The Light Between Oceans


A remarkably sad film about a light; a cinematic oxymoron if ever there was one.

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What starts out as a gloriously gorgeous love story is soon plummeted to the deepest darkest dramatic depths as family love becomes outrageously forbidden when a family stow away a child that is not rightfully  their own. 

Though tremendously heartbreaking, this period drama excels in ways modern love stories simply cannot. Being stranded on a lighthouse island with nothing but one another’s company and no internet or TV to keep you entertained is an impossibility in this day an age. 

From the genius behind The Place Beyond the Pines, Director Derek Cianfrance delights once more with his remarkable ability to make an audience feel a characters every emotion.

But it’s not just the Director’s performance that is admirable, Michael Fassbender also manages to deliver a profound performance with a touchingly genuine enthusiasm for his character. 

The only slight qualm with these lovable actors is their inability to perform an accurate Australian accent, which considering the films coastal Australian setting, one would assume this would take priority during casting, but clearly it did not.

Though this film is one of love and loss, if you ignore the failing Australian interpretation, it truly is worth a watch even if it does end up bringing a tear to the eye.

Queen of Katwe


Chess; not exactly ones first choice when trying to make a multi-million dollar blockbuster, and yet Disney seemed to have made it work nonetheless.

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This incredibly inspiring real-life story takes place in the slums of Kenya, where a little girl has a big dream; to play enough chess to help her family escape the horrific poverty of the slums.

As is to be expected from a rags to riches type film, the content really pulls at the heartstrings, but it is this emotion that fills the screen that is what makes this such an intensely spectacular masterpiece. 

Emotion of course is one of Disney’s many specialities, but this film is in a league of its own. Between the phenomenal acting talent and the perspective camera angles, the filmmakers don’t even leave you enough time to take a breath before they plunge you into the next drama induced scene.

It is rare, as a viewer, that we get an insight into such honest poverty and heartache  without a filter to keep us from reality. And it is for this reason that you cannot help but admire the Director, Mira Nair, for her courage in its execution.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back


Lee Child’s fictional world has made it back to the big screen as Jack Reacher takes on his newest mission. 

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Tom Cruise is doing what he’s best at again; playing the action hero. In this Jack Reacher revival Cruise has to chase down a US arms dealer to clear both his name and that of his newest love interest. But to make things a little more interesting, he now has a long lost daughter to protect as well.

As explosions and overly traumatic gun fights go, this film manages the audiences expectations in terms of the action and fight scenes. Which is particularly refreshing considering many action films tend to overcompensate for the all too frequent inept post-production that often befalls them.

However despite the seemingly equal balance of violence to drama, this film doesn’t truly start to stir interest until the it’s penultimate scene that see’s Reacher fight to the death. By which time the film’s build-up seems almost anti-climatic.

But overall, I think that in a world almost overrun by action films, this unexpected sequel is a happy reminder that a big budget can actually be rewarding if executed properly. 

Keeping Up With The Joneses


The idea of a ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ is given a whole new meaning in this hilariously awkward comedy thriller that sees friendships blossom from curiosity. 

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Not many highly skilled espionage artists have been exposed to modern suburbia life, so it is unsurprising that two secret agents under the persona of The Joneses get a little more than they bargained for when they move into the same cul-de-sac as The Gaffney’s.

Despite The Joneses consistent attempts to fit-in to the neighbourhood, The Gaffney’s can’t help but think not all is as it seems and so decide to do a little investigating themselves; ultimately leading to blowing The Joneses cover and jeopardising the entire mission.

As spy films go this one certainly wins the award for the most ridiculous concept. Not because of the special effects or the acting talent, but because of the sheer hilarity that carries the script. From seeing Zach Galifiankis try and break a three sheet pane of glass by running into it, to witnessing Jonn Hamms relentless optimism in the ever worsening spy talents of The Gaffney’s, there’s one thing for sure; this film is not missing the comedy factor. 

Like so many films in this genre, it makes for easy  an viewing and screams ‘date night’ material. And unlike so many of these comedy spy films that seem to be hitting the cinemas front, left and centre, it might actually be a film that remains with its audience, but I doubt it. 

Trolls


Those little tyrants with wacky hair have made a comeback and branched out onto the big screen to fuel a clumsily colourful adventure. 

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Trolls, as you can imagine, is a sickeningly happy film, jam packed full of singing and dancing, a feature that is not even compromised in the face of death. 

Luckily though Justin Timberlake’s character, Branch, is there to inject a much needed dose of scepticism and doom.

Despite the films overall rainbows and unicorns vibe, the film isn’t overly unbearable in its conception. Mainly due to the fact that the undertones of sarcasm and non-stop use of inappropriate puns is enough to diffuse any possibility of seriousness. This of course only adds to the films endearing quality, which I’m sure was the intention of Director, Garth Jennings, who wanted to appeal not only to a younger audience, but their parents as well.

With the witty writing of the script, the lovable warmth of the characters and the instantly catchy soundtrack it would be an insult not to mention the quality of the animation itself, which by the way is phenomenal. 

Aside from the impressive array of colours used throughout the film, it is the textures used to create the animation that truly impresses. The very fact that I, as an audience, am able to ascertain that an animated character is wearing clothes made from a felt-like material is beyond satisfying, because such a level of detail is hard pressed to find even among the most successful of animation studios. 

American Honey


Usually films and indeed stories, have a beginning, a middle and an end.

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But not this one. This one just provides a middle. A middle that exceeds over 160 minutes of screen time, and makes you feel as if you have been forced into spending the rest of eternity with Shia Labeouf’s acting. Which I think we can all agree is a horrid punishment despite his exterior attractiveness.

As is the case with many hipster films that try and ‘break’ the Hollywood mold, this one doesn’t just fail, it crashes, burns and then explodes in a cataclysmic fashion.

Though at the time I’m sure that the creator and director of this film, Andrea Arnold, thought using perspective and close up camera angles was super quirky and original, but the novelty soon wears off for those unfortunate enough witness it, mostly due to the fact that it induces nausea. 

But then again the filmmakers had to attempt something  in order to hold the audiences attention, because one things for sure, the plot definitely can’t; the whole film is essentially about a group of angsty teenagers who travel through America to ‘sell’ magazines all whilst being intoxicated and apparently very sexually frustrated as they do so. 

If you’d like to whittle away 3 hours of your life that you’ll never be able to get back (a very grace mistake on my part), than this is the perfect film for your apparently very boring entertainment purposes.

Inferno


Nobody wanted, nor sought a sequel to Angels and Demons, and yet here it is. But thank goodness Hollywood did grace us with another Dan Brown screen convert, because despite its needlessness it is an added adventure that was surprisingly much needed after all.

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Tom Hanks may have grown older in this seemingly endless franchise revival, but it also appears that he has grown wiser.

As is a recurring theme in these films, gore and ancient history is a given. Between visions of bloody water and decapitated limbs it’s safe to say this is not a film for the faint hearted.

Once past the graphic hysteria of the deluded hallucinations curtesy of Professor Langdon (Tom Hanks), the film holds a hugely adventurous plot to destroy the world.  This sees the characters initiate a trail across various historical places throughout Europe to discover the source of the plan that threatens the possibility of human extinction.

Though the film is tremendously engaging in terms of back to back action and a thrilling plot which twists and turns as the storyline unfolds, the level the fact-finding is somewhat comprised at times in place of added violence, which can be described as nothing but disappointing.

However in the grand scheme of things, this seems a small sacrifice in an otherwise enticing thriller, which with the original creator of the books, Dan Brown, as producer is almost idealistic in its page to screen adaptation.

Storks


Where do babies come from? A question as old as time.

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Well it turns out our parents weren’t lying to us; they really do come from storks, highly chaotic and not at all capable storks, but storks nonetheless.

Now, if like me, you saw the trailer for this film and weren’t exactly filled with excitement, then you will be pleasantly surprised, because this is one of the funniest family films of 2016.

To be honest the quality and fluidity of the animation could win awards on its own. And it almost certainly gives Disney’s animation studios a run for their money.

With a plot that looks as if it will stumble at the first hurdle this film actually surprises in its execution, taking an initially dull start and excelling it into a heart-warmingly hilarious adventure.

Storks ticks the boxes on most family checklists, from charming characters to unyieldingly seamless animation.

And the best thing about this film? It’ll finally stop your kids from asking the question that every parent dreads.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


Yes, I can confirm that this film is, as the title suggests, quite peculiar.

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Set in the early second world war in the plush lands of Wales, a forgotten fairy-tale is brought to life by none other than blockbusting tycoon and all round top notch director, Tim Burton.

This story is of course taken from a children’s novel and leaked onto the big screen with envious wit and larger than life, if not somewhat unconventional characters, as is the case with so many of Burton’s cinematic experiments.

With a plot as gripping in peculiarity as this one is, it is hard to find a dull moment through this films duration. However with a storyline as odd as this one finds itself comes a pairing of dark undertones which quite frankly make me question whether it should have ever been branded as a ‘family film’.

Because be it the unpleasant monsters that are hiding behind every corner or just the bizarrely scary characters themselves, one things for sure, this is not a children’s film; it will more than likely keep said children awake at night if you are foolish enough to entertain them with it. However, this being said, I think we can all agree that the majority of Burton’s creations are not exactly for the faint-hearted.

Though the characters play a huge role in the success of this film, it is the special effects and use of setting that truly makes this film spellbinding in its effect. In fact I cannot recall a single film that has ever made travelling back through the ages more satisfying to watch than this one has.

What is so gloriously different about the effects put onto the finished production is that they are not over the top, nor are they unnecessary. Instead, they do exactly what CGI was created and intended for; they complement the film, making it a scorching success in its own right.

 

The Girl on the Train


In this page to screen adaption of Paula Hawkins 2013 bestselling novel Emily Blunt holds the strings on an otherwise collapsing show.

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If like me you have not read the novel prior to watching this film, you may be forgiven for thinking this film, whilst not particularly enjoyable in its feel good vigour, does delight as a standalone thriller, albeit a very dark one. If, however, you have taken to reading before watching than all I can say to you is sorry.

Because let’s face it, the film can be deemed unrecognisable in comparison. Not only has the setting been changed from the original griminess of London to a suburban New York town, but every actor bar one (Emily Blunt) is American. And given the fact than the novel was designed to have been portrayed in Britain’s capital I cannot help but think this quite a significant blunder on behalf of the Film Company and Director.

It would be a pleasure for me to announce that this is a small hiccup in an otherwise exceptional cinematic journey, but alas, this would be a lie. As it seems that despite having a novel on which to base the script and general production upon, this film fails abysmally to carry its characters and their vulnerabilities. And despite having an all-star cast, the limitations put on them are so painfully clear it is almost unpleasant to watch. What should have been a trio of feministic characters turns into a chaotic mess, with only Emily Blunt being able to hold up the persona of her otherwise lacklustre character.

This film was never meant to warm the hearts of cinema goers throughout the world, but neither was it meant to dampen the spirits of Hollywood enthusiasts. With a basic storyline of manipulation and alcoholism it can be hard to craft a film worthy of big screen production, and yet when you think back to film’s such as ‘Gone Girl’ such goals clearly are doable.