Translate

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Best and Worst of March 2016


It’s been quite a month, one of surprises, shocks and upsets. There was a lot of variation both in genre and quality. For example we had two horror movies that acted as bookends to the scale of modern horror, with one being terrible and formulaic and the other being innovative and ground breaking. At the same time we’ve also seen a great comedy and one movie that just defied all logical categorisation, but more on those later. The sad truth is that while there were some glimmers of greatness, March 2016 has been a month of disappointment. It started with the release of the horrific ‘Ghostbusters’ trailer, Terrance Malick failed to astound me and Zack Snyder managed to sink an entire franchise (don’t be surprised if in a year’s time we’re seeing trailers for ‘The Flash: Days of Future Past’ as they try to pull the time travel reboot trick).

It’s also been a month of conflict as critics have had to battle directors calling them out for not liking their terrible movies, audiences who have become desensitised to what constitutes a good horror movie, others who were somehow disappointed that the Coen’s had made a sprawling ensemble comedy that relied more on great characters than a contrived plot (because ‘The Big Lebowski’ and ‘Burn After Reading’ were nothing like that, apart from in every way) and the never ending pile of DC fans accusing us of being paid out by Marvel. Yes you caught us out, just the other day I had lunch with Kevin Fiege, Russo Brothers, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr and we all laughed at how we had doomed what was obviously the greatest movie ever made by writing inaccurate reviews of it(!) But anyway, here are the best three movies of the month.

3: Hail, Caesar

The Coen’s have managed to craft a film that is just as much of a loving homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood as it is a sharp satirical view of it. It’s wonderfully intelligent while also gleefully ludicrous and ever cast member turns in a star performance, from Josh Brolin’s sacrificial fixer to Alden Ehrenreich as an inept musical cowboy attempting to make it as a dramatic actor. Paired with Roger Deakens once more, the Coen’s stage their epic escapade in such a beautiful manner that it’s hard not to be swept up in the glitz and glamour of classic Hollywood.

2: The Witch

Here I was worrying that horror filmmaking had forgotten how to stage atmospheric environments. ‘The Witch’ creates an impermeable eeriness that gradually rises in tension as the movie proceeds, creating a genuine sense of terror and suspense. It’s less of a story about ghosts and ghouls but more of depression and isolation as a puritan family tears itself apart. Excellently performed, beautifully shot and so skilfully unnerving that it almost makes me forget the twenty other terrible horror movies that I had to sit through in order to discover this gem.  

1: High Rise

It’s tough to say what Stanley Kubrick would be doing if he were alive today and I don’t want to overreach myself but I feel as if he would be making films like ‘High Rise’. Ben Wheatley’s trippy science fiction thriller takes a 1975 novel that was once deemed unfilmable and not only adapts it faithfully (mostly) but makes it disturbingly relevant. That’s what ultimately makes it so frightening, not the ultra-violence, eerie atmosphere, or its sadistic, destructive and hallucinogenic nature. What make ‘High Rise’ frightening is just how insightful it is, it glimpses the future by looking into the past.

And the worst…

The Other Side of the Door

There were a lot of contenders of this month’s worst movie (expect to see some of them on the end of the year list) like ‘Gods of Egypt’ and ‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant’ but neither of them compared to the lazy, overly familiar, terribly written, nonsensical guide to making a horrifically bad horror film.  

But I’m not done yet, for one month only there’s the biggest disappointment award. And that goes to…

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Normally I wouldn’t care but I’ve seen such an outpouring of fans trying to defend this movie, and ordinarily that would be fine but I think there’s a line between defending your own opinion and attacking someone else’s. Fans seem to take it upon themselves to insult the integrity of any critic that dares disagree with them, great critics like Matt Zoller Sietz, John Schnepp, Mark Kermode Kristian Harloff, Mark Ellis, Alicia Malone, Scott Mantz, A.O Scott, Chris Stuckmann and Jeremy Jahns have all received some kind of hate because people can’t stand the idea of anyone disagreeing with them. Now I’m saying enough, and I’m going to once again say exactly what I thought of this movie.

I’ve hated every one of Zack Snyder’s films, but this one above all the other is the one that I just cannot understand how anyone could overlook its problems. I’ve seen dozens of people trying to defend the movie, accusing all its criticisers of being Marvel fanboys, saying that the movie is “just for comic boom fans”, “it’s too complex for average moviegoers” or “it’s just mindless fun, don’t nitpick”.

But is it really any of those things? For me it was too dark, depressing and boring to be viewed as mindless fun, too unfaithful and inaccurate to be enjoyed as a comic book adaptation (as Kevin Smith said “Zack Snyder didn’t read a bunch of comics, he read one comic once, and it was Dark Knight Returns, and his favourite part was the last part where Batman and Superman fight”) and too poorly written, badly structured and nonsensical to be appreciated as a well made film. There are some good moments but they seem to be lost in a sea of wasted opportunities and non-cohesive storytelling.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

High Rise


"For all its inconveniences, Laing was satisfied with life in the high rise, ready to move forward and explore life. How? He had not yet decided." 

If you look at the comments section for the trailer to Ben Wheatley’s latest film ‘High Rise’ you will find a lot of people labelling the film as a ‘vertical Snowpiercer’. Now, ‘Snowpiercer’ is a very good film and ‘High Rise’ is somewhat similar in the sense that they both involve class war within an enclosed allegorical society. However ‘Snowpiercer’ gave us a vision of the future by looking into the future, what ‘High Rise’ does is even more ingenious. It provides us with a vision of the future by looking into the past.

In 1975 London a young doctor called Robert Laing (Tom Hiddlestone) takes up residence in a luxurious high rise tower block. While there he befriends the building’s mysterious architect (Jeremy Irons), his devoted aide Charlotte (Sienna Miller) and a documentary filmmaker (Luke Evans). The isolated community eventually becomes a world of divided loyalties and violent rivalries.

People have been trying to adapt the J.G Ballard novel to the big screen for decades, going as far back to just a few years after the initial publication in 1975. But like so many novels it was deemed to be ‘unfilmable’ and one by one each attempted project was abandoned. Until now when Ben Wheatley (known for ‘A Field in England’ and ‘Kill List’, neither of which I have seen, though I now plan to) has created a science fiction thriller filled with dark comedy and an unnerving sense of horror.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg as ultimately ‘High Rise’ is a difficult film to pin down to one specific genre. It’s a horror movie, a dark comedy, a biting social satire and a violent character study. The only thing that I can really compare it to is Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and like that masterpiece it feels disturbingly relevant to today’s society. When the novel was published just a few years before the Winter of Discontent, where rotting garbage would pile up on the streets of Britain and the infrastructure of our industry nearly collapsed, what followed in the subsequent decade were years of class conflict as Thatcher’s government crushed its opposition. Ballard’s novel seemed to foresee all of this, and captured it in a microcosm of a tower block.

‘High Rise’ makes the wise decision to stay firmly planted within the 1970s, at least on an aesthetic level. The aesthetics are somewhat beautiful, from the lavish and aristocratic world that the upper class are shown to inhabit from the overall slickness of the building’s concept, cinematographer Laurie Rose does an excellent job at portraying both. For its themes however it remains utterly compelling and pertinent. Wheatley captures a sense of ironic tragedy as the people of the tower block hope to get a glimpse of the sleek and friendly future only to devolve into a more primal being, where their society is ruled by factions of violent tribes. It establishes the perimeters of this modernised world almost as well as it subsequently tears them down. It launches itself into apocalyptic carnage in an almost gleeful fashion.

I may have compared it to ‘A Clockwork Orange’ but I also found myself comparing the film to another Kubrick classic ‘The Shining’ as the architecture of the building is given an eerie calmness, as if the structure itself is what triggers the onset of chaos and destruction. Once Laing arrives the buildings infrastructure begins to crumble, the lifts malfunction and the lights flicker, almost as if the building itself imposes this pandemonium upon its inhabitants.

Those inhabitants include the likes of Tom Hiddlestone, who is superb as Laing. While it’s easy to think of him as an innocent bystander there’s a sinister edge to his performance that makes you think otherwise and continue to guess throughout the film as you can’t quite read him. Even more of an enigma is Jeremy Irons as the architect, a man who has both structurally and emotionally, inadvertently designed his own downfall. Sienna Miller and Luke Evans are also valuable players within the society, and both remain wonderfully elusive.

Make no mistake though, when this film needs to it goes (for lack of a better term) completely batshit crazy. The movie has such a sense of energy and unpredictability to it that even amid the disturbing and violent imagery you can’t tear yourself away from it. The way Wheatley composes each image only makes it more engrossing. It’s like a bad LSD trip, but in the best possible way. Or to put it another way, Alex DeLarge would feel right at home in this tower block.

Thrilling, repulsive and almost frighteningly insightful.

Result: 9/10

Friday, 25 March 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


"The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world."

It is hard to think of a film that is more hotly anticipated than ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’. Apart from ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ that was released just a few months ago, or ‘Captain America: Civil War’ that will be released just a few months from now. What I am trying to say is that we are not just dealing with regular blockbusters anymore, these super-hyped, franchise juggernauts are in no short supply so it’s up to the likes of Zack Snyder to make one that can stand above the rest and go head to head with J.J Abrams and the Russo Brothers.

Following the devastatingly destructive battle of Metropolis, Superman (Henry Cavill) finds himself under scrutiny from both the public and the government, as well as billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Wayne is secretly the vigilante known as Batman who views Superman as an alien threat that must be dealt with. When young entrepreneur Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) becomes involved the two heroes are set on a collision course.

The main problem with ‘Batman v Superman’ is that it is actually six movies attempting to be one. It is indeed a film about the conflict between Superman and Batman, but it’s also trying to be a sequel to ‘Man of Steel’ that deals with the repercussions of that instalment as well as being a solo Batman movie while also trying to act as a Justice League origin story and a Lex Luthor origin story at the same time, as well as supplying you with an introduction to Wonder Woman. You would think that so many subplots would be far too many for one film to contain and the whole project would collapse into an incomprehensible mess. Well you would be right.

While there are many impressive and interesting set pieces within this film, there is no substance or depth to any of them. What Zack Snyder has done, as he has always done, is create a movie to define the term ‘style over substance’. There is nothing to tie these various elements together, overall its storytelling is not only incoherent it’s simply poorly executed. The film starts with Wayne witnessing the collateral damage from the end of ‘Man of Steel’ and that sequence is thrilling, fascinating and spectacular.

The two hours that follow however, are not. The plot jumps about almost irrationally as it attempts to establish every scenario and even if it does latch on to something that is worth devoting a film to it moves away before it can be explored, preferring to set up more further films than craft a solid one in the first place. Then just to add to the confusion it throws in various dream sequences and visions and future spectres which when you’re also trying to juggle a hundred other different elements does not make for a cohesive story. It ends up becoming far more complicated than it needs to be, don’t think of me as someone that isn’t adverse to some complex storytelling, but knitting together the fragments of a dozen other stories is not how you create a compelling movie.


To make this specific film compelling all one would have to do is establish a real reason for Batman and Superman to square off, but they really do that. Without delving into spoilers I can say that while they establish a difference of ideologies it’s never thoroughly explored and ultimately abandoned as the actual motive for their fight is far from satisfying. But the same can be said for the final act, remember that mass destruction from the end of ‘Man of Steel’? Well there’s even more of that here, its massive spectacle that we don’t care about because you haven’t earned any established character or story. While it’s visually impressive there is no motivation or emotion behind it.

DC could not have made it look more like they trying to play catch up with Marvel if they had tried to. They are so intent upon setting up their own world that ultimately the hints and Easter eggs towards future characters are just so blatantly obvious that they took me out of the film. They are so utterly lazy in how they shoehorn in each reference and hint that I found it beyond frustrating. Their attempts to create an immersive universe are ultimately what made this universe much less immersive. Certain plot details are also horrifically annoying, again I won’t spoil anything but once you’ve seen the movie hopefully you will understand what I mean when I say that DC really blew their load on this.

I never thought I would say this, but the best thing about this film is Ben Affleck’s Batman. Okay now I have to spoil one thing, this version of Batman kills people and I’m conflicted about it. Although it makes sense for the character’s attitude and where he is in his career as Batman, I would have been far more accepting of it if it had they explored it more, addressed why exactly he feels this is necessary, why has he given away that last shred of morality that was for so many years the defining characteristic of Batman? We don’t know and that simply isn’t good enough Mr Snyder. But for what it’s worth Affleck is still mightily impressive as Batman, one of the best big screen versions so far.

Henry Cavill on the other hand has virtually nothing to do. There are some hints of Superman’s inner turmoil but yet again they are never thoroughly explored. The same can be said for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, she’s good in the role but she never has enough time to really cement her position in the franchise. It seems as if the film was looking for excuses to include the likes of Amy Adams and Jeremy Irons, who pop up every now and then to remind us they are actually in the movie. But none of this compares to Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. Oh dear. Well if you looked at those trailers and went “wow, he looks great” then good news, if not then you’re screwed. He may be the single most annoying screen villain in recent memory. He’s not threatening or menacing he’s just irritating. On top of that his character is just so poorly written and the motivation behind his actions is so thin that he’s basically the villain because the movie needed a villain, and that was the best they could do.

I also have to condemn the marketing of this film, particularly that second trailer, because it really did give away everything. Every story beat, character relation and overall framework of the movie is ruined right there. Even the piece of garbage that the filmmakers say is supposed to be Doomsday, I hope you liked how he looked in that trailer because that is in fact the final design.

Also (yeah I’m not finished yet) let’s talk about Snyder. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m one of few people that has never liked his style of directing or his method of filmmaking. ‘Batman v Superman’ is no exception. For starters the editing is just so sloppy and all over the place that it only serves to make the film even more incomprehensible. As well as that he has created a film that has absolutely no depth whatsoever, it’s all spectacle with no deeper meaning to it.

‘Batman v Superman’ is more focussed on where it’s going rather than on what it’s doing. Yet again Snyder defines the ideology of style over substance.
Result: 5/10

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Batman: The Franchise So Far....


With ‘Batman v Superman’ just around the corner (we should be getting the first full and detailed reviews by tomorrow morning) I’m going through every entry in both the Batman and Superman franchises. For my rundown of all of the Superman movies, go here http://criticalfilmsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/superman-franchise-so-far.html (or just scroll down slightly if you’re on the main page). The man of steel has kind of a mixed bag when it comes to movies. But now onto the defender of Gotham himself, the world’s greatest detective, the dark knight. He’s Batman. Because of time restraints I only had time for all of the live action ones so please don’t get angry if you can’t find ‘Mask of the Phantasm’ here. Very quick review; it’s amazing and you should see it if you haven’t already.

We start with the 1966 version ‘Batman: The Movie’. Dramatic, gritty, thrilling, these are just some of the many words that cannot be used to describe the Adam West version of Batman. It was developed to promote the TV Series that was running at the same time and was mostly intended as a parody, recently it’s been theorised that the creators actually hated the whole concept of comic books and set out to neuter its most iconic character as revenge, which does seem worryingly malicious especially when you consider how much fun this incarnation was. Yes it’s campy, corny and ridiculous but in the best possible way. The opening scene involves Batman being attacked by a rubber shark and defeating it by using his famous shark repellent spray that’s passed down by Robin (so you have to ask who was flying the helicopter and when it’s later revealed that they have a boat you also have to wonder why they were even using a helicopter out at sea at all). Credit where it’s due they did set the tone early on.

It’s almost mind numbingly ludicrous. Bat far be it from me to even attempt to take that away from the film, after all the Batman comics of the time were also unusually campy and upbeat, a departure from the darker tone they started out with and would later readopt. Watching it as a comedy is the way to view it as in many ways this is a straight up parody. Everything in the Bat-Something, Batman is easily the smartest person in the world and every time someone gets punched, kicked or thrown the screen is filled with a giant word like ‘Pow’, ‘Kaboom’ or ‘Thrwomp’. You can hate this film for ruining the character in the public eye for a certain era but it’s just as easy to love it for how idiotic it is. It isn’t as painfully bad as the Schumacher movies and is actually enjoyable enough to re-watch.

I always felt that when it came to the Tim Burton 1989 ‘Batman’, he did two things. Firstly he created a very dark natured movie, one that was a massive departure from the previous incarnation almost as much as the Nolan era was from the Schumacher one. Secondly Burton created what may be one of the most Burton-esque movies he ever made. Looking at this film as a Tim Burton movie rather than a Batman movie has always made more sense to me, it’s dark, gothic, quirky at times, full of tortured and deranged characters, but ultimately hopeful.

I know there are a lot of devoted fans to this film, but for me it’s far from the perfect movie even though there is a lot to admire. Let me briefly state what I am not as keen on, for starters the pacing feels slightly odd, taking a while to commence with the central plot, it also lacks dramatic depth for most of its characters (the main exception being Bruce Wayne himself), Vicky Vale seems like an unnecessary character especially compared to the amount of screen time she has as she has no chemistry with Wayne and adds nothing to the story and Kim Basinger isn’t exactly great in the role and the movie feels somewhat dated for me with the amount of special effects and nonstop Prince music. Also, people complain about Heath Ledger outshining Christian Bale? That is nothing compared to how much screen time is devoted to Jack Nicholson’s Joker as opposed to Batman himself, it’s insane.

But as for things I did like, well it is style over substance but given that it’s Tim Burton doing the style, who cares? At the same time Keaton is great as Batman with a sense of intimidation and thoughtfulness although I only really buy one aspect of his Bruce Wayne performance, while he manages to reclusive and unhinged side of the character he doesn’t quite have the charisma to convince anyone in that world that he isn’t Batman (I feel as if anyone with a good amount of intuition could have worked it out). Nicholson is also amazing as the Joker, although I take issue with taking the ambiguity out of his origin he still conveys a sardonic and dark comedic tone, though essentially that is just Jack Nicholson rather than a genuine transformation. I must admit though, that soundtrack is absolutely amazing and though it seems like I’m only pointing out flaws, it’s because virtually everything else in the film is brilliant.

But if Burton put his own stamp on ‘Batman’ then he went even further for the sequel ‘Batman Returns’. I feel essentially the same way about this film as the 1989 one, it’s good but flawed. As with the first film Batman himself is essentially a supporting character and overshadowed by the likes of Danny De Vito’s The Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Both are cast perfectly within this world and give amazing performances, but especially Pfeiffer, to this day that remains the quintessential on screen Catwoman she’s magnetic, energetic and hypnotic in that role, why they decided to gove Halle Berry a solo Catwoman film instead of Pfeiffer is beyond me, I don’t care if it was fifteen years later she still would have been perfect. Keaton is still excellent as Batman, but it’s just a shame that he has so little screen time, especially given that he is playing the title character. Most of the hints of his damaged psychosis come from Keaton’s performance but as far as the writing of the character goes he seems rather one dimensional.  

In terms of style, yet again the movie is wonderful to look at, retaining that dark and gothic look from the first film. Tonally however, it seems all over the place. While it’s subject matter and style are immensely bleak and cynical the movie is populated with so many outlandish characters that they seem to have been picked up from another film and dropped into this one. Once again none of them are really developed beyond their initial origin story. The film just feels unsure over what it wants to be and as much as I love Christopher Walken, Max Shreck isn’t really that interesting a character. What turns me off most of all is that this feels like it would have been a much better Burton movie than a Batman one, I would have watched an original superhero by Burton and these kind of stylistics.

That being said, it was infinitely (no that’s still too small an amount) better than ‘Batman Forever’. The studio had had enough with Burton and terminated his role as director (just thinking about it maybe a third act would have improved the other two, by completing the story that seemed to end on such a sour note). I often find that when put against ‘Batman and Robin’, the true terribleness of ‘Batman Forever is often forgotten. The film manages to be so excessively active and yet so amazingly boring that it almost baffles me. There are just as many ridiculous aspects as ‘Batman and Robin’ such as Batman’s photo on the cover of TIME Magazine, I mean for that to happen they would have had to contact him, arrange a time of meeting and then organise an actual photoshoot with him, and the secretive caped crusader agreed to all of this for some reason. Or what about Two-Face drinking two drinks at the same time, because he has two faces so that apparently means he has to do everything twice and is split even in his preference of alcoholic beverage.

Let’s talk about Tommy Lee Jones’ as Two-Face, though I’m glad that he seems to be having the most fun he’s ever had on a film set, the idea that an actor of his talent playing a character that is supposed to be so conflicted, is reduced to a cheap caricature angers me immensely, as does Jim Carrey’s The Riddler which may have seemed perfect on paper but ultimately just becomes Ace Ventura with less dark undertones. Chris O’Donnel and Val Kilmer are just so strangely miscast as well. Joel Schumacher’s direction is just so outright bizarre, with his various tilted shots and neon stylistics that make the movie feel like a bad drug trip. I assume.

But on to the main event, ‘Batman and Robin’. What do you want me to say about this film? We all know it’s terrible beyond belief, I don’t even find it hilariously bad, it is one of a few terrible movies that I can’t even enjoy as a bad film. It is genuinely horrific in every sense of the word and more depressing than ‘Batman Returns’. How could a one make George Clooney this bad? ‘Batman and Robin’ found a way to do so. The film is just so shamelessly commercialised, almost as much as it is needlessly fetishized. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze may be the most random, nonsensical and terrible piece of casting in film history. Alicia Silverstone is playing someone but it isn’t Barbara Gordon or Batgirl. Robin becomes the most annoying character in comic book movie history. The dialogue is on another level of badness, from the god awful one liners to the unexplainable moments of exposition and moments that make no goddamn sense like “This is why Superman works alone”, “Batgirl, that’s not very PC, what about Bat-Person”, says the person who is called Batman. I haven’t even mentioned the bat credit cards or bat nipples. You know it’s bad when literally everyone involved has apologised for the film, it ran the Batman franchise into the ground and buried it with a bulldozer.

The only silver lining is that had ‘Batman’ and Robin’ been anything less than the colossal failure it was, Christopher Nolan might never have had the chance to reinvent the franchise with ‘Batman Begins’. This film holds a special place in my heart, I remember going to see it for the first time and not only enjoyed the film itself, but be impressed by the whole process of making such a movie, what the actors went through to pull off these characters, how the writing evolved and how the action was staged. Watching it today I admire how so much of it is driven by character and emotion, they really put an emphasis on how Bruce Wayne chooses his own fate and though we’ve seen Batman’s origin before it has never been given this much depth or explored in such a way that would make his association with bats and resort to donning a mask to fight crime seem logical.

The result is that characters resonate more deeply with the audience. I never really truly felt that Gotham city was worth saving until now, not because it was portrayed any more favourably but because I connected more with Batman as a character and because he cared about the city I felt compelled to do so as well. Even the supporting characters become compelling, none more so than Michael Caine as Alfred, who wants to preserve the Wayne legacy and the wellbeing of his friend (because they are most definitely friends in this movie, that much is obvious) but at the same time, realises that this is the life Wayne has chosen and must support him in that. Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon is also excellent as is Liam Neeson. Nolan filmed his action in such a grounded and realistic nature right down to the inclusion of human error. No one is indestructible and therefore I’m more invested within the action as anything could happen. He well and truly reinvigorated the franchise.

But no one could have expected what would happen next as Nolan not only went on to craft a superior sequel but what is, for me at least, indisputably the greatest comic book movie ever made. It almost transcends the whole genre to become an epic tragedy, a thrilling crime drama a haunting portrait of good and evil. The writing, the direction, the performances, they all redefine what a film of this genre can be and serve as a reminder to anyone currently working in the genre. I can understand people thinking the film is overrated (it seems like nearly everyone proclaims it as one of the greatest movies ever) or disliking certain aspects of it, but if you outright hate this film then at the risk of causing controversy you have no concept of what good filmmaking is.

Some people feel that in ‘The Dark Knight’ Batman is overshadowed by The Joker but I’ve always disagreed. The film keeps Bruce Wayne at its centre and concentrates on the choices he must make to overcome the challenges before him, the character is allowed to reflect a range of genuine human emotions and becomes a man of depth and complexity. Harvey Dent is also portrayed as the tragic hero of this saga and in many ways is written as c ounterpart to Bruce Wayne. They each want to be the other, Dent has a desire to act beyond the law and under a shrouded mask from which he cannot be scrutinised by the public (which is perhaps a secret, personal motive to claiming to be Batman later on the movie, not just to protect the crusader’s identity but also because he wants to be). At the same time Wayne finds himself in a position where he no longer wants to go unrecognised and unrewarded, almost wanting to cast off is mask and let the world know his true identity. It is what makes his end sacrifice all the more poignant, he sacrifices the only sense of recognition he has left by making Batman the enemy in the public’s eye. That ending is so brilliantly composed because it’s so tragically hopeful. Though it’s not the victory we wanted, it is a victory. One that is undeniably necessary and immeasurably meaningful.

When you look at each character, their relationship with Batman and how they develop they all just come across as perfect representations. Jim Gordon, Rachel Dawes, Lucius Fox and of course Alfred, they are all vital to the story and its development but are never reduced to one dimensional exposition vehicles. They all serve a purpose and undergo some form of development. Let’s talk about Heath Ledger though, it’s one of the few performances in which I have seen an actor truly transform into another human being, truly one of the greatest performances in cinema history. It’s such a perfect character as The Joker understands his own role within Batman’s world, he knows he is the folly to him and he understands the morals and limitations of his counterpart and exploits them through these morally bleak conundrums. And he doesn’t care. That may be what is most terrifying about the character, he fully understands his role and fate and he revels in the idea.

Add to that Nolan’s masterful direction, the fact that each action scene has such a visceral feel to it with genuine weight behind it as well as the pitch perfect tone and excellent style. That interrogation scene is one of the best scenes ever filmed just through performance and writing. As well as how the film feels so tightly contracted yet epic in scope and Hans Zimmers score (though I can understand why some dislike it) for me is absolutely brilliant. In case you can’t tell, I like this movie, a lot. Again it was one of those early movies that I saw at the right time and ignited my interest in film as an art form. For me it really is that good, and it always will be.

So that brings me on to ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. When I first saw this film I thought it was amazing and now, years later….it’s gone down in my estimation a bit. I feel as if it’s good, but not great in the same way that ‘Batman Begins’ and especially ‘The Dark Knight’ were. For a start it seems to be tonally confused, whereas ‘Batman Begins’ had the look of a classic noir and ‘The Dark Knight’ resembled an epic crime drama, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ just feels broader and less focussed (I think Nolan would have benefitted by taking more inspiration from gangland dramas like ‘City of God’ or even ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ as societies plunge into chaos with the violence within them). That tone also reflects some problems with the film, through it starts and finishes strongly it gets lost within the middle. I understand that Nolan felt as if he had to ramp things up further but by trying to include so much the film felt scattered and not nearly as watertight as the other instalments.

While Tom Hardy’s Bane is fine, I’m always comparing it to his performance in ‘Bronson’ or ‘Legend’ where he can be intelligent and eccentric but also frightening and psychotic at the same time. In comparison to those roles Bane feels somewhat tame and underdeveloped, we saw the calm and controlled side of him but we never see him loose control or get genuinely angry. His eloquence isn’t contrasted by a form of sheer brutality (how’s that for criticism?). His whole demotion to henchman at the end is just outright idiotic. I praised the earlier films for allowing every character to develop beyond just a vehicle for exposition but here a lot of them become just that. There are also far too many scenes that just fall through, upon re-watching the film I was surprised by how many moments I had completely forgotten. I also feel as if there should have been a major death, someone like Gordon or Fox (but not Alfred, no one’s killing Alfred) to inject a major sense of tension. By killing Rachel halfway through ‘The Dark Knight’ there was an unpredictable and thrilling nature to it, but as it becomes increasingly apparent that no one is going to die in this film the tension is somewhat defused. It would have been even better for Bane to have killed them to provoke an emotive response and cement his position as a genuine threat.

But again there is a lot to enjoy. The likes of Bale, Oldman and Freeman are still just as good in their roles. Anne Hathaway is surprisingly brilliant as Catwoman (I just wish she had more screen time, I would have replaced J.G Levitt’s character with her instead and if anything it would have shaved off some unnecessary scenes). I admire how Nolan introduces Batman a good forty minutes in and still makes the film mostly enthralling to that point and those final fifteen minutes are amazing spectacle. The stakes are set out, each actor can shine, tension is ramped up, it’s brilliantly directed and the overall payoff for both this film and the whole trilogy are excellent. There are also plenty of emotional moments that come mainly from Alfred, if there’s one star of this movie it is definitely Michael Caine who has some of the best human scenes of the entire trilogy, let alone this film. While there are plenty of missteps and flaws ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ serves as a fitting end to Nolan’s trilogy and an enjoyable film, just not a great one.

But what are your thoughts on the Batman movies? Comment below to let me know.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Superman: The Franchise So Far...


So ‘Batman v Superman’ is fast approaching, and whatever my personal worries might be concerning the fact that I feel like I already know most of the plot, the issue I take with how they seemed to have jumped over a couple of movies to get to this stage or the fact that I haven’t really liked any of the director’s previous films I have to admit it is kind of awesome to finally see both iconic characters on the big screen together. So with that in mind I thought I would look through their previous individual outings. First up is the son of Krypton himself.

‘Superman: The Moive’ came at a unique time for American cinema. It was nearing the end of the New Hollywood era and was about to enter the phase of blockbusters that had been founded by ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Jaws’, but was now ready to take flight, and what better way to do that than with a movie whose tagline was ‘You’ll believe a man can fly’. It is very important to understand that prior to this film the biggest way in which a superhero had sprung into the film industry was the 1966 Batman TV Series which was ridiculous even then, so the concept of taking a superhero seriously and dramatically was in itself a new idea or the big screen.

It has dated in some ways. I admit I don’t really have a nostalgic connection with these movies, I was part of the Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man generation when it came to superhero movies. Some of the effects have dated a little, there are a few too many melodramatic performances, it’s rather difficult to fear for the safety of a protagonist who can literally turn back time if he needs to and speaking of which, that ending…..yeah.

What I quickly realised is that this movie lives and dies with Christopher Reeve’s performance. That man is Superman and he always will be. No matter how good Cavil is, Reeve will always be ingrained into our subconscious as the man of steel. Even if those flying effects are a little dated it is the conviction and expression of Reeve as he takes off that still sells it. The filmmakers searched the globe to cast their Superman (shortlisted names included Robert Redford, Warren Beatty and even Muhammad Ali) but they settled on a 26 year old stage actor and history was made. Reeve embodies the character with such ease and brilliance, from the sincere confidence of Superman and the bumbling awkwardness of Clark Kent, right down to that final friendly smile he just completely and utterly nails it.

There is also no denying that ’Superman: The Movie’ did bring a great sense of grandeur to the superhero concept. Richard Donner’s direction balances perfectly between realism and fantasy, it doesn’t feel realistic for a second but it feels real. Marlon Brando does a lot to bring a sense of gravitas to the movie (which he should as the Oscar winner was paid $3.7 million for his 12 day shoot as well as a percentage of the profits). There is a subtle brilliance to its simplicity such as its classic three act structure, Krypton, Smallville, Metropolis. There are too many iconic scenes to list and then there’s John Williams legendary score. Go on, hum it now, I know you want to.

But moving on to ‘Superman 2’ and fans seem pretty divided over which is superior. There is also an interesting history behind it, with Donner being kicked out of the project as the studio disagreed with how he was handling things, and brought on a different Richard, but this one had the last name of Lester (best known for directing ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, as well as ‘Superman 2’ obviously). Donner had apparently completed 75% of the movie, but was cut out of the editing and assembly process as well. There is a Donner cut of course but for me it feels somewhat mismatched, which is to be expected as Donner didn’t complete everything he wanted to and though I have no doubt a completed Donner version would be superior, as it stands this version, while admirable and subtly different in tone isn’t quite as complete.

Lester’s version however is also somewhat mismatched. It bounces around in tone with certain moments and plot points that simply do not make sense. It never really balances as perfectly between the camp and dramatic as Donner’s did. Once again it feels somewhat dated, but I’d say even more so than the first. I also take issue with how by the end of the moive, everything is exactly the same as it was at the beginning, Superman is protecting the earth and Lois has no idea who Clark Kent really is. There is still a lot to enjoy though, including some terrific performances from Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman, and who can forget Terrance Stamp’s legendary General Zod. ‘Superman 2’ (along with the likes of ‘Godfather Part 2’ and ‘Empire Strikes Back’) was also integral to the notion that sequels should strive to be just as good as the original, not half-heartedly made in an effort to simply make a little more money, put some real effort into it.

This is where it stops being fun. For some bizarre reason they decided that instead of maintaining the grandeur of the previous two movies or taking the franchise to darker places, they would go for comedy. ‘Superman 3’ starts with one of the most misplaced and poorly executed attempts at slapstick comedy in the history of cinema to such an extent that you just have to wonder what they were thinking. And you end up replaying that sentiment in your head over and over again for the entire movie. Why they decided to include Richard Prior was even more baffling, nearly as much as the ‘evil Superman’ who is duplicated from the real Superman by Kryptonite, somehow. To be honest though he’s more of a nuisance than anything that remotely resembles evil, I feel as if he would be that annoying kid in high school that everyone just avoids, like they’re just too busy with other things to even care about his actions that, though annoying, are only a mild inconvenience every now and then. What is remarkable is that there is one legitimately amazing scene in this film, in which Superman’s alternate personalities engage in a fight in a junk yard, it’s well directed, pleasingly acted and surprisingly dramatic (as far as these movies go at least). It’s just a shame that the rest of the film exists as well.

But things can only get better right? Wrong, as we now reach ‘Superman 4: The Quest for Peace’ which as well as being possibly the worst title in cinematic history is also one of the worst movies in cinematic history. The film begins when Superman gathers up all of the world’s nuclear weapons, puts them in a giant net and throws them into the sun, without any protest from the U.N. That kind of sets the tone really. Later on he moves the moon to block out the sun….you know, people complain a lot about Cavil’s Superman being too destructive but clearly that is nothing compared to the massive tidal waves, power shortages, gravitational disturbances and general hysteria that would arise from such an action. You also have the laughably terrible fight scenes, logic that….there isn’t any, awful acting, and Gene Hackman’s inability to pronounce the word nuclear (which is an inconvenience if one of your main characters is called Nuclear Man) The special effects are also horrific with terrible blue screen and the same flying shot used at least 16 times throughout the film (or at least that’s how many I counted) and it even ends on reusing the final shot of the first movie. The failure of this and ‘Masters of the Universe’ spelled the end for Canon Films, which is actually the least surprising occurrence in cinema history as this film is utter garbage.

So with that, onto ‘The Death of Superman Lives’. See, I’d say this technically counts as a live action version of Superman so I’ll review it. For those of you who don’t know this documentary by John Schnepp is about the failed Tim Burton film ‘Superman Lives’ which was cast with Nick Cage in the lead role, written by Kevin Smith and Dan Gilroy, designed, storyboarded and was just weeks away from shooting when the studio pulled the plug. Years later when the concept leaked online the project became somewhat of a joke, as people ridiculed the idea. Above all else this documentary captures just how passionate and enthusiastic everyone was going into the project, they were eager to create something genuinely unique and innovative. It also has a lot to say about the filmmaking process and how judgemental today’s internet culture can be. Just as a side note, Cage may be a joke today but remember Burton’s movie was taking place in 1996, where the actor was fresh from his Oscar win for ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, we would have had an Oscar winning Superman under the direction of someone who had already helmed two Batman movies. I also have to give praise to the way in which Schnepp edited the film, with several separate interviews being cut together seamlessly, giving it the feel of an actual conversation between each participant. The key question is of course, are we sad that the plug was pulled? Well the film ultimately leaves that up to you. Personally I feel as if, for better or worse, ‘Superman Lives’ would have been one of the most unique, outlandish and interesting superhero movies ever. It would also have been a damn side better than the superman movie that did come to fruition.

‘Superman Retruns’ tried so hard to recapture what audiences loved about the first two that it was simply too afraid to do anything new. It didn’t break new ground, establish new characters or bring forth any new ideas or concepts. There was literally nothing to it. Even its lead actor Brandon Routh is not really playing Superman, he’s playing Christopher Reeve playing Superman. When you look at what ‘Batman Begins’ (which was released the same year) did to reboot its series, ‘Superman Returns’ just looks outright melancholic. There are a few brushes with greatness but far too many regions of dullness. It’s also very oddly structured, with a tiresome 154 minute running time with a third act that doesn’t come close to satisfying or justifying that (it’s just Superman lifting a rock). It’s even more annoying that as well as being favoured over the Burton version, potential Superman projects from George Miller and J.J Abrams were rejected in favour of this.

It should be considered hardly surprising that they took such a step away from the norm when it came to ‘Man of Steel’. The film that continues to break the internet, some love it, some hate it. Personally I think there is a lot to like, but there is also a lot to hate. Overall it did leave me underwhelmed and while there are some great concepts within it they are not executed in the best manner. For starters I enjoyed the new presentation of the Superman mythology and the concepts behind that, I like placing the emphasis on Superman acting as the bridge between two species as well as the notion that there may be an inner conflict between his human and Kryptonian side and I thought the performances were all good.

However, I have problems with it. Presenting the story non-linearly seems ideal, but after a while it throws the pacing off, when we should be ramping tension up towards the finale we’re still getting flashbacks to Clark’s childhood. They set up various character arcs and subplots that never go anywhere, such as establishing a conflict between Superman’s Earth upbringing and his Krypton heritage but then just leaving it. Also, for the love of Zod, would someone give Zac Snyder a colour pallet, everything just looks so drab and grey. I understand that you want to make a more goruned version of Superman but it can be fun and vibrant at the same time, throw in a good one liner, put colour on his costume, anything to uplift the tone even slightly. It’s so serious and miserable half of the time that when giant spaceships and flying men appear there isn’t really a sense of wonder or excitement to it. The fight scenes are just so bombastic and nonsensical that they have no tension or weight to them, it’s just overwhelming and incomprehensible.

Speaking of which the final scene in question, I take issue not with the destruction but just the recklessness of it. Let me explain, for starters I feel that if Zod really was a tactical military genius he would exploit Superman’s weakness from the start and try to endanger to lives of innocent people (not just try to kill a few people at the end as he’s already pinned down anyway), this would create a great scenario to really showcase Superman saving people. I know he saves people throughout the film (technically he saves everyone on earth) but by directly pulling people out of the destruction and rescuing them from Zod’s wrath it would perfectly showcase his role as a saviour of the human race in a more direct way and point out the fact that this is where he begins his journey as Superman as opposed to potentially killing the thousands of people he just saved.

So those are my thoughts on the Superman movies, what did you think? Leave a comment below to let me know.   

Thursday, 17 March 2016

The Divergent Series: Allegiant


"People think walls separate us, but they also protect us."

‘The Hunger Games’ are over, so why are we still making movies about teens being put into separate districts in a dystopian world where they will become embroiled in a battle to overthrow their tyrannical government only to be told that the world they live in is a lie and then venture out into the unknown wilderness, all leading up to a final instalment that will ultimately be divided into two parts anyway? It’s a question I asked myself many times during this film.

After the revelations of ‘Insurgent’, Tris (Shailene Woodley) must escape with Four (Theo James) and go beyond the walls surrounding Chicago and into District 13 … wait hold on…. Once on the other side they must quickly decide who they can trust as ruthless battles ignite and Tris will be forced to make an impossible decision.

Remember when trilogies used to be in three parts? It didn’t go ‘Return of the Jedi: Part 1’ or ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly: Part 1’ or ‘The Godfather Part 3: Part 1’ My point is that many years ago people did not split their last instalments into two parts, this has rapidly become my least favourite trend of modern cinema. Mainly because books are divided into those sections for a reason, so that even if it is merely one part of a larger story, it still features a beginning, middle and end.

I know I’m going on about this, but trilogies are supposed to be three chapters. Dear Hollywood, stop doing trilogies of four. This was a joke in ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ in that the series was sold as a ‘trilogy of five’. But now the joke has become a reality and it seems impossible to get an adaptation of a single book that remains a single film. When films divide their source material into more sections than necessary the pacing is thrown off as is the character development and general tone. Look what happened to ‘Mockingjay’, a disappointingly weak finale that can’t even be enjoyed as one four hour movie because every scene is stretched to justify the added runtime and the result is a film so convoluted and meaningless that it just annoys you.

Now imagine ‘Mockingjay’ but instead of containing anything remotely eventful or original, just replace it with plots from every other YA story on sale and then you have ‘Allegiant’. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the ‘Divergent Series’, ‘The Maze Runner’ and ‘The 5th Wave’. They all just seem to bleed into one entity of a teenager, overthrowing some higher form of government, a love triangle, some wilderness survival and then the obligatory cliff hanger ending to set up the sequel. They are all just tiresome, predictable and (for me at least) horrifically annoying.

Franchise building is something we have seen for many years, but at the very least put some effort into it. Do something creative, make an interesting story and develop some unique characters. Don’t just pander to your audience, establish the same clich├ęs as every other film of the genre, base your characters on the blandest possible template to make it easier for audiences to project themselves onto them (seriously, describe Tris without using the word ‘determined’, you can’t can you) or just assemble a needlessly convoluted plot from which you can set up multiple sequels that by this point no one is asking for anyway.

I admit this has turned more into a rant on the genre than a review of this specific film but what do you want me to say? I can say that the characters are about as shallow as they come, the run time is devoted to drawing out the plot through mediocre action scenes as sub-par special effects rather than any drama or development. The plot is needlessly complicated, and repetitive (they wander to a base filled with people, ask questions and then leave, and repeat for 2 hours) most of the dialogue is centred on exposition (you would think that by the second sequel we would be adverse enough within the mythology of this world that we could simply devote the runtime to something else, but no). As well as plenty of shots of Theo James’ torso, because credit where credit’s due, they know what their audience want.

Maybe it's just me finally reaching my absolute limit with these movies, but I just don't care anymore. The film itself is not terrible but I've used up what little sympathy and patience I had with the series. Also if you want to make an awful, predictable film then fine, but don't drag Jeff Daniels into it as well. 
Tedious, melodramatic and the very definition of generic. We still have to get through another one of these.

Result: 3/10

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Knight of Cups


"All those years, living the life of someone I didn't even know"

Warning, what follows is the obligatory paragraph that is accompanied with every review of a new Terrance Malick movie, the reviewer’s opinion of his career. Over 40 years Malick has made just seven films, and my relationship with his career has been one of highs and lows. I regard three of his movies as undisputable masterpieces, I adored ‘Badlands’, was astounded by ‘Gates of Heaven’ and I loved ‘The Thin Red Line’. But I was left frustrated by ‘The New World’ and was bored by ‘To the Wonder’ as it felt more like a parody of a Malick movie. As for ‘The Tree of Life’, well I’m still trying to wrap my head around it (my appreciation of it has only grown since I first saw it though, so it might grow further yet), so with his latest outing as a director, anything could happen.

A disconnected Hollywood screenwriter (Christian Bale) feels as if his life lacks meaning, so he attempts to search for it through the hollow streets of Los Angeles, encountering eccentric playboys (Antonio Banderas), jilted lovers (Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman), young rebels (Imogen Poots) and a whole host of other characters.

I wanted to like ‘Knight of Cups’, I really did. Even the Malick movies that I adored are certainly not for everyone, but for me ‘Knight of Cups’ represents another folly into random nonsense that may resonate for some, but not for me. It crushes me to say that because I went into this film with what I like to think is a very open mind. Malick has covered many different genres such as crime, drama, war and whatever the hell ‘The Tree of Life’ was about. I’ve always admired his ability to create atmosphere, evoke emotions purely through imagery and craft some of the most breath-taking visuals ever put to celluloid.

Herein lies my problem with ‘Knight of Cups’, it did not tick any of those boxes. Now I admit it is cynical to judge a filmmaker based on your own specific criteria of what you think his films should represent with their themes and style, especially one like Malick. But I would at least expect something else, but with ‘Knight of Cups’ there does not appear to be anything. The images of it appear empty and meaningless, as well as not particularly beautiful, especially when you compare it to Malick’s other films. To this day I still regard ‘Days of Heaven’ as the most visually beautiful movie ever made.

For the first half an hour I was intrigued by ‘Knight of Cups’, I found it riveting, engaging and complex and could not wait to see how it built upon these ideas and developed the story or characters. But then it just carried on going in the same tone, for another hour and forty minutes, and I’m sorry but that is too long to be fed images of people walking along beaches, wandering stylish suburbs and hanging out around swimming pools accompanied by existential whispering narration that, again, while intriguing at first, becomes tiresome and repetitive after two hours. Then there are the characters, whom I never got to know. After two hours I didn't get any depth into their personalities, goals, accomplishments, nothing. After a while you start to loose sympathy with the handsome rich white male and his existential crisis. I mean, we've all been there right?

Apparently most of the scenes were improvised and Malick neglected to tell the actors what the movie was about while filming. It is curious that as his career has progressed he has become more experimental. His earlier films have all had a cohesive story, even if the emphasis is placed on imagery and music there was always something to underpin the surreal sequences. Even ‘The Tree of Life’ had the story of a 1950s Texas family that just happened to be told as a parallel to the birth of the universe and presented in non-linear manner, but nonetheless it was something. I am not saying that Malick should use cohesive stories or stop being experimental, but his films need something to give them a sense consistency and meaning.

If anything ‘Knight of Cups’ has just made me question what the difference is between leaving your film open to interpretation and just not bothering to say anything with your film. While I am sure that Malick himself understands what the movie is about, we do not and ultimately that is a major problem. For me there was nothing to find, nothing to explore or interpret. This is actually the first Malick movie that I cannot imagine myself re-watching, there was nothing to compel me, no images to startle me and no hidden message within.

While admirable, it felt rather empty and hollow.

Result: 5/10

Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Witch

"This wilderness will not consume us."

Horror movies are in a rather dire state right now, so I hope I could be forgiven for being slightly pessimistic going into ‘The Witch’. Even with the fact that it was co-written by Damien Chazelle (writer and director of ‘Whiplash’) or the fact that it won the Directing Award in the dramatic category at Sundance 2016, or the fact that it’s the debut of Robert Eggers who has sited Stanley Kubrick, Arthur Miller and Ingmar Bergman as influences on the film. Okay I admit I intrigued at that point.
A family of settlers in 17th Century New England are excommunicated from their puritan community and left to fend for themselves in an isolated region of the countryside. But when their youngest son goes missing, they begin to fear a supernatural presence within the woods beside their farm, a presence that may either be real or imagined.
It is difficult to pin down what ‘The Witch’ actually is. At times it resembles a period drama just as much as it does a horror film. In a twisted sense it’s almost a coming of age tale as the central character Thomasin (Anya Taylor Joy) faces the challenges of growing up in an isolated and harsh environment as her family is excommunicated and they struggle to survive on their own. We observe the life of a young woman growing up in a male dominated society, an adolescent on the verge of adulthood who is practically shunned by her already shunned family simply for being confused over what she is and who she will be.
As I said, it’s tough to restrain ‘The Witch’ to one particular genre. All I know for certain, is that it is a masterclass in atmospheric filmmaking. There is an unnatural eeriness to each scene with a gradual rise in tension that releases itself slowly and excruciatingly. Eggers takes full advantage of his environment to carve out this feeling of isolation and claustrophobia and then there’s the fact that the cinematography is able to reflect the depression felt by the central characters. It’s also so brilliantly intertwined with the various subplots, for a majority of the film the supernatural elements exist merely in the background. The viewer is placed in the position of the family, something is troubling us, and we know something is out there, but for now we occupy ourselves with more immediate problems and dramas.
These more immediate problems include failing crops, risk of starvation, shortage of money, their missing son, the isolation from their community, the perceived spiritual ramifications of their sin of ‘prideful conceit’ for which they are banished. If anything these tasks are just ways to occupy their minds from what is really troubling them, the force that lurks in the forest. But the whole aspect is handled with such perfect ambiguity, it becomes more about what the family believe the presence us rather than what it actually is. The hordes of religious terrors that they convince themselves are punishing them, their obsession with sin and the self-loathing they seem to inflict upon themselves all play into how this spectral presence is viewed.
It soon becomes a story not of ghosts and ghouls, but of a family as it systematically tears itself apart. This film is about projected fears, paranoia and suspicion as well as the impact that has on a group of people living together. The cast are all excellent at expressing these fears, they each act out their own beliefs and actions with the utmost conviction that immersed me within the era, as did the whole aesthetic of the movie. Concerning the production of the film, Eggers has said that the “devil is within the detail” and that is reflected by his attitude to authenticity.
Once again it comes down to that age old saying of you only get out of great films what you put into them. If you go into ‘The Witch’ expecting a by the numbers horror film, filled with awful jump scares or meaningless gore then you may be disappointed (which explains why it only has a rating of a C- on Cinemascore, even though any other terrible horror movie probably scores an A- or something). But if you want a film that skilfully and expertly unnerves you through atmosphere and character then you will struggle to find any recent film better than ‘The Witch’. It also features the most terrifying goat in cinema history.
‘The Witch’ is one of the best horror movies in recent years, marking Robert Eggers as a director to watch out for.
Result: 9/10