Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #54

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

In a sea of reboots, remakes, sequels, and prequels, it’s becoming difficult to find original movies that stay true to the art of film. Enter Quentin Tarantino, who’s been in the game for 27 years and has arguably mastered this talent. His films are so unique and iconic that the word ‘Tarantinoesque’ has been added to the Oxford Dictionary. It’s with this that anything he makes is almost guaranteed to be something different and legendary, and film fanatics from around the world are always excited when he announces a new project. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is no exception from this.

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is the tenth film (ninth if you count the Kill Bills as one movie) to be written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Set in 1969, the film follows Rick Dalton, a TV actor and Cliff Booth, his stunt double. Rick finds himself down on his luck as the Hollywood he knows and loves is now changing and he’s on his way to becoming a has-been. It just so happens that his neighbour is one of the new actresses in Hollywood who’s on the up and up to becoming something big; Sharon Tate.

Rick Dalton was played brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s already in early Oscar talk for his role. It’s obvious to see why, as DiCaprio delivers an amazing performance as Rick Dalton. DiCaprio playing an actor is great fun to watch, as you see Rick with a stutter, but then without one when he’s in a movie or TV show. One of the best scenes that demonstrates DiCaprio’s fantastic acting ability is when Rick is filming on Lancer and we see him switching between in real life (with the stutter) and his villainous character in Lancer, who speaks without a stutter and more of a stern voice. Whenever DiCaprio takes on a role, he fully immerses himself in it, and this allows the audience to take more of an interest in his character and the film; Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is no exception to this. As superb as Leonardo DiCaprio was, I couldn’t help but feel that Brad Pitt stole the show. Brad Pitt played Rick’s stunt double, Cliff Booth, a war veteran who’s somewhat frowned upon in the film industry for the alleged murder of his wife. Pitt maybe wasn’t the obvious choice to play Cliff Booth, but certainly was the perfect actor for the role. He was excellent as Cliff, bringing an edge to the character and making him one of the standout best parts of this movie. There has also been Oscar talk for Brad Pitt’s performance as Cliff Booth, and personally, I’d say he’s more deserving of the Oscar than DiCaprio. Brad brought a lovability to Cliff’s character which, despite the slow pacing of the film, stood out as an exceptional performance that helped to make the film better. Margot Robbie played Sharon Tate, and she was marvellous in the role, but there wasn’t much of her character, or at least as much as I was expecting from advertisements. The film mainly focused on Rick and Cliff and their relationship (which, I must say, was just shy of impeccable), but the lack of Sharon Tate and other characters did make the film suffer slightly.

The music, like in most of Tarantino’s films, was perfectly selected. It captured the essence of a defining era in Hollywood as well as adding to scenes, by either building tension or excitement, or by making the scenes more enjoyable to engage in.

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Cliff and Rick on the set of their Western TV show, ‘Bounty Law’

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is Tarantino at his most playful. It’s not Tarantino’s most iconic or quotable film, but instead, the director proves that he has mastered the art of film-making. I’ll admit, at times it feels like the film is just the studio giving Tarantino money to make a movie because they know his name will bring them more money in return. While this certainly feels true for parts of the film, it’s more than this. It’s bringing together some of the best talents in Hollywood. It’s more than having Tarantino direct and write, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt star. It’s having your cinematography from Robert Richardson (who also cinematographed for Hugo, Inglourious Basterds, and Shutter Island), and a talented Visual Effects department, including the likes of Brian Adler (who also did visual effects for Avengers: Endgame and Logan). With some of the talents of the industry coming together to produce a film like this, it’s evident to see that people really enjoy working on different, creative films within Hollywood and the end product is something undeniably awesome. 

I couldn’t do this review without talking about four memorable and standout scenes for me. The first was filming Lancer, with the interaction of resetting the cameras and breaking the fourth wall, then Rick breaking down before returning to set and delivering a tense and career-defining performance (for Rick). The way this whole scene was creatively crafted and fantastically executed, especially from Leonardo DiCaprio. I loved Cliff’s flashback to the Green Hornet set where he fought Bruce Lee (played by Mike Moh, who did a great job). It was such a pleasure to watch, as the scene was made playful and fun by the camera work, and it was Tarantino at his pinnacle, as we’ve seen him in other films. The next scene was when Cliff revisited Spahn Ranch. In this scene and the previous (Cliff fights Bruce Lee), Brad Pitt was at his best, bringing an edge of hardness and badassery to Cliff’s character. From meeting Squeaky and George Spahn to beating up Clem, throughout this scene and the previous, Pitt certainly delivered one of his greatest performances ever in this film. The final scene should be fairly obvious, but I’m of course going to have to talk about that final scene with Rick and Cliff fighting the hippies who attacked Rick’s house. The song (Tarantino’s edit of ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On by Vanilla Fudge) was so perfect for the scene that it both added to my enjoyment and helped build tension and excitement. The action was the most Tarantinoesque imaginable. With heads smashed into telephone hooks, people being burnt to a crisp with a flamethrower and a dog tearing into limbs, I couldn’t help but smile in awe, realising again in this film that in his unique style, Tarantino is a directorial master.

It’s also worth talking about the film’s ending too. After Rick and Cliff have killed the hippies who attacked Rick’s house, Rick meets Jay Sebring who invites Rick to meet his neighbour, Sharon Tate. As the camera pulls away, the film’s title appears with a somewhat twinkly theme playing. This was all a fairy tale. This was not what happened in reality. This was Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. This ending was slightly unexpected but nonetheless still brilliantly done, allowing the audience to reflect on the awesomeness of the film they’d just watched and bringing them back to the reality in which Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger were fatally murdered by members of the Manson Family.

Overall, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood was a cinematic blast, and was one of those films where the more I thought back over it, the better it was, and as such gets an 8.6/10 from me. I can’t wait to rewatch Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. In a sea of CGI superheroes and animated remakes, Tarantino proves once again that authentic cinema is still not only unbeatable but truly amazing.

Thanks for reading this review. What did you think of Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood? Let me know in the comments below!

To celebrate 25 years since the release of Pulp Fiction (my favourite film and arguably Tarantino’s best), I’ll be posting my rankings of Tarantino’s movies and asking the question, has Pulp Fiction aged well? See you then!

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #49

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

One of the biggest genres in Hollywood is romantic movies. Every year, a fair few romantic movies are huge successes, like A Star is Born, Crazy Rich Asians and To All The Boys I Loved Before. One film that did quite well in its year of release – and was one I watched recently and enjoyed – was 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day today (or was when I published this), this is my review for Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (who have also co-directed other movies such as Focus and I Love You Phillip Morris) and with a star-studded cast including Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, is Crazy, Stupid, Love. Cal Weaver’s perfect life comes crashing down when his wife, Emily reveals that she wants a divorce and has been unfaithful to him. Naturally, this is a shock to Cal and he begins to drown his sorrows at a bar he’s always passed but never been to. There, he meets Jacob Palmer, a suave playboy who will teach him how to get back in the crazy game that is love.

Steve Carell played Cal Weaver. I’m currently mid-way through The Office US so it’s hard to not picture him as Michael Scott. Nevertheless, Cal was easily the best character in the film for me. Carell is such a talented actor and his ability shone in this film. He brought humour and heart in a good blend. Julianne Moore played Cal’s significant other, Emily Weaver. She was a good character but was a bit bland and flat in some areas. Moore, like Carell, is a brilliant actress but I felt that her true acting potential was not reached in this film. Jacob Palmer, the smooth playboy who helps get Cal back in the game, was played by Ryan Gosling. His character was basically a less-funnier, cinematic version of Barney Stinson. As much as I like Gosling as an actor, I was in two minds about his character. He was a likeable character who was fun to watch Gosling play on screen, but I couldn’t help but feel that Gosling could have maybe put something more into Jacob’s character. Jacob’s love interest was Hannah, played by Emma Stone. She is revealed to be Cal and Emily’s oldest child. Stone evidently enjoyed playing Hannah, but there could have been a bit more of her character and, if there was, the film would have been better. I felt that the chemistry between characters was strongly acted out between all characters, so despite the individual character flaws, the actors all worked harmoniously together which actually helped to make the movie better.

 

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Jacob coaches Cal how to woo a woman.

 

The music was sweet and well suited to the tone of the film at parts, but was also quite irritating and just seemed to consistently play in the background of the film nonstop. It was a nice little instrumental piece but it just seemed to always be there, despite it not always suiting the mood of the film. The worst thing about the music in Crazy, Stupid, Love was that even after something big or dramatic or important to the story had happened, it would just jollily continue in the back without much regard for what had just happened.

The storyline was quite straightforward, but it could have been executed better. The story was definitely there, but it seemed that the run time for it was too short. The film tried to cram a happy ending into the last half hour, and it kind of worked but still was a bit messy in places.

Overall, Crazy, Stupid, Love gets a 7.2/10. It was a good film that I enjoyed watching and, despite its flaws, still made for a sweet and nice story that was entertaining to watch.

Thanks for reading this weeks review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and everything else you could want. Give this blog a follow to be the first to read my weekly reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review. As it’s the Oscars next weekend, join me next week for the review of an Oscar-nominated 2018 musical movie. See you then!

American Animals: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #44

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One of my favourite types of movies are those based on true stories. These feature Goodfellas, Selma, BlackKklansman, Hidden Figures and, most recently, American Animals. I saw the trailer and it looked somewhat interesting. I was lucky enough to attend a screening in London followed by a Q&A with director Bart Layton. It was a fantastic experience and I had an amazing time. Here is my review of American Animals.

Directed by Bart Layton and starring Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters is a cinematic depiction of a true crime caper. When Spencer Reinhard begins studying at the University of Transylvania, he discovers a book in the library that is worth $12 million. He tells his best friend, Warren Lipka, who decides the pair, accompanied by Lipka’s other friends, will steal the book and make their millions. However, unforeseen circumstances play their part and the heist goes horribly wrong.

Evan Peters took on the role of Warren Lipka, the brains behind the heist. Evan Peters was very well suited to play Warren Lipka and he was great in this film. Peters acting ability is so brilliant and his talent shone throughout this film, particularly when he was expressing his feelings, like the desire to steal the book or the anger when it all falls apart. Warren’s primary partner in crime was Spencer Reinhard, played by Barry Keoghan. I preferred Keoghan in The Killing of a Sacred Deer (review here), but Keoghan doesn’t have much range. His voice is quite monotonous and depressing and, while that suited the latter part of the film, the half of Spencer being happy and actually kind of enjoying life was just mismatched to Keoghan’s acting ability.  Jared Abrahamson played Eric Borsuk, a quiet and reluctant member of the heist. He was well played, especially for being a quiet and shy crew member, but I felt there could have been more of his character. The final heist member was Chas Allen, played brilliantly by Blake Jenner. Allen’s character was reluctant to join and was the most vocal member of the group when it came to not doing the heist. I loved the way that Jenner played Chas as he immersed himself in the role and delivered a good performance.

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Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) plans out the heist and getaway.

The music was brilliant throughout the movie. Though it was a little cliché in places (Using ‘A Little Less Conversation’ for the dream heist scene), it overall used good music that was suited to the movie and made it more enjoyable to watch. The best use was ‘Who By Fire’ by Leonard Cohen, for when the police come to arrest the guys for their crimes. It beautifully juxtaposed what was happening in the movie and made for a great scene.

Since the story is something that happened in real life, you can’t really critique it, but you can discuss how it was portrayed on the screen. Honestly, Bart Layton did such a brilliant job with the direction of the film. The opening was so stylish and created a tone of mystery that had me hooked for what would be shown throughout the film. The use of cutting between the men in real life in the present after the crime (with the real Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Eric Borsuk and Chas Allen in the film) and them describing what happened with Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan playing the younger versions of the men who carried out the heist. The scene transitions were sleek and carried the film nicely, leaving me more invested into what the film was showing. The film showed how the boy’s memory was unreliable and it had the same scene but with different little details in places that made the film more interesting to watch. One of the best parts of the film was seeing how the heist was planned out and how it took place. It was also great to see a Reservoir Dogs reference by code names like Mr Pink (and Chas getting mad about it like Steve Buscemi did). When asked yesterday, Layton explained that one of his biggest influences for the style of his direction in American Animals came from ‘Dog Day Afternoon’, a 1975 movie starring Al Pacino. In Dog Day Afternoon, a bank robbery goes horribly wrong from the start. You can see how Layton draws inspiration from Dog Day Afternoon to bring the story of American Animals to life.

Overall, American Animals gets an 8.2/10 from me. I actually cannot wait to watch this film again. It may have been a little dull in places and could have had more development but makes for a brilliant movie that I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and everything else movie related you could want. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week for a Black Mirror episode review. See you then!

What to watch in 2019

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

Happy New Year! I hope you have a great 2019. It’s gearing up to a fantastic year, cinematically speaking. In this post, I’ll be looking at what movies and TV shows are coming out this year and what you can expect from them. I’ll be speculating some plots so you have been warned if any are actually true. Links to trailers for the films and their release date will be attached if it is available.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD – 26th July 2019

For those who didn’t know, my all-time favourite movie is Pulp Fiction. So when news of Quentin Tarantino directing his ninth film came out, I was hyped. Of all the great movies coming out this year, nothing has me more excited than Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Damien Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino and so many more amazing actors and the plot itself seems quite interesting. Rick Dalton, a faded TV actor, and Cliff Booth, his stunt double, try to make a name for themselves in the film industry in 1969 Hollywood, during the Helter Skelter period. I’m looking forward to seeing Tarantino direct again, especially with a storyline and cast as awesome as what’s lined up for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Tarantino describes it as the closest thing he’s done to Pulp Fiction. Furthermore, Tarantino has said that he’d only make 10 movies, so I’m hoping that his films get better with time. As to whether Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will be a better film than Pulp Fiction and take the top spot as my favourite movie, well, only time will tell.

CAPTAIN MARVEL – 8th March 2019

In the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War, a mid-dusting Nick Fury sent out a pager to Captain Marvel in a last minute attempt to save the world. We now get her backstory and uncover why she is the key to the future. Brie Larson plays the titular character, with Samuel L Jackson playing a younger, two-eyed Nick Fury and Ben Mendelsohn playing villainous Talos, leader of the Skrulls. Captain Marvel serves as a set-up prequel to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and hopefully will a good film.

AVENGERS: ENDGAME – 26th April 2019

It’s fair to say that the biggest movie of this year is Avengers: Endgame, the follow-up to the biggest film of 2018, Avengers: Infinity War. To try to undo the decimation and devastation caused by Thor not going for the head (and the consequent snap), the remaining, non-dusted Avengers must band together to somehow magically rewind time and stop the massacre from ever happening. Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, Jeremy Renner and more, and the film being the last one in Marvel’s Phase Three (and the end of some of it’s biggest heroes), Avengers: Endgame is shaping up to be an awesome film.

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME – July 2019

As if Avengers: Endgame isn’t enough, Marvel are releasing another film next year, Spider-Man: Far From Home. Following the events of Endgame, Peter Parker goes on a summer vacation around Europe with his friends, but he struggles to keep his identity of Spider-Man hidden as the threat of the Elementals rises. Tom Holland is back playing Spider-Man, with Jake Gyllenhaal playing Mysterio, Jon Favreau playing Happy Hogan and Zendaya back as Michelle. Seeing as Far From Home will be the first film released after Endgame, it’ll be interesting to see what the impact on the MCU will be.

TOY STORY 4 – 21st June 2019

Despite all the tears shed after Toy Story 3, Disney are back with Toy Story 4. Though there is no storyline put out there, the trailer shows that it’s something about new toys being played with, in this case, it’s Forky. There’s also something about a carnival, as seen with the soft toys voiced by Key and Peele. I think that part of the storyline will be that Bonnie has grown bored of Buzz and Woody and instead created her own toys (Forky), but I’m not too sure how the carnival will fit in. Tim Allen has said that the film’s story is “so emotional” and he “couldn’t even get through the last scene” while Tom Hanks has also said that the ending scene was a “moment in history.” Only time will tell, but Toy Story 4 is definitely going to be a big film for next year.

GLASS – 18th January 2019

The Unbreakable Universe is expanding. Glass follows David Dunn trying to bring The Beast out of Kevin Crumb, the man with 23 personalities living inside of him from 2016’s Split. In the background, Elijah Price, also known as Mr Glass, emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets that are critical to the pair. The cast includes James McAvoy, Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson and is from director M. Night Shyamalan. The thriller seems promising and seeing as it will combine the universes of Unbreakable and Split, it is likely that Glass will one of most successful horror/thriller movies of 2019.

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL – 14th June 2019

Though it’s not the best franchise of all time, I really love the Men in Black series. It’s funny, smart and together the films are a great piece of sci-fi movies. Directed by F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator,  Straight Outta Compton), the Men in Black reboot sees Thor: Ragnarok stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson reunite to protect Earth from alien scum, except this time, it’s a mole in the Men in Black organisation. The spin-off could go either way, but I have faith in it. It has a good director attached, stars brilliant actors (Hemsworth, Thompson, and even Liam Neeson is in the film too!) and from the look of the first trailer, it looks to be a great movie.

THE LION KING – 19th July 2019

Disney’s 1994 classic is getting a live-action remake with a phenomenal cast, including Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) voicing Simba, Beyoncé as Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar and even James Earl Jones back to voice Mufasa. Just having Childish Gambino and Beyoncé duet to a classic Lion King song is enough to get me excited for this film. The Lion King is shaping up to be a huge success, though I’m not prepared to see Mufasa die again.

JOKER – 4th October 2019

It’s difficult to do a reboot, especially of a character who has been played so well (Heath Ledger) and quite badly (sorry Jared Leto), but I have faith in Joaquin Phoenix in playing the Joker. With Todd Phillips (The Hangover) directing, Joker is an origin story looking at how Arthur Fleck turns from being a failed comedian to a life of crime in Gotham City. It also has a great cast, including Robert De Niro and Zazie Beetz. Having seen Phoenix’s performance in last years ‘You Were Never Really Here’, Joker is a film that I am looking forward to seeing how it does.

ZOMBIELAND 2 – 11th October 2019

Ten years after the first film, Zombieland finally gets a sequel. The 2009 hit was loved for its great comedy, gory action and it just an all-round great film. Zombieland 2 sees the original cast (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) back to play Colombus, Tallahassee, Wichita and Little Rock, where they must face off against evolving zombies, meet other survivors and adapt to the joys and pains of their makeshift family life. Joining them are Avan Jogia and Zoey Deutch, and there are reports that Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray (who died in the first film) are in the film too. If Zombieland 2 is anything like the first, then it definitely going to be a brilliant movie.

US – 15th March 2019

Though I’m not the biggest horror movie fan, I thoroughly enjoyed Jordan Peele’s 2017 success, Get Out. This year, Peele directs and writes Us, the story of Adelaide and Gabe Wilson, a couple who take their children to their beach house. Their fun with friends is disturbed when some unexpected and uninvited guests turn up. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elizabeth Moss, the film looks to be pretty awesome. Knowing that it’s directed by Peele and has the acting abilities of Nyong’o and Duke, it’s safe to say Us is going to be good anyways.

STAR WARS: EPISODE IX – 19th December 2019

The intergalactic adventures of Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren and BB8 continue this year, with Star Wars: Episode IX. Not much is known about the film’s plot, but it should be awesome. Mark Hamill is to play Luke’s ghost, Billy Dee Williams is back as Lando Calrissian and archive footage of Carrie Fisher is being used for Princess Leia’s character. What’s more, JJ Abrams (The Force Awakens) is back to direct, so it’s going to be a great conclusion to this trilogy.

Thanks for reading this week’s post. What are you most looking forward to seeing this year? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews!

Once again thanks for reading this week’s post. Join me next week for a TV show/game review. See you then!

The Best of 2018

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

As we near the end of 2018, it’s fun to look back at what a long and awesome year of movies and TV shows we’ve been treated to. And like most things in life, there’s the good and the bad. In this review, I take a look back at the best of 2018’s movies and TV shows that I watched. I’ll try to keep spoilers down to a minimum but you have been warned! There will be indications as to which movies or TV shows contain spoilers and links to reviews of those which I have reviewed.

BOJACK HORSEMAN: Season 5

Kicking off this list is everyone’s favourite cartoon horse and washed-up celebrity, Bojack Horseman. Netflix released season 5 in September and it showed Bojack taking the job on Flip McVicker’s new show, Philbert. Princess Carolyn continues to look for a child to adopt, Mr Peanutbutter and Diane go through a rough patch and Todd creates a sex robot who becomes the head of whattimeisitrightnow.com. Bojack Horseman season 5 delves deeper into Bojack’s mental state and sees him internally struggle with his insecurities while trying to deal with the joys and troubles of the outside world. One of the best things about Bojack Horseman’s recent seasons is the music, and season 5 is no exception. The ending was admittedly a little disappointing but season 5 as a whole was one of the best seasons of Bojack Horseman. Season 6 has been confirmed, and I for one can’t wait.

BLACK PANTHER

2018 was a year of diversity within Hollywood, and one of the films that portrayed this best is Marvel’s Black Panther. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther marks a turning point in the future of Hollywood movies. With a predominately black cast, Black Panther tells the story of T’Challa rising to the throne of Wakanda and finding the balance of being a good king and a hero while encountering a powerful enemy who poses a huge threat to  T’Challa and his country. Black Panther smashed records and was an entertaining movie that combined beautiful cinematography with great action and a good storyline to produce a film that will be loved for generations to come.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – Contains spoilers!

The biggest film of 2018 and now the fourth highest grossing movie of all time, Anthony and Joe Russo directed Avengers: Infinity War, a film that was loved by billions this year. It saw most of Marvel’s heroes (with Hawkeye and Ant-Man missing) face off against the biggest villain yet, Thanos, who is on a mission to collect all six infinity stones and kill half the universe. He succeeds and in a literal snap of his fingers, half of the universe turned to dust. It’s now down to the remaining heroes, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Bruce Banner, Black Widow, Hawkeye (now Ronin), Nebula, Rocket Raccoon, War Machine, Okoye, M’Baku, Ant-Man and Pepper Potts to try to rewind time and undo the decimation. All this will be revealed in next year’s Avengers: Endgame, which is gearing up to be the biggest movie of next year too.

DEADPOOL 2 – Contains spoilers!

Ryan Reynolds is back in red spandex to break more fourth walls and kick ass in Deadpool 2, the highly anticipated sequel to 2016’s Deadpool. To stop a young mutant and the Juggernaut from creating a horrific future, Wade must team up with Cable and Domino to save the day. Reynolds proves again that he was made to play Deadpool, the jokes were more self-aware and hilarious and the action was something to adore. David Leitch (director of Deadpool 2 and John Wick) was perfectly suited to direct the sequel and, together with Ryan Reynolds’ incredible acting and great writing from Rhett Reece and Paul Wernick, Deadpool 2 was a brilliant sequel and certainly lived up to the hype plus plus.

READY PLAYER ONE

Steven Spielberg directs Ready Player One, a story set in 2045 where everyone lives in a huge virtual reality world called the Oasis, where the late creator, James Halliday, has left an Easter Egg challenge where the first gamer to find all three Easter Eggs would inherit the Oasis and half a trillion dollars. With gorgeous animation and an engaging storyline, Ready Player One was a great film that I had fun watching, and the hidden real-life easter eggs made the film even better.

McMAFIA: Season 1 – Contains spoilers!

Way back in January of this year, BBC released a thrilling look into the world of the mafia. The series followed Alex Godman, the son of an ex-mafia Russian family trying to forget the past. Alex is lured into the dark and hidden realm of crime that sees Alex being brought closer to those who have wronged his family. Meanwhile, Alex’s family have no idea about his actions that bring him closer to the mafia. Eventually, Alex tells his family about his actions with Vadim (the family’s nemesis) and the mafia, before heading to Moscow for one final confrontation with Vadim, before becoming the top of the food chain and was backed by the government by the looks of it while also cutting off all ties with his family back home in a dramatic and brilliant finale that had me on the edge of my seat. BBC have commissioned the show for an eight-episode season 2 that hasn’t begun filming yet, but I am already excited for season 2 and wondering what’s next for Alex Godman.

BLACKKKLANSMAN

Similarly to Black Panther, BlacKKKlansman brought more diversity to cinemas by bringing a true story to life before showing it’s relevance into modern-day America. Starring John David Washington and directed by Spike Lee, BlacKKKlansman tells the true story of a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s. The film ends by looking at the events in Charlottesville last year, where the Ku Klux Klan launched the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally to promote their ideology of white supremacy. The film provided a shocking and eye-opening look at racism in the last 50 years, and the way that Lee was able to direct and portray this in a movie was fantastically done.

GAME NIGHT

One of the best comedies of 2018, Game Night is a film I am looking forward to rewatching. The Fabergé Egg chase was one of my favourite scenes of cinema this year. Game Night had a good cast with even better character chemistry and jokes that were brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed this film the first and second times, and it is definitely one of my favourite comedies of all time.

AMERICAN ANIMALS

Another true story film that took me by surprise this year was Bart Layton’s American Animals. It’s the true story of the 2003 Transy Book Heist, where 4 young men dared to try to steal a book worth $12 million but it goes horribly wrong. Told in Reservoir-Dog-esque way that gets the real men to explain and talk about the heist American Animals was a film that wasn’t heard of or seen by many this year but deserves to be.

THIS IS AMERICA

Yes, it’s not a movie or a TV show, but Childish Gambino’s music video is definitely deserving of some praise. Not only is an awesome song, but the music video looks at the life of being black in America and some of the issues, such as gun violence and police brutality. The ‘This is America’ video and song is one of Gambino’s best songs and it carries a strong and powerful message.

Thanks for reading this week’s mega-review of my favourite movies and TV shows, the best of 2018. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest in movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more! Also, give this blog a follow to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. I wish all you the best for 2019 and hope that you join me next year for more movie reviews! Next week, I’ll be revealing some of the big movies and TV shows coming out in 2019 that I’m looking forward to and hopefully you are too. See you then!

 

Shutter Island: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #36

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As Shutter Island has a huge twist at the end, there are spoilers in this review as indicated by bold warnings.

One of my favourite types of movies is those with a huge twist or something that makes the movie more interesting and fun to watch. From Se7en (check out my review for it here) to The Prestige, some great films have been made with twist endings. I recently watched Shutter Island with my uncle, not expecting much from it. By the end, I found myself in shock and awe over how brilliantly made this movie was.

Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Sir Ben Kingsley is Shutter Island. US Marshal’s Edward ‘Teddy’ Daniels and his Chuck Aule are travelling to Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island to investigate the peculiar disappearance of a patient, Rachel Solando. The pair investigates and interviews various people, only to learn that Solando’s doctor, Dr Sheehan, is away. During their investigation, Daniels reveals that his wife, Dolores Chanal, was killed by an arsonist, Andrew Laeddis. In a dream, Teddy sees a little girl and his wife Dolores, and she tells him that Solando is still on the island somewhere, as is Laeddis but the staff on the island claim he was never there. Soon, Solando resurfaces, prompting Teddy to break into Ward C, the most criminally insane of the patients to look for Andrew Laeddis. While investigating, Teddy meets George Noyce, who tells Teddy that everyone on Shutter Island, even his partner Chuck, is playing a game designed for him to solve. As the mystery deepens, it’s down to Teddy to find Andrew and uncover the true story about what is really happening on Shutter Island.

Leonardo DiCaprio played Teddy Daniels and, like most of DiCaprio’s performances, it was fantastic. His acting ability is on point, as his emotional complexity allows the viewer to know exactly how he is feeling and further engages the viewer with the film. DiCaprio made the film more enjoyable and interesting. Chuck Aule was played by Mark Ruffalo, who is a talented actor, but I find his acting very rigid and he doesn’t have much range. As an actor, he was great in Shutter Island but I couldn’t help but feel that someone else could have been better. Don’t get me wrong, he was fairly well suited to the role, but there were people who could’ve done better. I felt that as good as Ruffalo was in this film, but he was lacking in some areas that, if they were fulfilled, would have may have actually made the film better. Sir Ben Kingsley played Dr John Cawley, the overseer of the mental hospital. This was my first time seeing a film with Ben Kingsley in it and I was impressed by this acting skills. As Dr Cawley, Kingsley had the perfect tone of mysteriousness mixed in with a sense of sanity. It comes to make sense at the end of the film, which makes Kingsley’s acting choices even more commendable. He, much like DiCaprio, made the film more intriguing. Michelle Williams played Dolores Chanal, who did a great job playing the somewhat psychotic character. The character chemistry between Teddy and Chuck, and also Chuck and Dr Cawley was very well done. You must hand it to Ruffalo because though he may not have much range, he is able to act phenomenally with any other actor in any situation he’s put in.

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Dr Cawley and Teddy Daniels discuss Rachel’s mysterious disappearance.

⚠️Now scroll down to the next bold warning to continue reading my review. I am now going to discuss spoilers for Shutter Island. I highly recommend that you watch the film though, as it’s a truly amazing movie. You can watch it on NowTV and Amazon Prime Video.

The film is slow to start off with but then builds to something truly amazing at the end. Teddy is convinced Chuck has been taken to the lighthouse on the island and breaks in as an attempt to rescue him. There, Chuck and Dr Cawley await, ready to explain everything to Teddy. As he was told by George Noyce, it was all a big game played on Teddy.  Dr Cawley reveals that Edward Daniels is, in fact, Andrew Laeddis and that he killed his wife, Dolores Chanal. Rachel Solando is revealed to be Dolores Chanal, and the girl in his dream is his daughter. Rachel Solando was never real, it was just a nurse playing her. It is then revealed that the viewer that Andrew Laeddis came home from work to discover that Dolores has drowned their three children. In a scene superbly acted out by DiCaprio, Edward tries to rescue his children and breaks into tears. Dolores explains that they can take care of the children like dolls, but Teddy then shoots her. From here we can piece together some of the story. where insane Edward kills his wife, then is taken to Shutter Island and put in Ward C before creating the alternative personality of US Marshal Edward Daniels. Edwards Daniels is an anagram of his real name, Andrew Laeddis, and Rachel Solando is also an anagram of Dolores Chanal, Andrew’s wife. Dr Sheehan was actually Chuck this whole time too, explaining why Chuck was paired with Teddy in the first place. Mind blown.

It gets even better. If you rewatch the movie, or just pay very close attention to the movie, you will notice little details that show that somethings up, and this is mainly shown through the use of water. For example, there’s a scene where a woman being interviewed by Teddy is drinking a glass of water. We see this from Teddy’s point of view, but she does not have a glass in her hand. We then cut to an over the shoulder shot of the woman putting down a glass. Teddy has blocked out the water, as it is part of the reality he is trying to forget (Dolores drowned his children). Further, in the interview with the woman, she looks at Chuck when describing Mr Sheehan and looks awkwardly at Teddy when asked if she had ever met Andrew Laeddis. There’s even more, where any scene with water represents Andrew trying to escape his past, such as the boat trip to the island at the start of the movie. I’m pretty sure if you watch this film with the keenest eye, there will be the tiniest of details that Scorsese has snuck in.

⚠️We are out of spoiler territory. No more spoilers will be mentioned in this review.

Despite this movie being slow to start off with and a little dull in places, it was certainly worth the wait. The whole ending reveal is marvellous, mind-blowing and will leave any viewer in complete shock and awe. It must be handed to both director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. Scorsese was able to bring together this fantastic story and portray it in a cinematic way that was an all-around great experience. DiCaprio was honestly one of the best parts of the film. Like most roles, he immersed himself in the character and gave a truly fantastic performance. Together, you have the awesomeness that is Shutter Island.

Overall, Shutter Island gets an 8.1/10 from me. It was a brilliant film which, though had me a little disinterested in places, left me in complete amazement over how crafty and smart this film was. I’d highly recommend that you watch this film. It’s currently available on NowTV and Amazon Prime Video. It makes for the perfect movie night in and will leave you wanting to rewatch it.

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Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. Join me next week for a horror movie review. Please note as  I’m headed to China for a week on Thursday, the reviews are likely to be out late. But I’m kind of facing my fear of horror movies to do this. See you soon!

BlacKkKlansman: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #31

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! Just as a heads up this review will discuss some dark themes, so you have been warned.

The summer holidays have whizzed past us and another year of school begins. To mark the end of a hectic summer, my friends and I all caught up to watch a movie and a meal. Despite ideas to watch the Incredibles 2 or The Meg, we opted for BlacKkKlansman, the latest hit from Spike Lee. It was a great end to the summer and with it, the final year of our secondary school lives before we all head off on our separate ways begun.

From director Spike Lee and a cast including Adam Driver and John David Washington is the cinematic version of a true story of racism in 1970’s America. Ron Stallworth is the first African-American police officer to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department and sets out on the ambitious task of infiltrating and exposing the Ku Klux Klan. Naturally, he can’t infiltrate them himself and so enlists the help of fellow police officer, Phillip Zimmerman, who will act as the version of a white Ron Stallworth in real life while Ron Stallworth himself keeps in contact with the Klan via telephone. The pair soon learn about a plot that the Ku Klux Klan are organising against a large meeting of African-American students and do everything within their power to stop any destruction and harm being caused.

John David Washington playing Ron Stallworth was a fantastic decision on Lee’s part. I personally had never heard of him before, but he was well suited for the role. His acting was spot on, and his character arc was really interesting to watch unfold. Phillip Zimmerman was played by Adam Driver. I think he was a bit of a dull character, or at least by Driver’s acting. He didn’t really do much for his character and was very rigid in terms of emotional acting. Laura Harrier played Patrice who was basically the love interest in this whole true story. She was a great character who Harrier played wonderfully, but I would have liked to have seen more of her. She was just seen as the protester who was inappropriately touched up by the dirty police officer and the love interest of Ron. Patrice carries more of a symbolic role than that and she deserves to have had a bigger role. Next, I’ll be reviewing what I thought of how people portrayed the members of the Ku Klux Klan. I don’t agree with their views or actions but here I will discuss what I thought of the acting. The Grand Wizard, David Duke, was played by Topher Grace. Personally, Grace is one of my favourite actors and his portrayal of David Duke was a fantastic performance from Grace. He brought his classic charm to a harsh and hated character. Jasper Pääkkönen played a Klan member called Felix. Felix’s character was played by Pääkkönen as a true Klan member as he was fully against anyone who didn’t have pure American blood in them. Pääkkönen’s portrayal was commendable as he brought a roughness to the character that made him more unlikable than the other Klan members and, despite his Finnish heritage, his American accent was good. Ryan Eggold played Walter Breachway, another main Klan member. Eggold showed a nicer and somewhat kinder man who was a Klan member and it was a good performance from him.

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Ron Stallworth tricking Grand Wizard David Duke into thinking he’s a white supremacist.

Though I know beforehand that it was set in the 70’s, Blackkklansman’s music came as a surprise to me. From Prince to Looking Glass, the music was something to enjoy. The best song has to go to ‘Too Late to Turn Back Now’ by The Cornelius Brothers. A week later and that song is still stuck in my head. The soundtrack was composed by Terence Blanchard and was actually pretty good. It had some good pieces of music but was very repetitive and fell into the same trap as Kingsman, where the main theme was replayed and altered to fit the emotion and mood of a scene.

The story and plot were interesting, especially as it was a true story. The real-life Ron Stallworth is a true hero for his work and it’s about time his story was told. The film was slow to start, but as soon as you get yourself in it and the tone has been set, it’s actually a really amazing experience. The whole bomb plot going down was a longer-lasting sequence than what I expected. Having said that, the whole bomb plot sequence was fantastically well done. It kept you on the edge of your seat whilst not being too much or bombarding you with too much. Blackkklansman had a nice balance of everything you’d want from a movie. It had good comedy, some action, an interesting but a little cliché love story. There’s something for everyone with an important lesson in it.

It’s definitely worth talking about the ending of the film. Ron Stallworth is hailed as a hero and has successfully exposed the Ku Klux Klan. We then cut to 38 years later, in Charlottesville, America. As some of you will remember, in August 2017, there was a ‘Unite the Right’ Rally in Charlottesville, where the Ku Klux Klan launched an attack promoting their ideology of white supremacy. The ending showed some graphic and horrendous scenes that left the entire cinema in shock and silence. Blackkklansman certainly left a mark on everyone, teaching a valuable lesson with it; everyone is equal, no matter what their race, gender, religion or anything else is.

Blackkklansman gets a 7.6/10 from me. It was an eye-opening look at the history of racism in America and how it still continues today. Despite being slow to start, the film keeps you hooked and interested, as well as teaching us all a lesson. Spike Lee has made something that needs to be seen by everyone to truly appreciate how good this film is.

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Once again, thanks for reading this weeks review. Join me next week when I review something. I haven’t decided what it will be yet. But it’ll be good. See you then!