Review: Deadpool 2

Director: David Leitch
Writers: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick & Ryan Reynolds
Starring: Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin

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Following on from the astronomical success of the first Deadpool movie many would have not been surprised if 20th Century Fox panicked and did a complete re-hash of the first. Whilst there are certainly similarities in Deadpool 2 to the first movie – the crass humour which is reliant on 4th wall breaking knowledge, the self deprivation and the over-the-top violence – but the sequel does more than enough to significantly differentiate itself from the first also.

As Mr. Pool himself says, Deadpool 2 is a movie about family. Now that the origin movie is out of the way you can almost feel how much more relaxed the writers were when approaching this movie. Rather than having to tell the story of who Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is, they can instead focus on giving him room for development and growth. Something that feels both a tad out of place for a character such as this, but an arc which surprisingly works incredibly well.

Every character is the film is done very well, with perhaps the exception of the real villain of the movie who has basically zilch character motivation. Zazie Beetz as Domino is one of the standouts and Julian Dennison who effectively played the MacGuffin of the movie came across like a real star.

I pondered over whether I preferred the first or second entry to the franchise, but decided that ultimately there were aspects from each which I gravitate towards. The comedy I felt was more impactful in the first film, but the story and character growth is by far better in the sequel. Likewise the action I felt was better in the first movie in general, but there were specific action sequences in this film which I thought were more appealing on the whole.

Deadpool 2 also does a great job of subverting expectations, which is perhaps what I admired most about it. I won’t go into spoilers here, but the arc of the X-Force comes off incredibly well and I didn’t expect to enjoy Josh Brolin’s Cable and Zazie Beetz’s character Domino anywhere near as much as I did. It’s safe to say that Josh Brolin is on quite the superhero romp this year.

Overall Deadpool 2 is a very strong film, which happens to have perhaps the best ever post credits scenes to send the crowds home happy. The future of the franchise is looking exciting and whether we see Deadpool 3 or a series of X-Force films going forward then I will be excited regardless. If you were in any way a fan of the first film then this will certainly be one to go out and see. Heck, even if you didn’t enjoy the first then you should still go out and see this movie.

Final Score: 8/10 Porgs

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Review: Avengers Infinity War

Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Starring: Everybody

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10 years of ground-breaking cinema has built up to this moment. It’s the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date and by God does it deliver.

I usually like to write my reviews immediately after having seen a film, but with this one I felt as though I needed more time to digest what I had seen. It’s such a large movie, both in terms of the scale within which the action takes place, and the sheer production size that it can at times feel overwhelming, and taking some time out to process the movie before finalizing your thoughts is probably the best bet.

As always this review will be spoiler free and I implore everyone to try and go into this movie knowing as little as possible. Even the smallest of spoilers might detract from what is a piece of cinema like no other.

The Russo Brothers have done a fantastic job with a movie that may have been one of the most difficult films to produce in cinematic history. Never before has a film not only had 10 years worth of build up via the format of 18 previous films but also had to integrate over 60 previously established and popular characters. It’s a challenge that would turn away many people in the film industry and some serious credit needs to be dropped at the feet of the Russos. They manage to perfectly balance the massive cast of heroes and side-characters, giving all the right people just the correct amount of screen time. Of course there are characters who stand out more than others, but that’s always been the case since way back at Avengers Assembled, so with the addition of the Guardians and about 10 new franchises it’s hard to criticize.

You could quite easily make a case to say that at least 9 or 10 of our main protagonists steal the show and that is no bad thing. But despite all these new faces, despite the multitude of interweaving storylines that play out over the course of the movie, in my own personal opinion it is the MCU’s big bad, Thanos, who comes out of this movie as the star.

As the Russos have stated before, Infinity War is essentially Thanos’ movie and after having seen it you cannot disagree. What that means is that we have perhaps our best ever Marvel villain, and one who could easily hold his own against some of the better villains in movie history. He is given depth, emotion, motivation and presence, all key ingredients in the superhero movie cocktail.

What surprised me was the level of emotion throughout the movie. From the opening scene the pace of this movie is frenetic, very rarely taking a moment to allow the audience to breath. So at first I was scared that the Russos had sacrificed character development and raw emotional moments for a film more akin to the final Harry Potter movie but on a bigger scale. Fortunately I was proved wrong many times over as the film continued to deliver emotional sucker-punches and some really nice character work, especially among some of the members of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Unfortunately there were the odd moments of dodgy CGI, which was dissappointing but not distracting. But my biggest complaint came from the fact that during some of the action scenes, I felt the direction wasn’t as strong as in past Marvel movies. I often found myself losing track of what was happening due to the shakey cam and close up shots, which was a shame especially in the later battles.

The ending is perhaps the bravest I have seen in a movie and it will keep you thinking about it for days after having watched it last. I saw Infinity War at a midnight screening on the day of release, and I’m still going over the ending in my head. It sticks with you on a number of levels and it’s unlike anything Marvel have ever done before. Fortunately they earn the ending, the jokes are toned down throughout the movie compared to the likes of Thor: Ragnarok and you’re very much grounded in the idea that it’s not playtime anymore.

As Dr. Strange says “We’re in the end game now”.

Final Score: 8/10 Porgs

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Review: A Quiet Place

Director: John Krasinski
Writers: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck and John Krasinski
Starring: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe

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A Quiet Place is an Oscar-worthy film.

John Krasinski has hit a masterstroke with his feature film directorial debut. Starring, writing and directing a film which he considered something of a personal passion will have helped this film no-end, and having his real life wife Emily Blunt along for the ride to add experience and chemistry only helped to raise this film up from good to great.

Featuring a small cast of 4 people (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe playing the children of the aforementioned Blunt and Krasinski), set on a farm in the rural landscape of Duchess County, I doubt anyone involved with the production of the film would realise what a hit they had on their hands.

Debuting at the box-office with numbers similar to that of Ready Player One, a film which cost roughly $150m more to make, the debut film for Krasinski has already more than tripled its meager budget of $17m.

It’s hard to decide where to start with the positives of this film. Every member of the cast do an outstanding job and it’s hard to tell you exactly who the lead of the film is because all 4 characters are central to the story and family connection that the film is built around. Many people are quick to criticise child actors, but Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe are absolute stars here. Selling their fear to absolute perfection, they at no point feel out of place or outshone. Krasinski does a wonderful job in the caretaker role, playing the protective and loving father to perfection. But it’s Emily Blunt who steals the show with her performance, including one scene in particular that should call for her to be nominated in the Best Actress category come 2019.

It would be remiss of me to not mention the use of sound throughout the film, the entire premise of what this cinema experience is built on. The film makes quick work of establishing the rules of the world within which it is set; what constitutes too much noise, what noises can be heard by what camera shots, and by extension what can be heard by the lurking monsters. Hopefully you get lucky and see this film with either an empty audience or a well behaved one. Having someone talking during this movie is likely to ruin the experience, which is entirely built around there being no sound in the movie and thus in the audience either, otherwise you run the risk of detracting from the tension and story that is being told on screen.

There is very little dialogue in this movie, nearly all communication is done through sign language and facial expressions, which only serves to heighten the performance of the actors involved. But what sound is used, is done so masterfully. I imagine that this film is a sound team’s wet dream, as they were able to focus on the minutia of what the audience should be hearing, and when the time came for loud noises and action, they were able to pull it off without losing any of the tension felt during quiet moments. Again, I would be incredibly surprised not to see this film get the nod for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing throughout the next award season.

All in all a near perfect movie, the action pieces were well directed, the pacing went at a frenetic pace but didn’t sacrifice character development to achieve it and the cinematography was really good, although I would have liked more landscape shots of the farmland, just to add a little further context to their surroundings outside the farm itself.

I tip my hat to John Krasinksi and everyone else involved in the creation of this film, because it’s not only the best horror film to come out in years, but it’s generally just one of the best films period over the past handful of years. Here’s hoping that this wasn’t just beginner’s luck for Krasinki and that he can go on to be one of the next great directors.

Final Score: 9/10 Porgs

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Review: Pacific Rim: Uprising

Director: Steven S. DeKnight
Writers: Steven S. DeKnight, Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder and T.S. Nowlin
Starring: John Boyega

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Pacific Rim: Uprising is a fun ride, but one that never quite lives up to the legacy of the first film.

The original Pacific Rim was always an odd one. It was one of those films that you either loved or hated, with very few people seeming to fall in the middle. It was an anime turned live action movie, with over the top characters and classical tropes such as giant robots fighting giant monsters. But Uprising seems to tone down aspects of the story that are grounded in anime and I think it falls short of the original because of it.

John Boyega as the lead character is certainly more enjoyable as a lead than Charlie Hunnam in the original, but at the same time I feel as though his character still lacks any depth. A very vague backstory of conflict with his father does not make a character and it’s that tired and told storyline that the film leans too heavily on for emotional context. Similarly for Cailee Spaeny’s character who has a one scene backstory that barely serves any purpose in the film.

What the film does well is try to add further depth and context to the original. Trying to answer the question of what exactly were the goals of the Kaiju during the first movie. Unfortunately, these are questions that nobody was asking. Rather than giving us backstory or further expansion of the alien race who sent the giant monsters to Earth in the first place, we are instead teased that reveal for a 3rd film and in its place offered a half-hearted attempt to give the Kaiju direction and meaning which creates as many plot holes and it tries to answer.

Everything about the story feels like grand concepts with poor execution, there are multiple story-threads which happen with no real explanation and even more which the writers try to give an explanation for but it falls completely flat and makes little sense.

Perhaps it was because the film opted to go for the Stargate Universe route of a sequel, bringing in a much younger cast than the original, but it just didn’t resonate with me as much as the first film did. The directing felt off-par, particularly the fight scenes which were far less memorable than the first film.

With that being said, the music was still great and there were still some moments that managed to get my blood pumping. The series will always be a good time if you just want to turn your brain off for a while and enjoy some robots and giant monsters, without worrying too much about a cohesive story.

Final Score: 6/10 Porgs