Summary: A group of bullied kids band together when a monster, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 7th September 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Andy Muschietti
Screenwriter: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, Gary Dauberman, Stephen King (novel)
Cast: Mollie Jane Atkinson (Sonia Kasprak), Stephen Bogaert (Mr. Marsh), Joe Bostick (Mr. Keene), Megan Charpentier (Gretta), Ari Cohen (Rabbi Uris), Neil Crone (Chief Borton), Pip Dwyer (Sharon Denbrough), Sonia Gascon (Mrs. Ripsom), Jack Dylan Grazer (Eddie Kaspbrak), Nicholas Hamilton (Henry Bowers), Stuart Hughes (Officer Bowers), Chosen Jacobs (Mike Hanlon), Tatum Lee (Judith), Jaeden Lieberher (Bill Denbrough), Sophia Lillis (Beverly Marsh), Katie Lunman (Betty Ripsom), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley Uris), Geoffrey Pounsett (Zach Denbrough), Elizabeth Saunders (Mrs. Starret), Jackson Robert Scott (Georgie Denbrough), Jake Sim (Belch Huggins), Bill Skarsgard (Pennywise), Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ben Hanscom), Owen Teague (Patrick Hockstetter), Logan Thompson (Victor Criss), Anthony Ulc (Joe The Butcher), Kelly Van der Burg (Abigail), Steven Williams (Leroy Hanlon), Finn Wolfhard (Richie Tozier)
Runtime: 135 mins
OUR IT REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Horror fans have had a bit of a mixed bag over the last couple of years. Films like Lights Out and Don’t Speak seemed to suggest that production companies were starting to realise that mainstream horror fans wanted a little bit more grunt when it came to the horrors that were hitting cinemas screens. But then came Annabelle: Creation and Get Out which went back to the tired old, too lame, too tame style of mainstream horror that had been disappointing horror fans for years. It was almost a toss-up on what the remake of Stephen King’s classic tale It would be. Would they take it down the tame horror lane or would they want to take a chance and really impress fans. The good news is that the latter is the case as director Andy Muschietti (Mama, Historias Breves 3) brings back a welcome dose of nastiness to mainstream horror.
This version of It is told through the eyes of the children of Derry. Headed by Bill (Jaeden Lieberher – St. Vincent, Midnight Special) whose younger brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott – Skin, Criminal Minds) is the latest child to go missing in the town a group of youngsters starts to piece together the puzzle that has been haunting the town for generations. Bill wants to spend the summer with his friends searching for Georgie and dodging the local bullies but when the troubled Beverly (Sophia Lillis – The Garden, 37) starts to have some terrifying experiences that they can all see and the new kid in town Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor – Ant-Man, Alvin And The Chipmunks: Road Chip) delivers his theory about an evil hitting the town every 27 years all the pieces of the puzzle starts to fall into place.
Soon it becomes obvious that a deadly clown called Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard – Simple Simon, Atomic Blonde) is behind everything and the group of friends which also includes Richie (Finn Wolfhard – Stranger Things, Sonara), Mike (Chosen Jacobs – Cops And Robbers, Hawaii Five-O), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer – Tales Of Halloween, Beautiful Boy) and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff – Guardians Of The Galaxy, Once Upon A Time) have to overcome their fears and face them head on.
To be honest we probably haven’t seen a director take such a chance with a remake since Rob Zombie worked his magic on Halloween. With It Muschietti has delivered a completely different film to what we have seen with any adaption of It previously. He takes Stephen King’s tale and turns it into a coming age of film… and a damn fine at that. These kids aren’t your stereotypical ‘film kids.’ First he’s got kids that aren’t your average ‘child model’ actor and then has them speaking the way you would expect them to, yes parents kids do use the f**k word, and has given them each their own unique personality, which comes in handy as their fears come to the surface, rather than just simply having all the kids act exactly the same way. And while I’m sure some critics will question the scene with the kids sitting around their underwear but to me it brought a real natural feel to the film.
That natural feel also comes through in other ways throughout the film. Going back to the novel and giving the main character a stutter again makes the film feel incredibly natural and the fact that the team of screenwriters who worked on the film also saw fit to bring in controversial storylines such as child abuse only grounds the film even more in the real world. It would have been very easy to give the kids simple fears such as spiders and what not but to take it that step further and actually introduce things, like child abuse and bullying, that sadly some kids have to go through in their lives is something that not many people would have expected the script to have done.
Of course the best part of what Muschietti has done with this version of It is to remember that he is actually making a horror film and that it is more than okay to actually deliver some horror. Yes there are confronting moments of teens having to get violent with baseball bats, but realistically what are they to do when they are going into battle evil. Muschietti also doesn’t fall into the trap that so many horror filmmakers do and decide to rest his laurels on jump scares to get at his audience, instead he creates truly horrific moments that are really going to impress the hardened horror fans out there.
When looking at the cast you just have to say that the kids do an amazing job as an ensemble. Having said that though Jaeden Liebehrer and Sophia Lillis do put in performances well and truly beyond their years though. Aside from the terrifying scenes with Pennywise these two youngsters have to conjure up the emotions that a teenager would be feeling after losing a sibling or being sexually abused by their father. No doubt both actors had to go to some pretty dark places in order to tap into that and both need to be congratulated. Billy Skarsgard also does an amazing job playing Pennywise and hopefully if they are able to do the sequel set twenty-seven years into the future that they are able to retain him.
Andy Muschietti has delivered one spectacular horror film with It. The harshness of the horror will keep fans happy while the characterisation and coming-of-age storyline is a welcome change to what could have been. Group that together with a great soundtrack, sadly no Pennywise on it though, and what we are left with is a horror remake that far exceeds what anyone expected for it.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Wakefield Reviews: Nil
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
OUR THE DARK TOWER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
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.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
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: Falling in love is easy, getting out of it is hard. Our hero, Josh ﬁnds himself ‘LoveStuck’ between his best friend, his ex-girlfriend and the new girl he is about to move in with. As a lowly clerk working with the public service in Canberra, Josh is used to procrastination, but his fear of con*ict and knack for stretching the truth gets him into trouble with the women that he loves.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th August 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Murray Fahey
Cast: Rik Brown (Josh), Fenella Edwards (Horatio), Murray Fahey (Polonius), Cathy Hagarty (Cath), Malcolm Irvin (Rosencraztz), Ali Little (Barnardo), Jenny Lovell (Gertude), Heady Manders (Voltemand), Gabby Millgate (Bag Lady Ophelia), Glen Morrison (Laertes), Robert Morrison (Guilderstein), Rama Nicolas (Kate), Emma Reid (Hecuba), Patti Stiles (Trish), Geoff Wallace (Claudius)
Runtime: 73 mins
OUR LOVESTUCK REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The Australian film industry has been throwing up some extremely experimental films over the past few years – from one-shot action films through to filmed theatre productions. Well now comes Lovestuck – a completely improvised film from director Murray Fahey (Cubbyhouse, Dags). Not only does the film toss up a story that keeps you guessing but also gives you a look behind the scenes of what goes into making an improvised film at the same time.
The film centres around Josh (Rik Brown – Utopia, Dinner For Three) a man who is struggling with his feelings with three woman – his ex Kate (Rama Nicolas – Little Solider, The Mutant Way), his current girlfriend Cath (Cathy Hagarty – newcomer) and his best friend Trish (Patti Stiles – Neighbours, Stingers). On one disastrous day he meets with Kate to hand back some of her things – which then sets him on a journey to find a pen that she once gave him – while meanwhile Cath and Tess meet for the first time. The result is him having to make a decision about the three woman if he has any chance of moving on at all.
The danger of doing an experimental film like Lovestuck is that sometimes the experiment itself can get in the way of the story or can distract the audience from getting immersed in the film. Strangely, given that the film also shows the audience what is happening behind the scenes at times, neither happens here. The actors at hand – especially Rik Brown – are so good at the improvisation that you forget that you are watching a film that never technically had a script. The scenes flow together well and while there are some scenes that perhaps didn’t need to be there, most of the scenes featuring the main four characters tie in together well and do raise the suspense of who Josh will chose at the end… something that director Murray Fahey let Rik Brown decide as part of the improvisation.
The improvisation of the film does allow for the tone of the film to switch at times which gives Lovestuck a really unique feel. From comedic moments when Josh runs into Cath outside a massage parlour and tries to explain that he didn’t get one of ‘those’ massages right through to more dramatic scenes like Cath and Trish meeting for the first time this is a film that at one moment feels like an episode of Seinfeld one moment and the latest romance drama the next. Even the Hamlet Hip-Hop scene which had the potential of feeling out of place in the film works well because as an audience member you find yourself sitting there thinking ‘do they have the pen or not?’
The key to this film working though was the cast and to Fahey and his casting assistant’s credit they get this 100% right. Rik Brown carries the film throughout and with the tone changes that is no easy feat. From moments of complete awkwardness right through to almost slapstick comedy he delivers each time while Nicolas, Hagarty and Stiles also amazing throughout the film. Not once does there seem to be a moment where they hesitate when they think of what to say next and to be able to deliver improv lines so naturally means they deserve high credit… it is no easy feat.
Lovestuck just shows what you can create when you get together a creative team of people. While an improvised movie sounds like it shouldn’t work this one does to the point where you really do care which decision Josh makes. Worth checking out if you like your cinema a little left of centre.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
IMDB Rating: N/A
Other Subculture Entertainment Lovestuck Reviews: Nil
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
OUR DESPICABLE ME 3 REVIEWS & RATINGS:
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!
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
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.
Often when a horror movie is really being talked about as ‘one of the horror movies of the year’ it ends up being a complete disappointment once you actually you get a chance to watch it. That was certainly a fear for me going to watch Raw. As many of you would know horror is one of my favourite genres but often when a film is really being ‘pumped up’ I get my hopes up and then find myself largely disappointed… as was the recent case with Get Out. You’ll be happy to know though that wasn’t the case with Raw… no, once again Monster Pictures have brought us Aussies one horror film that certainly lives up to all the hype.
From French director Julia Ducournau (TV’s Mange) the film explores the events that follow after young vegetarian, Justine (Garance Marillier – Solo Rex, Junior) who during a hazing ritual tastes meat for the first time. As an unexplained taste for meat suddenly rises in her, she finds her relationships with her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf – Tiger Girl, War) suddenly spiralling. As the gifted young student also finds herself attracted to some of the men around her another hunger is also awakened.
The only people that are going to be disappointed by Raw are those that will go into this film expecting to be like the more subtle horror films come out in Hollywood at the moment. Raw is gritty, but not to the point where it is a filmmaker only out for the shock value. Instead, it is a creative film with a well-developed and surprising screenplay also created by Ducournau. While some may argue that the film has a plot aimed at exploring man and woman’s need to eat meat, the basis of this film is a storyline that shows a young woman’s needs and desires developing in a way that cinema has rarely done in the past. Rather than using shock tactics the film instead takes an artistic Argento-style feel which only intensifies some of the film’s more suspenseful scenes.
Few screenwriters, Joss Whedon aside, have developed plots that explore human sexuality and needs with such brilliant subtext and Ducournau is a smart-enough screenwriter not to let that bog down her film and her script and instead the film delivers a fair amount suspense as the audience is taken on a journey as Justine’s needs develop and they try to work out not only exactly what is happening to her but also just how it’s going to affect her life in the long run.
Ducournau’s screenplay is also the perfect vehicle for young actresses Garance Marillier and Ella Rumpf to really show just how exciting their skills are. The pair brilliantly delivers not only during some of the film’s more confronting scenes but also excel at some of the more intense scenes as their relationship is pushed to breaking point. Normally scenes of this intensity would really challenge actresses at this age but together here Marillier and Rumpf deliver performances that should silence anyone that says horror films rarely produce classic acting moments these days.
Raw is one of those horror films that really sticks with you. Not because it plants a horrific imprint on your brain but because it is a genre film with a real arthouse feel that further enhances the film. As you watch the film, you also get a distinct feeling that Ducournau is a director that we are going to be talking about for a long time to come as her directional stylings are a breath of fresh air in a genre that is being held back by some average Hollywood films.
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
OUR ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY REVIEWS & RATINGS:
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 Warsfilm. 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
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards and including a star studded cast including Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Captain Cassian), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe) and Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera) just to name a few. The film takes place after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope.
Going into this film I didn’t really have any expectation for the film to live up to. I knew that it wasn’t going to heavily involve the Jedi or the traditional path the Star Wars films normally take. The one thing I was looking forward to seeing in this film though was Darth Vader. Rogue One tells the story of the rebel alliance and there mission to recover the plans to the Death Star so that they can find a way of destroying it.
For me the first two acts of this film were very slow. It felt like it took a while for things to pick up and get interesting. The score to this film also felt a little rushed or almost incomplete. This was expected as the original composer had left production before finishing the score and the new composer had only 4 weeks to complete a fully flourished score for the finale cut of the film.
There were also a few scene in my opinion where the editing felt very poor too. There were just minor things that I had scene on screen that didn’t feel very right. Other than that I felt like all the characters were great. It was great to discover who Jyn was in the film and to see her character develop. The one thing I very much enjoyed in Rogue One was the visuals. Visually it looked incredible. While some people are complaining about certain CGI aspects when it comes to motion caption and recreating past characters, I think they did very well in what they intended to accomplish.
My favourite scenes in Rogue One were the two small scenes we had of Darth Vader. While I was very curious about his roll and execution in the film I came out very happy with how they have included him within the film. There’s a scene at the end of the film where we see a side of Darth Vader that we haven’t really seen before. It’s a very brutal side where he is just completely ruthless towards the rebels and for me that made the film.
So in conclusion I think Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a decent film. A little slow for me in the first two acts but overall it was satisfying non the less.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
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: Sergei Polunin is a breathtaking ballet talent who questions his existence and his commitment to dance just as he is about to become a legend.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 15th December 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United Kingdom, Russia, Ukraine, United States
Director: Steven Cantor
Cast: Jade-Hale Christofi (himself), Sergei Polunin (himself)
Runtime: 85 mins
OUR DANCER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Lovers of classical ballet and dancing have been well served recently with a number of documentaries about famous choreographers and dancers, and there is the wonderful animated film Ballerina due to hit cinemas shortly. In the meantime we have this documentary about Ukraine-born ballet dancer Sergei Polunin, a prodigiously talented dancer who was at one stage hailed as “the new Nureyev.”
This profile from director Steven Cantor (Chasing Tyson, etc) follows Sergei’s career and unfolds in largely chronological order. Dancer is not the first documentary about Polunin as he was the subject of the 2013 short 11 minute documentary The Fragile Balance, from Jem Goulding.
This documentary is an exploration of the artistic temperament, the creative process and the pressures artists feel. It follows him from a very young age, through his meteoric rise to the top and his decision to walk away from it all at the height of his fame. The film highlights the extraordinary passion and talent and the dedication it takes to rise to the top in such a demanding and competitive profession.
From the age of eight it was obvious that Polunin was a naturally talented dancer. His parents made numerous sacrifices in order to ensure that the youngster was able to fulfil his potential. They worked hard to allow the talented youngster to study at Kiev’s prestigious but expensive choreography school. At the age of 13 he auditioned for the Royal Ballet in London and was accepted. But his mother, who accompanied him to London was denied a visa, and he was largely alone.
At the age of 19 became the youngest ever principal dancer for London’s Royal Ballet, and he became ballet’s equivalent of a rock star. But he felt trapped by the adulation and his quick rise to fame, and walked away from it at the age of 22. And he soon became the bad boy of ballet, with the troubled prodigy making headlines for his rebellious behaviour and addictions to drug and alcohol. His body was also covered in tattoos, another act of rebellion. His bad boy reputation meant that no ballet company would offer him a position. He returned to Russia where he headlined a reality tv show about dance, which was a waste of his talent. Then he worked with choreographer and mentor Igor Zelensky, who briefly re-energised his passion for dance.
Polunin’s final dance was for the video Take Me To The Church, which was filmed by David Chappelle and highlights his creative genius and lithe movements. When posted on YouTube it went viral.
Cantor spent five years working on the film and has assembled an extensive a collection of archival footage, home movies and videos shot by his mother, performance footage, newspaper headlines, and candid interviews with some of his peers. This is a fairly sympathetic portrait of the troubled artist as it glosses over much of his bad behaviour and doesn’t offer up too many negative opinions.
Summary: A quiet observation of the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 22nd December 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States, Germany, France
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Screenwriter: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Adam Driver (Paterson), Golshifteh Farahani (Laura), Chasten Harmon (Marie), William Jackson Harper (Everitt), Frank Harts (Luis), Barry Shabaka Henley (Doc), Rizwan Manji (Donny), Brian McCarthy (Jimmy), Method Man (himself), Nellie (Marvin), Trevor Parham (Sam), Troy T. Parham (Dave)
Runtime: 118 mins
OUR PATERSON REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Film director Jim Jarmusch’s work isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. His films are often described by the average cinema goer as ‘hard to get’ and you can always guarantee that his films are going to make you think. His last film, Only Lovers Left Alive,may have been a vampire movie… but even that was a flick with a difference. Now comes one of Jarmusch’s most cinema-friendly films, Paterson… but even this is going to have to you thinking deeply long after you leave the cinema.
Paterson tells a simple tale. It follows the lives of Paterson (Adam Driver – Star Wars: The Force Awakens), a poet who spends his days working as a bus driver, and his partner Laura (Golshifteh Farahani –Body Of Lies) who dreams drift from being a cup-cake mogul to starting a country music career. Ironically they live in Paterson, New Jersey and for the most part, the film follows Paterson’s regular day of going to work, listening to his passenger’s conversations, writing poetry, walking his dog and visiting his local bar.
As you can ascertain from the film’s synopsis Paterson is one of those films where very little happens plot-wise yet while you are watching the movie you never find yourself getting bored. Jarmusch is a talented enough storyteller to know that you can get away with very little plot if you fill your film with enough interesting characters to hold your audience’s interest. Here, Jarmusch does that in bucket loads. While his life may be a little boring Paterson himself is a character that you find yourself rooting for because he is such a nice character and completely unaware of what a great poet he is.
The secondary source of interest for the audience in Paterson is the interesting characters that Jarmusch chooses to have interact with Paterson. Whether it be passengers such as two men who know nothing about women, teenage anarchists or those that chat to Paterson in his local bar – a barman obsessed with celebrities who lived in Paterson, Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley – Collateral) or Everett (William Jackson Harper – True Story) and Marie (Chasten Harmon – Elementary) a young couple in disarray, these characters each bring something unique to the story at hand.
Part of what makes Paterson such an interesting film is you never really know what Jarmusch is setting his audience up for. Is he planning on giving Paterson that one moment when he meets the right person who can help launch his career as a poet or even deliver the time when he finally realises that he does, in fact, have a talent that the world deserves to hear. Then, of course, the darker side of your imagination wonders whether or not Jarmusch is planning on putting his characters through something traumatic that will change their lives forever.
Jarmusch’s writing also allows for some decent performances from his leads. Fans of Adam Driver will quickly tell you that he is capable of more than what we saw in his recent performance in The Force Awakens. Serious movie fans will know that over the years Driver has delivered some powerful performances in serious films like What If, Midnight Specialand Inside Llewyn Davis, and once again he delivers the goods here as he portrays the very melancholy Paterson. This film also introduces most fans to a bright, new star in Golshifteh Farahani. This fresh face shows pure talent as she plays the free-spirited Laura and you get a real feeling that she is somebody that we are going to see a lot of in the near future.
If you go into Paterson expecting a high-octane film, then you will be sorely disappointed. Instead, once again Jim Jarmusch has created an interesting film that is largely a character study of two everyday people. This is a film that will have you debating what Jarmusch is trying to say with the film and will also have you seeing Adam Driver as a potential Oscar nominee.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Paterson Reviews: Nil
Summary: An iconic Australian story of family, friendship and adventure, between a young boy and a scrappy one-of-a-kind dog that would grow up to become an Australian legend.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Kriv Stenders
Screenwriter: Daniel Taplitz
Cast: Josie Alec (Abby), Caitlin Berestford-Ord (Catherine), Syd Brisbane (Big John), Bryan Brown (Grandpa), Kee Chan (Jimmy Umbrella), Justine Clarke (Diane Carter), Thomas Cocquerel (Stemple), Jon Doust (McLeod), Alla Hand (Gilliam Shaw), Jason Isaacs (Michael Carter), John Jarratt (Lang Hangcock), Hanna Mangan Laurence (Betty), Steve Le Marquand (Little John), Winta McGrath (Nicholas Carter), Zen McGrath (Theo Carter), Levi Miller (Mick), Kelton Pell (Durack), Igor Sas (Dr. Samuel), Calen Tassone (Taylor Pete)
Runtime: 88 mins
OUR RED DOG: TRUE BLUE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Nobody ever expected the original Red Dog film to go onto the greatness that it did when it was released back in 2011. Somehow the little Aussie family film showed the world that the Australian film industry wasn’t dead. While the industry had seen many Aussie filmmakers try the comedy vein, it seems it was the family comedy vein that still had life in it. The film grossed over $21 million in Australia alone.
Of course, not surprisingly word of a Red Dog sequel started to seep through while the first film was still raking in money at the box office. The only man who didn’t seem interested in the concept was the director Kriv Stenders (Boxing Day) who was already busy on his next project – the cult film Kill Me Three Times starring Simon Pegg. Along the way, though something changed and now five years later we find ourselves sitting down to watch a prequel to the original – Red Dog: True Blue.
There is little wonder that Stenders was nervous about making another Red Dog film, a dud could tarnish the legacy that the first left behind. Luckily though Stenders once again teamed up with screenwriter Daniel Taplitz (Chaos Theory) and together the two men came up with a film that is different enough from the original film to give it its own identity, but not different enough to alienate fans of the first in the series.
This second film is told through the eyes of a Perth father Michael Carter (Jason Isaacs – Black Hawk Down) who after watching the original Red Dog movie in the cinema recounts the story of how he was actually the original owner of Red… or Blue as he was called back then. His story tells of his younger self (Levi Miller – Pan) being forced to leave home because of his mentally unstable mother and moving to outback Western Australia where he lived with his grandfather (Bryan Brown – Australia). On a cattle station.
The story sees Mick meet Blue and tells of the adventures that they had together including Mick falling in love for the first time, with his tutor the young and beautiful Betty (Hanna Mangan Laurence – Acolytes).
Fans of the original film will see very early on that Stenders and Taplitz are onto a winning formula when they see the creative way that leads to Michael Carter telling his story. While it seems a little strange for the film to be referencing the first film so openly, but at that same time it so creative that you can’t help but applaud at the pure genius act that the two men have managed to deliver.
While Red Dog: True Blue is creative it does lack a little of the emotion that we felt from the first film. I’m man enough to admit that I teared up twice during Red Dog, but here Stenders and co takes the film in a completely different direction, this time the film is a pure coming of age story that sees a young boy take his dog with him on the start of life’s journey. While the film does also have a few moments that are likely to make you chuckle it doesn’t have anywhere near as many comedic moments as the first movie either.
Those that benefit from Stenders work here is the cast. Levi Miller is almost unrecognisable as the younger version of Mick and he settles into the period style of the film well. It is great to see Hanna Mangan Laurence back on the big screen and hopefully, we see her there again soon while as usual Bryan Brown leads the way with a mature performance as he leads the cast despite seemingly being in auto-pilot for most of the film. The big scene stealer here though is John Jarratt (Wolf Creek) who has a cameo as mining magnate Lang Hancock… and boy is it a cameo to remember.
Red Dog: True Blue is a smooth, enjoyable ride for the whole family. It might not reach the heights that the first film did but it is still a film that holds its own and reminds audiences just how fun it still can be to watch a coming-of-age story. The fact that it is being released on Boxing Day makes it the perfect family cinema outing this holiday season.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
IMDB Rating: No rating available.
Other Subculture Entertainment Red Dog: True Blue Reviews: Dave Griffiths broadcast a Red Dog: True Blue on 2UE’s That’s Entertainment on the 8th December, 2016.
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
OUR FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM REVIEWS & RATINGS:
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 Pearlmanin 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.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, directed by David Yates and starring Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Fine Frenzy and Eddie Redmayne, being with it the return of the Wizarding world we have all grown fond of from the Harry Potter series.
I loved that this film, even while being part of the Harry Potter franchise, gave its own reputation. It didn’t rely too much on the success of Harry Potter to make this film successful. The characters were all cast perfectly, the film had some genuinely funny moments and the action, drama and of course the magic were all balanced out really well in my opinion.
It was fantastic to see magic from the Wizarding world back on screen once again and at the same time bring concepts of the Wizarding world that were never discussed in Harry Potter. I loved that they kept this fresh and interesting with a whole new story line and broad range of new characters.
In some movies I find myself getting bored towards the middle of the film but in Fantastic Beasts there was nothing that allowed me to be bored because there was constantly something interesting happening on screen. The scenery, special effects and all over direction of the film was done really well and I highly recommend going and seeing the film if you are a Harry Potter fan.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
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.