Jonathan Evans

Review Black Panther by Jonathan Evans

“You don’t feel as real if you don’t see yourself reflected in the media. There’s something very powerful about seeing yourself represented.”

-Dwayne McDuffie

 

(4 / 5)

Black Panther is here to make up for lost time. It is not the first Superhero movie to have a black lead, that goes to Steel, but we are now ten years into these MARVEL cinematic movies and now they have enough capital and are allowed to explore other characters that are nonwhite people. It is here with a mission. It is here to give the spotlight to characters and actors that aren’t Caucasian, to represent black culture in both Africa and America and deliver a message of legacy while proceeding forward.

In Captain America: Civil War one of the standout characters was Black Panther himself. Chadwick Bowesman embodies this character with his physicality and majesty with how he walks into a room or a fight and owns everything. This is a time where monarchy is a tricky subject, I wont throw my opinions in here but I do believe he is an engaging likable character so if people are able to pin down their beliefs for the sake of the movie I believe they’ll be very appropriately entertained.

The country in Africa in which T’Challa reins is Wakanda. It is a city that has reached the pinnacles of modern technology. The buildings stand and pieces of modern art, shining bright underneath the sun and with high-speed trains that go from the skyline to the deep caves of the land itself.

The movie also comes with a generous colour pallet. Many different, vivid colours are onscreen making it visually stimulating. In Wakanda the sets have colder colours or blues and whites and a characters costume has yellows, reds or green to make them pop, it is an effective way to make the people and surroundings instantly identifiable.

Director Ryan Coogler has already built an impressive resume for himself. His directorial debut was the  poignant Fruitvale Station, then followed by the sublime Creed. So he is able to handle delicate moments of emotion and fight scenes. Something that I believe helps to sell the fight scenes is the sound, they have convincing punching sounds so when a punch or a kick lands you believe it. Coogler has made two very strong movies on a low scale and now he’s proven he can handle a blockbuster, this is a man with a promising career.

The cast is ninety percent black, being that most of it takes place in Africa this just seems like a logical move but we’ve seen studios whitewash stories that should include non-white people but they’ve found a way. I foresee people complaining about the filmmakers having an agenda and pushing it onto the audience, there have already been other examples of this. For that I say of course, yet if the cast was comprised of white men nobody would cry fowl, it is a case of people needing to rethink about representation.

Adding again the immersion of black culture in the movie is the soundtrack by Ludwig Goransson and Kendrick Lamar. Its fast paced and even spiritual at times, using Hip-Hop and African instrumentals which distinguishes itself from the other MARVEL movies as-well as most other blockbusters that come out.

This movie, like all the other ones, comes with a serving of jokes. Visual ones, one liners etc. I am fine with this because I believe that superheroes should be fun, they can be other things but if they’re not fun something has gone terribly wrong. But I do take issue with that T’Challa seems to have changed to someone that is much more chatty. When we saw him before he was the dry, stoic one, are these movies incapable of having longer sequences of silence?

Michael B. Jordan plays Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (yeah that’s a pretty on-the-nose name). He clearly has an agenda that will link him with T’Challa, the writing clearly tells us that he’s quite intelligent and Jordan brings his great physicality to the role where he is able to sleekly handle guns and perform hand-to-hand combat effortlessly making him a physical threat and the cherry on-top is his  tooth-filled grin that he has when walking into a fight, saying that he will take some malicious enjoyment out of this.

The plot holds a few surprises but none that will really shake you up during the experience. They do many clever things with the the technology and visuals and there are moments of laughter and the action is high concept but you also feel the impact. The movies true strength is in immersing itself in black culture and representing it before the mass audience.

Jonathan Evans

 

Share this

    Review The Shape of Water by Jonathan Evans

     

    (5 / 5)

     

    The Shape of Water’s greatest accomplishment, beyond getting made, surpassing looking as great as it does on a mere nineteen and a half million dollar budget, exceeding it’s relevant themes of acceptance in this troubled time is it’s effectiveness in executing it’s truly bizarre premise that could so easily be ridiculous or plain weird. It most certainly succeeds in the other categories but the fact that it made a concept that if it was written down or told to you, you’d probably have to hold back a smile or may think about hitting the panic button.

    Guillermo Del Toro has proven himself to be one of the great living filmmakers. His works are unique in concept, meticulously thought out and lovingly brought to life which makes all have elements of, if not entirely, masterpieces. What he does here is craft an adult fairy-tale by staying true to who he is and at the same time bravely treading unfamiliar ground.

    The tale begins long ago in a place far far away (at least to some), the 1960’s in Baltimore. We see a room submerged in water and a voice tells us that they’re not even quite sure how to go about telling this story, seems appropriate. In the room floats a sleeping woman that wakes from her dream, she is Eliza Esponito, she is a cleaning woman in a government facility and is mute. She enjoys movies, music and lives her hum-drum life opposite her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) one day after another, until…

    A water filled tank is wheeled into the facility, the water shifts and a noise can be heard from it, Eliza taps the glass and a webbed, clawed hand reaches out. What they have in there is a creature from the Amazon that is a hybrid of man and aqua creature. It was a struggle for Colonel Strickland (Michael Shannon) to get it there and he takes a noticeable bit of joy in taking a cattle prod to it. Eliza’s curiosity gets the better of her and she sees the specimen in it’s room. Where some would stay away or cower she offers it a boiled egg and when it roars she stays and looks at it directly.

    Sally Hawkins has to be mute for the entirety of the movie, she does sign language which is accompanied with subtitles and sometimes has someone next to her to speak out what she’s signing. But the truest communication comes from her. Words couldnt due justice to the emotion she is able to convey through her eyes, a twitch/raising of the eyebrows and the un-comfort in the way she hides away. It is the truest mastery of the art of acting to convey all of the emotions her character goes through from fear, to humorous, to her heart breaking in-front of us.

    The amphibian creature is one of the great monster creations that has ever been in a movie. It’s design is familiar if you’ve seen Creature From The Black Lagoon, or even Abe Sapien from Del Toro’s Hellboy, a humanoid with webbed joints and fins, but the detail that has gone into the painting and sculpture of it distinguishes it and elevates it to a masterpiece of a character. These days it would probably be an entirely C.G.I. but this is a practical creation of makeup and prosthetic’s (with a little C.G.I. to help). However, design and makeup can only take you so far, what truly brings it to life is the man underneath it all. Doug Jones has built his career on being under makeup and embodying all kinds of creatures. With this creature he has to be a curious child, a sad victim and a macho leading man. This marks the sixth time he has collaborate with Del Toro on a project and they are clearly one of the great actor director pairings.

    Shannon is here as the tall, white, chiseled American man. If he was playing this role during the time it is based he would undoubtedly be the lead. Saving the poor helpless woman  from the terrifying foreign creature and serving as the ideal American specimen. However that idol was built on a lot a racism and narrow-minded Christian ideals of the time. So he is an exaggeration, though probably pretty accurate representation of what such a man would be like, racist, misogynistic and a narcissist to boot. He is the most absolutely detestable and frightening villain since Del Toro’s Captain Vidal in Pans Labyrinth.

    Now for the part where it certainly becomes unconventional, the two begin to fall in love. Yes, most certainly a case of Beauty & The Beast. Unless every facet of the movie was on board and sincere to the premise then this would topple quickly and might just be regarded as one of the best shot absurd comedies. But through interactions and gestures we see two beings that are hated or unwanted from the world they find themselves in and by being together find they’re complete. The other characters certainly make a few moments about how this isn’t exactly normal, but when they see genuine love, who are they to deny it.

    Alexandre Desplat composes a sweet, gracefully score that is infused in classic love songs of the time period. It is a warm score that played for that special someone that when you dance together, only the two of you work in that way. Also throughout are a few older gems that perfectly contextualize the theme and relationship.

    Dividing the two perspectives are the two main colors of the movie, teal and red. Teal is coated throughout the facility and the cars and other pieces that are meant to represent the modern world, it is a new age and everyone is going crazy about the future. Red is used for romanticism and of course love. Like the clothes Eliza wears when she is so happy to be with the one that makes her feel complete, or the seats of the movie theater, a place she loves to go. Along with the rest are a plenty of other rich colors like amber, deep browns, cream and a few true blacks for contrast to make the image pop.

    This, like La La Land and Baby Driver before it has love at it’s center. They area all movies that are about and were created through love. Movies that tell their tales about the pursuit and power of the greatest emotion we have and the three creators behind it that are so in love with movies themselves that pay homage to others that have inspired them but also make something entirely their own.

    In the nineteen sixties in America they were all ready to head to that bright future, now we are living in it and an artist creates a work that shows the flaws in the past that at the same time highlight struggles we are dealing with now and has made something for all time. At it’s center is a tale about looking on something that others might cower at or hate but seeing the beauty and together love can overcome anything.

    Jonathan Evans

     

    Share this

      Review The Greatest Showman by Jonathan Evans

      The Greatest Showman comes in loud and proud to be a movie musical. I relishes in it’s ability to sing and dance and show colour before you. I wonder how it will fair with the not clear advertising that seemingly wants to hide the fact that it’s  musical.

      It’s opening song says that you yourself want to be  entertained with a musical and showmanship and it will provide. If you are not in for the ride now you should leave the theater because then it’s not for you. We are then taken back in time to a young boy named P.T. Barnum, he is the son of a poor tailor, they serve some sort of rich man who has a daughter (guess what happens). Time passes and as they grow up and marry two children join them. While working as a clerk at a shipping company everyone looses their job because all the ships were sank. So he is out of a job but also reflects that this is not the life he promises his wife and seeks out wonder. He opens a museum of oddities, but mannequins and stuffed animals don’t do good business. So he seeks out real life oddities, little people, giants, women with beards etc.

      Hugh Jackman is by no means a closeted musical lover. He has spoken about it in interviews, hosted the Oscars with opening musical numbers and stared in other musicals and worn it on his sleeve very proudly. You can tell that he is so happy to be here as a character that gets to sing and dance to entertain you, he is of course no slouch in the singing and dancing department (he greatly excels at it in-fact).

      To gain respect Barnum recruits Philip Carlyle (Zac Efron) a highbrow theater producer. He is talked into by being reminded that this career he is on gives him no joy and is sold on the promise of excitement in what he does (also a few shots). While working there a spark develops between him and the trapeze artist Anne Wheeler (Zendaya). They are an attractive movie couple and have both acting and dancing chemistry together. I want to highlight Zendaya’s performance because she very strongly conveys the characters repressed mentality to the public with very little screen-time she’s given, possibly due to limited run-time and a lot of focus given to Barnum. But knowing that she is completely different from how she was in Spider-Man: Homecoming truly highlights her as a talent to watch-out for.

      This is Michael Gracey’s directorial debut however he has been in the business since 1997. He has been a visual effects artist, which he probably channeled into his vision of this bouncing, high speed world. I believe this man has a strong future in this business.

      It wouldn’t be much of a musical if the songs weren’t up to scratch. Most of them are big, upbeat showy numbers designed to impress. There are variations, with ones of different genres and slower and/or more intimate ones. They are catchy and have visuals that compliment them nicely, but they don’t really push the characters and story forward very much, they are just minor moves in the plot or a character saying what we already know about them.

      This movie is so happy to be doing what it does. The director absolutely got high on their own supply and got actors that are just as happy to be dancing and singing for us. There are shortcomings, in the passing and compared other top movie musicals, like La La Land, it falls short of perfection. But the movie’s smiles and enthusiasm melts away all those criticisms and made me and will probably leave you smiling.

      Jonathan Evans

       

       

      Share this

        Review Hamilton by Jonathan Evans

         

        (5 / 5)

         

        Hamilton is a phenomenon. Lin Manauel Miranda’s show about the rise and fall of the founding farther Alexander Hamilton who would be immortalised by having his face on the ten dollar bill is one of the biggest shows to musical theatre in a long time. It’s fan-base has grown and grown and it has conquered America and  is now taking on the rest of the world.

        The London show at the Victoria Palace Theatre has grabbed and magnificently run with the baton of standard that this show has gathered. From the words on the page,  the set, to the performances themselves they bring this show to life with grace and fury.

        The opening number sets up almost everything we need to know. From our heroes backstory to where he is when the story stars and even his end.

        The stage has the floor and rafters so that actors can ascend and descend to signify gain and loss of power. The unique aspect of it is the revolving mechanic of the floor of the stage. It is both technically impressing but also essential to the language of the play.

        The rotation gives a greater geography to the limited space of the stage, now the actors can continually walk. Also it happens during more key moments so it becomes an expression of Hamilton’s life moments, when he meets someone new or a choice is to be made his world has shifted. It again serves as having Hamilton as the centre while the character and events revolve around him also the ticking of a clock that waits for no one. Along with the unique element they also use the lighting to paint the mood of the scene and represent when a character is isolated. The actors navigate the space expertly with almost nothing out of sync.

        As we all know the founding fathers were all white men and married white women. For historical accuracy this cannot be disputed. However this is a contemporary piece of art so it is not so much interested in being historically accurate but more in spiritually representative of America. The casting for the Hamilton cast is very diverse, having almost everyone of every ethnicity represented on stage. If someone who is curious what Alexander Hamilton really looked like then they have only look it up.

        An elements of the performance that there is an argument for being cut (but people would be hounding for blood if it was.) This is the segments with King George, they are the point of view from his perspective as he learns about Americas quest and gaining of independence. Really they don’t need to be there, yet they are so loved and funny they must. His lack of choreography is also immensely amusing, because he is dressed to the ninth all he can really do is stand there but it works by making him seem more uptight.He manages to work in some shoulder movements and he works the crowd greatly. His musical style is more like that of British rock which adds another level of diversity to the show.

        The songs carry the narrative and theme. No speaking breaks, all songs, non-stop. The backing musicians play extremely well. The songs themselves area all immensely catchy and will have you repeating a few of them when you leave the theatre. Some of the top favourite are My Shot, Helpless, You’ll Be Back, Burn and others but count on you leaving with a favourite (mine’s Non-Stop).

        The play as a whole is divided into two acts. The first is establishing Hamilton himself as well as a few of the others that will play big roles in this story, also about Americas fight for independence. The second act is about dealing with independence and the conflicts they have to deal with become more personal and internal.

        The acting from the players is very good. There are many characters in this story and in the second act the actors switch roles to the new characters that are introduced. There is just so much to say about them that it would take up too much of the review, so I’ll just summarise by saying their performance, from the expressions, to the singing is indeed top notch.

        The main feats of dancing and choreography come from the background extras. The main players in the scene don’t really bust out many impressive moves, but then again they have many lyrics to remember and sing and if they were doing something more physically taxing then they’d most likely be out of breathe and that wouldn’t be any good. They do indeed do some dancing and hand movements to stop them from becoming dull planks which keeps us looking at them.

        Hamilton is the story of the American dream as well as other things and told with modern sensibilities. It is incorrect in a few historical details as others have pointed out, but this is a work of art not an accurate historical account of events. It tells it’s story succinctly through it’s chosen medium of rap with very efficient and fast lyrics being sung and the visuals on-stage from the dancing to the lighting do so many things to draw your eye that you’ll be engaged for the full three hours and then complain that it was over too soon.

        Jonathan Evans

        Share this

          Review Early Man by Jonathan Evans

           

          (3 / 5)

           

          Aardman don’t make animated movies like others. They are not Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks or Laika. They specialise in stop-motion and are known for their simple characters and plots but packing them with charm and creativity.

          They take the familiar and layer it with the fantastical that animation can bring to things. In Early Man it is essentially a turf war story over a game of football, but told in the age of cavemen. Our story opens in Manchester when dinosaurs were still walking around and cavemen were also present. A meteor hits the earth and wipes out the dinosaurs and the cavemen merely get pushed back by the blast (I feel there are some scientific inaccuracies here!). The meteor is rather perfectly round shaped and the cavemen develop the game of football and make their home in the crater it causes. All this information is achieved without dialogue.

          A few years later and the descendants of the original tribe that lived there are happily living their lives by hunting rabbits. The young Dug however believes that they are capable of more, like hunting mammoths. But one day big mammoths come marching in with plating on them, people get out and one of them is Lord Nooth that proclaims “The age of stone is over. So begins the age of bronze.” Dug’s tribe is powerless to fight them off but through story conveniences he learns about football and challenges the bronze people to a game.

          Aardman have always been able to come up with creative visuals within their story. For example how does Cavemen alarm system work without electricity? Or where do sneakers come from? What exercise equipment can you get from this early age? There are answers to these and more and they’re all funny.

          Behind the puppets are some stars but they way they are cast and perform you would never guess. The performances themselves area good no matter who’s behind them. Some characters are able to have a mix a sharp wit and being a dullard the next moment. Other characters are more basic and have a few lines to read and they don’t really go through an arc, but they read their lines well. But back to the matter at hand, I would have never guessed that Eddie Redmayne played Dug or Tom Hiddleston Nooth or it was Maisie Williams playing Goona. I guess it’s a testament to their talent and versatility.

          The story is simple to grasp, the characters are not complex and everything has a lot of effort put into it but refined craftsmen. Young children will almost definitely be entertained by the falling down, expressive faces and easy narrative. Adults will find enough wit and winks to keep them happy in their seats during the run time.

          Jonathan Evans

          Share this

            Review Darkest Hour by Jonathan Evans

            (3 / 5)

             

            Winston Churchill was a Prime Minister that was granted his position because of the oncoming war. He took up the position and lead England to victory. He is remembered for his inspiring speeches and iconic look. Darkest Hour tells the story of Churchill gaining position and his first few days as the leader of Britain.

            Director Joe Wright is nothing if not someone that has a visual vision for his movies. They always have a haunting look to them, thick with atmosphere. He’s an expressionistic illustrator, not a accurate photographer. Take for example that most of the sets have one large source of lighting that casts across the room, leaving a lot of it in shadows. Why would anyone have this for a Parliament meeting or in Buckingham Palace? They wouldn’t really, it’s to create a sense of mood, he has never let realism get in the way of creating a good shot.

            Obviously the main point of focus has gone to Gary Oldman and his performance. His makeup alone probably took a heap of effort and cost to execute. He slouches and walks in the way that we have to recognise as the man from photographs, illustrations and footage. When he stares at his obstacle he is like a bulldog ready to tear it apart, whether it strategic problem or political member that stands against him. For his characterisation he is a blend of cantankerous, fastidious, shrewd and more than comfortable in indulging in his vices (constantly smoking his cigar and a glass of brandy in-hand). Oldman, along with everything else manipulates his voice to match the real mans very closely as well as being able to act with it.

            Surrounding Oldman are a few other players that are also on point. As it’s been said behind every great man is a great woman, there is his wife Clementine (Kristen Scott Thomas) that knew the man she chose the spend the rest of her life with was more than flawed and would only spare her half his time. Joining him at the start of the movie is his new assistant Elizabeth Nel (Lilly James), trepidatious in some ways but also spirited in others. King George IV (Ben Mendelson), that is not the happiest about Churchill’s election but deals with him and eventually gains respect for the man.

            There is always a blurry line when it comes to adapting historical events and people into a piece of entertainment. You don’t want to completely lie and deface the memory of what happened but at the same time adjustments must be made for passing and fitting it all into the running time. So the question is how does this one do? It accurately dates it’s big events in the plot with fat dates over the screen, I don’t doubt their accuracy. I feel like this movies goal is about engaging the spirit of having a man that knows how to tackle the threat of Hitler even though he might not be the most polite and likable person. so it is the spirit of the movie you need to connect with rather than be pedantic about it’s accuracy.

            The movie has striking visuals and good performances from it’s players. But the experience is lacking of a soul. It simply comes off as trying too hard and you can practically detect that the creators had an Oscar in-mind when they were creating it. Whether it will win any I do not know, it does deserve a few nominations and might very well win a few. But the prodding for the recognition is simply too obvious.

            Jonathan Evans

             

            Share this

              Review The Post by Jonathan Evans

              The Post is a movie that has an interesting idea fuelling it though because it consists of people speaking and nothing of true visual interest taking place could come off very dry. Luckily it has one of the greatest working artist in the medium and two of the most highly acclaimed living actors at the forefront (including some very strong supporters).

               

              (3 / 5)

              Our movie takes place near the end of the Vietnam War and The Washington Post is busy reporting on the news. They get by but they’re always just a little behind their competitors. There is a buzz in the air about documents that have been copied from classified files in The Pentagon and are released. They reveal so many things like a president predicting that America would loose the war five years ago.

              Kathrine Granham (Meryl Streep) runs the paper because her husband committed suicide, so the duty fell upon her. She is surrounded by very qualified men that are certainly there by choice and more attuned to the business. In meetings she prepares but is quite and goes mostly unnoticed. In the office is Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) that runs the office work, he gives the go ahead on the story and assigns journalist assignments.

              Streep is on-point as a woman that has been handed a job and situation that she did not plan or prepare for but is smart and able to handle tough situations. You can tell this is not her comfort zone but she is nobodies fool or pushover. On the other side of the business is Hanks as a seasoned veteran in the industry that is most certainly in his element. Barking orders decisively and across the room with a few slang words in his dialog to show that he’s been immersed in this world for years makes the character complete.

              It is the acting itself which is the selling point of the movie. The two leads are some of the best we have and are absolutely putting in the effort. But there are strong backing performers with Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Allison Brie and Michael Stuhlbarg that make the whole cast give solid performances.

              Speilberg has already, many many other times has established himself as one of the greatest directors living and of all time. His movies are audience pleasing and easy to follow, but his mastery goes beyond being simple, he is a great visualizer. He is able to take his camera and through minimal movements but key choices clearly delivers information to the audience. Take for example a moment early on in the movie, we are in Vietnam and soldiers are applying face paint and one catches their attention, the camera then tracks him getting into a jeep and it then flicks down to show a typewriter next to him. That seemingly effortlessly shows what this characters profession is and why he is there. He is also partial to using long takes to allow the actors to truly deliver a scene and the audience to get comfortable with their dynamic. Janus Kaminski deserves to be named for bringing these smooth visuals to life through his cinematography.

              This is interesting enough but what really sells the movie is the acting and one of the greats behind the camera that very smoothly visually feeds and engages us.

               

              Share this

                Review Coco by Jonathan Evans

                 

                (5 / 5)

                 

                Pixar’s Coco reminds us that this studio and the people working in it are creating some of the best, all ages animation out there right now and for years to come. That they are able to take colour and sounds and manipulate them to craft a journeys and characters that invoke laughs and tears within us.

                Opening the movie is a story of a family told to us through the visuals of cut-out flags. So the visuals and information is very clear and smoothly delivered. It begins with a father, his wife and their child living their lives, the father wants to live his life of playing music for the people, so he leaves his wife and daughter. The mother doesn’t let this get her down so she becomes a master shoemaker and bans all music from her life, which becomes the way of her family.

                The mother passes on and she is remembered for their Day of The Dead. The daughter remains as the very old Coco (Ana Ofelia Muruia, who the movie is named after), she doesn’t register much and mostly just sits in her wheel-chair. The head of the family is definitely the grandmother (Renee Victor). Everyone in the family is committed to the craft of making shoes and remembers their dearly departed loved ones, except for their great-great grandfather who abandoned them. But the youngest in the family Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) loves music and wants to spend his life playing guitar and idolizes the deceased musician Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Miguel loves his family but also loves music and wont feel complete if he doesn’t pursue it. Going against his families wishes he enters a music competition, his grandmother smashed his guitar so he needs to find another, he sneaks into Ernesto’s memorial to use his, being that tonight is the Day of the Dead with one strum of the guitar Miguel is transported into the perspective of the dead.

                Now his quest begins to find a way back to the land of the living before the sun rises, because if he doesn’t get out before then he’ll be stuck there forever. Through his journey he acquires companions (which must happen), there is Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) a spirit that wants to get to the world of the living to see his daughter one last time and Dante a street dog that serves as his animal guide.

                To say that the movie is well animated and the textures are convincing almost seems like a given. It’s Pixar, they’ve never delivered a movie that is lackluster in terms of the visual technology. As the years proceed the technology develops the graphics become sharper and sharper. What is more important than the mere sharpness of everything is the way it is used to clearly express emotions. They way you see a character’s face have an emotion clearly expressed and then it turns to something else shows an understanding on how to convey it to an audience.

                Michael Giacchino creates a rousing Latino based score. Filled with trumpets and acoustic guitars.

                I wont ruin anything but he does something were a song gets played again in different context and it is a masterful use of tone. I did find it ironic that there was a musical score playing over the scenes with the family, perhaps it would be better if the scene was completely without music while with the family.

                Being that the majority of the movie takes place in this land and the people in it are skeletons they truly show their ability to work within limitations. I do feel a bit weird seeing skulls express, because they cant, because of their bones. But I digress, they get a vast amount of different character designs from skulls having them all shaped differently, they have a distinctive movement and pose and work in just about all the physical jokes you can out of skeletons, jaws dropping, eyes popping out, limbs being pulled off etc.

                This movie comes out so close to The Book of Life. However this also goes to show how movies can distinguish themselves from merely the concept stage.

                I have seen my share of movies and am aware of most of their tricks and the way things unfold. I don’t consider myself the hardest to please but I’m not the easiest of targets. However if a movie truly invokes a reaction from me then it means it has indeed done it’s job. In this movie I laughed an appropriate amount, was rather awed by the visuals and when it got near the end I did indeed shed tears (twice). This is a sign of the movies effectiveness and sincerity with it’s material.

                Coco is the story about the love from your family, perusing your goals despite the odds and living your life so that the ones that remain when your gone have something to remember. No other culture exists that is about embracing what life has to offer while being aware of it’s inevitable end, so while were all here, lets make it worth it.

                Jonathan Evans

                 

                Share this

                  Review Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Jonathan Evans

                   

                  (5 / 5)

                   

                  When people are treated badly it builds up resentment and anger and usually leads to them talking that out on other people. When they get treated with kindness they usually are themselves kinder people and interact more positively with others. It is difficult to break the cycle of cruelty and it’s not always the case of being kind to a person will make them kind also.

                  Our story stars with Three Billboards that are dilapidated because so few drive down the road because of the new highway. This goes noticed by Mildred (Francis McDormand). She goes to the office that owns the billboards and hires them out for a year (after clarifying that neither anything inflammatory or swear words can be on them) she gives a paper of what to put on them. While driving past, local police officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) sees the first one that says “How come, Sheriff Willoughby?” the second reads “And still no arrests?” the third one “Raped while dying.”

                  Francis McDormand has more than a few great roles under her belt (Marge Gunderson in Fargo is probably the greatest example) and this is another. Mildred Hayes is completely steadfast in her belief in putting those billboards up. Others come to to persuade or intimidate and she is indentured. Along with that she is written with plenty of wit and gets to show beautiful vulnerability which makes her a completely fully realized character.

                  Writer and director Martin McDonagh has always made funny movies that are built on heavy emotional themes. I would classify both of his two previous movie as comedies. Here, instead of the comedy being more forefront, it is used to pepper some of the scenes. A scene either opens on a joke, is inserted in the middle or ends on it. This is a dark comedy (emphasis on the dark) but because of the very serious subject matter I doubt that people will be talking much about the laughs they had (they are here though).

                  McDonagh has been criticized for his portrayal of women in his previous work (which he made into a bit of a recurring gag in Seven Psychopaths), they were mostly gorgeous and either got beaten and/or killed (not very progressive). Here is a woman who’s story it is, who is the one that kicks off the story and holds true throughout it. This is indeed an amendment on his previous work.

                  The writing on the boards and revealing the details of why is merely our set-up. From there we get even deeper into the characters and the plot takes at least two brave turns. We have fun and moving moments with Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) and Officer Dixon which are a mix of funny and poignant.

                  Through the movie we get well composed portrayals of people living their lives and how if you deal with people nicely they will probably repay that with kindness, if not then they’ll be bad to you or most certainly to someone else and then we’ll all be alone.

                  Jonathan Evans

                  Share this

                    Review Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle by Jonathan Evans

                     

                    {usr=3]

                     

                    Before the review begins I must tell you something. When I was young Jumanji was a movie that I loved and watched many times. In the movie there is a scene where Alan Parrish (Robin Williams) describes what it is like to be inside the world of Jumanji itself. He describes a place of terrors where things do in deed go bump in the night and worse. This description stuck with me for years. When they made an animated series about it we got to see inside Jumanji and it was indeed a place of many terrors. This movie does not seek to give us such a place so that is a gripe I have but have to put aside for professional reasons. Onto the review.

                    Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a self aware action movie that does everything these movies do but at the same time pokes fun of itself for being said cliche action movie. So it’s a little more refreshing and forgivable than most movies of this sort.

                    This is a “”sort of sequel” where there was a movie that came before but this move doesn’t need to dwell on it too much, merely take the story engine and run with it. There is a magical game called Jumanji which throws difficulties at the players and gives clues and they must make it to the end.

                    It opens in 1996 on a beach where some pedestrian finds a wooden board-game and brings it home. The man is unimpressed with a board game and more interested in his PlayStation, so it transforms itself into a gaming console. In recent years board-games have made a resurgence so it seems to be a case of bad timing. In becoming a gaming console the man plays it and disappears, cut to present day.

                    We are then introduced to a new group of teenage characters living their lives and attending school. Through acts of their own faults they all receive detention and must serve it together even though they would never hangout together usually (ala The Breakfast Club). The do barely anything before they get distracted and find the gaming console of Jumanji, plug it in and are sucked into the jungle world.

                    When they land inside the jungle they become the avatars they picked. Spencer is Dr Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) a peak specimen of physicality yet is offset by his germophobe, neurotic personality on the inside. Matha is Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillian) a beauty that is dressed impractically for an action adventure (most likely because she was designed by a man). Fridge becomes the short sidekick Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Kevin Hart) with probably the shortest list of skills and longest list of weaknesses. Then there’s Bethany that goes from a teenage beauty queen to Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) an overweight, middle aged man. Being that they are filling in stereotypical roles that are preset and the characters are playing then against the what their roles call for it adds a funner dynamic to the situation and comedy.

                    The villain (Bobby Cannavale) is an explorer that has gone mad with power and seeks to gem and also his time with has granted him the power to control the creatures in the world and one of his eyes to turn white (for some reason). He exists to simply be an antagonist and is rather non-threatening and quite forgettable.

                    The world of Jumanji is one where there are many threats and traps so the players have to keeps their wits about them and utilize their skills to navigate the world. Also classic to old-school games, they have three lives.

                    There are a few references that are in the movie to the original. They go by quick but also don’t slow down the passe of the movie. As a fan I actually did appreciate these and for someone that never seen it they’re not a detriment.

                    The movie does everything that an action movie is suppose to do but it comes with characters that are self aware and poke fun of their situation so it is less monotonous than the many other movies of this genre. It sets up its rules and they are utilised for plot reasons and aren’t broken, so the whole is rather solid. There are lines that will date it terribly and it still is a clichéd action movie but at lest it has fun with itself and so do we.

                    Share this