Category: Film

Film: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story

rogueone_poster

When the last Star Wars film – The Force Awakens – was released I wrote this in my review:

It achieves its basic requirement: putting down firm foundations for the several more Star Wars films and spin offs that will be coming our way over the next few years.

I enjoyed the spectacle but I thought the plot was a re-run of previous films:

Don’t expect miracles from the plot – once things get going you do get a real sense of déja-vu.  This is the third time part of this story line has been used in the Star Wars films.  You’d think that the bad guys would have a bit more imagination by now.

Rogue One is the first of a number of spin-off movies, including one due next year that currently goes by the name of “the untitled Han Solo Star Wars movie”.

I’d heard this film was good, as in “it’s good for a spin off”, but I really enjoyed it.  It looks great, it keeps the action flowing and the music clearly takes its cues from the original scores but builds on them well.  It is definitely part of the Star Wars universe.

Most importantly it has a plot. The events of the film provide background to the original Star Wars film and effectively explain that film’s title “A New Hope”.  It’s great to get some new revelations.

If all the Star Wars spin-off “stories” are as good as this one then it bodes well for the future.

 

 

Film: The Revenant

revenant_movie_poster

After being attacked by a bear, a man is left for dead.  He survives, driven by the desire for revenge.

Unflinchingly violent, achingly beautiful, this deserves to be seen on a big screen.

 

Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star-wars-force-awakens-official-poster

I managed to go into the new Star Wars film without having seen anything apart from the very first trailer and having heard nothing about the plot.  I keep hearing that the film is making serious amounts of money and I’m not surprised – I saw the film a couple of weeks after release and the 9am weekday showing I went to was at least 3/4 full.  My local cinema still has 29 showings a day…

Expectations are very high for this film and for the most part it manages to meet them.  This is easily the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back (although some may say that the competition is not up to much…).  The film goes back to the “beat-up” universe of the original trilogy and it looks great – even though I only saw it in 2D. It achieves its basic requirement: putting down firm foundations for the several more Star Wars films and spin offs that will be coming our way over the next few years.

The new cast members are good and they bring a good dose of humour to the story even if their characters are not fully fleshed out.  It’s good to see the old-timers back on the screen.

Don’t expect miracles from the plot – once things get going you do get a real sense of déja-vu.  This is the third time part of this story line has been used in the Star Wars films.  You’d think that the bad guys would have a bit more imagination by now.  That’s not to say that the story doesn’t have its killer twists.

This is a great film.  You cannot deny that there is still a certain magic when the film starts, the yellow plot synopsis disappearing into the far reaches of space whilst the main title music blasts out.  Experiencing that on a big screen still gives me the tingles…

Film mini review: Interstellar

intersellar_poster

A few points:

I’ve enjoyed several of Christopher Nolan’s previous films and was really looking forward to seeing this, especially on a big screen.

It looks good on a big screen, but it does not look amazing.  I was expecting amazing.

It starts off slowly.  It has a story to tell and is in no rush to tell it – it clocks in at just under 3 hours.  This is pitched as sci-fi blockbuster but is more space opera.  There’s nothing wrong with that but I went in having purposefully avoided seeing trailers or reading anything about the film and I did not get what I was expecting.

The sound sometimes overpowers some of the dialogue.  I thought it might be just my screening but it appears that others had the same problem.  I also felt that the soundtrack was trying too hard to manipulate your emotions.

Apart from that, I left the cinema thinking it was a good film and I enjoyed the story even if I did not totally understand it.

 

• The Guardian:  Interstellar review – if it’s spectacle you want, this delivers

• New York Times:  Off to the Stars, With Grief, Dread and Regret

• The Guardian:  Interstellar articles

• The Guardian:  Christopher Nolan releases Interstellar comic prequel

• Alternative Interstellar posters: part one / part two

Film: The Hobbit -The Desolation of Smaug (IMAX 3D 48 frames per second HFR version)

the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-7-character-posters

I did not enjoy the first of the Hobbit films.  In particular I thought that the use of the new 48 frames per second HFR (High Frame Rate) technology completely ruined the telling of the story.  It looked horrendous.   After seeing it I feared for the other two films in the trilogy – could such a small book warrant so much screen time?

Now the second Hobbit film is here. My local cinema has a newly installed IMAX screen and this is the first film to be shown.  I didn’t actually know that this was going to be HFR – I thought I’d avoided it by going IMAX, so as I pulled on my oversize 3D glasses I felt a chill down my spine when “HFR” came up on the screen as the film was starting.

In the first few scenes I was concerned.  But then the feeling evaporated, I only noticed it a couple of times more.  The technology has improved, possibly helped by the larger screen – but it’s more than that.  This is a much better film.  The story-telling is to the fore. You are dragged in and nearly three hours goes past as if it were minutes.  The extra time allows for an immense showdown between Bilbo, the band of dwarves and a truly fearsome, magnificent dragon.  I have no idea how long it lasted.  It was astounding.

And then it was over.

The wait starts now for the final installment – this time with no trepidation.  I could have sat there watching longer.

IMAX is definitely the way to see this film.  The image quality is pristine.  The sound is massive, particularly highlighting the musical score.  I have all the soundtracks from the Lord of the Rings films, and I still listen to the powerful Return Of The King album.  I may have to get this soundtrack too.   The music is always best when the story becomes darker and evil comes ever closer.

The film is not perfect – it still suffers from “star overload”.  No matter how they are dressed or disguised, Stephen Fry and James Nesbitt stand out awkwardly.  It spoils the film to a degree.  You start to appreciate the lesser known cast of the Lord Of The Rings films.  The director can coax better performances from Orcs, animated spiders and a CGI dragon.

Overall, this is a much better film than the first and deserves to be experienced on the biggest possible screen you can.