Tuesday, 20 December 2016

December Watch List

Midnight Special
Meaningful and heartrenching science fiction is a trend this year (wait for Arrival) with Michael Shannon (a towering figure of brilliance) as a father who just wants to protect, save and help his son at any costs. Essentially a road film that begins in the middle, going from a crazy cult who thinks the end of the world will be prevented by forcing a boy to stay with them. A NSA agent who believes something is more sinister afoot to the boy and his family who do not entirely understand what is happening but stay together to try and help the boy to safety. It does leave quite a bit up to the imagination until the end but doesn't answer all questions, which worked much better for me, although the ending was traumatic as well a heart warming. People's lives are changed forever and it is sometimes a great thing. 3/5

Its’s difficult to describe this film. That was my first thought when it ended. The book it is based on the novella by Ted Chiang, ‘Story of Your Life’ where at the first I wondered about the title, now, makes a whole lot more sense. On the surface it appears to be an alien species arriving on Earth and two scientists are sent to find out what they want. And that is how it is meant to feel except that instead of the big noise all those other alien invasion film start and end, Arrival takes its time, one step at a time hyping the tension and the initial fear. But emotion soon takes over as you start to wonder and guess what is really happening. You’re with Louise throughout and in a way it is her journey and discovery but it turns into something bigger. There is the message that the world needs to unite rather than attack first ask questions later. Instead of the over dramatic desparate run it is an understanding that is shared. The one thing I noticed/felt was that the aliens are intimidating at first, the fear of them isn't that they will attack but its they are tryin to warn us in some way. This film could slip into the dramatic or into science fiction but it escapes the traditional action disaster thriller despite including a few recognisable tropes such as the secret secret base with fully fuctioning idiot CIA agent and gun happy soldiers but thanks to the presence and focus being the two scientists the film is one of the most beautifully crafted films. Its a surprise to see how though with Denis Villeneuve at the helm. 5/5

Moana was better than I hoped it could be. A fantastic character following her journey to discovering who she is and her actual journey across the ocean. Every song was magical and catchy, despite the odd lyric that seemed strange, there is nothing to fault the story, animation or music. Shut up Frozen – you’ve finally been dethroned. Except….no one is talking about this amazing film. The frenzy that surrounded that snow crud is not for Moana and I really can’t see why. Moana, as she says is not a Princess, she is the daughter of the chief and will one day take up that title and lead her people. She has internal issues, like any other teenager. She wants to help but she cannot resist the call of the ocean. Unlike Frozen, we are treated to a back story for how the world came to be and reason for why the island is dying and why the ocean chooses Moana for this special mission to save her island by returning the heart of (goddess name) Mother Nature type goddess. She is accompanied, reluctantly at first by the Demi-God Maui who caused all these problems in the first place. The two form a brilliantly unlikely duo, sharing some triumphant moments, saving each other and some more emotional ones, where Maui shares his sad past that haunts him, but with Moana’s help he can overcome them. There is even time for a slow motion walk just at the right moment and beautiful, with the parting of the sea and Moana embracing who she is. All this and there’s even a great scene with a gigantic crab who sings in a Bowie-esque number about being shiny, voiced by the recognisable Jermaine Clement.  There are a few snide quips about the generic ‘princess movie’ such as Maui trying to correct Moana telling her ‘you’re wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess’. But Moana is much more than that. Not only is this film about her finding her way, but there is no distraction of a ‘love interest’ for the first time and while watching the film, you do not miss it. The film proves that stories can be bigger than that. The ocean chose Moana, but she’s only human. She doesn’t have magical powers, she doubts herself and takes risks, and she is a far better role model than the previous characters before her. This film is ground breaking for the right reasons but I’m worried this won’t be reflected in the box office success. 5/5

Rogue One
I don't think I have the words to describe how excited I was just sitting down to see this film. If I could just sit here make noises to show excited I was before during and after the film, that would sum up my enjoyment. Some say its better than TFA. Some have been disappointed. Some have said its an amazing film just on its own regardless of the Star Wars tag. For me, this was everything I expected with some surprises my friend and I literally squealed in delight at. The rules apply here, no spoilers even though the plot to the film is well known as well as the obvious outcome, but its how the rebels do it that I don't want to spoil. There are some truely great characters in this film, not to mention Jyn Erso who is an excellent addition to the galaxy, but as we all know, the film is a stand alone so it is highly unlikely that we will ever see such great characters again. With a stand alone story in the middle of the saga, it seems out numbered but the film holds ground. Bringing together the heart of the original and hints and nods to the future. This was a perfect fit fir Gareth Edwards who knows how to cut through a battle scene, showing everything and making you feel like you're there. I hope to delve deeper into why I loved this film so much at a later date when its been out longer and spoilers won't be an issue but for I give it my all 5/5.


  1. Nice reviews! Arrival is one of my top favorites of the years. I don't have the words to describe this movie. :P
    Midnight Special was interesting, but towards the end I felt like the style and tone shifted from suspense to just an action movie. The cast was great though - I loved seeing Kirsten Dunst again.
    Moana and Rogue One are on my to-see list if I can squeeze it in with Fences. They sound wonderful!

    1. Thank you :)

      I know what you mean about Arrival - I was speechless for ages after. My sister and I just sat there took it all in. And yes I agree about Midnight Special.

      Moana and Rogue One are worth seeing - I would say more than Fences but I haven't seen it, it just looks and sounds depressing. Love Viola but not Denzel.