Review: Ready or Not (2019)

Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Writer: Guy Busick, Ryan Murphy
Stars: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien1_0X43rXLWvIgG1e-u2SArkg.jpeg

Horror films are not my thing. Never have been, never will be. But dark humour-horror films? Give me all of them.

In a style that is eerily reminiscent of the 2011 cult classic Cabin in the Woods, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have directed my favourite horror film since A Quiet Place.

Whilst Ready or Not has far more comedy in it than I anticipated going in (I think I saw one trailer and had completely forgotten it by the time I sat in my seat), more often than not the comedy hits home. The writing is genuinely funny and the acting/directing is well-timed to deliver. With that being said the comedic elements never feel like they overstay their welcome. Instead these moments serve to provide levity to what is otherwise a very thrilling and suspenseful movie, which sees main character Grace (Portrayed perfectly by Samara Weaving) attempt to survive a night-long game of Hide and Seek with her murderous in-laws.

The acting across the board is pretty great, with a rich cast of characters who are all portrayed near perfectly. Sure only a small handful of the relatively large cast of characters have any kind of development over the story. But the film is only an hour and a half long, and whilst development may, for the most part, be limited the ability for characters to stand out and for each to have a unique personality is certainly prevalent. Adam Brody plays the regretful son incredibly well, Melanie Scrofano the jittery sister and Nicky Guadagni the psychotic aunt to name but a few. However, it is Samara Weaving who is the standout of the film, with her putting in a superb performance throughout.

The gore is over the top, but in a good way. The movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and I think that if it had it would have failed. So seeing a woman with her face half blown off, and it being played for laughs, suits the movie perfectly.

The story is far from unique, and I would be shocked if the writers took no inspiration from the aforementioned Cabin in the Woods, however it is the execution of this movie that will make it stand out in the long run. Here’s to what I’m hoping will be regarded as another cult favourite in the years to come. With that being said, don’t go into this movie expecting the next A Quiet Place in terms of horror-delivery, but a sleeper hit I think it shall be nonetheless.

Final Score: 8/10 Porgs
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Review: The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

The phrase “page-turner” is easily banded about these days, but Evan Winter’s debut fantasy novel earns the accolade.

Set in a mystical fantasy world, filled with Dragons, giant lizards, magic and an endless war The Rage of Dragons manages to deliver one of the most human and relatable fantasy epics in recent memory.

Rather relying on characters that are larger than life and wholly unattainable, Evan Winter creates a world populated with emotionally driven characters who, like all of us, have their own unique flaws and motivation.

Continue reading “Review: The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter”

Review: Ready Player One

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Zak Penn and Ernest Cline
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn

Whilst Ready Player One might not be the Steven Spielberg masterpiece that a lot of us hoped it would be, it’s still a fun and memorable cinematic experience that you don’t want to miss out on.

Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Ernest Cline the movie follows the adventures of a group of people hunting down the golden Easter egg within a virtual world called the Oasis, with the premise being that should you find this Easter egg you will gain control of the Oasis itself. And in terms of adaptations the film falls somewhere in the Lord of the Rings category of accuracy; the core story is the same and there are a number of scenes and moments which are lifted straight out of the book, but the journey the characters take to get to their end goal has a number of differences both little and large. Some of these differences were done so with the film’s length in mind, others with having to adapt some of the challenges to an on-screen medium that perhaps requires more adrenaline pumping action than a book would otherwise need. But overall if you’re a fan of the book then you’ll definitely be at the very least appeased with the way this adaptation turned out, and that’s unsurprising given Ernest Cline’s involvement with the screenplay.

As for how the film holds up on its own, there are both good and bad points to be made, but fortunately it’s mostly the former. There’s no real attention grabbing performances in the film, and that’s partly down to the limited time that we actually spend with the in-person versions of these characters. Tye Sheridan is fine as the film’s main character, but he offers little more than a standard, by the numbers performance. The same can be said for Ben Mendelsohn who portrays a typical comic-book villain with little backstory or motivation other than money and greed. But the film is fortunate in that the real stars aren’t the real life characters, but their avatar counterparts in the Oasis. Art3mis, Parzival, Daito and Aech all outshine their real life players and that’s where the films strength lies, in the Oasis.

Whilst the film’s portrayal of the Oasis isn’t exactly what I had imagined when reading the book, that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Spielberg (And likely Ernest Cline) did a great job of modernising the original vision of what the Oasis was (Something built around 80’s references that would be lost on many of the younger audience who will go to see this film) so that it fit in today’s culture. There are so many Easter eggs littered throughout the film, both subtle and exceedingly obtuse that it’s going to take someone a scary amount of time in order to list them all. But because of that I almost feel like this film will leave you wanting to go back and start all over again, wanting to find just one more reference, one more character that you didn’t notice the first time around, I know I sure want to right now.

It’s hard to say right now whether this film will have any impact on the future of VR in the real world, but it’s certainly not going to hurt the technology now that a far wider audience has been introduced to the sheer magnitude and beauty of the world that Cline envisioned.

If you have the chance go and see this movie in the cinema, it’s a big screen cinematic experience if ever there was one and the stunning visuals and amazing soundtrack are something that you have to experience for the first time in a theatre. This film is going to have everybody talking and for all the right reasons. Should it be getting 10/10 reviews? No. But that doesn’t make this any less of an impactful film and one that will no doubt still be talked about in many years to come.

Final Score: 7/10 Porgs.

Retrospective Review: Jurassic Park

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Michael Crichton and David Koepp
Starring: Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern

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To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1993 blockbuster (And my second favourite movie of all time) we’ll be taking a look back at one Steven Spielberg’s best in our second ever Retrospective Review.

It’s hard to imagine how one director produced both Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List in the same year, but Spielberg managed it, staking his claim as one of the best directors of all time in the process.

Earning five-star reviews right out of the gate Jurassic Park wasn’t one of those sleeper hits which took time for people to appreciate, with the likes of Empire referring to the film as “quite simply one of the greatest blockbusters of all time”. Its revolutionary use of CGI and practical effects, as well as its appeal to audiences of all ages made this an instant classic and in doing so effectively changed the landscape of the film industry forever.

You would be hard pressed to find someone who has seen the film but doesn’t remember the first time they saw a dinosaur on screen. The now iconic “brachiosaur scene” has become synonymous with classic Hollywood moments, and it’s safe to say that when Spielberg said that he wanted the audience to truly believe they were watching a real dinosaur on screen, that he achieved his goal.

To this day there are certain scenes in the film which could go toe-to-toe with the latest and greatest uses of CGI. The scene which my mind instantly wanders back to is when the T-Rex escapes its paddock and attack the vehicles on the road. For my money that scene still looks better than most CGI monsters today, even those seen in the Jurassic franchise itself.

But the film’s legacy lies far beyond its mastery of CGI. The characters are to this day loved and adored, with Jeff Goldblum’s character Ian Malcolm making a return to the same franchise 25 years after his original appearance. The characters of Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Satler (Laura Dern) will to this day still pop up at comic-cons as popular cosplay options, whilst the T-Rex has transitioned into pop-culture main stream and will this year be making a cameo in Spielberg’s next venture Ready Player One.

I lost count of how many times I’ve seen this film a number of years ago whilst the figure was somewhere in the sixties, and yet I can continually go back to it with the same joy and excitement that I had the first couple of times. Nothing about this film has aged badly, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Spielberg pulled off something that is very rare in the film industry, a timeless classic, and the fact that we’re actively celebrating its 25th anniversary is a testament to that.

“When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth” may have been one of the ending images the film portrays, but it is perhaps ironic that since the release of this film it is in fact Dinosaurs that have ruled the Earth as one of the best and most beloved films of all time.

Final Score: 10/10 Porgs

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