Film review of Captain America: Civil War

Director : Joe Russo, Anthony Russo

Cast : oh come on, you know by now.

Running time : 2 hours 30 minutes 

This maybe a Captain America film in the old scheme of things but movies have changed now and this is a further step of the Avengers series also. The lines have blurred. It’s still fresh in my mind how much of an impossible achievement it was to successfully have all those characters work in Avengers Assemble. It was a miracle that it worked so beautifully. Civil War has to balance yet more characters both old and new. The old characters are set in their personalities now and never put a foot wrong and now new characters just show up with almost no introduction which is thought was absolutely excellent. Two and a half hours though, well it felt it. There is a lot of talking about ‘signing the agreement’ and my son fidgeted in his seat. It reminded me of The Phanton Menace’s trade agreement waffle.

The film centres around a supposed showdown between friends though, a falling out where beat downs are handed out. But I never felt the weight of the argument, as both parties were still friends even when punching each other. They were basically having a family spat at worst. But that mid movie slap fight is a hugely funny and entertaining piece of film making which has brilliant choreography since all players have to be doing something with their skills set against another skill set, and all at the same time. Marvel seem to excel in keeping the funny moments and that just makes the scene pop. At the mid section point, I and the audience were in full swing, basically because of the star player, the web swinging Spider-man who steals the show even as Peter Parker. THIS IS HOW YOU DO SPIDER-MAN!

After the highlights of this battle I felt the film slow again though and you realise there’s all the wrapping up to be done and it was all a big mouthful to take. I felt like I’d over eaten afterwards especially as we all have to wait to see the rest of the movie during the credits and then after the film credits have passed. It’s exhausting even if you’re a fan.

This movie certainly has incredible moments which I won’t spoil here but there’s also a lot of dialogue to fill the running time out. Another great slice of this universe if somewhat overshadowed by our favourite wall crawler.
C Whitehouse

Film Review :The Jungle Book (2016)

Dir: Jon Favreau. 

Running time : 1 hour 45 

I think we all thought WHY remake this classic when news of its release hit some time ago. Most of us had this as some part of our childhood or maybe our own children’s childhoods. But although the animation from 1967 is laminated to us by our own glossy memories. What about the new children of today who missed it? My son is 7 years old and he was shown the cartoon at school. “It just looked so awful” he said. Well that cannot be said of this years version. The animation of the CGI animals is amazing and although there are moments when your brain is saying that you aren’t looking at REAL, the rest of the time you are absorbed into the interplay between the animal kingdom and Mowgli. Ah yes, Mowgli, played here by Neel Sethi. This isn’t a reinterpretation of the cartoon hero, it’s an exact replica. Just genius casting. In fact all the casting choices are spot on even e gender changed ones make sense. Concerned Baghreera By Ben Kingsley, lazy but fun Baloo by Bill Murray, dark and mighty Shere Kahn by Idris Elba, hypnotic Kaa (snake) by Scarlet Johansson and power mad gangster the orang-utan by Christopher Walken, all fall beautifully into their roles and lend their voices to make the friendships rich and powerful. But what of the songs? the score drops in subtle key notes from all the major players including Trust In Me before rolling delicately into our favourites like The Bare Necessities, which just makes you feel safe and warm again and I Wanna Be Like You. Oh the feeling that this was in safe hands is such a relief. Even though you know how it all plays out, there’s enough little unobtrusive detours to make you love it all over again. This one, my son really lapped up and tapped his foot along. For a 1 hr 45 running time, it seemed to fly by and I could’ve stayed in that jungle world much longer. The scenes of dark nights and really very black, but with no street light pollution, what do you expect? Then the day breaks and it’s a rich tapestry of colour again.

This is a lovely cozy hug of a film and Jon Favreau must be sat proud that it all came off as well as it did. A must see all over again.
C Whitehouse

Film Review of HARDCORE HENRY (2016)

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Running time : 1 hour 36

Cast : Jimmy -Sharlto Copley

Henry’s Father – Tim Roth 

Estelle – Hayley Bennett 

THIS IS FOR THE PLAYERS may be the PlayStation 4 adverts tagline, but it fits perfectly with this movie. It isn’t really a film at all by conventional standards. To any modern gamer, this is just what we see day in day out. When playing the latest Call Of Duty or Uncharted game, we say to ourselves, wow, this is just like playing a movie. I think that was the genesis of how Hardcore Henry came into existence. If you follow that logic, there is nothing original about this movie at all. I sat there thinking firstly about when shaky cam first met kinetic action to a bevy electro beat. To my kind came RUN LOLA RUN up to CRANK. Recently though, THE RAID was the film to lessen the dialogue scenes and try wall to wall fighting. 

Like any video game, there’s little in the way of story. The movie and trailer starts like HALO or many others, in a lab with some doctor talking you through your predicament. HALF-LIFE was the next touchstone and BLACK OPS 3 as your body is cybernetic and takes a beating but you can still fight on. 

Produced by Timur Bekmambetov of WANTED and NIGHT WATCH fame, the visuals are brilliant. The cuts however make even less time for your brain to make sense of things. I would’ve preferred it to be in real time, one continuous shot. Director Ilya Naishuller and Sharlto Copley (DISTRICT 9) also worked on Payday 2 together. Ilya doesn’t waste more than 30 seconds between action or carnage. Skydive into Call Of Duty shoot out, into Mirrors Edge free running, into Uncharted vehicle shoot out, into Farcry jungle stealth, into Battlefront soldier attack, into GTA5 lap dancing place…and on and on, never letting up. 

Sharlto Copley plays about 20+ characters (also a video game device- Black Ops 3 campaign/assassins Creed Black Flag- ) with its magufin allowing one conciencesness to flit from one body to another. Unfairly it’s the Sharlto show because we don’t usually see the face of our lead character, much like, yes you’ve guessed it, in video games. 

Also, our lead cannot speak as briefly touched on in the trailer. 

Now worth every good hero game or movie there’s a villain. Here, it’s a telekinetic albino Andy Warhol looking dude. He looks very much like Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther albeit albino. 

He’s hammy. Not meanacing but brutal. Like most game villains, he’s paper thin. 

So if you can remember the church scene in The Kingsman, and imagine that for one and a half hours, you can picture this experience. 

But all that said, as much as the few woman partners who I sat near constantly kept checking the time on their smartphones…..I had a blast. I absolutely loved it. There’s moments of inventive kills which didn’t hold back because it’s rated 18. I just had a great time once I was aware that it simply was 90 minutes of end battles stuck into one non stop movie. 

I can’t wait to see it again. 

Like having two shots of adrenalin injected into both legs while listening to Don’t Stop Me Now by QUEEN. 

In fact, exactly that. 

C Whitehouse 

Copley, Henry, hardcore, Roth, video game 

The Diary Of A Teenage Girl (2015)

Director : Marielle Heller 

Running time 1hr 42

Cast: Minnie- Bel Powley

Charlotte – Kristen Wigg

Monroe- Alexander Skarsgard
In the time of the hangover from the excess of the 60’s, a young girl, Minnie (Bel Powley) discovers firstly her sexuality and then other vices which is understandable since her mother Charlotte (Kristen Wigg) is always doped up on something. The film wastes no time in having Minnie announce to her little tape recorder that she’s just had sex- with her mothers boyfriend Monroe played by Alexander Skarsgard. Whilst at first this struck me as distasteful, the film itself has no judgements about it. This is a journey of one girls blossoming into adulthood and has a comical angle through emotional highs and lows interspersed with animation and dream like sequences to show what’s in Minnie’s head. Minnie is in charge of the situation mostly and so there’s less of an icky feeling as it goes on. Look, it’s very sex central, I’m not gonna lie. But it’s one a bunch of awards. This is an honest reflection of discovering what’s out there in the big wide world teenagers are thrown into. The movie wonderfully captures the vulnerability and the headstrong selfishness of youth.

C Whitehouse