Thursday, 31 December 2015

My Top 10 Films of 2015

You've seen my favourite TV shows of the year, now it is time for the big one, my favourite films of 2015, this is a film blog after all! This year brought us some treats but also some slight disappointments, read on to see what were my favourite gems of the year, and for the first time since this blog began, there's not a Marvel movie in sight...

10. Inside Out
After a years hiatus, Pixar returned with Inside Out, their extremely clever and emotionally powerful film about emotions! Nobody can disagree that Pixar were even smarter than usual with this film and really proved that they are still capable of creating brilliant original content. It's smart, funny and touching, everything a Pixar film should be, an absolute delight of a film.

9. Jurrasic World
Jurrasic World divided audiences. It was like marmite, you either loved it or hated it. I loved it. This film brought me straight back to the first and had me feeling like a child again, fully invested in what was now a fully functioning dinosaur theme park. It's what you always wanted to see, or a least some of us anyway and it payed off in a big way at the end. I had huge amounts of fun with this film, so much so that I can forget the little gripes that people have made and just enjoy the hell out of it. Read my full review here.

8. Crimson Peak
I only recently saw this film but fell in love with it straight away. It's creepy and Gothic story has you invested from the get go. There are some superb performances from Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain who have you constantly second guessing the nature of their characters. Director Guillermo del Toro provides us with some of his most stunning and impressive imagery yet, that really allows the film to linger long after it has finished.

7. Legend
This was the year of Tom Hardy. If you didn't know his name beforehand, you do now! In Legend not only does he give one impressive performance, he gives two! Here he plays both Reggie and Ronnie though not you would think it was the same guy. Hardy makes each character their own and really helps elevate the film that is already really well done with its violent yet touching story. If you missed this one make sure to check it out, it's a brilliant film. Read my full review here.

6. The Overnight
The Overnight is one of those surprise films of the year. I hadn't heard anything about it before I saw it and that actually helped my enjoyment of film as it is an absolute head trip from start to finish. It's weird, trippy and hilarious. It twists and turns leaving you constantly guessing as to the outcome of the story. Want to know more? Don't, just go and watch it, you won't be disappointed! Or read my quick review of it here.

5. Dope
Dope is one of those films that when it starts it never slows down. I had seen the trailer and heard some buzz for this film when it screened at Sundance at the start of the year and since then I had been waiting patiently to watch it. The film is a lot of fun, it moves along swiftly and is constantly funny, much to the credit of the three main characters, who have brilliant chemistry together. It's an absolute blast of a film and inspired me as a screenwriter to write my own story in a similar pace and style.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road
Who didn't love Mad Max: Fury Road this year? The film is just balls to walls crazy. It's simple yet so elegantly executed. It was action like you had never seen it before, it's mix of practical and computer effects was incredibly stunning and the break neck pace of each set piece had you on the edge of your seat with nails digging in to the material. I was absolutely exhausted after watching this film, it's an experience that's for sure. Read my full review here.

3. The Martian
I am a sucker for sci-fi films. The Martian did not disappoint me, it was accessible nerdy sci-fi that has you hooked from the very beggining, feeling every emotion and struggle that all the characters involved had in survival and rescue. It's a powerful film and it looks amazing, It features a return to form for director Ridley Scott and an amazing script adaptation from Drew Goddard. It's one of those films that stays with you after you've seen it and really makes you happy to be part of the human race.  Matt Damon also gives an amazing performance considering he mainly has to act by himself. Read my full review here.

2. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl
A film about filmmaking and friendship, what is not to love? This film really makes an effort to set itself apart from others dealing with the difficult theme of terminal illness. It is sad, yes but it's also hilariously funny, moving and thought provoking throughout. It's three leads are superb and have great chemistry and comic timing in their well thought out and layered characters, and they are only elevated through the camerawork that is on display here; the camera is always moving and the film has some incredible shots. If you're a film person like me then you will love their throwbacks to classic cinema and be fully invested in the powerful and emotional story. This was very, very close to being number one,,, You can read my full review here.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I knew this film would make the list but it wasn't until the second viewing that it made number one. Is it perfect, no but all the problems I had with it seemed to disappear or at least I didn't care about them so much on round two. There's a lot of nostalgia at play here and the film really plays on that, it doesn't make it bad and in fact if anything it only heightens your experience of the film. It's very crowd pleasing and there is no doubt that each time I have seen it, I have gotten goosebumps and wanted to jump up and down with joy at what I was watching. We have some great new characters and an amazing new villain. It's a film that generates a lot of discussion and I love that because one of my favourite things to do is talk about film (hence a film blog)! Some may disagree with my placing of this film but if there is one experience of cinema I won't be forgetting from this year it is this one. I loved it, I still love it and I cannot wait for more Star Wars in the future! You can read my full review here.

So there we have it, my top ten of the year. It's been an odd year for cinema, I was very excited for it to begin with but am leaving it now with not as many gems as I thought we would be getting, the films above were some of the only ones that stood out to me. As I am living in the UK a few films have yet to been released over here that are out overseas, films that look like they could have chance on this list. I guess we'll never know but look out for more reviews from me next year which looks to be exciting and hopefully will not disappoint.

Stay tuned for my list of most anticipated films of 2016 but for now, have a Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

My Top 10 TV Shows of 2015

It's coming to the end of the year which means it's time for top ten lists. Lets start with my favourite TV shows of the year, where this time round Game of Thrones is not number one, read on to find out what is...

10. Jessica Jones (Season 1)
The second of Netflix's Marvel TV shows to come out this year and once again proving that Marvel has some of the most interesting roster of characters at their disposal. Many people had not heard of Jessica Jones, unless they had read the brilliant Alias comic book series by Brian Michael Bendis, the show has now changed this and have made yet another unknown character a household name. The show itself stayed true to the tone and style of the comic book and did an amazing job of bringing a darker side of the Marvel universe to the big screen. The big bad played by David Tennant absolutely stole the show and had you yearning for him in every scene. There were parts of the show that I felt went over the top nearer the end but it still held its own over the Marvel films we saw this year.
9. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 2/3)
When this show first aired I never thought it would get as good as it has gotten right now. Season 2 showed a dramatic improvement over its last season and then the third went and blew the lid off with every episode we have seen so far being damn near perfect. Now that we love and know the characters it is a lot easier to get emotionally invested and the show has played on this aspect a lot this season. We have had shocking twists, turns and revelations which I hope continue into the next half. Marvel have turned this piece of coal into a diamond and I can't wait to see more!
8. Togetherness (Season 1)
I absolutely love the Duplass brothers films and was very excited to hear they were making a show with HBO. They did not disappoint. Like their films they gave us a show full of very real characters embarking on some very true to life problems. It featured some amazing performances and a bitter sweet ending that gave me the chills and has had me clambering for more ever since. Thankfully we won't have to wait too much longer as the show returns in February! If you want to read more about my love for the show and its directors take a look at the feature I wrote about them for WOWii here.
7. The Last Man on Earth (Season 1/2)
I have loved Will Forte since his hilarious film Macgruber.  I have loved directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller since their brilliant 21 Jump Street reboot. When I heard the three were making a new and original comedy TV show together that was serialised unlike many others of its kind, I had to watch it. If you haven't seen it yet then I don't want to spoil anything for you as the show literally changes from episode to episode, It's about the last man on earth and it is really funny. Go watch it now and catch up on all the goodness!
6. Halt and Catch Fire (Season 2)
Ever since one of the showrunners did a skype Q&A at my University I have been watching his brilliant show, Halt and Catch Fire. I am so glad I have been able to as well because Season 2 built newer and better things on top of its first season. The show changed its style a bit but still brought a brilliant point of view to the computing world in the 80's as well as some interesting and original characters to the small screen. The show also features some amazing actors that you will definitely be seeing a lot more of in the future if their performances in this show are anything to go by.
5. Bloodline (Season 1) 
Netflix are quickly becoming a TV show powerhouse and Bloodline is no exception in their original show line up. I came to this one later than most but was completely blown away by the incredible cinematography and superb performances, particularly from one of my new favourite actors Ben Mendelsohn. The story plays like a storm, slowly brewing and drawing ever nearer to its explosive climax. It will be interesting to see where they go next with these characters as this season felt like its own self contained thing. I for one won't mind returning to see where this troublesome family goes next.

4. House of Cards (Season 3)
This is the season of House of Cards we have been waiting for. Francis Underwood is now President, lets see what he can do. The show packs a punch with its twists and turns, it features a brilliant and scarily realistic social commentary on our relations with Russia, but the most powerful storyline here is the underlying tension of the presidents relationship with his first lady, played by the true star of the show, Robin Wright. It took me a weekend to finish and I have been dying for more ever since.
3. Game of Thrones (Season 5)
Just because Game of Thrones isn't number one this year doesn't mean that the show is failing. In fact it created a brilliant season that stands up to its name but didn't quite peak what had gone before. It was an interesting season for book readers like myself because we were finally going past certain points in the book and some storylines were being completely changed. I for one am happy with the changes and know that not everything from books is easily adaptable for TV. The next season will be the big test for the show as we finally go into the dark and book readers and non-book readers will have no idea what will be coming next...
2. Transparent (Season 2)
At the start of this year I finally got around to watching the critically acclaimed first season of the show Transparent. I was blown away by it, not only is it brilliant looking and extremely well performed, it also pushes the boundaries on topics we have rarely seen addressed on TV before. I like that it never strives to be likeable or happy or play into audiences expectations, if anything it's truly quite a sad show about people trying to discover themselves. Season 2 pushes this further and even though it has only just come out, as soon as I finished it, it went straight to number two on the list. This is the kind of material I would love to write one day, oh and it has Jay Duplass in it, did I mention I love the Duplass brothers?
1. Daredevil (Season 1)
The first of Netflix's Marvel TV shows to debut and it debuted with an absolute bang. It stayed close to its source material but also allowed itself to be its own thing. The cast were perfectly chosen and embodied the characters like none had before, It was the start of a darker side to the Marvel universe and also allowed for more realistic and grounded story telling in a world of Avengers and alien invasions. Daredevil defied all expectations and to me was the best thing Marvel Studios has made so far. Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin stood out among the amazing action, cinematography and story telling. A true masterpiece of a TV show that I haven't stopped thinking about since I finished it. If you haven't seen this yet then go watch it now because if you don't you are truly missing out. Its also the only show that had me so excited I wrote a review on it, which you can read here.

Honourable mention goes towards The Flash whose final few episodes of Season 1 had me crying like a baby. I was sad to see it go unnoticed in the list so I had to give it some kind of shout out. I also want to mention that I have yet to see the second seasons of Fargo and The Leftovers both of which I loved last year and I hope I will again, I will catch up on them soon! And one last thing, a show which has just started on SyFy called The Expanse,based on the books of a same name which I have read, is shaping up to be all kinds of awesome, so go give it a watch!

Do you agree with my list? What were your favourite shows of 2015? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars...

Before we start, this is a SPOILER FREE review, you can read this review before you see the film if you wish! I'm not going to give anything away, which may mean this review is quite short, I have plans to maybe give some more spoilery thoughts in the future but for now I wanted to give my intitial opinion of the new Star Wars film.

If you want to find out what Star Wars means to me, go back and read my previous post; Why I Love Star Wars. That should give you some context as to where I am coming from when it comes to my love of the franchise.

So first things first, Star Wars is back, like actually back! The Force Awakens brings back everything you loved about the original films and moves the story forward for the first time since 1983. It brings in a whole new roster of characters and actors and merges them in with some of the original cast. When the film starts with the new scroll of text and the sudden blast of music don't be ashamed if it brings a tear to your eye, don't be ashamed if any of the scenes bring a tear to your eyes, there's a lot of heart and effort put into this film to make it feel like the Star Wars we used to know, maybe a little too much at times but we'll get to that later.

Lets start with the actors. Our new big three is made up of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Issac who all do amazing in their roles and give some of the best performances we have seen from any of the Star Wars films so far. They are perfect as our new heroes, and I left feeling that even if the original cast hadn't been involved, The Force Awakens would still have been a great Star Wars film with just our new characters! With the new film we also have a new lead villain, Kylo Ren, played by the absolutely superb Adam Driver, he gives a standout performance in the film and brings a lot of layers to the character who is very scary due to his conflict and unpredictability. As seen in the trailer and poster we have the return of Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca, the original actors all provide great performances and evoke a lot of nostalgia. Harrison Ford looks like he is really enjoying himself in this film and gives one of his best performances in years as the scruffy looking nerf herder. At the end of the day though it is the droid BB-8 that steals the show...

The story is great and provokes a lot of call backs, nostalgia and plenty of homage, particularly to A New Hope, which at times does become too much as the story points of the first film are reused a lot in the new one. With a franchise as big as this one is in the world of pop culture then you are going to expect a few nods and call backs, but sometimes it did feel as if we needed more original plot points to keep us going.

Director JJ Abrams does an amazing job of bringing the world of Star Wars to life by returning to old puppetry and costume/makeup effects that still look more real than anything you could make on a computer today! This does get proven within the film and most of the time it looks so real you could touch it however, whenever a CGI creature or character comes on screen it is pretty obvious, and this is a shame. It's not Jar Jar Binks bad but you definitely hope it would be better. Personally I would just keep to practical effects, we don't need mo-capped characters in a world that looks so real.

One of my favourite things about the film is the camerawork, the camera is barely static and is constantly being moved around all over the place and makes for some incredible looking shots and stunning cinematography. There are shots in this film that had me grinning like a child again and I really loved being brought back into the world in such a beautiful way. Star Wars has never looked better.

Abrams has brought Star Wars back to life for old and new generations. I had an absolute blast watching this film and went through all the emotions I had watching them as a child. The hype was massive and I think the film mostly lived up to it, I had so much fun watching this film, it was a blast sitting in the cinema again and hearing the incredible John Williams score blasting out loud. I think I'm going to have to watch it again soon just to soak it all in but right now I would definitely rate this as the third best Star Wars film we have seen, under Empire and Hope. It's not perfect but they have done a good job of getting the awkward reintroduction out of the way and making audiences excited for Star Wars again, the ending is the best of any Star Wars film and only promises greater things to come, I am already super excited for Episode 8 which has the potential to be the best Star Wars film yet. I am rating The Force Awakens a 4.5/5. Go see this film in the cinema, you will not be dissapointed!

What did you think of the new Star Wars film? Love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Our outfits for the midnight showing. Less people dressed up than we thought... Totally worth it though!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Why I Love Star Wars

Don't know if you guys know this, but there's a new Star Wars film coming out next week...

Now I am super excited for this film, so excited in fact that the only other film that came close to the amount of excitement and anticipation I feel right now was when the first Avengers film came out. On this blog you have seen me rave about a lot of things and probably consider me a bit of a Marvel fanboy, which I am, but today I wanted to talk about my first cinematic love, Star Wars.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was the first live action film I remember seeing at the cinema. It was a big deal to me, I was 5 and I had mainly watched animated films, going to see a live action film felt very grown up to me. I wasn't aware of Star Wars before that, I wasn't aware how much anticipation had been building up for the film I was going to see, and then the let down that people had afterwards. I obviously didn't have that let down when I first saw Episode 1 because if I did I wouldn't be writing a blog post called 'Why I Love Star Wars'. However stick with me, this isn't a post trying to convince you that the prequels are amazing, because they are far from it, but they do hold a special place in my heart.

Having loved Episode 1, the obsessive side of me began to come out, I wanted everything Star Wars. And this was when I came across Star Wars: A New Hope at a video rental store. My amazement that there was another Star Wars film only increased when finding out there were three more out there! I rented Episode 4 and yet again fell completely in love with the world of Star Wars. The world building in the film is unlike anything else we've seen in film before and with every character featured in the film we have a rich and vibrant backstory. Being able to explore these as a child was something special because it made you feel as if you knew more about each character than anybody else.

I had everything Star Wars related, costumes, toys, books and games. I still have a lot of these things, including a massive box up in my attic full of action figures and vehicles that I had played with many times. In my young mind I have made Epidode 7 already, and 8, and 9, and 10... It was at these times that the seeds for a dream job in film were laid and subliminally making these stories lead me to screenwriting. Yet again another reason to love Star Wars.

I remember every time I went to the cinema I was waiting for a new Star Wars trailer to arrive, I was completely hooked during the era of the prequels. After Episode 3 came out my obsession began to slowly dwindle. I still bought all the games but there wasn't a constant bombardment of new content to digest, I have never been one to watch the shows (though I am giving Rebels a go!), my obsession then turned to Marvel, reading comics and falling for the character of Spider-Man. Even with the annoucment of Disney buying Star Wars and making new films, I was excited but it didn't start the obsession again. If anything I was just happy to know I would see more Star Wars in the cinema and now maybe even one day be able to experience it with my own children, another reason I have kept all my toys! When the obsession kicked back in it was with the first teaser trailer JJ Abrams released, all of sudden I was brought back into realisiation that I was A LOT more excited for Star Wars then I had been letting on!

Now I'm at breaking point, days to go, midnight tickets booked and costumes sorted. I work part time in a toy store and nearly every week I keep spending my wages on The Force Awakens figures. My personal favourite a BB-8 Funko Pop! I've rewatched the Star Wars saga in anticipation, even with my girlfriend who I am lovingly dragging along to the midnight showing, I'm sure she can't wait either...

A photo posted by Alex Hunt (@superalexman) on

I don't think we'll be dissapointed in The Force Awakens. This is the first time the fans have been allowed to make a Star Wars film and that is being proven with every interview or behind the scenes footage we have seen with JJ Abrams, or any person involved with the making of the film on or off the screen. The problem with the prequels is the fact that George Lucas thought he knew what audiences wanted from more Star Wars films but unfortunatley he was wrong. I have enjoyed and fallen in love with the films, I have studied them and broken them down and watched every bit of material I can find involved in the behind the scenes of the film, I like to think that everybody involved with making the film has done the same things, we are the fans and we know why we love Star Wars. Also, three of my favourite actors of the last five years, Adam Driver, Oscar Issac and Domhnall Gleeson are in this film! The one thing George Lucas should have done before making the prequels, which I assume he hasn't, is attend a lecture on his own series of films, to watch the endless amount of fan videos and breakdowns on YouTube that go into depth and detail about why Star Wars is so popular and the staple of pop culture that it is today.

We've been warned though, it is difficult to make a good Star Wars movie, the prequels proved that. But I think The Force Awakens is going to be good. I can feel it.

Star Wars, the prequels, the originals, they are inspiring, they inspired me to go into the proffesion that I am still striving to break into today. Even if you are still on the fence about the new Star Wars films just remember, these films are going to inspire a whole new generation of filmmakers, storytellers and dreamers.

And that is why I love Star Wars.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Here we are, the final instalment of The Hunger Games franchise. After loving the books, I was majorly happy with the first two adaptations of the source material. The third I was not so happy with and you can read my review for Part 1 here. Now here's the second part of the third adaptation and although a it has a lot of similar problems, overall it is a good send off for the franchise. Read on below to find out my full verdict.

So by now you know the cast, the amazing Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, accompanied by Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and the best supporting cast from your favourite TV shows of the last five years. Seriously, there are so many familiar faces from the likes of Game of Thrones and House of Cards. In this film the rebellion is in full swing in an attempt to bring an end to the pain and suffering in the Districts.

Now lets start with the good, like the rest of the series, Mockingjay doesn't take a half hearted stab at the source material, instead it takes it seriously and creates a very faithful adaptation of the text unlike other Young Adult franchises such as Divergent, which is pretty much a paint by number YA film with no heart or effort put into making a 'good' film. The Hunger Games stands out because it feels like a film in which an effort has been made to make it more than just a Blockbuster, it's also a social commentary on the world we live in today. Plus the films have some amazing performances from all involved!

There are some brilliant scenes in this film and a lot of these are extremely terrifying and hard to watch at points. There is a sequence in this film that could rival most horror movies and made me wonder how this film didn't get more than a 12A rating. These scenes are well executed and the effects are top notch. We've come a long way from the crappy fire in the first film.

When this film ended I was surprised at how much it hit me that this franchise had ended. It was about four years ago I got hooked on the books and I remember being extremely excited for the first film, this excitement may have diminished in 2015 but I was left thinking how much I would miss those early days of the franchise. It packed a punch that's for sure. If the split of the final book hadn't happened and a third film was made using only the best parts of Part 1 and 2 then this could easily be one of the best trilogies of this millennium so far.

So now onto the bad. Like Part 1 there were scenes in this film that just dragged! It suffered from something I like to call The Walking Dead effect, where there are some great set pieces and then the characters just mope around and engage in un-engaging conversations about how they feel until the next great set piece. Some of the scenes were so slow that it felt like it was intentionally trying to justify the split... well it didn't work guys. But hey, now they have twice the money!

Another problem I had with the film was the lighting, it was so dark in places that I could hardly tell what was going on, which sucked because some of the visuals were great, just a little tough to make out at times.

There are few key scenes that are brushed over surprisingly quickly, scenes of a spoilerish nature but you'll probably understand what I mean if/when you have seen it.

Like I said at the start of the review, it's a good enough send off to one the best YA franchises around, I doubt we'll get anything aimed at teenagers with a similar amount of quality any time soon. Or at least not what I have seen from other YA franchises following in The Hunger Games shadow. But then again I'm not the audience anymore, The Hunger Games got me in my final teenage years and I loved it and I am now sad it's gone, well until the announcement of the prequels or some other way to drain the life out of a decent film franchise! I am giving Mockingjay Part 2 a rating of 3.5/5.

What did you think of Mockingjay Part 2? Better than Part 1? Better than Catching Fire? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Steve Jobs

It's been a while...

So recently I was able to take time from my busy schedule and go see a film I have been wanting to see for a long time; Steve Jobs. Now I don't have a fascination with the man himself but instead it was the talent behind his biopic that had me intrigued. First we have the amazing writer, Aaron Sorkin who wrote The Social Network and most recently TV series, The Newsroom. Secondly the director, Danny Boyle who is best known for Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire. Fianlly it was the star of the show, Michael Fassbender who is one of my favourite actors, you probably know him most from the latest X-Men films where he played Magneto. If you're reading this blog it probably means you are a film fan and therefore, know why this is a big deal but if not, just know that these three guys are at the top of their league and so this collaboration between them is pretty darn huge and awesome.

The film is not your standard biopic. Instead Sorkin and Boyle decided to go for something different and allow the film to be made from three separate scenes, each the 20-40 minutes before a product launch spanned over twenty years or so. It's a brilliant creative decision that makes this film about Steve Jobs stand out above other biopics and the films about the man that have been done before and likely will be made in the future. It does mean that only certain aspects of Steve's life are brought into the film and explored, not that I am too fussed a lot of people know about his life and I was happy to see the film streamline this down to focus on a few key relationships.

Fassbender is great as Jobs, you can tell he really got into the character and portrays him in a way that is kind of tough but deep down you can feel something for the guy. He's a difficult character to like but I believe Fassbender finds a way to show some humanity beneath the hard shell of a man. The cast around Fassbender are also great, highlights include Kate Winslet (her performance great, however her accent does get strangely stronger after the first time jump...), Seth Rogen (absolutely great at doing a serious role as well as having perfect comedy timing), Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg and Katherine Waterstone. Sorkin's fast paced and witty dialogue all sounded great coming out of their mouths.

Due to scenario of the scenes and the amount of story the film wants to portray, some of the scenes come across quite theatrical but not in a bad way. A lot of the film is set in the San Fransisco Opera House and the score can be quite operatic, if anything the theatrical and operatic qualities going on in the background heighten the visuals and give the audience a sense of tension and care that may not usually have for the politics of computing.

The downside to the artistic structure of the film is familiarity, the structure of each act of the film is relatively the same and you know that Steve Jobs is going to have an updated argument with each of the characters we met in the first act, it's not always a bad thing but some of the scenes can drag when you're not as invested in certain storylines compared to others.

Overall though, this film is great, For me it doesn't quite reach the enjoyment I got from watching The Social Network but it is no way a bad film. The lengths the filmmakers have gone to make something different really pay off and we have something quite unique on our hands here with Steve Jobs, and although it may not always portray him as a decent person, I imagine that if he were here today he would be happy with it. I am giving Steve Jobs a rating of 4/5.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Martian

It's been a while since Ridley Scott has made a truly great film, but has his recent direction on The Martian changed all that? Read my full review below to find out!

The Martian follows Mark Watney, an astronaut who has to survive on Mars after being accidentally stranded there by his crew, who believed him to be dead. Let me start by saying, this film has an amazing cast! Ridley Scott has managed to bring some of the best talent around to take part in this film and it really pays off, I mean just read this, the film stars Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwitel Ejiofor, Mackenzie Davis and Donald Glover! The cast is incredible and they all do incredibly in their roles, some of which are relatively small, but they all get their chance to shine. There's a scene which features Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean and Mackenzie Davis together which had me thinking this is the best crossover of The Newsroom/ Game of Thrones/ Halt and Catch Fire that I never knew I wanted. A film is not its cast though, they have to do well and like I said before they all do however, this film mainly falls on one guys shoulders and that's Matt Damon, who has to convince us that he is a scientist/astronaut that is stuck on a different planet. Considering he mainly talks to himself through various video logs, he does this very, very well.

The plot itself is great, yes its a long film, but it's part survival film and part film about the philosophy of the human race coming together to save one man, you can't usually do that in 90 minutes. It's truly emotional at times considering the events themselves aren't based on any truth, I mean the accuracy of the science seems believable, but we have never left someone stranded on Mars. In fact the film is based of the self published novel of the same name by author Andy Weir, now I haven't read the book but from what I have heard, the film is extremely faithful to the source material. The film itself doesn't have one dull moment, you are constantly on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happens next and particularly in the final act of the film, things get very tense, it's brilliant and like with most space films it's exhilarating.

One of the reasons it's so exhilarating is the fact that it all looks so real. We saw a couple years ago with Gravity that effects these days can make outer space look very realistic. Now The Martian is not a special effects orientated film, the effects are there to enhance our experience, but hell, they might as well have filmed in space or on Mars for all I cared because the film looked stunning. Add a great soundtrack to the mix and The Martian has got it all.

This film is set slightly in the future, everything you see isn't out of the realms of possibility, unlike last years Interstellar (which yes I still love), this film presents itself as being very believable. The science, to my ears, sounded plausible enough and even though very geeky at times it was also accessible to a wide audience without ever needing to 'dumb' itself down.

I didn't really have any problems with the film, there was one moment that I felt could have been trimmed or left out but it didn't effect my enjoyment or love for this film. So yes this is a return to form for Ridley Scott, a form I hope continues when he comes around to making the next Prometheus or Alien: Paradise Lost as its being called now...

At the end of the day I am a sucker for these kinds of films, I love a good sci-fi, so much so that the first feature script I wrote was one. Space is something that has always been able to capture my imagination, I love stories that revolve around it and this one is definitely one of the better ones out there! As you can probably tell, I absolutely loved The Martian and therefore am giving it a rating of 5/5.

Have you seen The Martian yet? If so what did you think? If not then stop being a fool and go watch it on the big screen and then after let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Quick Reviews #12

I have seen a bunch of cool films (and one bad) recently, all of which I really wanted to review, so here is another round of quick reviews! This time I will give my brief thoughts on six films; The Overnight, Legend, Unexpected, Tomorrowland, Magic Mike XXL and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Read on and enjoy!

The Overnight
The Overnight is one the surprise films of the year, I didn't even realise the film existed until recently and as soon as I saw it I fell in love. It's strange, thrilling, honest and absolutely hilarious. It's hard to talk about because it's one of those films that you have to figure out what's going on as you watch it and constantly keeps you guessing as to the intentions of the different characters. Easily the best comedy I have seen this year if not just one of the best overall! Go and check it out! I'm giving it a rating of 5/5.

Legend is one of those classic gangster films, it's violent and brutal but also really quite funny. I am a sucker for these kinds of gangster films and I absolutely loved this one as well. Tom Hardy proves yet again he is one of the best actors around by playing both of the notorious Kray twins, his performances are so good that you forget that it is just one man performing both. My only problem with the film is the character of Reggie's wife who's troubled history is always hinted at but never actually explained, leaving us wanting more in order to care about her. Apart from that it is a quality film. I'm giving it a rating of 4.5/5.

Unexpected is one of those nice personal stories that can easily connect with audiences. It's about a pregnant teacher and the friendship she has with her also pregnant student. Both are from different backgrounds but they both share the joy and fear that is motherhood. Cobie Smulders is the main character here and she is really good in this film, she goes through the motions of an unexpected pregnancy convincingly. The production is great as well as there is not one fake looking baby bump, (not that I saw anyway), a problem a lot of films dealing with pregnancy have! Like I said at the start, a really nice film, it's not grounbreaking but it's still a good watch that I'm rating 4/5.

I think I liked Tomorrowland more than a lot of other people. This film received a lot of negativity when it came out but it ain't half bad! It's a great family film about dreaming, imagination and inventing, you don't get more family friendly then that. It's a bit long and could be streamlined a bit but the production value and special effects are amazing and enough to keep you glued to the screen throughout. Most of the performances are good but there are few dodgy acting moments from some of the younger cast. It doesn't ruin it though, to me it was a really fun and inspiring adventure film. I'm giving it a rating of 4/5.

Magic Mike XXL
I would like to state that I actually liked the first Magic Mike film, it surprised me, for a film about male stripping it had a lot of heart and dealt with a lot of serious issues in a great way. Now we have Magic Mike XXL, a film that promised to be more fun and less serious but ultimately is just not very good. It's constant build up to the final strip leads to a pretty dissapointing finale and whilst we wait to get there the crew of strippers drive from location to location being all bro-y and cool whilst completely contradicting some of the messages of the first film. The conversation barely changes from them constantly making excuses as to why some of the actors from the first film aren't in this one or Channing Tatum awkwardly flirting. This film was made purely on the success of the first but doesn't do anything to recreate the magic, I just didn't care. I'm giving it a rating of 1/5.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
I absolutely adored this film. It's smart, funny and quirky. It features some great characters and truly dives deep into the mind of a teenager whose having to grow up. It's sad, but not in a way like many films dealing with cancer are, it's never glum but almost bitter sweet and deals with the subject more realistically than others. It's uplifting and inspiring, it's a film about film making which obviously resonates with me and it's full of references that any cinema lover will get giddy over. The story is great and the cinematography beautiful, so many weird and wonderful shots that at times it reminded me of a more contemporary Wes Anderson movie. This film has a lot going for it and it's no wonder it won big at the Sundance film festival this year. Easily one of the best films of the year, a solid 5/5.

Well I hope you enjoyed my reviews. Have you seen any of the films above? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The London Student Experience VIDEO

A while back I posted about my time on The London Student Experience. On that post I wrote about a video I had in the works and was waiting for the music to be made for it. Well it's been made! The music was created by the brilliant Caitlin Gilbert who made this original song just for the video! I think it's awesome and really adds to the footage which I had originally edited together just to show my parents what I had been up to in London, without having to sift through hundreds of clips! You can check out some more of Caitlin's work on her Soundcloud here and her band II's Soundcloud here.

Now onto the video itself. It is below and I have embedded both the YouTube and Vimeo versions of the two depending on your preference. Please enjoy!

What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading/watching!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

How I Would Reboot Spider-Man

As a screenwriter, one of my dream jobs would be getting tasked with writing the script for my childhood hero, Spider-Man. Spider-Man hasn't had the best of runs on the big screen recently, with (in my opinion) only two of the five films made, being any good. When Marvel Studio's finally got the chance to bring the webhead into their shared universe I was extremely happy, they have now got another chance to get the character right, as well as making him part of something bigger and being able to see him interact with other Marvel heroes.

Spider-Man is first going to be seen in next years Captain America: Civil War, before then getting his own film in 2017. How is Marvel going to make their take different from the previous attempts? This is something I have been thinking about for a while now and it got me wondering, how would I write a new Spider-Man film that felt different from the previous films but also stayed true to the character that people fell in love with in the comics? So instead of just thinking this I decided to go about actually writing the opening to what I think would make a great new Spider-Man film. Below is the opening five pages to a Spider-Man script that I feel would be something exciting and original but also familiar. After the script pages, I have given a brief overview of the story I am intending to tell as well as some dream casting for the parts that have yet to be publicly announced my Marvel. Now, don't take this script as my idea of what a new Spider-Man script should definately be like, it's just something I think would be cool and a bit of fun. Take it all with a pinch of salt because none of us know how Spider-Man will end up being like after the events of Civil War! But please do enjoy!

So there you go. Spider-Men. This is a concept that I think would be an interesting route for Marvel/Sony to go down. There has been a big debate as to the ethnicity of Spider-Man prior to the casting of Tom Holland. My personal preference in that debate was that I would like to keep Peter white because that is what I am used to in the comics, however, if it had turned out an actor of different ethnicity was to play him then I wouldn't be angry or upset either. Obviously some people thought different and I know that the casting of Tom Holland was a disappointment to many. My inclusion of the black hispanic Spider-Man, Miles Morales in the script was not to pander to an audience who wanted more diversity, but because I think he is an awesome character! In my opinion, the story of Miles Morales in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics has been some of the best spidey stories we have seen out of Marvel in the last few years. Now I know in those comics he is a legacy character to the deceased Peter Parker but I don't think his character is one that needs to stick to that format. In fact I believe that through Miles Morales, we could find ourselves a more complex origin to Peter Parker without having to show him being bitten by a spider again!

In my script I would have Peter only being about a year into his Spider-Man career and he is getting pretty comfortable with it. Then you have the even younger Miles come along and he has only just gotten his powers, and although he is a pretty decent guy, he hasn't had the whole 'with great powers come great responsibilty' speech yet. Miles also has a pretty cool yet sleazy and manipulative uncle, who is also a master thief named The Prowler (Yes the Ultimate Comics version of the character) and after figuring out his identity, he uses him to help steal equipment from other bad guys, including The Shocker's gauntlets who we see in the opening scene. Using Miles, he slowly begins to become a more powerful and sinister villain.  In order to show how much Uncle Ben had a part in Peter's life and superhero ethics, I would have Peter trying to pass the lessons he was taugh onto Miles. Peter has to take on Miles along with his own superhero career, school and love life in the form of his new neighbour who has taken an interest in him, Mary Jane Watson (wouldn't it be great to get the line 'face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot' in somewhere as well!). Whilst getting to know and trust each other they open up to one another, Miles tells Peter of his Uncle's criminal and manipulative ways and Peter's tells Mile's one of his biggest guilt's, he believes it is his fault his own uncle died. Nearing the final act of the film, I would have the two them fully have each others trust and friendship with Peter then making Miles his own set of web shooters and his own cool costume. Then together they work to take down The Prowler before he gains too much power in the criminal underworld.

Obviously this is different to anything we have seen on film and also not something we have seen entirely in the comics. This doesn't mean that Miles and Peter will team up in every Spider-Man film but the possibility should be there, as well as Miles being able to spin off and have his own solo film adventures within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So who would my dream cast be to join Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei in the main roles?

Miles Morales
(Michael Rainy Jr)

Michael Rainy Jr first impressed me with his performance in LUV, where even as a young child he was able to pull off a incredible performance as the lead in the film. He has since been seen in Lee Danial's The Butler and Orange is the New Black. He is now 14, soon to be 15 years old, near about the right age for Miles but more importantly younger than Tom Holland, which in the end is all that really matters for this to work. He also has already proven to have great chemistry with actor I would choose to play The Prowler...
The Prowler

Common appeared alongside Michael Rainy Jr in LUV as his Uncle, so they already have that to work with. As I have previously mentioned, in the film they have great chemistry and I believe that Common could play a great Prowler as in LUV it showed that he could play a likeable yet flawed man with a dark side. Anybody taking on the role of this version of The Prowler would have to be able to play it cool enough for the audience to believe that he truly could manipulate young Miles into doing his dirty work and I think Common could do just that.

Mary Jane
(Maika Monroe)

You may recognise Maika Monroe from two brilliant stylish horror films from the last couple years The Guest and It Follows. Both were extremely good films and both featured Maika giving brilliant performances. Yes she may be blonde but that didn't stop Sam Raimi from casting Kirsten Dusnt for his Spider-Man films. Dye her hair red and I believe she would make a great easy going and fun Mary Jane to Tom Holland's (hopefully) awkward Peter Parker. 

The Shocker
(Aaron Paul)

I'm not the first to say this, I believe a few people have thrown around the idea of Breaking Bad star as The Shocker. The Shocker in my film is more of a secondary villain to The Prowler but that doesn't mean he can't be just as cool and menacing, something I believe Aaron Paul would just revel in once he puts on the costume. I'm The Shocker bitch! (Okay maybe I wouldn't have him say that...)

So there you have it, my take on one of the many ways Spider-Man could be rebooted! This won't be everyones cup of tea, I understand that. It's just something I think would be cool. The rumours so far for the next solo outing is that it will be very 'John Hughes' like in nature and may even have Kraven The Hunter as the villain. That all sounds good, though personally I would wait until we have an older and more mature Peter so Marvel could adapt Kraven's Last Hunt onto the big screen! If not, an animated film like DC's The Dark Knight Returns would be sweet!

I've never done a post like this before so I hope you enjoyed it. If I ever have an idea for any other takes on characters maybe I'll do this again, that is of course if you liked it, so please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Now Spider-Man is babysitted by Marvel Studios I am sure that whatever route they take it will be a good one and true to the character of Peter Parker. However if you are reading this Kevin Feige and think it's an absolutely amazing idea please give me a call! 

Thanks for reading!