes direction in a moment where you couldn’t expect to happen.

The sound design filled in the space with audible paranoia, the light murmur that rings throughout is unsettling.

Some moments felt out of place and a few performances fell flat and didn’t feel of this world, that they’re in this situation making some scenes slapstick and lighthearted.

A gripe with the choices in the editing room that bother me was the choice of where to end the film. A perspective shift is the greatest moment the film could have left us with, but decides to add an extra glimpse at the world they now inhabit – nevertheless, still an ending act to be dynamic.

Thoughts on “Deepwater Horizon”

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Take it from me a lot of action films do the same thing. Which is the eagerness to get to the explosions, to get to the thrill of an action-blockbuster, nothing wrong with that. But in some instances as a viewer you don’t get to fully understand the reasons why you should care for the characters. Yet, it’s not that you don’t care, it’s that you can’t indulge in their lives to get a bigger picture.

Deepwater Horizon in name of an offshore oil-rig takes centre stage for the traumatic events that unfold during the 1 Hr 40 minute explosive feature. The rig as big as it is presented, it’s the intimacy of disaster creating a confined and claustrophobic space trapping you inside with the crew you’re following.

The power of family is surmountable to the fear of death. The desperate struggle of knowing what Mike is dedicating his survival to his family evokes emotional tethers within anyone watching – it definitely makes a point of the determination that Mike feels, that his sub-conscious is what drives him to escape the nightmare, being returned to his wife and daughter, Felicia (Kate Hudson) and Sydney (Stella Allen).

The film takes the slow build-up approach where we see more normality of routine, play-by-play of the role taken by Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) on board, using jargon that is quickly simplified to not over complicate the audiences experience. Connected friendships between crew, Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) & Andrea Fleets (Gina Rodriguez) complicates the inevitability of the disaster feeling more and more strenuous, knowing the reality of the subject matter, and what could possibly happen to these people he cares so much about.

The crew all interact with rough interaction, an ‘everyone understands each other’s jibe’ approach. Giving a sense of cohesion of the crew that spends long enough with each other could have. Adding layer upon layer to their relationships and personalities.

The reality of the tale being told – that of terrifyingly fact based accounts – and the reality that those crew members lost are real, taken horrifically on April 20th 2010 in the worst Oil-Rig disaster in US history adds to the gut-wrenching losses presented on screen in such full-force impact.

When push comes to shove due to the unwillingness to fail, to lose profit in eye of danger is Vidrine (John Malkovich) and Kaluza (Brad Leland) the typical business types at BP who see money and nothing more. This insistence in going through with an obviously flawed plan causes the mess to erupt almost immediately.

When it comes down to pressure, nothing is more insatiable to the sense than the unnerving presentation of the forceable future – that of 10 minutes in the future – that will come to fruition unbearably described by incurably pulse-racing indications from the pressure building up in the pipes ready to erupt as if mount everest was ready to blow. The scene building is full of decisions made and ones that shouldn’t, the film lets you see what the characters don’t, tying an ever increasing knot in the pit of ones stomach.

The pacing never never forces action over context – the characters are real people – that their experiences are that of fact and not fiction. The approach was as delicate to not over exaggerate but to put you in a place to have a better sense of the events that will unfold.

The overall experience relishes in the build-up and the obvious peril that will befall the 126 crew members on board. That giving us the facts and the reality is enough to stir our emotions before the disaster even begins. And in the end leaving us with deep sadness, due to the raw nature of the disaster.