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QUICK REVIEW: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Howdy ladies and gents, time for a new film review and today I get to talk about a film I’ve wanted to review on here since I think 2013, and that is Fantastic Mr. Fox! So yeah I know this film is not new, it is from 2009 and I saw it in the cinema and I really liked it at the time and said to myself that I’d rewatch it again at some point. And yet even after buying the DVD around 5 or 6 years ago while at university I never got around to it just because of timing and being in the right mood. That being said, since 2014 I’ve really gotten into Wes Anderson’s films and with Isle of Dogs coming out tomorrow here in the UK I thought I’d rewatch my first Wes Anderson film and see if it still holds up.

The story for the film can be summed up as the following:

“The film is about a fox who steals food each night from three mean and wealthy farmers. They are fed up with Mr. Fox’s theft and try to kill him, so they dig their way into the foxes’ home, but the animals are able to outwit the farmers and live underground.”

I like the story because it has a lot of layers, there is the main narrative that goes on throughout the film, but there are also a number subplots introduced that eventually come to a head as the film progresses and what I like is that all of these plot elements are character-driven, have significance and the payoff feeds back into the main plot. And for a film about animals dealing with dangerous humans, it introduces some interesting themes dealing with breaking habits, doing what you’re good at, living up to expectations, being different and a number of other elements that are easy to relate to. And it is presented in a story that has a strange, quirky and fast-paced nature to it, and it very funny on numerous occasions and comes at just the right point with incredible timing, however, it also has brilliant moments of seriousness, darker moments and slows down just enough to have these special moments between the main characters.

As for the characters they are all very fun, interesting and feel like well-rounded individuals even if they’re secondary characters. George Clooney is fabulous as Mr. Fox, Clooney brings his natural charm to this character who is charismatic, daring yet selfish and not fully aware of his actions. Meryl Streep as Felicity Fox is a strong, smart and caring woman, but is also very stern and doesn’t take any shit from anyone. Jason Schwartzman stands out as Ash Fox, I guessed Schwartzman in this role just because Ash reminded me of Max from Rushmore in the sense that Ash is another young man with personal issues that lead to awkward relationships with others, but here Ash is a lot younger and immature and his journey through the film is quite engaging despite his rude and insensitive nature. Bill Murray was delightful as Clive Badger and had some great moments with Mr. Fox, Willem Dafoe’s role as Rat was unexpected, funny and strange and Wallace Wolodarsky as Kylie was one of the most memorable characters due to his subdued yet hilarious nature. And finally, Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean made for a strong and memorable protagonist, Gambon has such a presence with his voice and puts it to good use in humourous and intimidating scenarios.

From a presentation point of view, the film’s incredible. Visually the film’s use of stop motion animation is fluid, stylish and unique. While stop motion has a certain type of movement due to the way it is created, this film goes a step further by presenting movement in a number of ways that looks like frames are missing, but the movement is dynamic, exaggerated and elastic giving them a great sense of charisma and realism at the same time. The choice of camera angles and the general cinematography looks like a mixture of a stage play, a normal film and old film techniques used during driving sequences. I also want to talk about the character models and set design, the models have such an intricate level of detail for the fur and clothing and the sets vary from being large or very small, but they are all well-crafted with a lot of attention to detail from the foreground to background material looking realistic but also stylised. It is elaborate, grand in scale and has such incredible scene transitions. The film score by Alexandre Desplat is wonderful and works very well in each scene it’s used in and the soundtrack is filled with a great variety of songs that really enhance the scenes they’re used in the way that only Anderson can pull off.

In conclusion, Fantastic Mr. Fox is still a wonderful film and perhaps foolishly I was surprised how well it held up after so many years. I may be biased as I really LOVE Wes Anderson’s approach to filmmaking, but even if I was to take that element out of the equation, the film is not a conventional animated kids film, but that’s why I love it. The film, it is fun, exciting, engaging, quirky and hilarious, and yet it also has an engaging story, with fully formed characters that you can understand and relate to. If you haven’t seen this film I highly recommend it especially if you like Wes Anderson films.

So have you seen Fantastic Mr. Fox and if so what did you think of it? Drop me your thoughts in the comment section below and I’ll see you in the next review, so until the next time, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2018 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

Good day to you ladies and gents, time for another new film review and this one comes in the form of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Now I’ve only watched two Wes Anderson films in the past and they were Fantastic Mr. Fox (really good) and more recently Moonrise Kingdom (brilliant), so I was really intrigued to see what this man was gonna do next and when I saw the trailers I thought it looked amazing. So after watching it today how do I think the film fared? Well read on and find out.

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Story:

“GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.”

The tale of this film is pretty interesting as it takes a non-liner approach and jumps between the present and the past where the primary meat of the film takes place. The themes in this film involves friendship, trust, love and vengeance among other things, it is all very entertaining, humourous and bizarre but never does it feel uninteresting thanks to some good pacing and energetic nature. The film doesn’t quite reach the emotional or funny levels of Moonrise Kingdom, but it really is good.

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When it comes to the cast the film is just filled to the maximum with talent left right and center and while not everyone gets a great deal of screen time, it is just nice to see their faces.

Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave H. is simply brilliant, he brings his natural charisma, charm and a lot of passion to the roll. Gustave H. has very high standards and expects nothing less of perfection, Fiennes is a man who can do no wrong in my eyes. Tony Revolori is great as Zero Moustafa, I really liked his moments of humour and he seemed to handle his scenes really well considering the more expressed cast around him. Adrien Brody as Dmitri is great, it is not that often when Brody takes on a more villainous role, but he looks amazing and has some really funny moments. Willem Dafoe has to be my favourite character as J.G. Jopling, the dude constantly looks moody and dodgy as hell, is so questionable and dangerous and I love Dafoe’s expression throughout the film. Jeff Goldblum is a nother great actor as Deputy Kovacs, I love the way this man spoke, he was smart, sophisticated, calm and innocent, but because it was Goldblum it is awesome.

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Saoirse Ronan is charming and pretty as Agatha and Tilda Swinton is just unrecognizable as Madame D., her dialogue Mathieu Amalric is good as Serge X., he was pretty good but I couldn’t remember his face for the life of me until I checked him out on IMDB and saw that he was that funny villain from Quantum of Solace. Jason Schwartzman continues to be really interesting as M. Jean, the guy is very lazy, but also very funny and it just the little things like his mannerisms that make me smile. Bill Murray as M. Ivan I was hoping to see a lot more of but he was still pretty cool. Other people that were good were Jude Law as Young Writer, F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Moustafa, Edward Norton as Inspector Henckels, Léa Seydoux as Clotilde, Owen Wilson as M. Chuck and Bob Balaban as M. Martin.

As for the presentation it is very good on both the visual and audio front. Visually just like Anderson’s other films it is one of the film’s best aspects. There is some interesting, dynamic and unconventional camera shots and sequences used with very close camera shots, tracking shots and the use of green screen and CGI that make the film so much more fictional than real, but strangely it still works. At points watching this film was like watching a live action version of Looney Tunes which was totally hilarious and nostalgic. The soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat is another highlight of the film as it fits with the random nature of the film having various songs for different scenarios.

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In conclusion The Grand Budapest Hotel is very good film full of charm, wit and touching moments sprinkled all over. While this isn’t my favourite Wes Anderson film, I definitely had a good time with it and I can easily recommend it because it is one of best films of the year so far.

Rating: 8/10

So what did you think of The Grand Budapest Hotel? Have you seen it or are you gonna see it? Whatever your thoughts are be sure to leave your comments below and I’ll see ya on the next film review yo. 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2014 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Out of the Furnace Review

Hello again ladies and gents, I’ve got another film review for you. So after two other films in the cinema, the final one I watched was Out of the Furnace, a film I’d been wanting to see just because of the hype surrounding Christian Bale and Casey Affleck’s performances. I went in with fluctuating expectations, so was it good or not? Read on and find out.

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So the story goes like this:

“Russell and his younger brother Rodney live in the economically-depressed Rust Belt, and have always dreamed of escaping and finding better lives. But when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, his brother becomes involved with one of the most violent and ruthless crime rings in the Northeast – a mistake that will cost him everything. Once released, Russell must choose between his own freedom, or risk it all to seek justice for his brother.”

Before I continue I just want to say that the first scene in this film is awesome, its terrifying, but awesome nevertheless, okay moving on. I really liked the story and thought that it was very interesting. I liked the relationship between the Baze brothers and their individual stories and how they progress. The story of this film was pretty dramatic, graphic and depressing, part of that reason is not only the character situations but also because of the locations. Russell and Rodney’s story takes place in Crap Town, that’s what I’m calling this place because its dull, sad and not much is going on and it doesn’t feel like people can amount to anything without doing legit work. But if you think that’s bad just wait til you see Shitsville, another location where other bad things take place which is even worse than the last place full of savages and nutjobs doing horrible things. This film reminded me a lot of Prisoners, but whereas that film made me feel uncomfortable and sad, this one gave me a more satisfying story and conclusion.

DF-00697.CR2When it comes to the cast there is a really impressive cast on show and while not everyone is utilized fully, the ones that do stand out are very good. Christian Bale as Russell Baze is great, Russell is a man who is very devoted to his family and has a lot to take care of, but things go from bad to worst after an accident which causes him to lose so many precious things in his life. Bale continues to be a very cool actor as he commits to this role and I like his emotional range. The performance that may overshadow Bale is Casey Affleck as Rodney Baze, Jr., I’ve not seen too many films with Casey in them, but I am now aware that he is an actor I should be paying attention to due to his stellar performance in this film which is very powerful and realistic. At first you question the man’s actions but when you realize what he’s been through and know what’s going on in his head, you begin to understand him and hope that he gets himself together for the sake of not only himself but his family.

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Though the stand out person in this film for me Woody Harrelson as Harlan DeGroat. Bloody hell, what a beast! Harlan is such a brute, totally messed up and unpredictable. When he’s around people you don’t know what’s gonna happen and you fear for their lives. I’ve only become a fan of Harrelson in recent years but seeing him in this film makes me wish I’d noticed him years ago, the man is SO good and easily stole the screen time for others. Zoe Saldana as Lena Warren was pretty good, I liked her and she can do crying moments very well. I also like Willem Dafoe as John Petty, he was a typical business man, very serious though he did have some form of compassion for the people he worked with. Forest Whitaker was decent as Wesley Barnes but he wasn’t in the film as much as I thought he’d be. And Sam Shepard as Gerald “Red” Baze, he didn’t move that much but he was good in the film too.

out-of-the-furnace01In conclusion Out of the Furnace is a great dramatic thriller with awesome performances from the cast and the story is interesting with grim atmosphere. While I wasn’t totally satisfied with the way the story progressed and the over depressing aura of the film, it is still really good and I recommend it.

Rating: 8/10 (Great performances make this worth a watch)

So have you seen or are going to see Out of the Furnace? Whatever your thoughts are leave them in the comments below and I’ll see ya on the next review yo! 😀

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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John Carter Review

Good day to you ladies and gentlemen, today I come to you with a new film review and it will be on the recent sci-fi action film John Carter.

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Never before have I ever seen a film of such a high magnitude fall victim to such a questionable situation with its critical reception and box office numbers. I mean from what I know John Carter as a film is adapted from very rich source material called Barsoom which was a 11-volume series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. And it is was that source material from the novels that influenced directors like Jame Cameron and George Lucas when making Avatar and the Star Wars films. So with all of this influential material and the novels looking like the basis of every great science fiction adventure film, it is hard to believe that the material could be adapted into something bad. Upon the film’s release there were critics that said it was great, while many others said that it was just okay while many others said it was terrible. But I believe the main thing that hurt John Carter was the box office numbers. So far it’s failed to rake in enough cinema-goers to make its money back, it cost $250 million to make which is an absurd amount of money and currently it’s just short of that at around $234 million which is pretty tragic really. So is the film really that bad? Well read on into my review to find out.

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The plot of the film is set in the 1800s and it focuses on the main protagonist, John Carter. A man from Virginia, he’s a natural-born fight whose fought in the Confederate Army and at that current point in time he was tired of war, didn’t take shit from anyone and was obsessed with finding his treasure of gold. However through a series of events he happens to find a medallion, say some magic words and gets transported to Mars (also known as Barsoom to inhabitants of that planet). So when he’s on Mars he discovers that he jump higher and has increased strength due to his higher bone density and Mars’ lower gravity. He then comes across a race of green aliens with four arms who witness his newfound powers and take him in, meanwhile on the other side of the planet there’s a princess called Dejah Thoris who is being forced into marrying the antagonist in the film because with that deed done he can end the war with his power, but the princess isn’t down with that so she attempts to escape, then meets up with John Carter and then they get to know each other and form an alliance. And now moving onto the antagonist Sab Than, a man who’s been given a great power called the Ninth Ray and under the influence of ancient powerful entities called the Thern he is destined to take the princesses hand in marriage to end the war. So somehow Carter is drafted into this war, while he is also trying to find a way of getting back home…

Confused much? Well if you said yes then you are not alone. I know that wasn’t a very good plot description but the fact of the matter is that there is many layers to John Carter, it would be hard to talk about the film without going into specific details about characters and story. The film’s main problem is that it has too much story. There’s too many layers and its mashed together in a very choppy and unorganized manner. John Carter’s story starts on Earth and there’s a lot of story there involving a lot of characters past and present, then you have the several events that take place on Mars and all the characters he interacts with, some of which have their own backstories and then you have the history of Barsoom (Mars). That’s a lot of material to cover in around 2 hours. There was too much source material to work with and while the story gets clearer as events play out on Mars, it still gets lost in translation at many points. I reckon that this film could have been split into 2 halves, though finding a clear-cut off point would be difficult, but I feel that approach would have benefitted the film much better especially with all of the back story that comes with Barsoom and Carter’s history on Earth.

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The cluttered story also makes for some awkward pacing over the course of the movie. It really felt like the film didn’t allow you to process the information it was trying to give you, much like Clash of the Titans and Green Lantern. I mean you are given the whole history of Barsoom at the beginning of the film, but it feels like it was breezed over and not given enough breathing space.It would have worked better at a later part of the film through a descriptive back story by one of the inhabitants that Carter encounters. You also have John Carter being on Mars, adjusting to the fact that he’s on another planet with light gravity, he then comes into contact with the green aliens just a little while afterwards, then there’s another new storyline with Dejah thrown in, and then there’s the whole thing with the Thern and Sab too. And the way you cut from scene to scene without enough time to take in is very frustrating because there are moments of emotion and good action, but they are all too brief and over in a flash. And it is because of this awkward pacing that we don’t get time to properly get invested in the characters or believe the budding relationship between Carter and Dejah, such a shame.

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Also when the film was going through like the first act on Earth I was like “What the hell is all this shit? Where’s all the action and adventure from Mars? When does he get to Mars? Skip this shit, I wanna see Mars!” When you are thinking about all of those things before a film has even gotten into its element then you know its got problems. Basically the first part of the film dragged, it had awkward editing, pretty dull characters and that part of the plot I didn’t really care about. And even after we get to Mars and things become more interesting, there’s still awkward, choppy and incomplete moments that arise.

Other failings of the film come in the form of its dialogue, characters and the film’s overall tone. Some of the stuff that happens in this film is actually weird or completely ridiculous regardless of whether its meant fictional. The dialogue is okay, but a lot of it is cliché and pretty lame at points. Secondly the characters in the film are the kind we’ve seen a good few times before except a lot better in those other films, Taylor Kitsch as John Carter is alright and did what he could with the role, but I feel like he was just a bit boring at times and Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris was pretty and not half bad acting-wise but overall just a tad annoying and lacking in likability. Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas was probably the most memorable of all the characters because he had personality and was actually pretty cool and when it comes to Dominic West as Sab Than he was just the generic villain, no layers to him whatsoever and Mark Strong as Matai Shang was just Mark Strong being himself, an interesting character but a little dull. But the third and final thing that bugged me was this whole lighthearted Disney feeling that was sprinkled all over the film, from the comedic scenes to some of the dialogue or the choice of music. It felt very Disney-like, like watching old Disney animated films. That atmosphere created made John Carter feel like it was intended for children and dumbed down for adults, it was quite annoying like some of the scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.I made a good few comparisons to Disney’s Aladdin due to the characters, plot and setting. But then the tone of the film keeps switching between kiddie and then adult when there are scenes of war and violence, especially when you see people being killed and decapitated. So you have to wonder what kind of tone was this film going for.

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Remember all this chaos and action-packed scenes from the trailers and posters? Well you have to wait for all that stuff and sit through half of a film that feels like its part of another film.

So after all of this hateful comments I’ve given to this film you probably think I hated it right? Well I didn’t. Before this film came out I thought it was just another Conan the Barbarian except it’s in space, but luckily it wasn’t nearly that bad. When I left the cinema screen I was bemused, I found myself liking the film, but it was hard to pinpoint the balance between how much I liked with how much I disliked. As I said before the film frustrates me because there are aspects of the film that do work, John Carter’s past and present story was a deep one and the adventure he goes on is pretty incredible, BUT that is offset but the execution of this film which defeats the elements that the film is trying to sell to you as an audience member. For a film that is meant to be basis of most other science fiction films it sure does pay homage to other films like the recent Stars Wars Episode 1 to Star Wars Episode 6 with the podracing and speeder chases sequences and there’s some obvious parallels to Avatar too.

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In the end John Carter meets somewhere in the middle; it isn’t completely rubbish or a masterpiece either. While it has some moments of genuine entertainment, it is also plagued with questionable dialogue, a very heavy and convoluted storyline, strange character personalities and awkward pacing. The film is just frustrating because it had a lot of potential and in a way you could see that it could be so much more, but unfortunately it’s just half a good film, half a mess of a film. Watch the film if you so choose, however I can’t recommend it because of how much it a disappointment it was to me.

Rating: 6/10

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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