The Shape of Water, review

A lonely woman who is employed as a cleaner at a highly secure government laboratory has her life changed after bonding with a creature. 

Guillermo del Toro has created a striking film in which he has combined the genres of fantasy, fairytale and love story all in one. Using modern society as an inspiration and being set during a cold war era, two living things bond in the most unlikely of places.

Sally Hawkins plays Eliza, who works as a cleaner at a laboratory based in Baltimore. She lives on her own above a cinema and counts her chatty neighbour Giles (an incredibly likeable Richard Jenkins) and her protective co-worker Zelda (the always wonderful Octavia Spencer) as her friends. During a routine shift a creature, referred to by Strickland (Michael Shannon) as the asset, is wheeled through in a metal tank. Eliza’s first encounter with the amphibious being is brief but immediately intriguing.

From here, the pair bond over being outcasts. They are both mute and share a love for each other’s company, Eliza is able to communicate with the creature on a level like no other human can. Her child like demeanour and love of imitating old movies gives her the perfect amount of innocence and fascination to be at complete ease with it. Hawkins has formed a character around being mute and somehow made her charming, sweet, adorable and likeable without the use of a single word. Her performance pushes the boundaries of what you’d expect from an actress of such high calibre. Shannon’s turn as the deliciously evil, mildly threatening family man gives you a villain to hate and admire. His terrifying grin and idiosyncratic love of a type of particular sweet gives him an edge of unsure malice. Despite it’s subject matter, the movie still has several moments of comedy relief including a scene involving a number of pies and another with Zelda proclaiming “Some of the best minds in the country and they still pee all over the floor in here”. The humour adds a level of realism in what is a fantasy film.

A beautiful fantasy film with a breathtaking creature and stellar performances from Sally Hawkins and Michael Shannon makes this film a contender during awards season.

4 out of 5.

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The Breadwinner, review

A girl in Afghanistan pretends to be a boy in order to provide for her family after her father is wrongly imprisoned.

For girls to go outside without a male member of their family in certain parts of the world is unthinkable. They are still considered second class citizens and treated as such. Even when they are with a member of their own family, it is still looked down upon. This is the premise of The Breadwinner, an animated film by Nora Twomey who is directing her first solo feature. Taking place in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, it shows the harsh conditions people have to endure in order to live.

Creating the initially atmosphere, The Breadwinner is a beautiful looking film, with stunning landscapes and scenes along with sounds to accompany them. The oppressing environment girls are living in is also established quickly with the girl, Parvana (Saara Chaudry) who is selling items with her father at the local market. During an altercation with three men, her father is told she should not have left the house and both are almost beaten for doing so. As things escalate, her father is hauled off to prison, leaving the family with little money and food. Shortly after she is being chased away from attempting to go shopping on her own, which forces Parvana to disguise herself as a boy to provide for her family. Living with her sick mother, older sister and younger brother, there are a lot of mouths to feed, Parvana puts pressure on herself to be the breadwinner. 

Parvana is a strong willed girl who uses her method of storytelling as her own form of escapism and dealing with harrowing events from her past. The flashes into her story about a boy trying to defeat an evil spirit are as equally gorgeous as the rest of the film, looking as if it’s been cut out from paper. These dream like images pushes it’s plot forward by becoming more erratic as does their situation at home. 

During the course of the movie, we are constantly reminded of the place women have in this particular society. They are beaten for no reason, told not to work, that men are always in charge, that they should be staying at home and look after the men in their family and do nothing else. It’s with this that the director shows what our protagonist is made of, defying what the social convention is whilst hiding who she is. 

The beauty of the animation is matched by the emotional weight within it’s characters. The torture and torment they all suffer on different levels hits the perfect mark in each scene. 

4 out of 5.

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Battle of the Sexes, review

After becoming the most successful female player of all time, Billie Jean King is challenged to a match from retired male player, Bobby Riggs.

Tennis movies are a difficult one to crack. It’s not the most cinematic event to watch and it’s only occasionally exciting. How do you create an exciting film in which one ball gets hit around a court by two people? Well, you cut it out of most of the movie. This is what Battle of the Sexes has done, which focuses more on the of politics of man vs. woman than the sport itself. A smart move from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

Based on true events from 1973, it begins with Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) winning a pivotal match which makes her the most succesful female tennis player of all time. Shortly after, she’s told by her sassy friend Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman, clearly enjoying herself a lot) that the women’s prize money will be considerably less than that of the men’s. This news triggers a surprise meeting with Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman), the man who has made this decision based on his own sexist views which essentially boils down to men are better than women. It’s this encounter which spurs Billie to start a rival tournament.

It’s impossible to keep count of the amount of sexist and patronising comments said by men which, whilst frustrating, serve a narrative purpose to the feminist story being told. Billie takes on the establishment for not helping her and other female tennis players despite selling just as many tickets as their male counterparts. The discourse in female rights, social politics and male dominance is rife throughout the movie’s central plot. Steve Carell’s Bobby Riggs is one one of these men. Frustrated by his post tennis career and working at his father in-laws business, he gets the idea to play against Billie during a late night tennis match which is funding his gambling habbit.

The pacing of the film is perfectly executed, going from the rise of Billie’s defying tournament, and moving on to her personal life whilst weaving it into her career. There’s a real sense of creating a narrative which links together very nearly, and with it’s smart writing from Simon Beaufoy, it achieves this with ease. The tension between King and Riggs builds before the climax towards the end.

Carell and Stone both give perfect performances. The former as the flamboyant, over the top, annoyingly charming (despite his sexist remarks) Riggs. He has channelled what it’s like to go from world phenomenon to working in an office, becoming increasingly irritated by his own mundane existence. The latter convincingly battles with countless men regarding their views on what women can and can’t do as well as concealing her sexuality during a time when it was not considered wholesome to be anything but straight and married with children. At one point she meets the open minded and going with the flow Marilyn Barnett played by Andrea Riseborough. The pair have an immediate spark which is difficult to fake. Stone embodies the most perfect version of Billie Jean King; an activist in a repressive time. 

It’s an impressive sports film without much sport, it deals with the gender politics perfectly and accurately looks at how tough women had it (and still have it). It’s final match fails to get to the lofty heights of excitement you usually witness in a boxing movie however it’s more than that. It shows how far we’ve come and how far we’re yet to go.

4 out of 5. 

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi Release New Trailer, Images and Poster

We finally have a brand new trailer for The Last Jedi and it seem Disney are being very generous by giving us some images and a new poster too. Some of the images have been taken directly from the new trailer, all of which features the cast in it’s entirety. 

Since seeing the first trailer about 5 months ago, fans have been eagerly awaiting more from the upcoming continuation of the saga. We’ve had a few images released along with the Vanity Fair photo shoot but now we have more! Take a look at the trailer, poster and images below.

What we see includes an all out war against the First Order, Chewbacca with an adorable new friend in the Millennium Falcon, Finn taking on Phasma, General Huxleading Stormtroopers (possibly including the rumoured Tom Hardy) into battle, Rey potentially turning over to the Dark Side, Kylo Ren acting like an angry child again with the chance of killing his mother and Luke FINALLY getting something to say. He’ll be happy with that.

The new poster is pushing the colour red even more than before, we have Luke, Finn, Rey, Poe, Leia, Chewie, General Hux, R2D2, C3PO, BB8, Phasma, Rose Rico and lots of red. Very curious to see why they’ve gone this way with this colour, not long until we get to see it.

Star Wars. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi will be released in the UK on December 14th, with Rian Johnson directing. I’ve heard that tickets are on sale this week so check your local listings. 

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Wonderstruck, review

A young boy’s story of finding his estranged father intertwines with that of a girl 50 years previous. 

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” The movie starts with a dream of wolves and this quote, which introduces us to Ben, the vulnerable protagonist of this story. In the first few minutes we learn that he’s living with his aunt and cousins after the death of his mother. It soon cuts to 50 years previously in 1927 where a deaf girl is searching for a famous actress she appears to be an admirer of. 

It’s from here that the film intertwines it’s story, showing their paths both of which lead to New York. Ben, played by Oakes Fegley, makes his way using a coach after escaping from a hospital following an accident. His clues lead him on different roads to find out about his father. Whereas Rose (Millicent Simmonds) runs away from home to escape her repressed childhood and frightful father. 

Along the way we’re introduced to Ben’s mother, Elaine (Michelle Williams), Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore) and Jamie (Jaden Michael), a friend Ben makes whilst searching for answers. His father works at the museum of natural history so it’s here where the pair bond in the way children do; curiosity. 

Both Oakes and Millicent give decent performances to portray the struggles they would be going through in different times, however when you have a cast that includes Michelle Williams, who pretty much just makes a cameo and Julianne Moore, there is no competing. The two are effortlessly brilliant as ever, Williams once again picking a relatively small film and Moore expressing everything in the odd look here and there. You can see it all in her face. 

However these two are not enough to save what is a pretty flimsy film. The intricate weave it’s trying to put together doesn’t quite pay off. It struggles with the amount of time it spends with Jamie, who doesn’t have a narrative point and serves absolutely no purpose. If anything he slows down our protagonist in getting to where he needs to go. This creates a lengthy running time of almost two hours, with a film that should really be an hour and half. Tops. 

With an interesting premise and a promising start, this is a movie being pushed down by it’s inability to cut scenes from a weighty script.

2 out of 5.

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Colin Trevorrow Has Left Star Wars Episode IX

A mutual decision by Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow has resulted in the director leaving Star Wars Episode IX. It was announced by Disney yesterday that due to having different ‘visions on the project’ they have parted ways leaving it open for another director to step in. 

In a statement regarding Trevorrow, Disney has said ‘Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutual chosen to part ways on Star Wars Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.’
The news comes after Ron Howard replaced the fired Phil Lord and Chris Miller on the Han Solo movie in June. Recent rumours have surfaced regarding their sacking including their attempt to make Han Solo similar to Ace Ventura. The directors had been working on this film for almost 2 years so this came as quite a shock.

Trevorrow was announced as director of Episode IX on 2015 after the success of Jurassic World which has rebooted the franchise after making $1.6bn at the box office.

A replacement director has not been announced just yet so watch this space. Star Wars Episode IX is due for release on June 21st, 2019 with the next part of the saga The Last Jedi in cinemas on December 14th, 2017.

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Star Wars. Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. New Images

Not long until we see the next part in the saga which is due to end in 2019. The Last Jedi is coming round our way this Christmas and so far we have a name, a trailer a couple of posters and that’s it. It’s not really much to go on but of course stemming from the previous film, The Force Awakens, there are dozens of fan theories of who Rey is, where does Snoke come from, is Han Solo really dead? Oh Sorry, spoiler alert there. Awkward…

Anyway! The lack of detail is pretty standard for a big budget blockbuster by Disney, secrecy will keep you intrigued and guessing up until you watch it (or some blogger ruins it for you…) However we now have a few images to go on, starring a lot of our favourite characters from Episode VII as well as a few new ones. There’s Luke, Chewie, Leia, Rey, Po and Finn, plus Kylo Ren, as well as new comer Rose Tico, new ships and an intriguing looking building. (I can’t find any details on this but if you know please tell me!) One other thing, the red guys you’ll see are Praetorian Guards. So there, I know stuff! Check them out below.

The Last Jedi is due for release on December 15th, with Rian Johnson in the directors chair. 

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Dunkirk, review

Telling the story from a broader view of land, sea and air, Dunkirk shows the lives and rescue of the allied men from Belgium, the British Empire and France stuck on the beach during World War II.

Christopher Nolan has told countless stories from the point of view of his characters, creating their backstory, giving them a history and supporting figures in their lives in order to make their anguish and struggle seem more personal so that you can connect with those you wouldn’t normally. It’s in Dunkirk which he has subverted his own story telling technique. Here you have several events taking place with a range of soldiers going through a number of situations. Without knowing very much about them at all, some whose names are never said, you find yourself caring greatly for them and their safety. Knowing full well that you would never want to be in such a situation, Nolan immerses you as much as he can within the fighter planes, in the water, in the boats, on the beach, running from gunfire. It’s his unique way of making a war film (despite the director stating that this isn’t a war film).

It starts with a few soldiers walking along quiet deserted streets, picking up leaflets strewn across the ground which say “We Surround You. Surrender + Survive”. It’s a stark reminder to the men and the audience of the dire situation that they are in. Shortly after, the gun fire begins and they are running for their lives. From here on in, it’s a heart thumping race to survive in any way possible.

It’s narrative is spread not only across land, sea and air but also through three different timelines, intertwining with each other, getting a wide spread sense of the fear and danger each and every soldier is in. There’s one week for Tommy (Fionn Whithead) initially running from gunfire, it’s a day for civilian Mark Rylance who takes his boat, son and friend out to sea to help those trapped on the beach and it’s an hour for Tom Hardy’s fighter pilot, yet again having his face covered up but working wonders with his eyebrows. The intricate non-linear plots are stitched together seamlessly and minus the brief indications on screen, it’s not a detail which you notice too much.

Each performance feels more like a supporting character as there is no one person’s story which is told through out. Rylance and his boat, Hardy and his plane, plus Kenneth Branagh all appear on screen plenty of times, whilst giving gut wrenchingly intense performances while Whithead and Harry Styles who primarily remain on the beach together create a perilous atmosphere as they run and hide to survive.

These characters do not have a back story that we know about, the only part of their lives that we are aware of is what we see in front of us. Yet with it’s incredibly clever use of sound (the bullets piercing boats and planes, boots on the ground, heavy breathing) and sparing dialogue, you find yourself deeply concerned for all of those involved. The initial gun shots are deafening and echo off the houses and around the streets, showing how alone they are. The fear created primarily by rounds firing is hammered home when Rylance picks up Cillian Murphy, who’s terrified to the point of anger. Across his face and in all of his actions, you can feel it. Rylance feels it’s necessary to remind him “There’s no hiding from this son”.

Despite the 400,000 men who have no way of getting home, it’s Nolan’s use of each bullet that goes to show how isolated they are. It also becomes a way of pushing in the sense peril, the rattling of the war planes as they are hit several times by bullets, the explosions on the beach getting louder and louder as they approach you. It’s all encompassed by Han Zimmer’s stunning score, which is his best with Nolan yet. The use of sounds within the film being played along to Zimmer’s music, the thudding, the bangs, the piercing bullets as well as the sound of a ticking clock as if time is about to run out puts an intense and intimate atmosphere throughout the film.

Each and every moment has been designed to bring you as close to the edge of your seat as possible, it immerses you into the action without the use of 3D. If there was ever an argument for getting rid of 3D for good, this is it. A consistent visceral feeling which will remain with you for a long time. This will give you a hint of what it was really like on that beach, just without the danger.

5 out of 5.

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First Look: Cable in Deadpool 2

After the giant success that was Deadpool it’s no surprise that it’s coming back for a sequel. A brief teaser was released in March in which the Merc with a mouth mocked Superman and yelled at Stan Lee. Chances are this footage won’t make it into the final film however it certainly gave fans something to go on. 

Another thing that left us all wanting more was the mention of Cable during the Ferris Bueller inspired post credit scene. Here Deadpool, wearing his mask and dressing gown, mentions that Cable will feature in the sequel. Who they were going to cast was a mystery whilst Deadpool had his own ideas inclduing Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson and Keira Knightley. Well it was none of them as it was announced in April that Josh Brolin would be taking the role. Now we’re starting to see glimpses of the movie as a couple of images of Cable have been released.

In these images he looks less like the traditional Cable we’re used to in the comics but it’s a dam good look! He’s got the scar across his eye as well as having an implant in the other plus he’s beefed up for this role, as those who saw him at Comic-Con said he was looking “hench”. He also has the metal arm, stuffed toy and massive gun. Brolin is very much getting his fill from comicbook movies, also playing Thanos in the MCU, appearing in next year’s Infinity War. 

Deadpool 2 is out June 1st 2018, it’s being directed by David Leitch. It is of course starring Ryan Reynolds, with Brolin, Zazie Beetz as Domino and Morena Baccarin as Vanessa. 

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SDCC 2017 Round-Up

Yes I know it’s late, yes you may have already seen all of this already. I was at a wedding which was really fun so I have no regrets! Just shut it, sit down and enjoy!

One of these days I will make it to San Diego and attend what has to be the best event for comic book lovers all over! This weekend, SDCC took place and as always it was jam packed with trailers, teasers, discussions, images, concept art, posters and so much more.

Avengers: Infinity War  

The main talking point was Avengers: Infinity War after having a short trailer shown in the famous Hall H. At the moment, besides some badly filmed leaked footage, we haven’t got much but some have taken the time to describe what they saw. A few things including Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy by smacking into their ship, being brought inside waking up and saying “Who the hell are you guys?”, Loki holding the Tesseract, a brief look at Peter Parker’s Spidey Sense working, Iron Man working with the Guardians. Thanos arrives to battle Avengers. Spider-Man shown wearing new suit from end of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Cut to Peter with mask off saying, “I’m sorry,” to Stark. Thanos battling Doctor Strange, Star-Lord, and Iron Man.

Shows Captain America in new (Nomad?) suit with a beard. Black Widow is now blonde. Thanos pulls pieces of the moon to Earth to toss at Avengers. When we’ll see a trailer is anyone’s guess but perhaps if I were to guess it would be around the time Thor: Ragnarok is released.

Thor: Ragnarok

A new trailer was released for Thor: Ragnorok in which we delve deeper into what happens to Asgard and the aftermath of it being destroyed. There’s more Hulk, who we discover is able to talk and has seemingly had a haircut! It’s been announced that he’s not been Bruce Banner for 2 years, so it’s possible that he’s become a calmer Hulk (?) Further more, Loki returns who we last saw ruling Asgard under the guise of Odin but here he’s been captured, and teams up with Thor, Hulk and Valkrie. We also got to see a colourful new poster which has the director’s creativity all over it. It’s an incredible thing to see, they are clearly pushing Thor into a new direction which will be full of bright colours. It feels like it will be a perfect change up for him as the previous 2 films haven’t really been that good!

The Defenders 

They are coming soon! After teasing their team up for what feels like ages, in August The Defenders are all appearing together on a new Netflix series.  From this latest trailer, we are promised a war for New York, more death and some incredible fight scenes. The Defenders have had their ups and downs, Iron Fist is apparently awful, whereas Jessica Jones kicks ass (leave it to the women to always be awesome! Season 2 is currently being filmed). It does look like they would be a brilliant yet unorthodox mash up of strength, smarts and cunning. I’ll have to get watching though, I’ve still got Season 2 of Dare Devil, as well as Iron Fist and Luke Cage all to watch.

Ant-Man and the Wasp 

Only a few bits were announced for the Ant-Man sequel, which is again being directed by Peyton Reed.What we do know now is that Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne have both joined the cast for the 2018 film which comes out 6th July.  Pfeiffer will be playing Janet van Dyne, the wife of inventor Hank Pym, who was played by Michael Douglas in the original film and Fishburne is Dr. Bill Foster. Nothing else has been announced about his character yet. There was also some concept art/poster which you can see below. From it we can see that Giant Man will make a comeback and will go up against an army. Hopefully we’ll see something more, plus he’s making an appearance in Infinity War.

Captain Marvel

More details regarding the first Marvel film with a female lead were annpunced over the weekend. It’s still quite sparse with regards to it’s plot, however it will take place before Iron Man, she will be facing off against the Skrulls and Samuel L Jackson is returning as Nick Fury with both eyes! We may even find out how he lost an eye. As it was previously revealed, Brie Larson is making her first appearance as the Captain Marvel in next year’s Infinity War. There was also some concept art revealed.

Black Panther
From the moment this movie was announced I was convinced that it would take a tribal route and how right I was when the trailer dropped earlier this year. Now we have a brand new poster and altogether this film is looking absolutely incredible! Here he is standing above his nation of Wakanda on top of the Black Panther statue.

Justice League 

Out towards the end of the year, it’s the team up we’re all hoping pays off! Justice League has had yet another trailer ahead of its release in November release this year. It’s still extremely CGI heavy which would be fine but I can’t understand why it’s been made to look so fake. Anyone?? The main talking point however is the end in which Alfred is talking to someone who is just off screen. Is this the return of Superman? Or another DC hero making their way into the League? We’ll have to wait and see.

DC Films

SO MANY FILMS! As you can see from the image below there’s a lot on going on at DC right now. My worry is that it’s too much too soon. Marvel created a universe over several years and then started to do more and more when the time was right. DC is starring to feel very thrown together. With all of these films in production, it’ll be hard to make them all enjoyable as well as having any depth to them, plus it seems they have left off Man of Steel 2 and Gotham City Sirens. Maybe they are still going and these are just the films they’ve not properly announced. If so that’s another couple of films on what is already a pretty big plate.

Ready Player One

Spielberg’s latest film which stars Mark Rylance, Ben Mendelsohn, TJ Miller, Olivia Cooke, Tye Sheridan, Simon Pegg and Hannah John-Kamen is about a future distopian society in which people are trying to figure out clues to a video game in order to inherit the creators fortune. Based on the novel by Ernest Clone, this film has been spoken about a lot so it’s great to see a trailer for it and check out the maze in the logo below. Cool no?

Pacific Rim: Uprising

When the first Pacific Rim came put it was incredibly good fun in equal measures stupid! I loved it as many people did. Now a sequel is on the way starring John Boyega in the lead role and we see him briefly in this promo clip for The Jaegar Uprising asking people to join them. It’s very interesting to see a promo like this as they are quite effective in what they do, it gets people talking about a film of which they have seen nothing. Fingers crossed it’s as ridiculously fun and stupid as the first one.

Stranger Things – Season 2 

A second more in-depth trailer for the next season of Stranger Things debuted over the weekend. We got to see more of the awesome kids we love including Eleven and it’s got a good amount of the Upside Down thrown in for good measure. Really looking forward to seeing this at Halloween this year.

Westworld: Season 2

I haven’t seen any Westworld but from what I hear it’s very good, sometimes… here’s the trailer for season 2. I’m saying nothing about it as I know nothing about this show! But I do have it recorded, yes yet another show to watch! WHERE’S THE TIME?!

Walking Dead

Lots and lots if questions about this one. We get to see our gang fighting off several zombies and people as always but just at the end we see something different. It’s all calm and clean then we see Rick who has a few extra miles on him with a long greying beard. There’s even a walking stick near him. It’s pretty impossible to say what this means unless it’s from the comics however I’ve never read them! We’ll see if this is a dream, hopes or what really happens in the future.

Star Trek: Discovery

 A show which has been through a number if reschedules and production problems, Star Trek: Discovery looks pretty incredible. As far as plot goes there doesn’t seem to be much available but not long to wait until it’s out in September.

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