Arrival (2016) | Movie Review [Spoiler Free]

Arrival is a 2016 drama, mystery, and science-fiction movie based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. After 12 mysterious spacecrafts come to Earth linguist, Dr Louise Banks (played by Amy new-arrival-movie-poster-615813.jpgAdams), is recruited by the military to try and communicate with the aliens onboard one of the spacecrafts.

The movie is directed by Denis Villeneuve, and produced by Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, and David Linde. The screenplay is written by Eric Heisserer, and the movie stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Tzi Ma, among others.

Having got out of the cinema a few hours ago I can still safely say that I’m very glad I saw this movie! From the moment I saw the first trailer I was intrigued, and that intrigue was still there when I was sat in my seat watching it. Arrival is more about the story than the action. In fact there’s only a teeny bit of action, but for the most part there isn’t any because it never relies on it, and it honestly doesn’t need to.

There was never a point where I felt bored or like I wanted to leave, that’s because Arrival does such a good job at telling its story and keeping the mystery alive. It does just enough to make you wonder about it, but not enough so that you’ll be disappointed with the outcome. What also helps it to move along nicely and keep audiences captivated is the music (by Jóhann Jóhannsson) and the cinematography (by Bradford Young). I favoured the cinematography more, but I definitely appreciate both. At times they work together and when you put all the different elements of this movie together you get such an original atmosphere.

It never felt like any particular element was favoured more.  The music was just as important as the cinematography, the cinematography was just as important as the acting, the acting was just as important as the writing, etc, etc. Speaking of the acting, everyone did an amazing job. They all helped to draw you further into this story, into this world. I really felt like I cared (even about the aliens!).

If you’ve been considering checking this movie out I urge you to! It’s beautiful and amazing and completely worth the watch. It has that short film vibe to it, but it never feels drawn out or overdone considering it’s actually nearly 2 hours long. Instead it feels like they took advantage of bringing this story to life by showing you everything they could and offering up as much as possible.

I, at the very least, recommend giving it a shot. You might even be surprised by how much you actually enjoy it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

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Don’t Breathe (2016) | Movie Review [Spoiler Free]

A 2016 horror movie about three thieves who break into a blind man’s house in the hopes of leaving with a large amount of cash, only to find that the man isn’t as helpless as he seems.

dont_breathe_2016_filmDirected by Fede Alvarez. Produced by Fede Alvarez, Sam Raimi, and Robert Tapert. Written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues. Starring Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and Stephen Lang.

You can find more info here.

Don’t Breathe has a solid opening. It does enough to tell you about the trio of thieves and set the scene without using up too much of its time. We are given just enough to not want anything to happened to these characters. You’ll like and root for at least one of the trio.

The movie does a solid job of creating atmosphere. It does this in many ways. With the lack of light (or minimal light), the ambience and music, and the way the cameras move. There’s a lot of moments where the camera will shift and suddenly there will be a character standing there or something will have changed.

Throughout the tension builds well. Just like the characters, there are times where you feel like you can finally take a breath, but it never lasts long. There’s always a moment with a sudden change and you’re left holding your breath. Really the title suits the movie in a number of ways.

The fact that it is only about an hour and a half works in its favour. A lot can happen in that time, but it also doesn’t feel like enough. Both things can put you on edge. There are a lot of twists and turns that happen, and with no possible way to predict the outcome (or due to the fact that every time you seem to think one thing something always changes it), you never know how or when it’s going to start reaching the conclusion (or final scenes). I’m not saying it’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen, but the movie does a very good of make it all as unpredictable as possible.

If you like horrors, or you simply just want something for the Halloween season, then this is a great movie! There was a never a point where I wanted to turn it off, and I was constantly intrigued, finding it hard to look away, even when I knew something might jump out at me.

There’s not much more I can say about this movie without giving things away! I thoroughly enjoyed it and I don’t think I’ve seen anything else like it before. Yes, some factors are typical for horror movies and/or aren’t anything new, but it was still interesting. I think it does deserve the hype it gets and I believe it to be a must see.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016) | Movie Review

This post is spoiler free.

Everything about the Fundamentals of Caring is big, but it’s also very simplistic. It never overdoes it. It’s the ideal movie to watch if you want a casual, nice day in. I watched it on a Sunday and it was so perfect. I felt content, happy, and inspired by the time the movie was finished.

The story follows teenager Trevor, who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and his caregiver Ben, who decide to go on a road trip. Along the way they meet some new people, and see some roadside attractions.

I won’t tell you anymore than that. I won’t tell you why they take the road trip or where their ultimate destination is. It’ll be much better going into it with no idea. I did and it was great discovering everything as I went along.

For me this movie was so funny that every time I managed to stop laughing it wasn’t too long before I was starting up again. Don’t let that fool you though, this movie fundamentals_of_caring_xlgknows exactly what it’s doing. Kevin of course has his limitations and difficulties, and the movie doesn’t sugar coat that, it doesn’t pretend that there aren’t any, but it doesn’t just leave it there. It instead chooses to explore all of the things that Kevin can do, and how he can overcome some of those limitations and difficulties with a little help (in this case from Ben).

The movie doesn’t show a perfect world where Kevin can do everything he wants, because that wouldn’t be realistic, but on the other hand it also doesn’t show a dark and gloomy world where life isn’t worth living. It finds that perfect balance where things are hard, and sometimes seem impossible, but also how life can be bright and wonderful.

I personally found the movie very funny, the kind where you can’t sit still and doesn’t seem to want to end. Whether you find it that funny will come down to whether or not you like the kind of humour. Trust me, you’ll learn pretty early on in the movie whether or not you’re going to find it as funny as I did or not.

The casting was perfect, like always Paul Rudd knocks it out of the park, but so do the other cast like Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez, and maybe others. (See the full list here). You find yourself falling in love with these characters and wanting to see as much of their stories as possible. It’s interesting to see how all of their paths cross and what comes of it.

The Fundamentals of Caring is just a really great movie to watch. It’s got the perfect balance, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Remember, if you have Netflix, this movie is available on there.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ /5

Money Monster (2016) | Movie Review

This post is spoiler free.

The second I heard that Jodie Foster was directing this movie I knew I was going to watch it. Even before I saw any kind of trailer. I’ve been a fan of her for a long time as an actress, but I hate to see I’ve never seen something she’s directed, so that only made me want to see Money Monster more.

“Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.” – [imdb]

Going in I wasn’t really sure what the actual story line was going to be. All I knew was the very basics given in the description above. I’d seen one trailer and that didn’t really give away much either. Now that I’ve seen the movie I can safely say that that was the best way to go into it.

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This movie has a central idea, that is executed very simply. The story line is clearly thought out, but it’s not overly complicated and it goes about showing it in a equally uncomplicated way. It gives you just enough to put two and two together, but never enough to take away any surprise, suspense, or general enjoyment. The way it’s put together is very well done.

The cast has a lot of big and popular names in it: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Jack O’Connell to name a few. On that front it definitely doesn’t disappoint, the acting talent is on point, and even those characters that only have maybe one scene give so much. Overall the people on screen and off do a lot to bring this movie together and each of them do it so perfectly.

This movie works. Is it flawless? Perfect? Probably not, but there was never anything major to distract me from having a great viewing experience.

For obvious reasons this movie is serious and full of suspense, but, surprisingly enough it’s funny in places. Not the side-splitting, happy kind of funny, but the kind that has you laughing in the moment as a impulse reaction. Money Monster does a great job of jumping between all the different components so that when you’ve just been laughing at something, the next moment you’re thrown into silence by something a lot more serious and intense.

Critically and technically I can’t really fault it, entertainment wise I can’t either. It was just a really enjoyable movie. I didn’t feel like I wasted any time by watching it. Everything seemed to be wrapped up by the end in some way, shape, or form. It’s greatest attribute (beside the cast and crew) was the fact that it chose not to over complicate things and create a huge show. They managed to keep it entertaining while having everything in check.

Overall this movie is memorable and a great watch. If you’ve been considering watching it then I would highly recommend you do. It was a lot of fun and I have no major complaints.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ /5

Cell (2016) | Movie Review

This post contains spoilers.

I was surprised I didn’t know about this movie. When I saw that it was in fact a thing and starred names I recognised (John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson) I was shocked to say the least. Of course I had to check it out. Admittedly I went in without having read the book. I’m the first to say that you should read the book first, but in this case I didn’t, and I’m not sure if I’m happy about that fact or not. Let’s just say no matter how I felt about this movie, it didn’t put me off wanting to read the book.

You can watch the trailer here. Be aware there are some flashing images.

CELL

The book of the same name (by Stephen King) is definitely something that I want to read, and fortunately this movie didn’t change that for me, despite it not being a very good movie. Yeah, I didn’t particularly like it. The idea was good, and although critics have spoken poorly of the acting, I thought that was okay. By the end of the movie I simply wasn’t interested anymore, by the time we got there it felt like nothing had really happened, like we were only half way through. It carried well at first, set up decent characters and what seemed to be a good plot, but then anything interesting or seemingly important was rushed and squashed together, to the point that it felt like nothing happened at all.

Even if that hadn’t of been a problem, the one thing I really couldn’t get behind was the camera work. It seemed off, shaky, awkward, and not even in a good way. I remember one or two bits where the camera zoomed in, stopped as if it was stuck, and then zoomed in some more. There were other moments with different things, maybe it was camera work, maybe it was the editing, either way it wasn’t great and for some reason I noticed it a lot during the course of the movie.

Overall I’m glad I watched it, but it wasn’t perfect, and it was very lacking in places. It might have benefited from being spread out and bulked up a bit more in places.

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Finding Dory (2016) | Movie Review

I’m a huge lover of Pixar animated movies and this one was no different. When I first heard that Finding Dory was going to be a thing I was on-board before I even knew what the story was going to be.

For those of you who aren’t aware the story has two components that come together. The first follows Dory as she searches to find her parents, the second follows Nemo and Marlin as they search for Dory. A similar concept to Finding Nemo, right? I know that put a lot of people off, but I have to say, don’t let it.

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Finding Dory is funny, but also very emotional in places. It’s got a lot of adventure, and it had me laughing so much. Admittedly going in I was a little unsure, but as the movie progressed I found myself hooked and so glad that this movie is a thing. Although on the surface it seems to be quite similar to Finding Nemo it’s a completely new story that manages to hold out on its own. It definitely helps to have seen Finding Nemo, but Finding Dory is just as good and equally as lovable.

If you love the characters of Finding Nemo, you’ll love this. It’s got old ones and new ones. The new ones are varying, not only in type of sea life, but also their personality. You thought you had trouble picking a favourite character in Finding Nemo (I know I did), well expect to have even more difficulty now. If you love Pixar, this particular movie won’t disappoint. Whether you think it’s a masterpiece or not, it definitely deserves to be watched at least once.

It’s a new favourite for me, and I will certainly be re-watching again the future.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Spoiler below the cut.

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