Jojo Rabbit: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #56

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain some adult themes and spoilers for Jojo Rabbit. I highly recommend this film as it certainly surprised me (in a good way) and may be one of my favourite films of all time.

Directed by and starring  Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok and Hunt for the Wilderpeople), and also starring Roman Griffith Davis, Thomasin McKenzie and Scarlett Johannson, Jojo Rabbit takes place in World War 2 and follows Jojo Betzler, a young Nazi living with his mother. Jojo discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in the walls and turns to his imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler, for advice.

Roman Griffith Davis played Jojo Beltzer and gave a brilliant performance. For a 12-year-old actor just starting off his career, he was able to display a wide range of emotions that allowed us to connect with Jojo’s character. The lead in most movies is usually able to do connect with audiences, but what’s remarkable about this in Jojo Rabbit is that this is all from a young actor. Griffith Davis has been nominated for a number of awards (including the Golden Globes and the Critic’s Choice) and after watching the film, it’s obvious to see why. Thomasin McKenzie played Elsa, a Jewish teenager who Jojo’s mother is hiding in the walls. McKenzie was perfectly selected to play Elsa and, for a young actress, delivered a strong and compelling representation of the Jewish experience in hiding in Nazi Germany. Taika Waititi took on the task of playing Adolf Hitler, or more accurately, Jojo’s image of Hitler. It’s important to remember that the film is from the perspective of a brainwashed 10-year-old Nazi, and Hitler in Jojo’s mind is someone he admires (Hitler is Jojo’s imaginary best friend after all).  Waititi wrote, directed and starred in Jojo Rabbit and took on the tough role of playing Hitler and for me, his portrayal was fantastic. He was witty and played the character in a different and memorable way. Jojo’s mother, Rosie Beltzer, was played by Scarlett Johansson. For me, Johannson wasn’t the most obvious choice to play Rosie but she was surprisingly well suited to the role. I would’ve liked to have seen more of her, but for the time she was on-screen, there was a strong and sweet relationship built up between Rosie and Jojo, despite the relationship build-up being a little rushed in my eyes. The dramatic reveal of Jojo coming across his mother’s hanging body by bumping into her shoes was so perfectly and subtlety built up and it’s all down to Waititi’s direction throughout the film. The build-up to this moment is sneakily intertwined with the film, first showing Jojo being unable to tie his shoes and the close-up shots of Rosie’s shoes, then Rosie talking to Jojo about butterflies in the stomach. This emotional climax of the film was unexpected, perfectly orchestrated and brought tears to my eyes in the cinema. It’s also worth mentioning one of the side characters who helped to make the film better; Captain Klenzendorf. Sam Rockwell played Captain K, and I loved the zaniness of his character, as well as his redemption at the end of the film. Together, the character chemistry was brought to life on screen wonderfully, particularly with the development of relationships throughout the film. One notable character relationship development that I thought was worth mentioning is the friendship between Jojo and Adolf. It starts off strong but as the film goes on, the relationship deteriorates to the point where Jojo tells Hitler to “f**k off” and kicks him out a window, showing that Jojo has no relationship with him or the Nazis anymore. Again, this is from the perspective of a brainwashed 10-year-old and the way the whole film plays out because of this is something we rarely get to see and was fantastically  done.

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Jojo and Adolf question Rosie’s loyalty to the Third Reich.

The music composed by Michael Giacchino was well constructed as it allowed us to not only connect with the characters’ emotions but also with the time period that the film is set in. I quite liked the German renditions of pop songs, even though there were only two of them. Nonetheless, the final scene of Elsa and Jojo dancing in the streets upon hearing the war is over to the German rendition of ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie will go down in my mind as one of the most powerful and iconic movie endings of all time. My only complaint is that I found the music was sometimes used unnecessarily to accompany a scene.

The story is actually an adapted screenplay, based on the book ‘Caging Skies’ by Christine Leunens. It was brought to life with a hint of Waititi’s quirky filmmaking style which gave us an interesting story told in a whimsical way that made for a surprisingly enjoyable cinematic experience. It was a little fast-paced in some places, but this pacing was better suited to the film rather than a slower pace. A question some of you may be wondering is whether Jojo Rabbit deserved to win Best Adapted Picture at the Oscars, and even if it should have been nominated for Best Picture itself. If I haven’t made it obvious enough, yes to both those questions. When people look back at 2019 as a year in film, there will be so many legendary films mentioned. Joker, Parasite, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Avengers: Endgame to name a few. Now add Jojo Rabbit to that list. It had humour and heart and was able to turn one of history’s darkest times into a deep film about love, family and defeating the hatred of the world.

Overall, Jojo Rabbit gets an 8.5/10 from me. It came out as a surprisingly fantastic film, brought to life by an amazing cast and crew and teaching us all an important lesson throughout; no matter what happens, just keep going. No feeling is final. It’s one of those films that’s a hidden gem and I can’t wait to see what Taika Waititi goes on to do next.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for this review to come out. Now that I’ve had time to settle in my new life both at work and working from home what with the corona-crisis, I’ve been able to adapt to a new schedule. I hope that you are all keeping well during these difficult and challenging times.

Further to the above, I’m currently working my way through reviewing the movie event of last year. I’m of course talking about Avengers: Endgame and aim to have the review out on April 25th (though that does seem a little ambitious). Anyways, I’ll have a review for Avengers: Endgame out soon, so I’ll see you then!

 

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!

Toy Story 4: Ryans Movie Reviews #52

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain spoilers for Toy Story 4.

Back in 1995, Pixar released their first feature film and the first-ever computer-animated feature film with Toy Story, which soon became one of the most iconic movies to date. 24 years later, and Pixar are back with their 21st film, expanding the Toy Story franchise with Toy Story 4.

Directed by Josh Cooley and with voices from Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, Key and Peele and Annie Potts comes Toy Story 4. Two years after Andy has given Bonnie his old toys, she is about to begin kindergarten and continues to play with all her toys, except Woody. On Kindergarten Orientation Day, Woody sneaks into her bag to accompany her, and she returns home with a new friend she literally made, Forky, who soon becomes Bonnie’s favourite toy. Bonnie and her family then embark on a road trip where midway through, Forky jumps out of a window because he doesn’t believe he is a toy. It’s down to Woody with the help of old friends, like Buzz and Bo Peep, and new friends, like Duke Caboom‚ and Ducky and Bunny to help reunite Bonnie with her favourite toy and save the day.

The way I judged the characters in Toy Story 4 was by the emotion conveyed by their voice actor and the relationship that the character had with others in the film. Woody is once again voiced by Tom Hanks who brings a lovable charm to the character. Hanks nailed the emotion within Woody’s voice, whether it be in the joy of finding Bo Peep again or the sadness in leaving his old friends behind to live with Bo Peep and her friends. Tim Allen is also back to voice Buzz Lightyear, who, like Hanks, did an excellent job in voicing his character. Though it wasn’t liked by some, I quite enjoyed the ‘inner voice’ aspect of Buzz. It not only conveyed a nice message for the audience about following your heart but was also a good addition to Buzz’s character that we could see in future Toy Story films. Annie Potts has returned to voice Bo Peep, 20 years after Toy Story 2. It was brilliant to have her reunited with the gang and her voice for Bo Peep was something that added to the film in a way that, with other characters, added to its enjoyability. I’ve mentioned Hanks, Allen and Potts as they are arguably the main characters in the film, but the relationship between each and every character was done fantastically, both by the voice actors and the animators. If you think about relationships between certain characters, like Bo Peep and Buzz or Woody and Duke Caboom, they have been orchestrated expertly with the tone from the voice actors and the body language from the animators. For me, this has improved massively over time for Pixar and made Toy Story 4 a better movie. I felt that though he was advertised as a main character, we could’ve seen more of Tony Hale’s Forky. Majority of his lines were screaming ‘gah’ and I would’ve liked to have more from a character that was heavily advertised in trailers and posters. It’s also worth noting how much I loved the new additions to the Toy Story family. Without Keegan-Michael Key as Ducky, Jordan Peele as Bunny and Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom, the film wouldn’t have been as funny or as good as it was, but then again, it wasn’t one of the better Toy Story movies.

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Woody and Bo Peep enlist the help of Duke Caboom to help save Forky

The animation in Toy Story was gorgeous and it really added to my enjoyment of the film. Recently, Pixar released a series of individual character posters for Toy Story 4 (found here) which, if you look closely, shows the spectacular amount of detail put into the animation and design of these characters, my favourite being the scuff marks on Woody’s hat and the material used to make Bullseye. Compare this to the animation from 1995’s Toy Story and it’s evident to see the incredible strides made by Pixar in their animation over this time.

As fun as a sequel that Toy Story 4 was, it did feel rather unnecessary. The story could’ve been left at Toy Story 3, but Toy Story 4 did open the door for the potential of more Toy Story sequels in the future. I also felt that in Toy Story 4 some of the “older” characters like Rex or Jessie were ignored to make way for the newer characters who could carry the franchise forward, like Duke Caboom or Ducky and Bunny. Even though some of the “older” characters were sidelined in Toy Story 4, I really loved that Pixar was able to integrate the enjoyability from previous films and their characters with the newer characters. I found myself wanting more from Ducky and Bunny and Duke Caboom and their adventures with Woody and Bo Peep and Giggle McDimples.

Though it wasn’t the best film of all time either, especially not in the Toy Story series, Toy Story 4 was still a good movie. Perhaps I’ve grown up which may be why the film didn’t meet my hopes for it, but regardless, there is certainly a message for all in Toy Story 4; you may be “lost” in your life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are “lost”. Take Woody’s storyline over the movies. He was Andy’s favourite toy who’d seen competition through Buzz, the loss of friends like Bo Peep and Wheezy, but gained new friends like Jessie and Buzz, and has also suffered the terrors of daycare and losing your owner. By Toy Story 4, Woody is done. Bonnie doesn’t play with him and he’s abandoned, as he feels that his job of making a child happy is over. But he reunites with Bo Peep, one of his best friends who’s now shown him a new way of life. A new way to bring happiness to children. His life has meaning again and he is fulfilling his purpose as a toy. Though he has no owner and is classified as a lost toy, he has actually found himself. 

Toy Story 4 gets a 7.2/10. It’s not the best movie in the Toy Story series but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad movie. Toy Story 4 carries a sweet story that made me reminiscent of my childhood. The voice acting, particularly from Hanks, Potts and Allen, combined with Pixar’s gorgeous animation, helped to make the film more enjoyable in a movie that leaves open the possibility for future Toy Story sequels.

Thanks for reading this review. I’m sorry I haven’t published a review in such a long time, it’s been a hectic couple of months, but I’m back with some more reviews coming soon. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews when they are published.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. I’m off on holiday for some time, so join me in a few weeks for the review of a Martin Scorsese classic. See you then!

Step Brothers: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #48

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

There’s a definite difference between comedy in British movies and comedy in American movies. In my opinion, most American comedies are lazier and don’t make use of what’s possible with what’s available when you can make a movie. To be fair, some American TV comedies have actually done this, such as The Office and Parks and Recreation. Other than that, the movies rely on jokes to make the movie a comedy. And some are better done than others. One movie that has pretty good humour both audibly and visually is 2008’s Step Brothers.

Directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly is Step Brothers. Dale Doback and Brennan Huff are two jobless losers in their forties who are still living with their respective father and mother. When Robert (Dale’s father) meets Nancy (Brennan’s mother) at a conference, the two hook up and get married. Brennan and Dale are forced to live with each other and get along. Naturally, mischief and craziness ensue, leaving Robert and Nancy no choice but to sell their house and retire so that their sons can get jobs and become adults, something they are far from.

Will Ferrell played Brennan Huff and did a great job in the role. Ferrell was good fun to watch and he was funny, but as much as I liked Brennan, I preferred Dale’s character. Dale Doback was played by John C. Reilly and is arguably one of Reilly’s best roles to date. Reilly was hilarious and made the movie more enjoyable to watch. Together, Ferrell and Reilly were a fantastic comedy duo who made the film hilarious, and their character chemistry was so natural and it was great fun to watch. Mary Steenburgen played Brennan’s mother, Nancy and was a great addition to the cast. The same is true for Robert, played by Richard Jenkins. Honestly, there’s not much else I can really comment on their characters. Adam Scott also featured in the film, playing Brennan’s brother, Derek. He was quite funny and his performance was impeccable. One character who I loved was Randy, played by Rob Riggle, but there should have been more of his character. Randy genuinely had me bursting out in laughter.

The music had some generic songs, such as ‘You Make My Dreams’ by Hall and Oates and ‘A-Punk’ by Vampire Weekend. However other songs that I’d never heard of, such as ‘Breathe and Stop’ by Q-Tip were good additions to the film that added to the mood of the movie. It’s worth mentioning the songs done by the cast too, like Derek and his family acapella-ing to ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ or ‘Boat’s and Hoes’ sung by Brennan and Dale. These moments were funny and made the film more entertaining, but the best musical moment in Step Brothers easily goes to the operatic-drum solo scene with Brennan and Dale performing Por Ti Volare at the Catalina Wine Mixer.

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Brennan and Dale show off their talents at the Catalina Wine Mixer.

It’s a straightforward story but with the right details and actors mixed in, you have a pretty decent movie. I’m not saying that Step Brothers is a bad movie, but it’s not the best. It’s quite dull and flat at times, and the comedy sometimes did not land well and just left for an awkward moment.

There were some laugh-out-loud moments that were great and funny additions to the film. I like the whole scene of Brennan and Dale getting into a fight after Brennan puts his testicles on Dale’s precious drum set was hilarious to see it escalate into a stupidly funny fight. Another scene I liked was when Dale and Brennan then became ‘best friends’ and make bunk beds and did awesome karate kits Dale’s long fart in his job interview with Seth Rogen tasting it was one of the funny awkward moments in the film too. Dale and Brennan’s big release of Boats and Hoes for their business, Prestige Worldwide was also hilarious to watch. The reveal of Derek being an unlikeable character, especially with his introduction was well done and funny. Brennan gets a job working for Derek, and there’s a scene I love that takes place in Randy’s office, with Randy yelling ‘pow!’ every so often which was funny too. The best part for me was at the Catalina Wine Mixer with Brennan and Dale’s epic performance, which had me in stitches.

Step Brothers gets a 6.8/10 from me. It’s possible that a movie that isn’t as high scoring as others that I’ve reviewed can still be loved. It has great comedy and is a film that should be watched by everyone. Step Brothers is currently available to watch on Netflix, and I highly recommend it.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) to stay up to date with the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. As it’s Valentine’s Day next Thursday, I’ll be reviewing a romantic movie. See you then!

 

American Animals: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #44

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

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!

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!

 

Elf: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #43

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews!

As it’s Christmas very soon, I decided to review one of the most festive movies around. Usually, when you say Christmas movies, the first films that pop into people’s minds are Die Hard (review here), Home Alone and Elf. Seeing as I reviewed Die Hard last week, Elf was next in line to be reviewed.

Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man and next year’s The Lion King), Elf tells the story of Buddy, a human who is accidentally taken to the North Pole as a baby and raised as an elf. When Buddy grows up, it is revealed to him that he is actually a human. Buddy’s decides to travel to New York to meet his father, Walter Hobbs, who is a grinch. What follows is a sweet and hilarious story about family and Christmas.

Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf and one of Ferrell’s most notorious roles to date. He brings a sweet charm and enthusiasm combined with a childlike naivety to Buddy’s character that makes him lovable and a hilarious character. It does reach a point of Buddy being a bit of a nuisance in places, but nonetheless, Buddy is a great character who is brilliantly played by Will Ferrell. Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s grinchy father, is played wonderfully by James Caan. Though Walter Hobbs was the main antagonist in Elf, the way that Caan played Hobbs was done well and his acting ability was put to good use in the film. Of course, there was a love interest in this film, and it was Jovie, a shop assistant at Gimbels, who was played by Zooey Deschanel. Jovie was a good character and all, but I felt she was just put in to lengthen the run-time and create a few more comedic moments in the film. Elf also featured Peter Dinklage, who played Miles Finch. Honestly, I’ve seen Elf about 10 times and can’t remember who he has. All I can remember is Buddy chasing him and mistaking him for an elf. Dinklage did a great job playing Miles Finch, but he was just a forgettable character.

The music was classic Christmas stuff (Let it Snow, Rocking Around the Christmas tree, Sleigh ride and so forth) which was well suited to the film. I liked the song choices throughout the film as it made the movie more enjoyable to watch. There’s nothing to criticise here.

ELF, Will Ferrell and Artie Lange, 2003 (screen grab)CR: New Line Cinema

Buddy discovers​ that the Gimbel’s Santa is not the real Santa.

Elf’s storyline is one that is quite smart and straightforward, a human who is raised as an elf is sent to reconnect with his human family but his dad is a grinch. The human tries to convince his dad to enjoy Christmas time and hijinks occur. It’s where additional parts are thrown into the film that it starts to deteriorate. You have so many subplots squeezed in to get more laughs out of the audience, and it worked in some places but flopped in others. It’s evident that Will Ferrell really enjoyed making this film and he really put everything into making this a great film, but I felt that too much was packed into what was an already good film. The comedy was well done by Ferrell, and it’s clear that he’s mastered the art of making people laugh. It was mainly the additional subplots that ruined the film.

Overall, Elf gets a 7.2/10 from me. It was a good movie that featured great comedy from Will Ferrell but threw too much into the film to make it longer. Admittedly, Elf is not Jon Favreau’s greatest work but nonetheless is a good film. To get you in the festive feeling, Elf is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Thanks for reading this week’s review. Follow my Instagram (@Ryans.Movie.Reviews) for the latest movie news, behind the scenes pictures and more! Also, follow my blog to be the first to read my reviews.

Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. I hope you all have a merry Christmas and join me next week for a yearly look at the best movies and TV shows we were treated to in 2018. See you then!