‘Colossal’ is a delightful absurdity.

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Colossal
 tells the story of Gloria, an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City, and move back home, when reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realisation that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon.

This small, independent film isn’t something that you may have heard amongst the blockbuster’s that come out at this time of year, or any time of the year for that matter.

If anything, why this whole thing started about bringing down Anne Hathaway is ridiculous because she’s an absolutely astounding actress that deserves any praise that can be given to her. For someone who started out in Disney with the Princess Diaries, she’s done extremely well to find her place in the world post-Disney and definitely made an impact along with other stars, in whatever ways they may be, such as Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Shia LaBeouf, Zac Efron, Raven Symone, and even Hilary Duff. In Colossal, she gives a wonderful performance and really portray’s her character’s strange weirdness. No one else could’ve played that role.

Although it may be a hard and extremely strange film to watch, it’s an extremely grounded film despite the monsters and what seems like a weird concept. But that’s what makes the film so great — it’s a film about overcoming what holds you down and why you, yourself, could be that cause. It’s a film that you’re not prepared to like as much as you do, at least that was the case in my experience.

The thing is, however, this may’ve been a film that was a couple of years too late. If it was made and released around the time of Donnie Darko, The Big Lebowski, and Office Space, you could really see it becoming a cult hit. Nowadays, there’s a lot less acceptance of films like Colossal even though we might need films like it where it blends the bigger budget ideas with smaller indie films and the humanity that comes with it.
Despite it being a little different to what audience’s may be used to, don’t be deterred. It’s well worth the watch in its delightful absurdity.

Film-O-Meter: 5/10.

‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is such a Guy Ritchie film, it’s almost at detriment to itself.

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
 tells the story of Arthur, whose robbed of his birthright, and comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

Going into any Guy Ritchie film, you know what you’re going to get and with this latest instalment in a well know tale with a twist, it delves back into the old school Ritchie style of films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. With King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, it’s such a Guy Ritchie Film, it’s almost at detriment to itself. I almost lost count of how many times my eyes rolled back into my head but I sure knew that I got a headache out of it.

Although the scathing reviews of the film may be a little harsh, more often than not, they’re correct in their perception of this mess of action. The film itself was almost generic in itself with the Ritchie style thrown in. It was hardly as entertaining as Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, which also starred Jude Law, or even the less of a box office hit in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. There were times when the dialogue and creative editing to blend this all together worked to the films advantage but otherwise fell flat.

The biggest problem with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is that it’s trying too hard to be a Guy Ritchie film than actually trying to tell a story and immerse the audience. That and a lot of the time, it felt like you were watching a video game on the big screen instead of a film. Even with a clear story, and a much cleaner tale than any Zack Snyder film and the mess of more action than any coherent and logical story that was Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, it really comes down to the fact that even though it may have been enjoyable for some, especially for the Guy Ritchie fans, I too often felt myself bored and checking my phone. I couldn’t connect with the character’s and everything almost happened too fast and too much of a montage to actually properly connect with the characters, probably because the character’s, or at least the supporting ones were the main culprits, weren’t developed enough.

It can also come down to the fact that the film is, for some reason, whatever that may be, is so obsessed with wasting time on the visuals and pointless creatures that pushes the films run time to the two hour mark when it doesn’t need to be.

The films only redeeming quality is Jude Law’s Vortigern and he definitely has the star power, as well as the charisma, to at least bring some light (or darkness, in his character’s case) to the bleak outcome for the film. Charlie Hunnam’s charisma has hardly reached that stage yet, though this doesn’t discredit him from being a good actor — because he is, however, he still has quite a bit to go yet. He doesn’t yet have the strength to carry a film like this and overall was a bit “meh.”

In the end, if you’re one who’s more about style-over-substance, this is the film for you.

Film-O-Meter: 0/10.

‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ proves to be a standout film.

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The Zookeeper’s Wife
tells the story of the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

The first thing I remember hearing about this film was an interview with ‘the zookeeper’s wife’ Jessica Chastain where she talked about how great it was to work with a female writer and director. The next thought I had was that I just had to see this film not only because it starred Jessica Chastain and Daniel Brühl (both of whom I love as actors) and talked about another portion of the Second World War that wasn’t entirely based in Germany, England, France, Pearl Harbour, Japan, or the Asia/Pacific region (though this region is still significantly less talked about) but because it had female figures in significant production roles such as the writer and director.

What made this film so great, despite the mixed reviews, is the strength of charity and compassion against brutality, which is something that we continue to experience in one form of another to this day. Though, in The Zookeeper’s Wife exploring this, the film reminds us of the many war drama’s we may have seen before and what’s obvious about the film is that what you see is what you get — the metaphor’s used are obviously clear and there’s nothing hidden for the audience to figure out for themselves.

What also put the film a little…off was the strange and seemingly contrived relationship between Chastain’s Antonina Zabinski and Brühl’s Lutz Heck, despite how historically accurate it may have been. How it was approached in the film form as we see it was a little strange and could’ve been approached in a different way.

I think the main reason why many who have spent their time and money on seeing this and felt something against it can be narrowed down to the on screen violence towards the animals of the zoo. It’s no denying the fact that it was extreme, and films can be a lot more powerful if the anguish towards other’s is only implied, much like was done with the rape of a young girl in the film. What was done to the animals was a disturbing sight that I will no doubt be able to unsee and was an unnecessary part of the film.

None of this shouldn’t discredit The Zookeeper’s Wife, however, as it proves to be a standout film on its own.

Film-O-Meter: 7/10.

If “Alien: Covenant’s” tagline is telling you to run, run away a tedious film.

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Alien: Covenant follows the crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

There’s been a few jokes I’ve heard about this film that describe how it should have been retitled Alien: Fassbender vs Fassbender, which I’m not entirely surprised by as the majority of the weight of the film is carried either on his or Katherine Waterson’s Daniels (from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them fame). And they are probably the only two characters you will remember as the other passengers on the ship are nothing but faces, some of which we may or may not recognise in Danny McBride, Billy Cudrup, and a brief cameo from James Franco who does’t last more than a minute before being burnt to a crisp. Even then, their performances are hardly stellar and nothing is given to them that would make them hardly memorable.

Much unlike Noomi Rapace in Prometheus, who was at least a strong leading lady who could handle the weight of this overblown action flick while remaining somewhat memorable, Waterson hardly is given anything to chew on thus hardly making her engaging or thrilling in her performance.

From interviews I’ve read, director/producer Sir Ridley Scott plans to make at least three more Alien prequels after this outing in Covenant, disbanding what could’ve been an exception addition Neill Blomkamp’s addition for his own ideas. This either could turn out incredible good or bad as the problem now is, judging by what both Prometheus and Covenant were like, could become more convoluted and exhausting. If this is what Scott has planned for future instalments, I’m certainly not one that’s going to be looking forward to them (and often reminds me of what George Lucas did in messing up the Star Wars prequels).

I was expecting more chills and thrills from this new addition, and it certainly did live up to it in some aspects, but as a whole was quite lacklustre. I’m not one for horror films whatsoever and there were more times than not that I was just plain outright bored. The final half of the film in what was supposedly meant to be the be all and end all finale of the film felt rushed and as if they’d run out of time.

Although Covenant may hold less of the suspense seen in Prometheus, it reminds us more of the original film with it’s bloody intensity. The film itself didn’t give us any full answers, leaving us still with questions and open to another film, it can be somewhat enjoyable for many but may seem like a tediously glorified connecting slump of a film between Prometheus and the next film in the series.

Film-O-Meter: 5/10.

Even if you’re not interested in the filmmaking process, “Their Finest” proves to be a sucker of a good drama.

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Their Finest
 tells the story of a former secretary, newly appointed as a scriptwriter for propaganda films, joins the cast and crew of a major production while the Blitz rages around them.

The best thing about the film, and what the English seem to do so well, is make films that a light hearted and funny while talking about something that’s ever so serious in the shift of women in society during the Second World War. Gemma Arterton is an ever brilliant actress and it was great to see her back on the screen again, proving to the world that she’s a terrific leading lady. She has such great chemistry, whether that be comedic or dramatic, with Sam Clafin’s Tom Buckley as they worked together on the screenplay for a film.

Proving that there’s no stopping him, Bill Nighy proves he still has some fight in him as he continues to make us laugh and fall in love with him all over again in yet another top tier performance.

Even though it proves to be a coherently simple film, Their Finest gives us real characters in an interesting side of the world at the time of the Second World War that wasn’t exactly covered. Many films about the wars show the fighting and the bloodshed that occurred, which is totally legitimate, especially if it takes a different perspective on the events that we all know so well. What Their Finest shows is the control the studios and producers have over the creative process so they can feed the audiences a positive image of the allies during that time.

Despite it not being a ground breaking film, it does prove to be more than enjoyable. And even if you’re not interested in the filmmaking process, Their Finest proves to be a sucker of a good drama.

Film-O-Meter: 8/10.

‘Berlin Syndrome’ proves itself to be provocatively ambitious.

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Berlin Syndrome
 tells the story of a passionate holiday romance that leads to an obsessive relationship when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave.

Many Australian films tend to go unnoticed, especially ones like Berlin Syndrome. The only reason why I knew of this film is because I actively seek decent films, especially since they’re few and far between. There has been the odd surprise that gets the world talking and makes us Australian’s proud of our country as well as those filmmaker’s that haven’t escaped to America or Canada to seek better opportunities that wouldn’t have been found here. And then there is the trash that makes us want to slink away and disassociate ourselves with such work. Berlin Syndrome is a strange mix of in-between as I was personally taught by the co-writer of Cate Shortland’s previous effort Lore, in which she wrote along with him.

Not only did Lore take my interest, and even her first directorial effort in Somersault, Shortland isn’t a woman that’s scared of making films about the uncomfortable or shows almost disgustingly excessive nudity that totally seems unnecessary. No, I don’t want to see Clare (Teresa Palmer) receiving oral sex from Andi (Max Riemelt) or prancing around in “seductive” underwear and making crude gestures. Subtly would’ve been better suited, as much of the rest of the film proved. When I heard Shortland talk about the film in an interview a few months ago, it made me want to keep an eye out for it at the cinemas and boy was it infuriating to watch, taking all my self control not to shout at the screen.

Berlin Syndrome takes a well worn genre and a traveller’s nightmare and attempts to turn it on it’s head. Although the majority of the film remains to be intensely thrilling, Palmer’s performance seems to be overacted and infuriatingly unbelievable. This can be stemmed from the opening moments of the film when her character completely misses all the signs that Andi was giving in their initial ”meet-cute” moments. Who gives a woman that they’ve just met, with absolutely no mutual friends to vouch for their character, a kiss on the cheek? And who wouldn’t see that as the first sign to run for your life? And who would accept a lift from someone that they didn’t know more than a few hours? How is that length of time a good judge of character? And wouldn’t you get a feeling that this guy she falls holds something off about him? From what we see in the opening moments of the film, there is absolutely nothing that would draw the two together. There’s even no sexual chemistry between them that would even make us, as the audience, even consider that there was anything remotely between them that would set off a spark, even for the night.

It wasn’t the fact that Palmer and Riemelt were miscast, as Riemelt proved to be a brilliant portrayer of his creepily disgusting character, but it just felt as if there was something lacking in the script at the beginning that would link in with the rest of the powerful film. It made me so frustratingly angry because if you were to go out travelling alone and be that incredibly thoughtless, it really becomes a question of that person’s character and that they really shouldn’t be travelling alone in the first place. And even if you aren’t, you have to be so careful when going out at night, or even in general.

There are many elements that do work in the films favour that do keep you in your seat instead of pulling you out and back into reality but as I said, the moments such as nothing much happening until the second act and logical inconsistencies that bring you back to reality when you had once been so engrossed. It’s no surprise that we might judge the actions of the characters and what we may have done differently but with Berlin Syndrome, it’s so undeniably frustrating. I know I have ranted and raved about it but it’s the true downfall of the film that could’ve been so great and groundbreaking for the well worn genre.

Berlin Syndrome isn’t something that the creative team should be ashamed of, it’s just that if more time was taken with these frustrating moments, things could’ve been different and more ironed out. All in all, Shortland’s work continues to prove itself to be provocatively ambitious.

Film-O-Meter: 6/10.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is an emotional dense, culturally diverse, and thrilling blast of a ride with some finally badass female characters too boot.

guardian2poster.jpgGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

And boy, does Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 not disappoint. It’s as funny and as charmingly hilarious at the first. Not only is it visually stunning with its use of colour, design, and straight up imagination lead by the ever brilliant writer/director James Gunn that smashes many of the other MCU films out of the park, it’s pure comedic fun set to a second awesome mix tape. Although the songs this time around are more somber and poetic, it fits the tone of the film a lot more with it’s serious subtext.

The story is simple but this allows more time for the characters with more of an emphasis on growth and family, which also proves that MCU films have more potential than what they’ve been showing in the all style, sass, and comedy and more often than not, lacking the heart that it truly needs and the villains that lack more then two dimensions.

And unlike that of many of the DC films, and more in particular Suicide Squad (even when they just have the three main characters of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice), that struggle with a large cast, Guardians manages to exquisitely balance a large cast of eight or more characters. Each of them are given enough screen time to have a satisfactory arc of emotion and for us as an audience to connect with them. And I think that’s why the MCU works so well is that we have that ability to actually connect with the characters, no matter their supporting or leading roles, and thus making the experience more enjoyable and memorable (though this isn’t to say that the Avenger’s films had this quality — the pair helmed by glorified writer/director Joss Whedon were nothing but two plus hours of witty one liners…we can only hope the Russo Brothers bring what they brought with Winter Soldier and Civil War to the two-part Infinity War).

Guardians of the Galaxy is an emotional dense, culturally diverse, and thrilling blast of a ride with some finally badass female characters too boot.

Film-O-Meter: 8/10.