Saturday, 7 April 2018

Double Bill - Pacific Rim: Uprising / Ready Player One

I had a day off by myself the other day so I decided to indulge and watch a double bill of two films I really wanted to see; Pacific Rim: Uprising and Ready Player One. A pretty good pairing as both are sci-fi action films and both were perceived to fail in the run up to their release. They are however, pretty good, find out what I thought about both films below.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

I am a big fan of the first Pacific Rim but unfortunately not many people went to see it in the cinemas; so, when a sequel was announced there was no doubt that it was going to go through some changes. The changes ripped away the grittiness of the lived-in world of the original, making way for a brighter and more colourful setting. The clunky Jaegers have been replaced with newer and more agile versions and the main characters have been replaced with a younger cast, although more in tune with the premise’s anime roots. Despite these rather large changes to the aesthetic of the film, it’s still very enjoyable and although not as good as the first - still a worth sequel. It doubles down on the stupidity of the original and really has a lot of fun with it. There are elements that don’t work, dialogue is not this film’s strongest suit and some of the new characters are unfortunately treated more like objects or are a bit bland. Don’t worry however, John Boyega is the charming glue that keeps this film together. Any problems this film has mostly get forgotten in the great spectacle, something that Pacific Rim still does very well.

Ready Player One

Like many I was worried about Spielberg’s adaption of Ready Player One. The first trailer looked more style over substance with an overload of references to make pop culture fans go “I know that!”. Had the master lost his touch? No and I feel very stupid right now for ever thinking so. The book is not the most loved novel in the world - I haven’t read it but I have heard that Spielberg has been able to take the elements that work and master a greater more resonant story out of it. The world itself is great; not too unbelievable to what could happen as we see video games and virtual reality taking massive steps everyday towards something extraordinary. The film is mainly set in the video game world known as ‘Oasis’; this means the film is pretty much 80% animated and it looks awesome. With it being a video game, the animation does not have to be photo realistic and allows for a lot of creativity within setting and action. And yes, this is also where the pop culture characters are thrown about together on screen as players online avatars. Although reference heavy, it does not take away from the breath-taking action and true heart of the storyline. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen before and really captured the spirit of what it is like to be a ‘gamer’. I also saw it in 3D - one of the first films I’ve seen in this format since Gravity and I must say it really heightened the experience; creating great contrast between the live action and animated scenes. Spielberg has still got it. Go and see this film.

What did you think of these films? Love them, hate them? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A Wrinkle In Time

I’m a big Ava DuVernay fan; as well as being a very talented director, she also comes across as an awesome human being, one that is always giving back to her fans. So when I heard that Disney had given her the reigns to one of their big blockbuster projects – making her the first black female director to helm a $100 million film - I knew I would be there to watch it. I urge everyone to support this film even if my own opinion on it, like the film, is a little muddled.

A Wrinkle in Time follows Meg; after the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send her, her brother and her friend through space to find him. The film boasts a cast made up of Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Zach Galifinakis, Levi Miller and Deric McCabe. Disney have allowed DuVernay to create something very different here - it comes across as quite a surrealist, experimental kids film, one that I am very intrigued by how the intended audience are reacting to. There are splashes of Nolan in this, it even reminded me of Annihilation, the mind bending sci-fi released on Netflix a week prior from Alex Garland. However, DuVernay has put her own stamp on this, creating something unlike any other kids film I have seen before.

You are dropped straight into this world and given very little explanation for anything going on. I am usually fine with films not having to hold your hand but I really could have used a bit more explanation in some scenes because at times it felt like someone had spiked my Pick & Mix. That being said, the film is very open about the fact that it’s more interested in emotion rather than plot. It’s emotion that pushes things forward: there is a literal battle of emotion to conclude it and every aspect of the film is made to reflect this.

The visuals and the audio work hand in hand with each other, DuVernay has a very clear vision as to what she wanted this film to look and feel like. The imagery we see on screen is some of the most interesting I’ve seen from a big budget film, especially one that very heavily leans on visual effects. I have seen some critics criticise the use of CGI but I personally had no problem with it and enjoyed watching the glossy effects play out on screen. Music wise the score is great and I even loved the use of pop songs being used in some of the montages, this is something I usually hate in films made for younger audiences but because this whole film had the vibe of music video it worked. It was very dreamlike in the way it was edited and everything flowed into each other very nicely. It was easy to be swept over by this film even if I did have to fill in the gaps at times.

Overall the film didn’t work fully for me, I however am not the intended audience. I love how out there it was. It was super weird with some great visuals and a unique sense of style, I just wish I had been able to make more sense of it. It was clearly a very ambitious effort from Ava DuVernay and one that should be praised, even if overall the film felt a little too loose at times. I far from hated it, but I didn’t love it either. I’m rating A Wrinkle in Time a 3/5. It’s definitely worth a watch still, just to see a surrealist kids film come to life in front of you.

What did you think of the film? Masterpiece or messy? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!