Keira Knightley (Pirates Of The Caribbean, The Imitation Game), Mackenzie Foy (The Conjuring, Interstellar), Jayden Fowora-Knight (Reay Player One) and Misty Copeland (newcomer) take us behind the scenes of The Nutcracker And The Four Realms.
With New York Comic-Con currently on we are starting to get a look at some of the big films to come out over the next twelve months. Now Warner Bros. has given us an extended look at Aquaman.
The film is directed by Australian director James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) and stars Jason Momoa (Justice League, Game Of Thrones), Amber Heard (Machete Kills, Drive Angry), Nicole Kidman (Cold Mountain, The Others), Dolph Lundgren (Universal Soldier, The Expendables 2) and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, The Florida Project).
When Clara finds herself in a strange and mysterious parallel world that’s home to Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets, she must brave the ominous Fourth Realm and its ruling tyrant, Mother Ginger, to return harmony to the unstable world.
All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy and featuring a special performance by Misty Copeland, Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale. In Cinemas November 2018.
DISNEY’S NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS – IN CINEMAS NOVEMBER 22
Summary: The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th August 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Screenwriter: Nikolaj Arcel, Akiva Goldsman, Anders Thomas Jensen Stephen King (novel), Jeff Pinkner
Cast: Michael Barbieri (Timmy), Idris Elba (Roland), Kenneth Fok (Johnny), Jackie Earle Haley (Sayre), Nicholas Hamilton (Lucas Hanson, Dennis Haysbert (Steven), Eva Kaminsky (Jill), Caludia Kim (Arra), Fran Kranz (Pimli), Abbey Lee (Tirana), Matthew McConaughey (Walter), Robbie McLean (Toby), Nicholas Pauling (Lon), Leeanda Reddy (Dr. Weizak), Tom Taylor (Jake), Matthew Thomson (Jonah), Lemogang Tshipa (Phedon), Robert Whitehead (Cantab), Kathryn Winnick (Laurie), Jose Zuniga (Dr. Hotchkiss)
Runtime: 95 mins
Whew… I feel like I have dodged a bullet. Reading reviews before I went into to see The Dark Tower meant I was preparing myself for an abysmal nightmare of a film – one that some critics had labeled the ‘worst film based on a Stephen King novel ever’. So imagine my surprise when I sat down and ended up finding myself watching a fun, intriguing, albeit brief, supernatural action film.
The Dark Tower sees a story that took King seven novels to tell told in a film that clocks in at just over an hour and a half. It begins with New York being rocked by earthquakes that have experts confused. Meanwhile, young Jake (Tom Taylor – Doctor Foster, Legends) is having terrible nightmares in which he sees a Dark Tower and dark characters including a Gunslinger and a man in dark jacket. Jake’s mother, Laurie (Kathryn Winnick – Vikings, Love & Other Drugs) is convinced that the dreams are the result of the trauma of Jake’s father dying while on duty as a firefighter and seeks medical advice for him.
However, soon the jigsaw pieces start falling into place for Jake. The earthquakes are being caused by the man in the black jacket… aka Walter (Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar, Dallas Buyers Club) using children’s minds in horrific experiments to try and bring down The Dark Tower – a tower that prevents the darkness of other worlds taking over our own dimension. The only man who can stop Walter is the last known gunslinger, Roland (Idris Elba – Prometheus, Zootopia) who is haunted by the fact that Walter has killed everybody that has ever meant anything to him.
Walter then realises that with Jake’s psychic ability he has the one mind that can bring down the Dark Tower so he orders all his minions to go after Jake who has found Roland… cue the music for the battle to end all battles.
When you put everything into perspective director Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair, Truth About Men) and his screenwriters have actually done a pretty good job at making The Dark Tower work. Putting seven novels worth of work into one relatively short feature film has taken a mountain or work. You could have been forgiven if this had been stretched out into a trilogy or at least a film that went well over the two-hour mark. But somehow Arcel and team have managed to tell the story without making it feel incomplete or leaving the audience not understanding the world that we find ourselves in. Somehow the fact that some of the beings that surround Walter aren’t fully explained means we get to see the story from the point of view of Jake a little more… and it least Arcel doesn’t fall into the trap of filling the film with scenes and scenes of exposition.
Visually The Dark Tower looks great. Darkened scenes of man versus monster are stark reminders of films like Harry Potter while the harshness of a lot of the scenery in most scenes brings back memories of films like Priest or The Book Of Eli. Even the CGI effects work pretty well, more than enough to draw the audience into the world at hand, and while some films suffer when they try to mix the supernatural with a modern day city there is no such issue here with the scenes of modern day New York flowing well with the rest of the film, and thankfully they steered away from a battle that involved the entire city falling from the sky or the like. Really the last battle in this film just needed to be between Jake, Roland and Walter and that was what delivered, now why couldn’t we have had something like that in Wonder Woman?
The films two leads also seem to be enhanced the short nature of the film. Matthew McConaughey seems to have a lot of fun playing Walter and whether it be a scene where he is torturing poor Kathryn Winnick or messing with the mind of Roland he seems to embrace the evilness of his character while remaining smooth and charming… much like Jack Nicholson did years earlier in The Witches of Eastwick. Idris Elba is also fantastic as the cowboy inspired gunslinger. He is perfectly cast in a role that demands his action/stunt ability but also at times needs him to step up in a dramatic, gut-wrenching scene. Likewise, he is well supported by young Tom Taylor whose emotional portrayal of Jake shows that he is an actor to watch in the future.
Don’t be fooled The Dark Tower is not the mess that everybody is saying that it is. With its dark storyline that doesn’t hold back to spare the audience’s emotions and great special effects, this is just one of those supernatural thrillers that you can sit back and enjoy while you munch on popcorn. The only weakness that really annoyed me was that I could have easily spent another half an hour in this universe, but still, this is an enjoyable film with a nice graphic novel feel to it.
Other Subculture Entertainment The Dark Tower Reviews: You can listen to Dave Griffiths’ The Dark Tower review that aired on That’s Entertainment in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane on The Talking Lifestyle network on 17/08/2017 right here.
Summary: Gru meets his long-lost charming, cheerful, and more successful twin brother Dru who wants to team up with him for one last criminal heist.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 15th June 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: 20th September 2017
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon
Screenwriter: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Cast: Julie Andrews (Gru’s Mom (voice)), Michael Beattie (The Scar Faced Man/TMZ Announcer (voice)), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario (voice)), Steve Carell (Gru/Dru (voice)), Adrian Ciscato (Niko (voice)), Pierre Coffin (Mel/The Minions (voice)), Steve Coogan (Silas (voice)), Miranda Cosgrove (Margo (voice)), Dana Gaier (Edith (voice)), Andy Nyman (Clive (voice)), Trey Parker (Balthazar Bratt (voice)), Nev Scharrel (Agnes (voice)), Jenny Slate (Valerie Da Vinci (voice)), Kristen Wiig (Lucy Wilde (voice)),
Runtime: 90 mins
If you’ve got kids then you’ve certainly heard of the Despicable Me franchise. What a lot of people don’t realise is that while Despicable Me has become one of the most popular film franchises amongst families it also changed the entire animated film game. There was once a time when Pixar ruled that market but the arrival of the original Despicable Me saw a new challenger enter the ring and that challenger took it straight up to Pixar blowing them out of the water.
This new Despicable Me movie is technically the fourth film in the franchise (three Despicable Mefilms and one Minions films) and shows that there is certainly still a lot of life left in these films as the creative team behind it has once again found new ways to breathe new life into it and keep it interesting.
This new film sees Gru (Steve Carrell) now firmly entrenched as Lucy’s (Kristen Wiig) life and work partner. And while Lucy is having trouble coming to terms being a mother to Margo (Miranda Cosgrove – School Of Rock, Drake & Josh), Edith (Dana Gaier – 30 Rock, The Icecream Truck) and Agnes (Nev Scharrel – Fun Size Horror: Volume One, Clippings) Gru is slowly getting used to now taking down villains instead of being one… but then even he fails the test when Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker – ) steals one of the world’s largest diamonds.
The resulting stuff-up sees both Gru and Lucy fired from their jobs and while they are soul-searching at what they should do next with their lives Gru learns that he has a twin brother. Upon getting to know his brother Gru learns more and more about his life and soon finds himself wondering if turning his back on being a villain was really such a wise decision, especially when his beloved Minions leave him and start looking for greener pastures elsewhere.
Like the films before it in the franchise Despicable Me 3 has some great elements of humour that will have the whole family laughing while also touching on some very deep issues that many families have to come to grips with in everyday life – the storyline of Lucy trying to learn how to be a mother to the three girls is told in a way that many people could relate to. Likewise, the storyline of Agnes having to learn things such as unicorns not being real is something that every kid has to face at some time.
On the flipside, the film never loses site of the fact that it is also supposed to make families laugh. This is achieved in a number of different ways by the team of screenwriters behind the film, from the usual slapstick comedy of Gru and co getting hurt right through to the creativeness of the new villain – Balthazar Bratt. While the back story of being a childhood star may go right over the head of kids watching the film the great ‘music and dance battles’ that he is involved in certainly won’t. Credit needs to be paid on how creative they have been with this villain, Bratt actually ends up being memorable than any of the baddies Marvel have created recently.
Having praised the screenwriters for making Despicable Me 3 so funny I also have to point out that the film also lacks a little from the fact that the Minions don’t have such a big role this time around. Yes the Minions are around, and yes they do have their own little storyline, mainly about them leaving Gru, but that story almost feels tacked on and the film really does feel like it is lacking any brilliant ‘banana’ moments like we have had in the past… let’s hope instead that we get another Minions film sometime soon.
There is an air of difference around Despicable Me 3 to all the films in the series but this is a film that is going to be lapped up by those that have grown up watching the franchise. The film does have its laugh-out-loud moments and also contains some valuable life lessons. Yes, Gru is back and once again he is on a winner!
Other Subculture Entertainment Despicable Me 3 Reviews: You can listen to Dave’s Despicable Me 3 review on the 15/06/2017 episode of That’s Entertainment.
Summary: The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 15th December 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Gareth Edwards
Screenwriter: Tony Gilroy, Chris Weitz, John Knoll (story), Garry Whitta (story), George Lucas (characters)
Cast: Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook), Jonathan Aris (Senator Jebel), Derek Arnold (Pao), Geoff Bell (2nd Lieutenant Frobb), Babou Ceesay (Lieutenant Sefla), Aidan Cook (Two Tubes), Richard Cunningham (General Ramda), Ben Daniels (General Merrick), Warwick Davis (Weeteef Cyubee), Andy de la Tour (General Hurst Romodhi), Ingvild Deila (Princess Leia), Guy Henry (Grand Moff Tarkin), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Senator Pamlo), Fares Fares (Senator Vaspar), Beau Gadsdon (Young Jyn), Dolly Gadsdon (Young Jyn), Martin Gordon (Vanee), Michael Gould (Admiral Gorin), James Harkness (Private Basteren), Wen Jiang (Baze Malbus), Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), James Earl Jones (Darth Vader (voice)), Valene Kane (Lyra Erso), Paul Kasey (Admiral Raddus), Nick Kellington (Bistan), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Daniel Mays (Tivik), Ian McElhinney (General Dodonna), Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Orso), Daniel Naprous (Darth Vader), Geneveive O’Reilly (Mon Mothma), Alistair Petrie (General Draven), Tony Pitts (Captain Pterro), Duncan Pow (Sergeant Melshi), Matt Rippy (Corporal Rostock), Jack Roth (Lieutenant Adema), Michael Shaeffer (General Corssin), Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa), Stephen Stanton (Admiral Raddus (voice)), Jordan Stephens (Corporal Tonc), Dee Tails (L-1), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera), Spencer Wilding (Darth Vader), Rufus Wright (Lieutenant Casido), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe)
Runtime: 134 mins
Normally when a film isn’t shown to a majority of critics before its release it’s because it has turned into a disaster and the studio wants to keep it from negative reviews before it is released. Then came the news the film had been subject to a massive amount of re-shoots. With that in mind when I finally sat down to watch the film I was genuinely afraid of what I was about to watch. As it turned out I need not of worried – the lack of media screenings was because a large corporation was being stingy and whatever re-shoots occurred obviously only enhanced the film, because this is one gem of a Star Wars film.
The film takes place before the original three films in the franchise and centres around Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones – The Theory Of Everything) who as a girl watched as her mother was murdered and her scientist father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen – Hannibal), was kidnapped by the eager Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn – The Dark Knight Rises) who is determined to finish the Death Star for Darth Vader (James Earl Jones – The Lion King).
Now years later Jyn finds herself rescued by young Rebel fighter Cassian Andor (Diego Luna – Milk) and the re-programmed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk – Firefly) who believe she is the key to being able to get the Alliance a meeting with rebel warlord Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker – The Last King Of Scotland) who helped raise Jyn. That meeting soon leads to Jyn being part of a rebel outfit that also includes a blind Jedi named Chirrut (Donnie Yen – Ip Man), the rugged Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang – Devils On The Doorstep) and a former Imperial cargo pilot, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler).
To be honest director Gareth Edwards’ (Monsters) handprint on Rogue One does take a little while to kick in but when it does it does it sensationally well. The opening sequences of Rogue One feel very similar to what we had already seen in The Force Awakens, but Edwards well and truly puts his stamp on the film when he has his characters escaping exploding planets and really comes to the fore when he teams up so well with cinematographer Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher) and delivers some truly memorable shots, mostly in the latter stages of the film where an epic battle takes place in a Pearl Harbour inspired location. With Rogue One Edwards goes back to that grittiness that he created with Monsters, that same grittiness that was sadly missing from Godzilla. What Edwards does here is actually a breath of fresh-air as he brings an alternative style of filmmaking to Star Wars… something I don’t believe that George Lucas would ever have been capable of doing.
That alternative style of filmmaking is also present in the film’s screenplay. While like many of the Star Wars films from the past that characters at hand are very one dimensional, and most have virtually no backstories explored at all, this is one film in the franchise that is not afraid to take risks. While some characters of old mix with the newly developed characters, a move that may turn some Star Wars’ fans offside, the film’s finale is something that turns this film on its head and separates the film from the others in the series in a brilliant way.
Together with his screenwriting team, Edwards knows how to keep an audience in the cusp of his hand throughout the film. There is rarely a let up with the suspense throughout the film, and once it is established that the filmmakers at hand are not afraid to kill any character (with some key characters dying very early on) as that suspense level is ramped right up to 11. It is things like this that make this a film that hardcore Star Wars fans are going to warm to.
The lack of characterisation doesn’t seem to hold back any of the actor’s performances in the film, though. While Felicity Jones just seems to breeze her way through her role in auto-pilot other actors step up to the fore. Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed seize their opportunities and while Mads Mikkelsen and Forest Whitaker are both under-used Ben Mendelsohn does what he does best and becomes one of the most menacing characters to grace the Star Wars universe. Of course though ever Mr Mendelsohn is out-menaced by Darth Vader when he makes his grand appearance. One actor here though does steal the show, and that is Donnie Yen as Chirrut – one of the most interesting characters to have surfaced in the modern day Star Wars films. It’s sad that Yen didn’t have more characterisation to work with because this is one character whose backstory really does deserve a film of its own.
Gareth Edwards really has delivered a worthy Star Wars film. Most people reading this will want me to compare the film to The Force Awakens but aside from their openings the two films are like chalk and cheese. The Force Awakens is a throwback to the Star Wars films of the old while Gareth Edwards brings the franchise into the 21st-century style of filmmaking with epic battle sequences in Rogue One. The film even distances itself from the movies of the past with no rolling credits at the opening and no John Williams score, which I admit I did really miss. Rogue One is one of the better films in the series, though, and we can only hope that Edwards does more in the series soon… and yes the film has an ending you will not forget for a long, long time.
One of the most anticipated films of the year was Rogue One, the latest stand alone spin off in the Star Wars franchise. While it doesn’t quite live up to the hype it is still a solid film that delivers plenty of action that won’t disappoint the die hard fans of the series.
This “stand alone” Star Wars film attempts to further expand on the mythology of the galaxy far, far away created by George Lucas way back in 1977. But it comes across more like Episode 3.5, as it serves as a direct prequel to the events of the original Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This latest instalment in the Star Wars saga is set before the events of Star Wars, and it deals with a group of rebels stealing the plans of the Empire’s planet killing super weapon the Death Star.
When the film opens, young Jyn Eso watches as her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen, from the recent Doctor Strange, etc), a theoretician, is captured by Imperial storm troopers under the direction of the villainous Orson Krennic (Australian Ben Mendelsohn, from Animal Kingdom, etc), who is the architect responsible for the creation of the super weapon known as the Death Star. Years later, the adult Jyn (played by Felicity Jones, from The Theory Of Evrything, etc) gathers together a motley crew of mercenaries to mount a raid on the Empire’s headquarters and steal the plans for the Death Star. She is accompanied on the mission by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, recently seen in Blood Father, etc), a captain with the rebel alliance with an agenda of his own; Chirrut Imwe (Hong Kong martial arts star Donnie Yen), a blind Jedi warrior; a fussy reprogrammed droid robot named K 2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), who brings some comic relief to the material, but whose presence will remind audiences of C3PO.
There are numerous references and ideas lifted from previous Star Wars films that will come across as familiar to fans, and there are some exciting aerial dogfights. But a lot of the key ideas here will remind fans of both A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back in particular. Even a CGI-recreated Peter Cushing puts in a brief posthumous appearance as Grand Moff Tarkin. Somewhat disappointingly there are no light sabre duels! Also missing is John Williams’ usual iconic score, although composer Michael Giacchino’s score is bombastic and tries to replicate Williams’ theme, but he tends to overwhelm the material.
Jyn is a feisty, independent, confident and strong willed heroine in the mold as Ren, the heroine of the recent The Force Awakens, and Jones acquits herself well in the role. As Andro, Luna comes across as a pale imitation of a roguish Hans Solo-type character. Yen brings a more mystical quality to his role as the blind Jedi warrior. Mendelsohn chews the scenery here and he brings a nicely menacing quality to his role as the main villain, and he gets to go toe to toe with the series’ iconic villain Darth Vader (voiced once again by James Earl Jones) who puts in a brief appearance towards the end, which will excite the fan boys.
But much of the characterisation here is pretty slender and most of the characters are underdeveloped, and we don’t get to identify with them or feel for their fate. Forest Whitaker is wasted in a small role as rebel leader Saw Gerrera, who has practically raised Jyn since her father was taken by the Imperial forces, and Mikkelsen, who normally has a strong screen presence is likewise given little to do.
The director is Gareth Edwards, who previously gave us the low budget Monsters before being tapped to helm the big budget large scale remake/reboot of Godzilla. With this new film in the Star Wars universe he has tackled his biggest and most ambitious film to date, and he gives the material a darker feel and a grittier aesthetic. He gives the film a much darker tone, and this is not as much fun as the previous film and it moves away from the campy tone of The Force Awakens, which easily captured the spirit of the first Star Wars film. There are some superb special effects sequences, particularly with a couple of ripper outer space action scenes, and the production design in impressive.
But apparently this was also something of a troubled shoot, with veteran script writer and director Tony Gilroy (best known for writing the Bourne series of films) being brought in to reshoot some scenes and add a bit of flesh to the characters.
However, Edwards obviously loves his military hardware and he does know how to stage the big action scenes. With its epic fight between rebel forces and Imperial stormtroopers on a palm tree laden beach this has more of a feel of a war movie than other films in the franchise. The central battle sequence is reminiscent of films like Apocalypse Now and other Vietnam era films. The stormtroopers here move much more fluidly than they did in Lucas’ original film and they seem less like automatons. Cinematographer Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher, etc) does a great job of capturing the action, but he also provides some great images of the space bound action.
Overall, Rogue One is a satisfying continuation of the Star Wars universe. Although it didn’t need to be in 3D, as the process adds little.
Rogue One is an example of brilliant cinematography with an alluring dark tone, which grounds it in a more realistic way than other instalments in the Star Wars universe as created by George Lucas.
We’re in a galaxy ruled by the Galactic Empire, as set-up in the beginning of the original Star Wars movie (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). The original story’s drama was lightened by the sense of hope and adventure, which made it lose a little of the darkness an menace of the evil horde lead by that movie’s antagonist. This element of threat has been reappraised in Rogue One and we are given a darker, sometimes feudal tale which really works for this story.
We are introduced to an array of new and exciting characters that really make this film appealing. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is our protagonist who we meet as a child in the story’s opening. She escapes when her father is taken to work on completing the Empire’s first Death Star. She is found by Saw Garrera (Forest Whitaker) and told they are about to go on a “long journey”. However, we suddenly jump ahead a decade or more and we don’t get much further development. It seems the journey was ‘long’ but we missed any special moments that may have occurred, leaving one feeling as if there might have been something we really missed out on.
Of all the amazing characters – Cassian Andor (Diego Luna); Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed); Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), an amazing and very appealing blind Jedi warrior; his companion Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) and a delightfully snippy droid named K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) – she has the most backstory, which amounts to almost nothing. Part of her journey is reconciling her father’s part in the creation of the massive device of death, but knowing full well that he is creating a deliberate weakness in the design. A hope of reunion with her captive father is something else to drive her on, but the eventual resolution to the situation doesn’t amount to much.
Alan Tudyk as K-2SO was a real stand-out, though. His droid character is almost a deux ex machina at times, but he gives such personality in such subtle ways and small moments that he quickly becomes one of the most successful elements of the film. Chirrut Imwe was also a great character idea and one of the coolest things in the movie. I would love a spin-off tale about him and the story behind how he got to be this way and his connection with Baze Malbus.
Ben Mendelsohn’s portrayal of Orson Krennic makes for a notable Star Wars villain who makes the most of his role. This is a character who could have been utilised elsewhere in the universe to great success. His character’s need to succeed is made interesting by the fact he really just believes in his cause, but may overreach in zeal.
For long-time fans there are lots of shout-outs and cameos of characters from the original Star Wars movie. This has been done far more successfully and sparingly than in the cluttered fan-wank of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. In fact, the saving grace is that we are not using existing characters, for the most part, but have a whole new set of people and places to learn about. Fans of the original trilogy will be excited to see a CGI inclusion of Grand Moff Tarkin, originally played by now-deceased cult legend Peter Cushing. Despite the initial thrill, I found the character had only one stance and limited facial movement which eventually left it jarring.
Despite the big draw-back of having such wonderful characters with little characterisation, the film is still appealing in the basic concept and the way it is cinematically executed. The beauty and majesty of the scenery around the planet where the final battle occurs is an amazing sight.
By the end, the majority of this film’s content seemed to be combat and space battle. The epic fight between the Empire’s star destroyers and the Rebel fleet was filmed so well it is worth a round of applause. But with scene-after-scene of gunfights, explosions and battles I would gladly have sacrificed some of this content for more character-driven content.
The eventual resolution is a dramatic and bold but a satisfying end except for the fact that building the characters further would have made the climax and triumph even more palpable.
Overall, Rogue One is a good production, which somewhat makes up for The Force Awakens, but could have been improved with more character and story elements to make it feel ‘whole’. I would happily watch this movie again.
You can hear Nick’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show
Other Subculture Entertainment Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Reviews: Dave Griffiths also reviewed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on 2UE on 15th December, 2017. You can also listen to our Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #206.
Summary: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th November 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: USA, UK
Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: J.K. Rowling
Cast: Peter Braitmayer (Mr. Bingley), Gemma Chan (Madam Ya Zhou), Josh Cowdery (Henry Shaw Jnr/Senator Shaw), Johnny Depp (Grindelwald), Rudi Dharmalingham (Ranjit), Christian Dixon (Momolou Wotorson), Henry Douthwaite (Skender), Carmen Ejogo (Seraphina Picquery), Colin Farrell (Graves), Dan Fogler (Kowalski), Kevin Guthrie (Mr. Abernathy), Ellie Haddington (Mrs. Esposito), Dan Hedaya (Red), Tom Hodgkins (Barker), Denis Khoroshko (Banker Smirnoff), Zoe Kravitz (Lestrange), Alan Mandel (Mr. Goldstein), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), Samantha Morton (Mark Lou), Wunmi Mosaku (Beryl), Jenn Murray (Chastity Barebone), Martin Oelbermann (Heinreich Eberstadt), Ron Perlman (Gnarlack), Ronan Raferty (Langdon Shaw), Eddie Redmayne (Newt), Alison Sudol (Queenie), Jon Voight (Shaw Senior), Katherine Waterson (Tina), Matthew Wilson (Sam The Obliviator), Faith Wood-Blagrove (Modesty Barebone)
Runtime: 133 mins
Welcome back to the Harry Potter universe. Over the years many franchises have tried to tap into the young adult mark. Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent etc have come and gone, and yes they have all done well at the box office… but none quite as well as the behemoth known as the Harry Potter franchise. See where Potter could gloat over the others was the fact that its films were not only embraced by fans but also received critical acclaim as well. Yes there was more than just a few of us that were drawn into a world consisting of Hogwarts, muggles and spells a plenty.
Now J.K. Rowling takes us back into the Harry Potter with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, this time there is even a more literal sense to that statement because for the first time in the franchise’s history Rowling puts on the hat of screenwriter… something it seems she should have done a long time ago.
While Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is set in the Potter universe don’t be expecting the re-appearance of Harry, Ron and Hermoine. No this is set 70 years prior to the trio’s arrival at Hogwarts and centres on another of Dumbeldore’s students – the young wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl) who travels to New York on the simple mission of returning one of the magical creatures that he has rescued back to its rightful home.
After an innocent mix-up with a baker who has dreams of setting up his own shop, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogel – Kung Fu Panda), some more of his menagerie escape into the Big Apple. There escape catches the eye of a recently demoted Ministry of Magic Detective, Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston – Steve Jobs) who immediately reports Scamander to her bosses Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo – Selma) and Percival Graves (Colin Farrell – Total Recall). They immediately believe that he is responsible for a spate of recent attacks that have put the magic world on the brink of war with the non-magics (America’s answer to muggles) and Scamander finds himself in a battle to not only protect his creatures but also find the real culprit for the attacks.
Many fans of the original Potter franchise are going to find themselves in for a journey of differences this time around. While Rowling allows the story to share some familiarities with the original series, things such as those practicing magic not being understood or accepted by those who view them as different, an awkward young wizard out of his depth and the basic battle of good versus evil she also takes some bold steps this time around. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them sees her tackle stories as wide as police corruption and child abuse. Perhaps the biggest surprise this time around though is the scale of the events that Rowling has dreamed up. Alongside her director David Yates (The Legend Of Tarzan) Rowling has conjured up events and a plot that at times rivals the action and scale of a film like X-Men or Man Of Steel. She also allows the film to capture the class and style of 1930’s New York remarkably well too. To her credit she pulls it off so well we can only hope that we see her take on the role of screenwriter many more times in the future.
The other big surprise with this film is that despite its big scale action sequences and heavily slanted fantasy theme the film also allows for a great deal of characterisation. Without spending too much time on a tiresome ‘set-up’ of characters Rowling throws her audience in at the deep end with amazing results. You are quickly won of by the awkward Scamander while the comedic character traits of Jacob and Queenie (Allison Sudol – The Lucky One) quickly make them fan favourites. Romantic interests developing between Jacob Queenie as well as Scamander and Goldstein move the story along with the odd light moments sprinkled between the suspense around characters like Credence (Ezra Miller – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) and Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp – Pirates Of The Caribbean) keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
This characterisation also allows some actors to step up in ways you wouldn’t expect to them in a film like this. Colin Farrell relishes being in a film of this scale again and manages to steal many of the scenes he appears in. It’s like he knows that roles such as this are rare for him these days and he excels whether he is called upon to deliver an action sequence or a more dramatic emotional scene. Eddie Redmayne also makes the role of Scamander his own but the real surprises here at the performances of Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogler and Allison Sudol who step-up onto the big stage in a huge way and really show their talents. Sons Of Anarchy fans should also look out for Ron Pearlman in a memorable cameo as well.
While I’ll admit that I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Fantastic Beats I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. The fact that Rowling can deliver a film with this much action is a real surprise while it seems she has created more characters that are likable enough to become household names. With the other announcement that there will be four more films in this franchise all I can say is bring them on… I can’t wait.
With the lucrative Harry Potter franchise done and dusted, author J K Rowling has expanded on her Potterverse with this stand alone tale set some seven decades before the adventures of the boy wizard. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them serves as the launching pad for a new post-Potter franchise set against the world of magic and sorcery, and somewhat ambitiously another four films have been planned for the series so far.
The film follows the misadventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander (played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) who has just completed a global excursion for the Ministry of Magic to document the varied and amazing array of magical creatures in the world. He will go on to write the fictional text book that became mandatory reading at Hogwarts.
But the time is now 1926 and the setting a pre-Depression era New York. It is also a time of heightened tensions between humans and the magical community, and suspicion, paranoia and intolerance that has driven most of the wizards underground. The magical community that keeps a low profile after the actions of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (a cameo from Johnny Depp). There is a secret society known as the Second Salemers that are leading a campaign to identify witches within the community.
Scamander has stepped off the boat for a short stop over in New York. He carries with him a battered leather suitcase that contains some samples of strange creatures great and small. He accidentally bumps into klutzy wannabe baker and no-maj (the American term for a muggle) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), who is also carrying a battered suitcase containing samples of his pastries. They somehow manage to switch suitcases, and Kowalski accidentally unleashes some fantastic beasts onto the unsuspecting city. The release of the creatures attracts the attention of the Magical Congress of The United States of America, a sort of magic police force.
Porpentina Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston) is an auror, a dark wizard catcher, who has fallen out of favour with MCUSA and she sets out to redeem herself by catching Scamander and his creatures before they can bring harm to the city. She teems up with her mind reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), Scamander and Kowalski. But there is a mysterious threat to the city from some elusive and dangerous force that is also wreaking havoc. And the uncompromising Percival Graves (a sullen, sinister Colin Farrell), the director of Magical Security with MCUSA, also has his own agenda and is involved in some shady dealing with the troubled teen and ostracised wizard pupil Credence (Ezra Miller).
Rowling has written the screenplay herself which is based on the short story she wrote in 2011 and published under the pseudonym of Newt Scamander. But it is a little convoluted and very busy with several subplots. There are a lot of ideas at play here but not all of it works. As usual Rowling has created a world that operates within its own set of sometimes flexible rules, and she has created a unique language. Fantastic Beasts has a dark and whimsical tone that is far removed from the lighter tone of the early Potter movies.
The director is David Yates, who helmed the final four films of the Potter series, so he is familiar with the demands of the material. The action is dominated and overwhelmed by the impressive array of CGI effects in an effort to distract from the lack of cohesive narrative and well defined characters. Unlike the Potter series here we don’t get as emotionally involved with the characters. There are indeed some fabulous creations here, including a kleptomaniac platypus; but there is one creature that looks suspiciously like a deflated rubber toy! And the over the top finale almost destroys as much of New York as the Marvel characters.
There are some nice performances though. Redmayne brings a boyish quality to his reading of Scamander, and he brings plenty of nervous energy, nervous tics and mannerisms to the character that are somewhat endearing. Farrell is gruff and taciturn as the sinister Graves but he also appears bored at stages. Fogler provides plenty of comic relief. Waterston brings strength and a feisty quality to her Porpentina, while singer turned actress Subol brings a perky energy to her role. Jon Voight is wasted in a small and thankless role as Henry Shaw, a powerful newspaper magnate leading a crusade against magic and wizardry.
The film offers up a visually impressive environment, and it has been superbly shot by Philippe Rousselot, whose use of sepia tones imbues the material with a strong touch of nostalgia. The authentic period detail brings 1920s New York to life. Colleen Atwood’s costumes also add to the stylish and strong visual look of the film.
The film’s themes of intolerance, paranoia, bigotry and suspicion will resonate strongly with audiences, especially given recent political events in America. But this is a flawed film, and whether Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them has the legs to support another four films in the series remains to be seen.
You can listen to Nick Gardener’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review from The Wednesday Motley Crew right here.
Other Subculture Entertainment Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Reviews: You can also listen to our Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them reviews on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #202. You can listen to Dave’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review on the 10/11/2016 episode of That’s Entertainment.
Summary: Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 29th September 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Screenwriter: Nic Pizzolatto, Richard Wenk, Akira Kurosawa (original script), Shinobu Hashimoto (original script), Hideo Oguni (original script)
Cast: Alix Angelis (Clara Wintrhop), Mark Ashworth (Preacher), Walker Babington (Dicky), Jackson Beals (One Eyed Lucas), Emil Beheshti (Maxwell), Haley Bennett (Emma Cullen), Thomas Blake Jr. (Earl), Matt Bomer (Matthew Cullen), Sean Boyd (Topper), Sean Bridgers (Fanning), Vic Browder (Arcade Jones), Ryan Brown (Ken Pigeon), Vincent D’Onofrio (Jack Horne), Griff Furst (Phillips), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Vasquez), Cam Gigandet (McCann), Luke Grimes (Teddy Q), Ethan Hawke (Goodnight Robicheaux), Clint James (Fenton), Cedric D. Jones (Curtis), Vinnie Jones (uncredited), Jonathan Joss (Denali), David Kallaway (Turner/Blacksmith), Derek Lacasa (Len Pigion), Dylan Langlois (R.L. Garrett), Carrie Lazar (Leni Frankel), Byung-hun Lee (Billy Rocks), Heath Lemme (Heath), David Manzanares (Referee/Eddy), Rictchie Montgomery (Gavin David), Jody Mullins (Caleb Frankel), Matthew Posey (Hank Stoner), Chris Pratt (Josh Faraday), Dodge Prince (Anthony), Chad Randall (Bartender/Powder Dan), Dane Rhodes (Sheriff Harp), Peter Sarsgaard (Bartholomew Bogue), William Lee Scott (Moody), Martin Sensmeier (Red Harvest), Billy Slaughter (Josiah), Denzel Washington (Chisolm), Kevin Wayne (Monday Durant)
Runtime: 133 mins
One question always has to be asked when a remake of a film surfaces… why was the remake made? Was it because a director thought he had a more creative or ‘modern’ way to tell the original story? Was it because a team of filmmakers thought that current day technology could improve on what was made decades ago? Sadly, none of these questions seem to answer that question about the remake of the legendary western The Magnificent Seven (which itself was a remake of Seven Samurai).
Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) this remake sees honest lawman Chisolm (Denzel Washington – American Gangster) recruited by innocent widow Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett – The Equalizer) whose husband was murdered when he stood up against corrupt gold mining company owner Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard – Green Lantern) who has taken a town hostage as he takes land via violent means.
When Chisolm is convinced to take on Bogue and his men in a bid to rescue the town he puts together a group that includes gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt – Guardians Of The Galaxy), burnt out Civil War veteran Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke – Good Kill), tribe hunter Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio – Law & Order: Criminal Intent), knife expert Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee – Terminator Genisys), native warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeir – Lilin’s Brood) and the wanted outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – Cake).
There are of course positives and negatives to this remake. One of the positives is getting to see Denzel Washington play yet another strong leading man, and I would be lying if I said it’s not great to see a big budget Western back on the big screen, hopefully this is a start of a lot more.
Sadly though the negatives outweigh the positives. While the film holds up its entertainment value and looks visually good the disappointing thing is that this is modern remake doesn’t offer the audience anything different to what we have been watching in this genre for the last fifty years. There’s no new tactical ways for a battle to be fought out or even any new creative ways to shoot the movie by Fuqua and his team.
The other big disappointment is the screenplay. While the film does at times raise the suspense and tension it misses other key moments that really could have made this a better film. It is really believable that a native American warrior would fight on the same team as a tribe hunter without any form of hostility or tension? Likewise there needed to be a better explanation to why Chisholm joins the fight in the first place… the explanation comes way too late in the film. Don’t even get me started on the weak CGI graves at the end of the film either.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment though is how the screenplay lets down the cast. Denzel Washington gets a chance to star in this film… the rest don’t. Chris Pratt is obviously there for comic relief (a hat that certainly doesn’t fit his character) and ends up just playing the same character he did in Guardians Of The Galaxy. The rest of the cast seem to end up playing clichés though with Manuel Garcia-Rulfo completely wasted in his role. The only other upside with the acting is with Emily Bennett who does more than enough to suggest that she can be a leading lady in the future.
The Magnificent Seven may be enough to entertain a modern audience and provide the odd bit of suspense throughout. But for seasoned fans of the Western genre the film offers nothing new and will easily be seen as a fair bit weaker than the original.
John Sturges’ classic 1960 western The Magnificent Seven made stars out of Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn (who all later appeared in Sturges’ epic WWII adventure The Great Escapein 1963). Sturges’ film was inspired by the Akira Kurosawa’s classic The Seven Samurai, regarded by some critics as the greatest action movie ever made. Kurosawa was inspired by the Hollywood westerns of the 50s, and, ironically, his film influenced many westerns that followed including the spaghetti westerns of the late great Sergio Leone. The 1960 film was a huge success and spawned a couple of sequels and even a short lived television series. And now we get this remake from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen, etc) who knows his western tropes and has in turn borrowed heavily from some the great directors of the genre, from John Ford through to Eastwood, Peckinpah and Leone.
It’s 1879. The small but peaceful farming town of Rose Creek is under threat from ruthless and greedy mining magnate Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), a robber baron who is desperate to corner the market on all mining activities in the region. Anyone who opposes him is either viciously beaten or killed, and the megalomaniacal Bogue has assembled a veritable army of mercenaries and lawless types to enforce his will. But the newly widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett, from The Equalizer, Hardcore Henry, etc) wants to stop Bogue. She approaches bounty hunter Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington) and pleads with him to help. Chisholm agrees and sets off to round up an assortment of gunslingers to make a stand in what could well be a suicide mission. (Sounds familiar? It was a key plot device of films like The Dirty Dozen and the recent Suicide Squad.)
This time around the seven he assembles are a much more racially diverse bunch. Apart from Chisholm himself there is Faraday (Chris Pratt, from Guardians Of The Galaxy and Jurassic World), a wise cracking card sharp and gunslinger; the boozy Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a sharp shooter who is still damaged by his experiences of fighting in the Civil War; his knife wielding offsider Billy Rocks (Korean action star Byung-hun Lee); the hulking John Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio, from Full Metal Jacket, etc), a renowned and feared Indian hunter; the Texican gunman Vasquez (Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo); and the comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), who has been cast out of his tribe. This motley crew have just seven days to train the frightened townsfolk in the skills necessary to fight back against Bogue and to defend their village.
The build up to the key siege of the town is a little slow. There are several scenes of the men sitting around in a saloon and drinking and talking, and these scenes slowly tease out character details and backstories, and show the slow camaraderie that develops between them before all hell breaks loose. There is fair amount of humour here to leaven the violence.
Unlike many recent remakes that have tarnished the memories of the original film (think Ben Hur, etc), this new take on the classic The Magnificent Seven is quite good. It exploits the tropes of a traditional western in its formula. Many of the classic westerns of yesteryear explored the myth of one good man standing up to evil on the wild frontier and dispensing justice. But writers Richard Wenk (The Equalizer, etc) and Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective, etc) also effectively use the formula to explore some more contemporary themes of corporate greed, courage, loyalty, heroism, sacrifice, and even a hint of feminism that will resonate strongly with modern audiences.
As he showed with Olympus Has Fallen, Fuqua knows how to stage some exciting and spectacularly visceral action sequences. There is an early gunfight in the dusty streets of Rose Creek that is tense and well-staged, and it sets the scene for the climactic attack on the town. This rousing 30 minutes action sequence is the highlight here, a gritty and violent and superbly choreographed set piece full of gun play, carnage and pyrotechnics that doesn’t disappoint. In the original, the villainous Calveros brought just thirty bandits to attack the village; here Bogue brings a veritable army of a hundred men, plus a deadly Gatling gun, to the fray. This version of The Magnificent Seven has the highest body count of any western since The Wild Bunch.
The film looks good thanks to the widescreen cinematography of Fuqua’s regular cinematographer Mauro Fiore that captures the harsh beauty of the epic landscapes. The film also features the last soundtrack composed by the late James Horner, and the music also pays homage to Elmer Bernstein’s memorable theme music for the 1960 original.
Performances are a bit of a mixed bag. This is Washington’s third collaboration with Fuqua (following his Oscar winning turn while cast against type in Training Day and The Equalizer) and the director seems to be able to tap into the meaner side of an actor known for playing essentially decent characters with strong moral fibre. Pratt brings a jocular and easy going charisma to his role and he provides most of the comic relief. Sarsgaard comes across as the cliched bad guy with no redeeming features whatsoever, and he does all but twirl his moustache with a cliched performance as Bogue, who is filled with contempt for the poor struggling and hardworking farmers. Hawke brings some pathos and nuances to his performance as the former soldier wrestling with a form of psychological disorder following his experiences, and he is the most complex character here. Bennett’s performance as the feisty Emma reminded me a little of Hailee Steinfeld in the recent remake of True Grit.
As a genre, the western has been dead for many years despite some attempts to bring it back to life on the big screen with films like Tarantino’s superb and violent Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, and the visually stunning The Revenant, etc. This reimagining of the classic The Magnificent Seven is a solid western, full of action, gunplay, and featuring a strong ensemble cast that should appeal to audiences.
Other Subculture Entertainment The Magnificent Seven Reviews: You can also listen to our The Magnificent Seven reviews on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #195.
Summary: When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 29th September 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: UK, Belgium, USA
Director: Tim Burton
Screenwriter: Jane Goldman, Ransom Riggs (novel)
Cast: Nicholas Amer (Oggie), Jack Brady (Mr. Clark), Asa Butterfield (Jake), Raffiella Chapman (Claire Densmore), Justin Davies (Worm), Pixie Davies (Bronwyn Bruntley), Louis Davison (Victor Bruntley), Helen Day (Miss Edwards), Judi Dench (Miss Avocet), Rupert Everett (Ornithologist), Aidan Flowers (10 Year Old Jacob), Eva Green (Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine), Scott Handy (Mr. Gleeson), Ioan Hefin (Kev), Samuel L. Jackson (Barron), Allison Janney (Dr. Golan), Jennifer Jarackas (Aunt Susie), O-Lan Jones (Shelley), Hayden Keeler-Stone (Horace Somnussion), Cameron King (Millard Nullings), Mary Leonard (Mary), Finlay MacMillan (Enoch O’Connor), Lauren McCrostie (Olive Abroholos Elphanta), Chris O’Dowd (Franklin Portman), Joseph Odwell (Masked Ballerina #1), Thomas Odwell (Maked Ballerina #2), Nicholas Oteri (6 Year Old Jacob), Milo Parker (Hugh Apiston), Georgia Pemberton (Fiona Fruanfeld), Philip Philmar (Mr Archer), Ella Purnell (Emma Bloom), Terence Stamp (Abraham Portman), Brooke Jaye Taylor (Aunt Judy), Shaun Thomas (Dylan), George Vricos (Uncle Bobby), Robert Milton Wallace (Malfous)
Runtime: 127 mins
Tim Burton fans it is time to rejoice because the man of creepiness is back with a film that once again sees him using his creative genius to full effect. The last few years has seen Burton serve up films like Big Eyes and Dark Shadows – films that to be honest have been a waste of his talents. With Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children though Burton once again lets his creativity come to the fore as he delivers a film that is visually appealing and brings some ‘older’ special effects back to life.
Based on a novel by Ransom Riggs Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children centres around Jake (Asa Butterfield – Ender’s Game) an unpopular teenager who has been brought up listening to his Grandfather Abe’s (Terence Stamp – Wanted) tales of a miraculous island that he once lived on. Jake’s father, Franklin (Chris O’Dowd – The Sapphires) tells him these tales are part of his Grandfather’s dementia but Jake finds himself wondering whether or not they are true when he finds Abe brutally murdered and he witnesses a ‘monster’ at the scene.
Soon Jake finds himself discovering that Abe’s stories are true as he meets Miss Peregrine (Eva Green – Dark Shadows) a mysterious shape shifter who looks after a school for children with peculiar abilities, such as Emma (Ella Purnell – Never Let Me Go), and makes sure that the ‘loop’ they live in resets each day. While at first Jake believes their lifestyle is picturesque who soon becomes involved in their dangerous war with the psychotic Barron (Samuel L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction).
On the surface it would be very easy to dismiss Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children as a mish-mash of Harry Potter and X-Men but with Burton at the helm this film becomes much more than that. Burton’s finger-prints are all over this film from start to finish. While the opening scenes of the stale white store where Jake works seems largely un-Burtonesque it gives way to a world where Burton can bring a steam punk feel to a World War II bombing raid, use ‘jumpy’ special effects during a scene of re-animated dolls fighting and use old-school CGI to bring skeletons to life for a large scale battle. To some younger cinema goers the use of the ‘older’ effects may seem a little strange it does fit the film’s storyline of flashing between time periods… and better still it’s Burton being his creative self.
Storywise the film does have a fair bit to get your head around. While the time-jumping sequences will be very quick to lose you Burton gets away with it by the fact that Jake himself doesn’t fully understand what is happening either. Generally though this is your typical good versus evil storyline with a touch of coming-of-age as the audience gets to experience Jake’s first romance as well.
Under the watchful eye of Tim Burton the cast here regularly get a chance to shine. While Butterfield’s performance is nowhere near as intense as his performance in Ender’s Game he still does a good job. Likewise Samuel L. Jackson is far from his best but seems to be having fun as he plays the menacing Barron. The real standouts here though are Eva Green and Ella Purnell. Purnell announces herself as a star of the future with a performance very similar to what Burton normally gets out of Mia Wasikowska. Green plays Miss Peregrine as a sultry character that we can only help returns to the screen soon.
Whether Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is meant to kick-start a franchise or simply be a one off movie the film holds its own as Burton delivers a film a little too dark for children but something that adults and young adults will certainly warm to. This surprisingly good film sees Burton return to do what he does best – produce a creepy yet truly creative film.
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