*NEW* TOMB RAIDER REVIEW *NEW*

Vikander was brilliant BUT was everything else?

Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.

In a nutshell, flawed but fun. Something these video game movie adaptations (of late) have failed to achieve (Sorry Fassbender, the less we say about Assassin’s Creed, the better).

The opening set to it with some supernatural guff about a tomb entrapping a Chinese sorceresss and Lara’s father (Dominic West) being the only one who knows how to open it.

Thankfully it didn’t delve too much into that hokey stuff too early. Instead we watched a ripped Vikander (Seriously those abs put my beer belly to shame) taking a pummelling in a mixed martial arts punch up.

But that scene established her character. Resilient, feisty and stubborn to boot.

I knew Vikander wouldn’t disappoint. She had tough shoes to fill after Jolie. She was the perfect incarnation. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Jolie efforts BUT they lacked something.

The first act was spent on Lara refusing to accept her father’s death. Despite all the search parties declaring him dead after a seven year absence. Scraping by as a bike courier despite being the sole heir to a rich inheritance (And an incredible mansion!).

It was nice to see Kristin Scott Thomas and Derek Jacobi pop up in this BUT their characters were wasted . . . In this entry. If there are to be sequels than there is potential for (at least) Thomas’ role to grow.

Initially Dominic West was reduced to cheesy flashbacks BUT they still fared a lot better than Voight/Joile’s disjointed “dream” encounters.

You could argue that the “fox hunt” was unnecessary and cheesy BUT it was fast paced and entertaining as the couriers chased Lara around London for a cash prize. Showing how mischievous  and resourceful the heroine can be.

I liked that Lara was younger. It added a vulnerability to her. Unlike Jolie’s bad ass. Still learning the ropes and introducing her to the chaos as much as the audience. Different.

The film zipped along and I wasn’t bored. As soon as that old Japanese puzzle box was handed to Lara at the will signing, the game was afoot. The hidden rooms in Croft Manor, the cryptic messages.

Cheesy but the right amount. The more video messages and audio recordings Richard left droning on about Himiko, the more far-fetched the supernatural stuff got.

Thankfully there was enough high-octane action to keep my grumbling at bay. The set-pieces were tense and exhilarating. Even if the CGI left a little to be desired in places. Especially when Lara’s boat rode through the Ordeals of Himiko.

In one shot, the jaw dropping visuals impressed as the giant waves bombarded the old barge. The next . . . Ridiculously cartoony. It didn’t spoil the intensity of the scene but it was just a little messy.

BUT that still didn’t stop me wincing as Lara free-run across a rusty war plane balanced over the edge of a waterfall. Like I said, cheesy. BUT riveting.

I thought Daniel Wu played the drunken showboat captain Lu Ren well. And I was happy to see Walton Goggins as (the Weirdo with a beardo) Matthias Vogel and his band of meaningless mercenaries.

It was just a shame that Goggins was a little weak after such a creepy introduction. Nonchalantly declaring that he killed her father. A man obsessed with achieving his mission no matter the cost.

BUT he was pushed into the background far too much.

Junkie XL’s score was fantastic. The Mad Max maestro perfectly composed each scene with the frenetic action.

I liked how Lara wasn’t a believer of the supernatural. Refusing to believe in the mythology of Himiko.

There was depth in her character. Her remorse at having to dispose of a mercenary in a brutal manner (for a 12A) was a surprising moment. That was until she clocked up the body count with her bow and arrow 30 minutes later.

The father/daughter dynamic worked a lot better with West and Vikander, And surprisingly the actual tomb raiding didn’t happen until the 75th minute marker.

I did laugh when Richard and Lara chanted an incantation that hadn’t been mentioned throughout the film.

And this was where the film began to buckle, the final act felt rushed and slapped together.

The Himiko subplot wasn’t that interesting and when things finally came to a head, it was breezed over so quickly that I found myself wanting.

Recycling Indiana Jones territory with the booby traps (hidden spikes, crumbling floors etc) and throwing in everything but the kitchen sink for an explosive finale as it ran out of steam.

“I’ll take two”.

However, despite its flaws, this promising reboot was a solid effort that delivered in thrills, action and left areas to explore.

And if there was to be another, I wouldn’t grumble.

Vikander was flawless. We just need a more interesting mythology and a stronger villain for our heroine to take on.

3/5

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*NEW* MORGAN REVIEW *NEW*

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Boreee-gan, more like.

Original, I know. A bit like this movie’s premise.

A corporate risk-management consultant (Kate Mara) must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being (Anya Taylor-Joy).

If Ridley Scott’s son wasn’t directing this, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see this feature as a Late Night Premiere on the SyFy Channel.

Despite an eye grabbing opener with Morgan lashing out at her carer (Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight), the film was put on the back burner with a meandering pace and mindless exposition.

Kate Mara (House of Cards) will probably be the only one to come out of this unscathed. She might have featured in some duds (*Cough* Fantastic Four *Cough*) BUT I was impressed with her performance as Lee Weathers.

The extreme pixie haircut, cold demeanour and abrupt manner made her the most interesting character out of the bunch. I was more intrigued with her agenda than meeting the sulky Morgan.

I was surprised at the star studded supporting cast involved; Brian Cox, Narcos’ Boyd Holbrook, Toby Jones and Michelle Yeoh. A shame that none of them really made an impression.

Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) wasn’t too bad as the eccentric behaviour therapist and delivered a decent American accent. The only problem was that she wasn’t in it enough.

“Morgan’s not a she. She’s an it”.

I was happy to allow the pace to trundle along if the film went somewhere BUT for an hour, we had existential waffle, followed by more existential waffle and then . . . You get the idea.

The whole thing was a poor man’s Ex Machina. I’d seen it all before and done better. We had the same debates about defining humanity, action and consequence, cause and effect. Yawn.

I was NOT a fan of The Witch BUT thought Anya Taylor-Joy delivered a good turn. The same can be said with this. She did the best she could with the character BUT I was just wasn’t emotionally invested like I was with Alicia Vikander.

The corporate angle had potential as the scientists exchanged heated debates over artificial intelligence and profit BUT it never really took off.

“This is not Helsinki. Those were crude prototypes.”

What happened in Helsinki? All we had were endless references to an incident that was never expanded on or explored. This was the only loose thread I wanted to know about? Was there a failure? Did they go Westworld on them? What?!

The pace dragged and all the science-y stuff about Morgan didn’t do anything to help.

Within a month, she was a walking and talking biologically advanced toddler. Within a year, she could control and alter her environment (Why couldn’t we see any of that?). By the age of five, she was  . . . a sulky pale looking teenager in a hoodie. Riiiiggghhhttt.

The creepy Silence of the Lambs vibe was engaging enough as Weathers and Morgan had their intense stare-off and the game of cat and mouse began. The questions piling up. Is Morgan sentient? Is she aware of her abilities? If she can do all these things then why the hell is she sitting in a cell?

Taylor-Joy delivered a masterstroke with the expressions. She looked scary and sincere in the same instance and things (finally) picked up when Paul Giamatti’s Dr Shapiro arrived to perform a psych evaluation.

There was genuine suspense and tension as Shapiro bated Morgan. Questioning her motives and emotions. Goading her to react. A ticking time bomb. I could have watched a whole movie of just that.

The last 20 minutes seemed to realise it was clasping at straws and cranked the pace up to 11 with a frantic, violent and rushed finale.

The only problem was that with this sort of story line, there was only ever going to be two outcomes which made the end result pure predictable hokum.

Once you took away the tension and philosophical sparring, you had something very much like the protagonist; a cold pretty looking effort.

Mark Patten’s cinematography certainly made the idyllic setting surrounding The Facility like a country paradise BUT if Ex Machina hadn’t beaten Scott and co to the punch, this may have fared better.

BUT only ever so slightly.

Despite a talented cast and a mad dash finale, this was tragically flat and disappointing.

Watchable guff BUT nothing to shout home about.

2.5/5

*NEW* THE BEST AND WORST FILMS OF 2016 REVIEW *NEW*

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First thing’s first, HAPPY NEW YEAR! A BIG THANK YOU (Look, it’s in CAPITALS) for all the views, likes and comments. You guys are alright.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION? See more movies obviously.

Nah. Try and read more of your awesome posts!

December was a poor month for my movie viewing. Work and blah blah blah didn’t give me much time so I have yet to see Rogue One. I know, SACRILEGE. Call yourself a film critic.

I like to be awkward when picking movies. My criteria is simple. Picking 10 films I saw in 2016. So there may be a couple that you may argue are technically speaking 2015. In the words of Donnie Brasco, forget about it.

I look for films that surprised, entertained and engaged me. There have been so many films that have put me to sleep or have had me on my phone already complaining about said film before it’s even finished (Pretty much my criteria for worst films).

I picked the films that made an impression or made me laugh, cry or think. I’ve provided links for my reviews if you want a complete breakdown of my thoughts.

 

MY TOP 10 FILMS OF 2016

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It’s great when you go into a cinema expecting nothing and get rewarded with a gritty slow burning and well acted Texan noir thriller.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/new-hell-or-high-water-review-new/

 

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Vikander and Fassbender brought their fiery chemistry to ignite this wonderfully heart rending affair.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/new-the-light-be…ceans-review-new/

 

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Strange, hypnotic, gripping. After all the hype, I was afraid this wouldn’t deliver. BUT oh boy, did it!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/new-nocturnal-animals-review-new/

 

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So good that I haven’t done a review yet. I’m working on it. The Return of the King (Ba-dum-tsssh). Mortensen was superb as the father devoted to raising his six kids in the wilderness. Easygoing feel good drama.

 

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Probably one of the best Marvel movies going!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/new-captain-amer…l-war-review-new/

 

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QT is back with a tense and ultra-violent Western. It’s everything you could expect from the Pulp Fiction director and I loved every minute.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/new-the-hateful-eight-review-new/

 

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Larson deserved the Oscar for her stellar performance.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/new-room-review-new-2/

 

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Hard hitting, shocking and brilliantly acted. A must watch.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/new-spotlight-review-new/

 

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Crowe, Gosling, Black. You can’t go wrong. My review might be a little picky BUT I had the pleasure of watching this again and enjoyed it so much more.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/new-the-nice-guys-review-new/

 

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I was torn between this and Bridget Jones’s Baby (I know. Whaaattt?! It was actually pretty good) BUT I went for the HP spin-off. Redmayne was brilliant and Rowling was able to expand on the ever-growing world that has entertained me for the last decade.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/new-fantastic-be…em-3d-review-new/

 

MY TOP 10 WORST FILMS OF 2016

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Absolutely bloody dreadful. Jennifer Saunders sold out with this shambolic effort. A review will turn up eventually. BUT trust me, it’s bad. And I was a fan.

 

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As much as I love Natalie Dormer, I did not love her in this.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/new-the-forest-review-new/

 

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That creepy atmosphere couldn’t hide what was a drawn out and mind numbing disappointment. Review to follow.

 

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This unnecessary reboot was doomed from the start!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/new-dads-army-review-new/

 

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I remember rushing to the cinema wondering why it was only on for 4 days. I soon find out the answer. Yikes!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/new-the-5th-wave-review-new/

 

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The anger. I’m sure I used a fair amount of expletives on Twitter to express my feelings on this feeble effort.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/new-now-you-see-me-2-review-new/

 

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The horror, the horror! I hated the first one and for the first 20 minutes of this, I was almost about to eat my own words BUT then it got worse.

 

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I was so excited to see this and by the end, I wondered why they brought him back. It must have been for the money because it wasn’t for the plot and character development. Bourne seemed to know less than he did before. I think I fell asleep at one point. Shame.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/new-jason-bourne-review-new/

 

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As much as I loved watching Lily James kicking zombie ass in a corset, the tone was all over the place. It failed to be scary or funny and was dreadfully dull. So dull it put me off reviewing the thing.

Well, that’s my excuse anyway.

 

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A shame that this is going to be one of Anton Yelchin’s last efforts. This failed to grab me even with Captain Picard playing a Neo-Nazi.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/new-green-room-review-new/

 

And so concludes my mini-review of 2016. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the entries this year.

Disappointing comic book yarns (*Cough* Batman Vs Superman *Cough* Suicide Squad *Cough*)

The reboots, the remakes (Point Break), the unnecessary sequels (The Mechanic: Resurrection).

Let’s hope 2017 will bring us a little more joy and originality, eh?

 

*NEW* THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS REVIEW *NEW*

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A wonderfully acted and beautifully shot drama. One of the better ones.

A lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from a drifting rowing boat.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond The Pines. At the time of release, I can remember describing it as drawn out over hyped drivel that was screaming for an Oscar. When I heard similar comparisons being made from other critics about this latest offering, it didn’t build up high hopes for me.

BUT I was pleasantly surprised and rewarded with a highly engaging and heartfelt affair.

We follow Tom Sherbourne fresh from the turmoil of the First World War as he takes up the light-keeper job on Janus Island. A man desperate to escape to the furthest part of the world. The sound of gun fire and war planes carrying across the wind. The vast ocean offering little refuge.

I felt the character of Sherbourne was a complete change for Fassbender. To see him play a much more vulnerable and reserved role. Delivering another superb turn.

Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography was breathtaking. It was amazing how Janus Island could look barren and desolate in one frame and beautiful and idyllic the next. Wonderful. Alexandre Desplat delivered another brilliant score that complimented the piece.

The slow burning pace allowed us to empathize with this traumatized veteran who already felt his time was up. That was until he met Isabel (The lovely Alicia Vikander).

You couldn’t fault the chemistry between them (Which is probably why they ended up together in real life). We watched their romance blossom as Tom’s stern demeanour was finally cracked by the inquisitive and youthful Isabel.

As much as the running time may have strung the story line, I was heavily invested in the pair. BUT with any drama, there is always tragedy lurking around the corner. We suffered with them as Isabel went through two miscarriages. Endured the merciless storms that riddled the small island.

Vikander was brilliant as Isabel. The darkness taking away her youth and smile as Tom dug another grave.

Until one fateful storm answered the poor girl’s prayer as a dingy washed up on the shore. A dead man with no papers and a healthy baby girl.

The kid actors that played young Lucy were brilliant. You can’t stop a child going off script and they made the scenes and dynamic that much more natural and entertaining. There were certain scenes where you could tell that Fassbender and the cast were having to improvise.

However as time passes, Tom soon discovers that a grieving widow in the village visits the cemetery mourning the husband and daughter that were lost at sea. Throwing him into a crisis of conscience with moral and ethical implications that could destroy the lives of his own family.

Rachel Weisz was superb as the grief-stricken Hannah. You could feel your own loyalties changing. Understanding Isabel’s loss and reasons for keeping the child BUT also feeling empathy for Hannah who has spent all those years believing her child was gone.

And I’m not sure if there is a rule BUT (of course) being set in Australia, we had Bryan Brown playing Hannah’s wealthy father.

As the inevitable drama unfolded, I didn’t know how it would end (Never reading the bestselling novel. A crime in itself). I was on tenterhooks.

I have to commend Derek Cianfrance for adapting and delivering an emotional story. To convey and capture such emotion so effectively. The grief, the trauma, a mother’s loss. Excellent. Of course that could not have been done without the support of a fantastic cast who played their parts to perfection.

I’m not one for romantic period pieces BUT this is one to watch.

3.5/5

*NEW* THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. REVIEW *NEW*

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Slick, cool, funny. Guy Ritchie is back with a bang!

In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill – Man of Steel) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer – The Lone Ranger) participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

I know that this was based on the original TV show BUT I’ve never seen it so I can’t make comparisons on Ritchie and writer Lionel Wigram’s (Sherlock Holmes) adaptation.

The first hour was action packed and reminded me of the spy movies of old. An elongated opening car chase ticked all the boxes (Even if it was hindered by shoddy CGI). It certainly injected the fun back into the spy genre. Now that the Bond films have gone in a darker direction, I felt the corny one liners and light humour was a much needed tonic. Giving the piece a nostalgia feel.

Cavill was fantastic as Solo. The more I watched him steal the show, the more I thought to myself, “Bond”. Despite playing an undercover CIA asset, he would have been a perfect replacement. The looks, the charm and the charisma. But alas, the Justice League has claimed him as the Man of Steel for the foreseeable future.

I loved the dynamic between the trio. They were perfectly cast. The fiery Alicia Vikander playing the reluctant mother to two sparring boys. Cavill and Hammer worked well together and made Solo and Kuryakin’s fractious relationship entertaining as hell. “This is not the Russian way!” It was good to see Hammer excel as ‘The Red Peril’ after the lacklustre Lone Ranger.

The quick witted exchanges and uneasy tension kept me going (Through some of the sillier moments) with the pair constantly trying to get one up on each other at every turn. From their overcompensating gadgets and hotel room bug stand-off to dressing Gaby (Vikander) for her cover -“The shoes won’t match. They don’t need to match”.

Vikander and Hammer had great chemistry as Gaby is reluctantly assigned to Kuryakin as his undercover fiancee. I just wish Vikander’s back story was more interesting. The story line involving her missing scientist father was a little weak. I loved how we only got tidbits of Solo and Hammer’s past.

Jared Harris was wasted in his small supporting role as Solo’s handler Adrian Sanders. He delivered yet another another mangled accent BUT at least this one was better than his Irish rendition in that horrific Poltergeist remake.

However, the second half of the film was where things went wrong. It was very clunky and disjointed. The tone was mismatched and took a much more serious turn that didn’t quite work. A highly macabre scene involving the pair bickering while their suspect was being roasted on an electric chair in the background was too much. Especially after the easygoing pace and playful banter.

And tragically, the pace did get hampered by the plot. And for all its “complexities”; the story was far too predictable. Typical guff involving Nazis and the Cold War. Go, figure! It killed a lot of the fun and momentum that had kept me entertained for 60-odd minutes. The inevitable double bluffing and backstabbing between the team got a little long at the tooth for me.

Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager) was wasted as the femme fatale Victoria Vinciguerra. She did her best with the role but was left in the background far too much. Only coming back for the frantic finale.

The same can be said for Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral). God, he’s looking old. He wasn’t in it enough. His renowned bumbling and quick witted exchanges a welcome return; “For a special agent, you’re not having a particularly special day, are you?”.

The finale brought everything back into play and made up for a stumbling middle act with a mad dash explosive climax and (Hardly a spoiler!) it left things open for another. One sequel I would look forward to watching.

If Ritchie and co can just trim the length, get a better baddie then we’ll be good to go. BUT this is still worth a watch if you’re in for the mood for a cool spy caper with a great cast.

3/5

*NEW* JASON BOURNE REVIEW *NEW*

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Jason Boreeee-neeeeee.

I know. That pun was as lazy as the plot line. Bourne is back but bigger and better? Not even close. Blander and boring. Definitely.

The CIA’s most dangerous former operative is drawn out of hiding to uncover more explosive truths about his past.

That synopsis failed to deliver anything that I’d hoped. I loved the Bourne series. Not quite up to the ridiculous hype BUT intricate adrenaline pumped little thrillers that (very) loosely adapted a bestselling Robert Ludlum franchise and took it in a completely different direction.

When I heard that Matttttt Damonnnnnnn and Paul Greengrass were to reunite for a fourth outing after the misfire that was The Bourne Legacy, I was elated. Ultimatum left such an open ending that resolved the story arc for the trilogy BUT suggested an opportunity for his return. After watching this, I really think he should have kept swimming.

A promising opening, with a dishevelled (and hench) looking Bourne knocking people out with one punch, soon simmered into a snoozefest. 20 minutes of mindless computer jargon, lazy references to Edward Snowden and a lot of flicking about with Alicia Vikander’s (Ex Machina) analyst hacking in Langley to Julia Stile’s (10 Things I Hate About You) hacking in Iceland and our main man . . . battling night terrors.

What infuriated me the most was that despite Bourne supposedly remembering everything, he seemed even more disoriented and out of it than the other movies combined. The repetitive flashbacks unearthed a little more into his past BUT the revelations were hardly shocking and so predictable that it brought nothing to the mix.

Stiles’ character was completely wasted and nothing more than a mere plot device to spur our troubled ex-CIA asset. Some mumbo jumbo about another Treadstone programme in the pipeline which even our own hero asked in one scene; “What that has to do with me?” And by the end, I wondered the exact same thing.

Tommy Lee Jones’ CIA Director Robert Dewey should have been the game changer. A turning point after FOUR movies of seeking answers and closure for Bourne. Nope. He did his best with the role BUT his character was too busy meddling in some feeble and uninteresting subplot with social media mogul Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed – Four Lions).

Ahmed delivered a convincing accent BUT his character was far too weak and frankly unnecessary by the closing act. His moral and ethical conflict tied in with the increasing pressure from Dewey’s interference had potential BUT went nowhere.

The film really did go through the motions. Teasing Bourne’s introduction then holding him back in multiple (and brilliantly shot) locations and forcing us to drudge through dull exposition with a group of generic and stocky CIA types that literally did the exact same thing as the other films.

Alicia Vikander played the ambitious operative well BUT her attempts to try and bring Bourne back in from the cold to add as a feather on her cap could have been so much more. She got pushed into the background far too much. Quickly thrown back in for the final act. Shame.

Vincent Cassel’s (Black Swan) bloodthirsty mercenary was the only interesting addition. He literally shot anyone in his path to pursue Bourne. His ruthlessness revealing an ulterior motive that was much more than securing a contract killing.

The set pieces were the only things that kept me awake. Barry Ackroyd’s cinematography beautifully captured the chaos; especially during a violent street riot in Athens. The frantic shaky handy cam shots combined with David Buckley and John Powell’s thrilling movie score certainly ticked the boxes.

BUT after a while, even the chases seemed drawn out and repetitive with Bourne bludgeoning people and causing carnage with no remorse or second thought. And if it wasn’t him, there were random people creeping out of the woodwork ready to throw a few flying fists here and there.

The Vegas police car chase was probably the best sequence of the film. It was brutal, frenetic and nail biting. All that meandering for an explosive finale.

All a case of too little, too late. Two hours of patchy pacing that retreaded all the story lines of the other movies with Bourne failing to remember and the CIA going out of their way to remove his presence. I actually preferred the Bourne Legacy. Jeremy Renner was a likeable lead and at least the hokey super soldier subplot was different.

I don’t think it was even that vital for newcomers to bother watching the other movies. This latest outing was like the protagonist; cold, befuddled, isolated and tired. Even when that iconic Moby track rung through the cinema speakers, I couldn’t help BUT feel deflated and disappointed.

I think Bourne should stay in hiding for the foreseeable future.

2/5

*NEW* THE DANISH GIRL REVIEW *NEW*

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Two outstanding performances makes this intriguing little drama one to watch.

A fictitious love story inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander). Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

I never expected The Danish Girl to be my cup of tea. The content at first glance didn’t really appeal to me BUT what did was the cast. I couldn’t pick a more perfect combination. Redmayne and Vikander were brilliant. They had fantastic chemistry and made an endearing couple. You really did care for them. We join the married couple of six years in 1920s Copenhagen. Happy and in love.

The slow burning pace allowed the transformation to happen more naturally. We follow Vikander’s Gerda as she struggles to make a career as a painter. Desperate to break free from the shadow of her renowned husband.

A simple problem with a model being late and a quick pose for a portrait and we slowly unearth something in the bashful and timid Einar Wegener. The dresses. The heels. The stockings. Appealing to a deeper part of him. Embraced as a little joke; the pair take it a step further. Desperate NOT to be seen at a party function, Einar creates the alter ego Lili.

The film chugged along at an easygoing pace as the pair messed around with the dresses and wigs. BUT while Gerda saw it as a little bit of fun, we notice a change in Einar. Director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and writer Lucinda Coxon got the perfect balance. A chance encounter with Ben Whishaw’s (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) Henrik and Redmayne’s Lili could easily have played out like something out of Some Like It Hot.

BUT it wasn’t long before Lili overstayed her welcome. Redmayne proved once again why he deserved that Oscar gold last year. An excellent performance. The ego of Lili awoke something that had always been inside of Einar. It was an interesting insight into the transgender psyche. Einar’s treatment and transformation was something else.

His treatment in the 20s was baffling. I should have seen it coming BUT it still made for engaging viewing. Desperate to seek help for Gerda’s sake and to find answers, Einar faces charges of perversion, homosexuality and even has to evade capture from being committed to a mental hospital after being diagnosed a schizophrenic. The man even took radiation therapy to correct the “chemical imbalance”.

As much as you could feel for Einar’s inner turmoil and tried to understand what he was going through, you also felt for Gerda who faced losing the very person she fell in love with. Vikander was superb. A performance worthy of that BAFTA nod.

I wish more was made out of the supporting cast. Matthias Schoenaerts (Far From The Madding Crowd) did well with the small supporting role of Einar’s boyhood chum and even Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) managed to make a memorable impression in her frightfully miniscule role/cameo as Gerda’s friend Ulla. Regular Hooper stalwart Danny Cohen’s cinematography delivered yet again. Bringing life and colour to a rather dull looking Denmark.

However, it wasn’t all perfect. For all the drama, I was left wanting. The pace did test as the film passed the 90 minute marker. Two hours was too much. As the film drew to a close and Einar considered surgery, things picked up. BUT it seemed to rush after such a long build up and end a little too abruptly for my liking.

Despite a lumbering pace, two sterling turns helped make this engaging examination one to watch.

3/5