Dunkirk Review

The Review

Christopher Nolan puts his stamp on a well known story and creates a visceral experience that resonates with you long after you leave the theatre. Blending stunning sound with amazing visuals Dunkirk could pass as true footage of what really happened in the French seaside town. All this creates the suitable sombre atmosphere that protrudes continually through the film.

A sight to behold

Every single shot is sublime and stunning to look at. Beautiful wide angle shots juxtaposed to the harrowing events it is depicting helps to create the tremendous sense of realism. From the dirt on soldiers faces to the intricate, fantastically choreographed dogfights, the visuals develop the documentary like feel. Add to this the use of practical effects and Dunkirk seems a true depiction of war.

Sounds like a plan(e)

What makes this film so brilliant is the practical sound, the score and the way these two elements blended with each other so effectively. Most noticeably the explosions make you feel as if you are going to walk out of the movie with shell shock. The sound of a spitfire or a hurricane make you want to duck for cover in your seat. Hans Zimmer blends these sounds into his very ominous, building score that would often increase in tempo and pitch, to give you a horrible sense of peril and dread that the next catastrophic event was soon to materialise.

Two Tone

The visuals and the soundscape of the movie blended fantastically to relay the clear mood Nolan was trying to strike with the movie. The two elements create a sense of sorrow, dread, anguish and chaos. Take the final one as an example, Nolan directs these brilliant shots that slowly canter as the danger increases, combined with the Zimmer score that almost just feels like a barrage of noise. You begin to take longer and longer intakes of breath as you get sucked into the chaos and feel as if you are experiencing what the solider’s are on screen. Nolan also creates a more positive feeling at times in the movie too. The visuals and sound again combine to tremendous effect in a scene in the final act that is focused purely on Kenneth Branagh’s face. You see the wide ranging emotions he is going through as he sees the British civilian boats appear on the horizon. This is combined with a fantastic crescendo that gives a real sense of joy, hope and relief.

Nolan’s touch

Though the film is a depiction of a true event, you do not lose the fantastic story telling ability the director possesses. He splits the film very wisely into three perspectives the mole, the sea and the air. He also plays with time in the movie viewing each element at different amounts of time out from the final extraction. They all have the same end point, but start at differing positions in the timeline. This choice enabled Nolan to give an intricate look into the responsibility and actions of all three characters that made this story. He was also able to show how they were all of equal import in making the extraction a success.

Concluding thoughts

Dunkirk is a true directorial masterpiece. The visuals and sound combine to create a movie that puts the audience through a contrast of numerous different emotions. The way Nolan tells the story also gives a distinct freshness and originality to a story that is so infamous in British culture. An epic that will no doubt require repeat viewing in the months and years to come.

Tyler, The Creator: Flower Boy Review

The Review

The fifth studio album from divisive odd future member Tyler, the creator is a true return to form after his grungey lacklustre fourth album Cherry Bomb. Though he returns to this style in standout songs such as Who Dat Boy and Ain’t got time the prominence of the melodic, simplistic and hypnotic keyboard pieces send Tyler back to similar sounds of his debut. The more relaxed beats and lyrics help to remind the listener why so many adolescences fell in love with the artist when he first burst on the scene. All of this culminate to create arguably Tyler’s strongest project yet.

Tyler, The Writer

Flower Boy showcases the story telling talent Tyler clearly possesses, but has maybe failed to showcase on previous projects. Whether it is the reflective Foreward or the cautionary tale Pothole Tyler seems to have taken a step back and assessed how he feels about where he currently is in his life. He explores very relatable themes such as a desire to be comfortable in his own skin, having nostalgia for previous chapter in time, and the struggle with the everyday boredom that sometimes comes along with life. He also gives us a clear understanding for his views on his own music. He seems to distance himself from the fanbase he gained during his time in Odd Future. My interpretation of the infamous line in Ain’t Got Time is that it is a metaphor for the fact he had white teenagers eating out of his palm for much of his career. This however, could be completely wrong. In terms of his music he also discusses his desire to put his stamp on Hip-Hop and this creating apprehensions for him about releasing new music. All of these factors create the most lyrically sound album of his career.

Sonic Youth

Having eight years to develop his sound, Tyler has mostly returned to the original sound of his debut. The self assessment that is clearly evident in the lyrics of the album also appear strongly in the beats also. The high pitched basic keyboard often accompanied with a soft snare drum create a very palatable sound for the listener. This sound first appeared on his debut and was fine-tuned on his third project Wolf and this return is more than welcome. The interesting, but overused sound of this albums predecessor Cherry Bomb is explored in this, but in a much more liberal manor. Having previous success with the heavier sound in songs such as Deathcamp and Yonkers it is a relief to see he has not given up on this, creating more variety within the project.

Who Dat Voice?

Flower Boy has a colourful feature list ranging from Corinne Bailey Rae to Jaden Smith. The standout guest performances are however, Frank Ocean and A$AP Rocky. Ocean brings a similar sound to his 2016 standout project Blonde in his feature on Where This Flower Blooms. His chorus concurs with the theme of settling in yourself and highlights how Tyler is not alone in struggling with this issue. The yin and yang nature of the two artists has created great tracks previously such as She and Biking and the relationship continues to be a fruitful one. As for A$AP his guesting on Who Dat Boy? adds to the erratic nature of the song through his whooping on the chorus and his own thematically wide ranging verse. Though his guests are strong collaborators on the album, none outshine the main man Tyler himself. His tense, aggressive, meandering flow continues to be affective in creating a wide range of great songs.

Concluding thoughts

Tyler takes a mature step in the right direction and adds to his collection potentially his best album yet. Pondering on the apathetic response to previous albums and different occurrences in his life such as being banned from entering the UK (Ridiculously I might add) or the fall of the Odd Future culture, he presents his most focused project yet. Strong writing, great beats and interesting features put this album up there with the very best Hip-Hop has had to offer us in 2017.

War For the Planet of the Apes Review

The Review 

Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback return to helm a satisfying conclusion to a Strong trilogy of movies, but this final instalment is the weakest of the three. Able to utilise the ever evolving technology in the film industry, it is a visually stunning film, helped by standout motion capture performances. However, the cost to this seems to have been a weakened set of human characters, which have previously been a pivotal part of the series.

Motion for emotion

What stands out above everything else in this movie is the motion capture performances of Andy Serkis and Steve Zahn. Serkis showcases the wide ranging emotions that his character Caesar goes through in this movie to an outstanding level. The intricacy of his performance really gives a clear sense of everything he is feeling throughout the movie. Due to Serkis’ phenomenal talent in this department, much as with the previous Apes movies Caesar is someone the audience relate with an understand. Zahn offers a polar opposite, but an equally impressive performance in the form of his role as Bad Ape. A character who for the most part offers much needed comic relief for an otherwise very tonally dark an serious movie, his few moments of sadness make him the other most notable character.

The Conscience

The series has always thrown up strong moral questions for the audience to ask themselves while viewing. This time it is done through the relationship between Caesar and Maurice. Much of the movie is centred around Caesar’s very primal instinct of revenge and protection. This is consistently questioned by Maurice in the movie to the point where he accuses Caesar of being the same as Koba, the vengeful ill fated ape of the previous film. This is definitely a strong point of the movie as Maurice is also asking the audience questions at this point as to which side of the spectrum you fall on.

A strong conclusion

The film gives a satisfying conclusion to the character of Caesar’s story. It ends in a fashion that most fans of this franchise will be happy with and feel was right. Though it may be the end of his story, the films throws up the question of whether there may be other Ape survivors in the world, so a return to this universe is very much a possibility.

Human error

A key short coming of this movie is its human characters. The unoriginal and derivative antagonist of Harrelson’s colonel pales in comparison to James Franco’s Will in the first movie and Jason Clarke’s Malcolm in the second. At no point in this movie do you question which side you stand with, it is very obvious you are supposed to be routing for the apes and this removes one of the most interesting elements of the franchise in doing this.

A slow burn

The film has a two hour twenty minute running time and this becomes very evident in the second act. There are long periods spent in the same set piece where the narrative fails to progress at the same rate as the first and final act. As an audience member you often find yourself asking the question of what are we waiting for, in this section. This does make the final product feel a little long winded when it does eventually reach the credits.

War! What is it good for

The war you feel the three films have been building towards never really materialises. It would have been so much stronger for the narrative of the movie had the question that has been looming over the series from the beginning been answered. This question is who is stronger the Apes or the Humans. So to answer the question of the heading, it would have been good as a final act of the the final movie.

Concluding thoughts

A Competent entry into a strong franchise, the film provides a great character examination of an exhausted, beaten down, but still driven Ape. It however, falls very short of providing the usual excellent human cast members and fails to provide the desired and suited action this finale could have brought.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

The Review

Jon Watts is another name in a long line of unconventional directors to have helmed a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. What he gives us is the best Spider-Man movie we have seen since Sam Raimi’s second outing and a worthy entry into the web slingers canon. Capturing a more grass roots type of superhero, Spider-Man: Homecoming shows us the menial everyday struggles of being both a teenager and a costumed vigilante at the same time. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker handles this balance very well showing the conflict within the character as to which side of his personality he should pursue.

First Dance

One of the strongest elements of the movie is the way it handles being the first, in what will undoubtedly be a long series of movies, but also the third iteration of this character we have seen on screen. It does this by using the classic origin story such as the tragic death of his uncle and him being bit by a radioactive spider in subtler ways. This allows the film to breath and not be weighed down by re treading old ground. Whether it be the reference of Peters need for a father figure or Mays overprotectiveness, the lack of his uncles presence is felt within the movie. Tom Holland plays this third generation of Spider-Man very well. His charm, idealism and awkwardness convince you he is the blossoming New York teenager in a way Maguire and Garfield never quite managed.

The Greater Universe

Homecoming does a great job at seeding what is to come for this new Spider-Man. Whether it be Donald Glover as the criminal uncle of Miles Morales, or Michael Mando as villain Scorpion, the future looks bright with these two set to take on bigger roles moving forward. As for the villains in this film however, they definitely made it stronger. A clear understanding of their motivation made you to sympathise with what they were doing, but not to the point where you were rooting for them. There were also references to previous versions of this character. One recreates in a tongue in cheek way the iconic upside down kiss from the original Spider-Man which was a nice touch.

Same old problems

There were two key areas this film was weakened by however. The first of these was its use of Iron Man. His role was almost pointless within the movie, it seemed for all intensive purposes, that he was in it to get more bums on seats rather than to help the story. Every time he entered a scene the element of threat was lost from the film as he seems to have a gadget for everything similar to that of the late great Adam West’s Batman. Though the villains motivations at the beginning are clear the themes of the big corporations stepping on the little man and the little man fighting back are put at the wayside come the end of the movie. This is a shame as it would have made for more interesting viewing to see Peter question the motivations of people such as the afore mentioned Tony Stark and whether what he does is right.

Concluding thoughts

Another strong entry into the all conquering Marvel Universe that leaves you excited for what this new and certainly improved iteration of the character has to offer in the future. Though sharing similar set backs to its predecessors in the marvel cinematic universe, this is not enough to ruin the movie.

Baby Driver Film Review

The Review 

Thirteen years on from his feature debut Shaun of the Dead, Edgar Wright returns to the silver screen with arguably his best film yet, Baby Driver. In 2011 a woman called Sarah Deming sued the the distributors of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive for a misleading trailer, believing it was going to be more in the style of the Fast & Furious series. My legal counsel to her, watch Baby Driver.

Baby it’s good

From the get go this film offers a visceral look into the world of getaway driver, Ansel Elgort’s, Baby. A character very obviously stuck in a world he does not belong to, Wright offers a brilliant narrative for him. Whether he is caring for his adoptive father, embarking on his idealistic love affair with lily James’ Debora or burning the rubber during a car chase, Baby is someone the audience is 100% behind.

Driving the movie with music

One of the highlights of the movie is its use of music, especially as this is key to the life of the Tinnitus suffering protagonist, Baby. It creates the tone for many of the fantastic set pieces this movie has to offer, one point at which the titular character restarts his song to fit the heist. Clearly inspired by the Mint Royale Blue Song Music Video he directed the same year as his first feature, Wright builds on this idea of a musicophile wheelman and creates a rip roaring movie that will undoubtedly stay near the top of my best films of the year list.

A Change of gear

Though clearly moving away from the comedic themes of the cornetto trilogy and the incredibly stylised Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Wright seems very comfortable directing the film. It has beautiful tracking shots through the grounds of Atlanta in the climax of the movie and each time a vehicle is involved, the scene is expertly crafted, just to name a few examples of how wonderfully aesthetically pleasing this movie truly is. The snappy off kilter dialogue works to a tee to fit the eccentric supporting cast, whether it is Jamie Foxx’ Bats, presumingly acquiring the nickname for his less than ordinary behaviour, or Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez’ Buddy and Darling, whose relationship is a kin to that of the protagonists of True Romance.

Ending Thoughts

Though the film may not be the most original idea each element of the movie is executed to near perfection and creates a joyous cinematic experience that makes up for this. Though the final ten minutes of the movie could have been left to the imagination of the viewer, the other hour and three quarters make me rue his loss on 2015’s Ant-Man, but make this an instant classic.