Jonathan Evans

Review Hereditary by Jonathan Evans

“I was watching Poltergeist last month, I got a question. Why don’t white people just leave when there’s a ghost in the house?”

-Eddie Murphy

(1 / 5)

This isn’t the main problem, but it is one of the many that plagues Hereditary.

Horror is a medium that at it’s best reveals our deepest insecurities and troubles as people. This movie means nothing and simply seeks to gross and horrify us with, the images and sounds it slaps us with.

We open with a house and inside it is a family that is preparing for a funeral. It is the grandmother who has died and the mother, Annie, is dreading the ordeal. Meanwhile on the side is her daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) that keeps to herself, draws in her sketchbook and makes a clicking noise with her mouth. The son Peter is a pretty normal, apathetic teenager. We learn that Annie’s mother was very nice at all during her life and won’t be missed now she’s passed. But just because she’s passed doesn’t she’s done tormenting her daughter and grandchild and all sorts of strange things start happening from here on.

You get to a point where you’ve seen enough movies to have an understanding of typical genre movies. In comedy, you tell when there will be a misunderstanding or a bit of slapstick. Horror is one where you know if there is blank space on the screen then something will move or jump out, or when there will be a build-up to something and nothing will happen only for the character to take a breath and that is when the thing goes boo! This movie is guilty of being predictable. I could tell how the scenes were going to play as soon as they started.

For some of it you don’t know where it’s going then you don’t care because all it’s doing is stitching one gross-out, disturbing moment with the next to give you a tapestry of horror. It doesn’t, it’s just annoying.

In the recent years, we have gotten some original voices and experiences in horror movies. Like, Don’t Breathe, Mother!, Get Out, A Cure for Wellness, A Quiet Place, Unsane and The Babadook. All of these movies tap into a core fear that individuals feel or the problem of people as a whole and have a whole vision. These movies will be remembered, this one will be forgotten.

It is easy to overlook the acting when the concept doesn’t work or the writing is garbage. But this movie does have actors that genuinely good performances. Toni Collette as Annie truly and clearly conveys terror across her face, I believe she is scared in these situations. Likewise, Alex Wolff has to be a few things over the course of the movie and does them all well. What a shame that these talented people and all their effort go into a big pile of garbage like this.

 

This movie is not boring, it is however frustrating. Frustrating in how it uses the most simple, stupidest tolls to scare you, when it doesn’t, it just goes boo! Frustrating that all these actors and crew had to waste their time on a rotten project. Horror is a brilliant genre that can reveal things about ourselves, not this, it’s just a waste.

 

Review Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom by Jonathan Evans

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom works by being a true blockbuster and tapping into what makes them great watches. Simple and engaging characters that move from one set-piece to the next. Along the way we see wild images and feel a gamut of emotions and leave feeling satisfied.

(5 / 5)

I enjoyed the first Jurassic World movie enough but found there were many pointless elements, plot points that didn’t make any sense and some wasted potential. It did, however, make a lot of money so a sequel was inevitable. But they announced that J.A. Boyegar was taking over the reins as director. From his Gothic horror movie of The Orphanage to Disaster movie The Impossible and the best movie of last year with A Monster Calls he has quickly built-up a reputation as one of the top filmmaking talents. His movies cut deep into human emotions, whether they be fear, endurance or dealing with reality they are emotionally driven. He adapts himself to using some similar shots that we know from this established franchise (one particularly iconic helicopter shot) and more chatty and joky characters and has made something him and is part of a franchise.

Now for the synopsis. Jurassic Park was meant to be a park where they brought Dinosaurs back from extinction and the people could experience them. This was obviously a bad idea but lent itself to a great scenario so they did it anyway. It went badly. The Dinosaurs got free and now run the island, that is the current situation, but the volcano at the center of the island is about to erupt which will wipe out all the Dinosaurs. Some say they should be saved because they are living creatures others say they can never be controlled and are man-made so be left to their fate. A special group is financing a rescue of two of each species and they recruit Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) from the last movie to assist, she then brings in Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) also from the last movie because of his expertise and connection with Blue the Raptor.

From here on the movie strings together set-piece to set-piece and thematic elements into a whole. It isn’t at the non-relenting passe of Mad Max: Fury Road but it is brink and with a bountiful serving of variations. There are suspenseful moments of having to sneak around, chases, and confined situations of claustrophobia.

There seems to be a resurgence, since the release of The Force Awakens, of using practical effects and prosthetics again and I am so happy to see it. C.G.I. is a wonderful tool but it is not the answer to all, practical effects give weight and believability to the creatures. C.G.I. ages very quickly and a real, well textured and painted model or puppet won’t. As well as that it gives the actors something to genuinely act with.

There is an understanding that Dinosaurs are the biggest predators that ever walked the Earth and to be around one that eats meat, is one of the most dangerous things you can do. It is quickly established with the dread the characters talk about them, the fear that flashes on their faces and a few selective devourings of characters. Even the herbivores are so large that if you get in their way, you will be flattened.

When development of a movie begins there is what is called “Concept Art” these are pieces of art that seeks to give a feel for the tone and mood of the movie and give the filmmakers something to work towards visually. They are usually expressive and quite beautiful. Through the movie, you can see moments in which were clearly taken from a piece of illustrated art and are some truly beautiful and haunting moments of cinema.

Thematically the movie is focused on the original movies concept as well as going further to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (she even gets a cameo in the movie in the form of a painting) and that is the responsibility of creation.

This movie is a reminder of what a great experience you can have sitting in the seat of a theater and seeing the images on the big screen and hearing the loud sounds all around you. It respects the original material and boldly pushes it forward and will have you in awe and tremble in fear of Dinosaurs.

Jonathan Evans

Review Solo: A Star Wars Story by Jonathan Evans

(3 / 5)

 

The problem with any long-lasting franchise is that eventually, all aspects of the characters will have a light shined on them. We have seen so many details revealed about Spider-Man and Batman, their school years, interaction with their parents, childhood memories and traumas. Other movie characters are exempt from this, they come, make their impression and their story ends without having to know every facet of their existence. Take for example the main character of Solo, Han Solo, he made his first appearance in 1977 with the first Star Wars movie and fulfilled an archetype as much as anything but was well defined.

He had his journey through the original trilogy and it ended. Now with the rebirth of the saga as well as making it a franchise get ready for all the details to be dished out for you.

Obviously, for the movie we have a younger portrayal of Han Solo, the role is taken over by Alden Ehrenreich. He reasonably looks like someone who could age into Harrison Ford and has his head of hair and strikes the iconic shooting pose but for a lot of it, he’s hard to buy. Possibly for years and years, our image of Solo has been purely Harrison Ford and to see another be the character is just too hard to wrap our brains around!  He becomes more buyable as the movie progresses, either this was intentional, Ehrenreich got better at the portrayal as they got further into filming or takes a bit of time to adjust to it all.

There are other familiar faces too. First is the large furry companion of Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), he’s the loyal muscle that always has your back. Then we meet the suave, smooth-talking Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover, who is easily one of the best parts to the movie, his dialogue is much like the original character as well as being fun in his own right and he matches Billie Dee Williams performance to a tee and makes it look natural.

Obviously, we get new characters for this journey too. Almost as soon as the movie starts we meet Qi’ra (Emila Clarke), a shrewd beautiful woman from Han’s past that is a survivor like him. There’s the robber Tobias Beckett (Woody Harelson) who becomes a mentor figure and there’s the sassy droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who tenaciously wants equality for all droid kind.

One of the problems with movies like this is that when we see the younger versions of familiar characters we know not only where they go but that they will make it out without a scratch, that really takes the tension out of the scenes. It’s the equivalent of watching someone play a video game and they have permanent invincibility, there’s no investment because there are no stakes. However with the new characters that we don’t see in any of the other movies, we don’t know where their story goes or if it ends here, so there’s still a bit of tension.

To get back to my opening statement, we were introduced to Han Solo and his large furry friend Chewbacca rather briskly in the original trilogy and there were hints of his past but it didn’t really matter because we had the present story to deal with. We could wonder and create our own ideas about the details of their relationship, of how exactly their first encounter went but it is something that is relevant to the individual, now this movie is here to solidify it.

The world of Star Wars is a recognisable one on a purely visual basis. It has incredible technology that is beyond us and that technology is not very well polished, it is a little rusted and has a layer of dust over it. There is plant life that grows in larger and weirder shapes, the clothing is practical but more stylish at the same time and the technology itself has an oldfashioned style in its plating and construction. For this movie, we do indeed see the Millenium Falcon but it is not the one we know, it is newer and shinier than we have seen in previous movies.

This is a very muted movie in terms of its color pallet. In the opening segment we are in a dingy city of nearly all grays, then we go underground and everything has a blue filter to it, then we get out and gray again, they were in a battlefield of gray and mud and then a snowy mountain range of whites and grays. There are a few more colorful environments in the movie but even then the color never really seems to pop. It seems like a strange choice being that it’s such a stylized world and known for its use of color.

The movie makes no bones about this being a part of a franchise (one of the most recognizable and profitable of all-time). Through the viewing of the movie, you will hear and recognize things that you can connect back to the original saga. But the movie still works by itself in terms of never stopping to make those references and having other moments be there for legitimate plot reasons.

If you go seeking an energetic Science Fiction Action movie then you will get that and all that comes with it. If you go wanting to see and hear things that are connected to Star Wars because you love it, then this movie is for you. Whichever category you fall into (or even both) you will be satisfied.

Jonathan Evans

 

Review Rampage by Jonathan Evans

(3 / 5)

There are the genuinely good movies, there are also the bad movies. Then there are the movies that are not high art but put all their effort and conviction into the stupid concept and make something bold and weird, then there are the “so bad their good” movies that are such colossal failures they become entertaining again. This movie is more of the bold and weird one, though the needle does waver between the two. It’s big, it’s loud and has no shame in itself and really does try and be as good as it can be without trying to make itself seem deep or complex. That’s pretty nice to have once in a while.

So this is our setup. We start in space where a satellite is crashing, all the crew is dead except one, the survivor must gather special research formulas, also on-board is a test subject that was a rat but has become something else. The survivor gets out but the pod still breaks up and the formulas fall to Earth.

We now in a Gorilla wildlife reserve that houses an albino named George and his keeper is Davis. Said formulas from space crash and come into contact with George, a wolf, and a crocodile. It then warps them and makes them grow to extreme size.

As has been proven many times before and is still evidence here Dwane Johnson is a man with charisma. This movie would be so much less without him. He brings Davis Okoye to life with conviction and confidence in what he does. When he comes face to face with these large animals and knows to keep clam you believe it. He utilizes his physicality and voice to become a smooth, cool hero. But he’s not a boring, serious hero either, he smiles and has banter.

The people behind this evil organization are Claire Wyden (Malin Åkerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy). They are the worst part of the movie. Their scenes are comprised of heavily expression dialogue and cliche villain lines. Claire is the serious one with a plan and ios decisive, while she is contrasted by her numbskull of a brother that needs everything explained to him, so she can really explain things to us. They are evil for evil’s sake and bring nothing interesting to the movie. However, on a personal observation, I got an Eric Trump vibe from Jake Lacy’s performance, no idea whether it was intentional or not. They need these giant animals to come to them because the formula is in their blood, so they activate a signal on top of their skyscraper that attracts them. Thus begins their rampage, through the trees, the quarries and eventually a city.

Eventually, Jefferey Dean Morgan swander’s in as Harvey Russell, an agent from an agency that he chooses not to name, possibly because it’s new and super secret or another reason. He has a Texas twang to his voice and is dressed with a belt buckle with a cow on it and a pistol with a pearl handle, already you know that this is a cowboy in a government job. This is a case of you being able to tell when an actor is having immense fun in the role they’re in. He probably is the one that made me laugh the most.

There are some truly bizarre sights in the movie and you know they cost a lot of money and many hours to bring to life through the process of C.G.I. Texturing has become second nature in talking about it now, we can see all the wrinkles in the face and every hair, this time I noticed little specs of dirt in the fur too. What is the important element to focus on now is how it’s used. In the early scenes, you will be much more convinced of the gorillas being there when the other animals start getting bigger and bigger, less so. But they are meant to seem artificial because this movie is entirely artificial. What they do get right is inserting character into the creatures, most of it goes to George but the others are distinct enough as well.

This does not reach the heights of Pacific Rim, Kong: Skull Island or Big Trouble in Little China which had truly bonkers concepts but brought them to life with genuine skill and conviction. As a big, dumb blockbuster it has more going for it than others.

Jonathan Evans

 

Review Deadpool 2 by Jonathan Evans

The first Deadpool movie was rude, crude and meta as all hell. It was juvenile but also revealed in how juvenile it was. It knew what it was and poked fun of itself as much as the Superhero genre, which made it hard to dislike. Now the sequel is here with more money and characters.

At the start of my review of the first movie, I made a point that Deadpool was not a hero due to his lack of moral center and just being a hired gun. It seems like this movies goal is to definitely make him a hero, one of the lewdest you’ll ever find, but a hero none-the-less.

The movie opens with Deadpool (Ryan Renolds) being a hired gun and killing all sorts of over-the-top villains, he makes it home to his beloved girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) when she is shocking shot down before him! What follows is a parody of a Bond opening that is just as shocked that they made such a decision. Deadpool then falls into depression and is pulled into joining the X-Men as a trainee, when they need to deal with a young rouge mutant Russell Collins/Firefist (Julian Dennison) this go very bad and both of them end up in Jail.

Things only elevate and complicated with the arrival of Cable, a gun-toting, robotic armed mercenary from the future. He is played by Josh Brolin, who also plays the antagonist in Avengers: Infinity War, this is a bit odd and they do indeed use it for material. Brolin himself is playing the role like he wasn’t in a comedy at all, he is playing this character as if this movie was a serious time traveling science fiction movie. This adds to the comedy greatly, he is the straight man that contrasts with the cast that are virtually living cartoon characters. He doesn’t really look that out of place with a glowing eye and robotic arm but through the interactions you see he’s is out of place.

Other players from the last movie return. Firstly there is the reliable taxi driver Dopinder (Karan Soni) that now wants to be an active member of Deadpool’s business. Weasel (T. J. Miller), the very snarky barman that get’s a little more wrapped up in the drama of the plot this time around. My favorite character throughout these movies Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), who may have even less screentime than the last movie but like the last one every time she appears she makes me laugh, so I’ll take it. Then there’s the big, friendly Colossus (Stefan Kapičić), who continues to try and make Deadpool the best person he can be, it’s an uphill battle.

Along for the ride are also new characters. Most prominent is Domino (Zazie Beetz), whose superpower is luck, this lends itself to some well-constructed and creative action set-pieces that are well thought out and executed, and she is a fun character in her own right. There is also Bedlam (Terry Crews), able is dish-out large amounts of power, Shatterstar (Lewis Tan) is an alien who is apparently better than humans in every way, Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgård) has the ability to spit acidic saliva and then theres Peter (Rob Delaney) he’s just a regular guy that showed up and they decided to take him along for the ride. There is also Vanisher, but the least I say about them the better so just go and see the movie.

I didn’t mention it in the last movie and it’s still present here so I’ll make up for it. Ryan Renolds costume in the movie covers his face completely and uses that limitation to emote through his entire body. From subtle head nods to iconic body posing and moments of energetic movements he brings the character to life.

I know that this isn’t the most sophisticated of comedy but sometimes that doesn’t matter and the results speak for themselves. I laughed during the movie, multiple times and somewhere rather big laughs. As did the audience at the screening so it seems to be hitting the right nerve.

This is an R rated action comedy that is meant for teenage to young men. It knows this and revels in who the character was made for and is still sharply shot and the script is solid. This is much more emotionall grounded than the last movie and I would say after the journey Deadpool is a hero, not the best example of one but there we are.

 

Review Avengers: Infinity War by Jonathan Evans

 

(5 / 5)

 

Avengers was the accumulation of years of planning and character development that had originally started in 2008’s Iron Man. It wasn’t the first to bring multiple characters together from other movies but this was the one that clearly had a plan, each character got their own movie so they could all be here and gathered together. In the end, it made a promise of a villain that there was more. Infinity War is the payoff.

Now, ten years later and eighteen movies we have arrived at where the plan was apparently alway to be. Many heroes, many different locations, visuals, effects, moments etc. This movie takes everything in the toy box and throws it at us and introduces new ones while doing so.

Only recently has MARVEL done better in having better villains in their movies. But most of them weren’t really serious threats, they were scene chewing, fun bad guys. Thanos (Josh Brolin) is one of the biggest and baddest of villains in the comic book world and has now been realised on the big screen. He stands eight feet high, bulky with muscle and a plan that will devastate everyone. He believes that there is too much population in the universe so he has taken it upon himself to wipe out half the population to stabilise it. This is quite mad and the characters point it out. Dread is packed into the way the characters talk about him and he proves that he is indeed someone to fear. Not only does he pack a punch, but can take one and has a sophisticated way with words and philosophy. Brains and brawn, he most certainly has a few key elements of a great screen villain.

His plan revolves around acquiring six Infinity Stones that all control a certain aspect of existence (reality, mind, time, soul etc.). Once he has all of them he can accomplish his goal with a literal snap of his fingers. These Infinity Stones have been scattered throughout the other MARVEL movies so for us watching we can connect the dots. Now the race is on to either get to a stone before he can, get them away from him or destroy them. Failure means the death of half the universe.

To describe all the different scenarios going on and who is where will take up too much space in the review, so I will simply name the players. Iron Man (Robert Doweny Jr.), Cpatian America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Panther (Chadwick Bosseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Winter Soilder (Sebastian Stan), Dr. Strange (Benedict Cummberbatch), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bentny), War Machine (Don Cheattle), Falcom (Anthony Mackie), Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper). There are a few more but that’s enough.

This is obviously a big cast. Approximately twenty characters that are not just present but are essentially their own main character. What helps is that they have had their own movies previously to help develop them so they can come into this movie smoothly, a lot has been established so the writers have plenty to work with and the actors know the characters inside and out. But what if this is the first movie you’ve seen and have not viewed any of the others yet? Well, you’ll probably suffer from overload, I don’t recommend this as your first MARVEL movie but it will definitely be someones. There is just enough in terms of efficiency establishing the characters in their moments of introduction to understanding who they are and roll with it for the rest of the movie.

Beyond having all the characters on-screen at the same time what the filmmakers have to consider is the different visual style all the other heroes have. The Guardians have a stronger, disco colour pallet, Black Panther has more jungle colors and Dr. Strange comes with psychedelic visuals. All of them have to be represented here. They are. Along with that, this is (along with tone) the darkest MARVEL movie color wise. There is a lot of blacks on-screen, deep, true blacks, contrasting with other deep, vivid colours that pop out. It makes for an engaging image and adds to the dire nature of the story.

As I have mentioned at least once in my recent review’s of the MARVEL movies the screenwriters are prone to adding quips in the dialog. Or sometimes having what feels like mandatory jokes happen every ten minutes. The tone of the movies has always been a light-hearted one to a degree so it wasn’t off-tone and they were funny so that also wasn’t a bother. They are present here as well, a character makes comments on the others attire, name, mentality etc. But these are moments of characters either being themselves within moments of respite or even dealing with this seemingly hopeless situation.

This movie naturally comes with its share of action set pieces. As previously stated we have had many other movies to get to know these characters and in the time they have in this movie is enough to connect with them. So we care a little about who is going into battle. But when it comes to the fights everyone has different abilities and they use them like great pieces in a strategy game, others get close, while one attacks from a distance and another distracts (these are just examples).

A popular criticism of other MARVEL movies is that their aren’t any real stakes because none of the main characters ever die. Only a handful of important characters have died and these movies are light as a feather and so forth. Well, it’s as if this really was all part of the plan because now characters do indeed die. I won’t spoil who (go see the movie!), but early on they do and later on others. So being that some can it means anybody can die, which adds great gravitas to the action scenes that now have the biggest stakes of all.

I have to mention directors Anthony and Joe Russo and scriptwriting team Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely that took on this monumental task of juggling all these characters and taking all the story threads and weaving them into something not only consistent but effective.

This movie doesn’t work as a single character arc, nor does it work as a self-contained story, because of the immense story and characters, this is actually part one of two. This is a grand accumulation of seeing all of the characters and worlds we have come to know and love over the course of many movies and face something that is too big for any one of them to handle on their own. It shows all the amazing images and feet’s of imagination and drama that the world of Superheroes is able to present before us. All the fun times and pulp from before is brutally stripped away and since we had that mindset in the previous movies the darkness and brutality hit all the harder.

 

Review Mary and the Witch’s Flower by Jonathan Evans

(3 / 5)

With the fate of Studio Ghibli still uncertain, what are all the talented artist and storytellers to do that worked there to do? Get up, form their own studio and make a movie. Good for them!

Mary and The Witch’s Flower is the movie debut of Studio Ponoc and they take it upon themselves pick up the baton to create accessible movies for children that are just as filled with whit and inspiring images that would wow an adult.

From its first scene, it is here to intrigue and impresses. A hooded figure runs away from other hooded figures, they carry something. They grab a broom and fly away on it, grey, blobby being chased them and the tree city they came from explodes. While being pursued what the hooded figure has is dropped into a forest and so is their broom. We instantly have many questions and there is a lot of color, sound, music and beautifully realised animation to kick off the movie already.

We then see a little house in the countryside and a young girl by the name of Mary (Hana Sugisaki) is moving in. She wants to help but she is a terrible clutz, not even being able to tie a flower or pick of a box of her stuff without causing a mess. While exploring her new home she comes across two cats, one grey one black. They lead her into the forest and there she finds a broom held by a tree with vines and a flower that is so blue it seems to be glowing. One night the broom starts moving by itself and takes Mary through the clouds and to a place like no other, Endor College for witches.

It is the sequence where Mary is introduced to the headmistress Madame Mumblechook (Yuki Amami) and is shown all the facilities of the college that is easily the best part of the movie.

The animation is just like that of Studio Ghibli, with thick lines, blobby movement, and simple but expressive character designs. Being that the new studio is composed of almost entirely former Ghibli staff this isn’t really a surprise.

There is a wealth of generosity paid to the animation. Sure it’s pretty and smooth but the generosity comes in little things that most people wouldn’t even notice but they did and put in the extra effort. Take a moment where Mary is being guided through the school, we see the big establishing shot and when the camera is closer to her face we can still see something going on with someone else. Animation, particularly hand-drawn animation requires one drawing at a time to be produced to create the illusion of movement and when it’s done must be colored in, which is also time-consuming. These little things which take up much time and go by so unnoticed shows that the people working there are passionate about bringing the whole world to life.

Eventually, sinister intentions are revealed, our hero must use her wits and bravery to overcome them and we are left with a satisfying ending.

The movie is the tale of a normal person being swept up into a world of magic and having to maneuver this new world where there are stakes and plenty of creative visuals along the way. It will entertain your children with it’s easy to understand plot, likable character and vivid color pallet. Adults will also be sucked in.

 

Review Peter Rabbit by Jonathan Evans

 

(1 / 5)

Ow, my. What a waste of talented animators time and effort. Such a shame that pretty cinematography would be used to portray such pandering material. A cast that could lend itself to much better material yet is stuck in this feature that is trying so hard to impress yet comes off as desperate in the end.

Is this really the hardest thing to get right? A family of rabbits need to survive and there is a source of food in a nearby garden, so they go and take what they need from it, but the owner of the garden is the mean old Mr. McGregor. This is essentially a tale of Tom & Jerry but with a rabbit and a human.

We have the titled character Peter Rabbit (James Corden) getting up and getting ready for another day of stealing from old Mr. McGregor (Sam Neil). He takes his triplet sisters Cottontail (Daisey Ridley), Flopsy (Margo Robbie) and Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and their cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody). Instantly the problems start, Peter, is a motor-mouthed, obnoxious twit that believes themselves to be so great and even speaks right into the camera and addresses the audience telling them about how smart, fast, well dressed etc. he is.

The special effect people really have created good work in bringing the animal characters to life. They do look like the actual animals they’re based on and have found a way to have them stand on their hind legs and emote their faces without looking off or ending up in uncanny valley territory. The rendering of the fur and the denim jackets they wear are also rather convincing. It’s such a shame that all this effort was wasted on pandering, obnoxious characters.

One day, in the midst of a conflict old Mr. McGregor, dies of a heart attack and with his dead body laying there Peter repeatedly pokes him in the eye. Survearly distasteful. So with him gone his great-nephew Thomas McGregor (Donmhall Gleeson) has inherited him home. So now the rabbits have a whole new McGregor to deal with.

The dynamic between a hero and a villain is simple really. We root for the hero because they inhabit goals and morals we connect with while the villains oppose them. So through experiencing the story playout we root for our hero and hope they overcome the villain. There are variations on this but this is a basic staple. I more morally complex material we can understand the villain and why they do what they do but a sign of failure is when we agree with the villain. Thomas McGregor is uptight and quite odd but it is shown that he is indeed a hard worker and is capable of being considerate as well as having a reasonable goal. Now, these obnoxious rabbits break into his property and give him such a hard time. Sure the argument is made by Bea (Rose Byrne), the neighbor, that they’re animals following they’re basic instincts, but they’re not, we see that they talk and discuss and wear clothes, they are aware of their actions. So I’m rooting for the “mean” human that has a dream and is willing to put in the work while the hero is selfish and would support cooking him into that pie.

How is it that the moments with the human characters are so much more concise than the moments with the animated animals? It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time to render these talking animals on-screen and yet the filmmakers seem to fall in love with the material the actors were either improvising behind the microphone or reading from the script and decided none of it need editing down or being cut out. It does, so much of this, a waste of time or isn’t funny and sometimes both.

When I was sitting in the theatre one child was laughing and the adult next to them was on their phone, I can’t say I blame them. This will probably make the children laugh but it won’t make them any smarter by the end of it and when they’re older they’ll probably realise it’s tripe.

If we took out all the animated rabbits and had an off-beat story about a city slicker coming to the country and being charmed by someone then we might have had something here. Yes, I know that that formula has been done to death but at least it would have been something stomachable. I have no patience for these rabbits.

For a well made, charming, intelligent children’s movie based on a British series of books, I point you towards Paddington.

 

Review A Quiet Place by Jonathan Evans

(5 / 5)

 

You can go outside, you can eat, bathe, all the other things, just don’t make a sound, for then the monsters will get you!

This dark tale picks up after what would usually be the in-sighting incident. The monsters have already come and wiped out a lot of other people. A family is surviving fine, they all go out into an abandoned town and enter a mostly empty abandoned store, they gather what they need and leave. While walking home the youngest boy puts batteries in a toy plane he found, it lights up and makes noises. Dread instantly fills the faces of the others, the Father races to him, all the others can do is cover their mouths so not to make any noises themselves, the father races and races, something moves in the trees and before he can get to his son something has leaped out and taken him.

We gather through careful and skillfully placed visual information that monsters have come and they are blind but are very sensitive to and instantly attack sound. So all they need to do is not make a noise.

What cinema offers as a medium, is to show you things through movement. Not tell you things, if you want to be talked to you can get that in comics, books, or radio plays. Cinema is about expressing its story or message through the image and the movements on the screen, that is what Hitchcock referred to as “Pure Cinema” which is what is present here.

The best visuals require no dialogue. If the dialogue is good then great, but the truest essence of something visual should not require an explanation. All the actors are rendered mute for approximately ninety percent of the movie, yet through body language, they are able to convey their fear, determination, even a little bit of humor into their existence. Emily Blunt as the mother, Millicent Simmonds as the deaf daughter (who is deaf in real life)

Noah Jupe as the young son all brings to life people that must feel many things through this story and with virtually no words. Special credit goes to John Krasinski who plays the father as well as serving other duties as director, writer, and producer, this is clearly his vision that he has worked very hard to create.

Immense care has been given to constructing the families lifestyle to living without making a sound. They use sign language to converse (which is accompanied with subtitles), they pour powder down on a path where they walk to soften the sound of their footsteps, the house where the floorboards creek have paint marking where it is safe to step. They play board games and have to roll the dice onto a cloth and the game pieces are made of foam, plush or sponge. Such details like these show how well the concept has been thought through and help us connect with the characters living situation.

The creatures themselves are of course a major focus point. We don’t really know if they are aliens, a science experiment went wrong or demons. But such knowledge is out of the characters to reach and is superfluous anyway. What matters is the situation they have put the character in. They are very threateningly designed, though I will forgo a description and let you watch the movie for yourself. What truly matters is the skillful way in which they are not seen, when a loud noise is made there is so much dread that fills the scene, before anything of them can be seen or heard we register that these things mean death, pure and simple. For most of it, we only get flashes of them as they strike lightning fast and they disappear. Don’t worry, we get a good, full look at them, but these early scenes serve to wet our appetites.

Whilst it is built on a very intriguing premise, one that could fuel a classic literary work or a very memorable episode of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, it is in the thinking through and execution that makes A Quiet Place one of the most well made and striking horror movies to come out in a while. It is minimal in exposition details but deep in thinking through how to deal with the situation and masterful in crafting it’s scares.

 

Review Isle of Dogs by Jonathan Evans

(4 / 5)

What connects Wes Anderson’s work? His style is instantly recognisable as having characters center framed and facing the camera, staging most of the shots like a play and quirky characters that talk fast. But what does he have to say as an artist? They are all so him while being so different. Isle of Dogs is unlike anything else but at the same time could only have been made by Wes Anderson.

A tale about a time in Japan where a virus has spread among dogs so all the dogs in Japan have been dumped onto a remote trash island and left there. While there, a pack has formed between Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray) and Duke (Jeff Goldblum). This pack is a democracy, no single dog is the leader so every decision must be voted on. This leads to it being used three times and the third time is the true punchline. One day a little plane fly’s over and crashes on the island. From it, a little pilot emerges. It is a boy named Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), he is looking for his lost dog Spots, so begins this quest to find this little boy’s lost dog, that he loves so much and face obstacles and meet other characters along the way.

I don’t know how Wes Anderson continually gathers the most impressive cast anyone can possibly have in a movie. There are his usual collaborators here like Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Murray and there are high profile actors that have never worked with before like Bryan Cranston, Greta Gerwig and Yoko Ono. Some of it is surely helped by the fact that he is a high-profile director and working with him would be a rewarding endeavor. Maybe because when he asks these actors to play these characters they would never get asked to play anything like them again so they jump at the chance?

This is one of Cranston’s best roles and performances. We have seen that he is capable of being funny, dramatic and very threatening. Chief gives him the ability to be all. He is a stern leader, a tough fighter that nobody should mess with, the comedic straight-man and tenderly emotional. Through the microphone, Cranston delivers these adjustments in the character in the most controlled way.

This is Andersons second stop-motion movie, the first one being Fantastic Mr. Fox. He enjoyed the process so much that for a while this movie was simply known as “Untitled Stop-Motion movie.” There is something about the texture and mentality of the exact medium of stop-motion that Anderson is suited for. Perhaps it is the mix of cutting down on frames so you can see the skips in the movement? Perhaps it’s how precisely envisions things that animation allows him to execute said vision to a tee? Maybe the handmade quality which makes it more organic? Whatever it is exactly this is an artist working in a medium they revel in.

Usually, with a movie about humans and animals going on a journey the humans are the ones we can understand and its the animals we interpret through behavior. Here, in a delightfully refreshing switch up it is the other way round. I do question how this will translate for the Japanese audience, part of the point is that they cant understand the language but understand them through tone and gestures. In other scenes with just humans, other things like tone and visuals help us understand the information. Will they just bite the bullet and have both dogs and humans speaking the same language? Or will they translate the humans into English or another language? Either way, it will seem odd.

Being that the movie is set in Japan this movie marks a big aesthetic shift for Anderson. His movies have been heavily western focused but now with the large location change he has immersed himself in the culture and narrowed in on the most beautiful aspects that he can also utilise into his own work. The human faces are sculpted to look Asian (and are not offensive), he embraces having kanji over most things and utilized more classic Japanese imagery like Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Also, pay attention for a Seven Samurai reference.

Anderson isn’t so much interested in plotting his movies as is traditional (actually nothing about Anderson is traditional). He really delves into settings and scenarios in which he is allowed to highlight character moments and indulges in visuals. The plot doesn’t really play out, more unfold.

So what is the connection with all of this and the others of Anderson’s work? Well, I’m pretty sure he’s pro dog, he really loves people and giving his character’s quirks. They all go on journey’s of some kind of self-discovery but that’s just one of the hallmarks of storytelling. I guess he’s just a man that loves to make things and has a certain style of going about it but allows variation.