Monday, 21 January 2013

In Depth review: Skyfall

Considering the last James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, was released in 2008 faith in the newest instalments of the Bond franchise and its leading man Daniel Craig was beginning to falter. That was until Skyfall was released encapsulating Bond fans all over the world. Skyfall utilises a more damaged and experienced Bond coming face to face his bosses past and pushing himself to the very limit once more.

Skyfall follows a shaken (but not stirred) Bond after his latest assignment doesn’t go to plan with serious implications for both him and MI6. We follow 007 as he tracks down a missing hard drive containing information about undercover NATO operatives in terrorist organisations, which has been stolen. Bond manages to track down the hard drive that leads him twisted and vengeful villain Silva who has his own personal vendetta.

The narrative stays true to what we expect from a Bond film but with a level of delivery superior to the Bond films of late. In Skyfall the plot twists and turns throughout with every turn heightening the intensity of the previous. However, for me this is the first Bond film to take advantage of the fantastic scenery Britain has to offer. We get tastes of far away lands and exotic shores but the utilisation of London landscapes and the Scottish highlands left a bigger impact on myself than any other Bond film. Skyfall doesn’t conform to the letter to the Bond film-making formula which in this case works.

Skyfall is everything you expect from a modern day Bond. Director Sam Mendes manages to cram as much action and drama into 143 minutes as humanly possible to deliver a film that pleases its audience on every level. Mendes embraced everything Bond in its 50 year anniversary delivering everything expected from a Bond film – the memorable opening credits, the girls, the cars, plenty of explosions, awesome weapons and death-defying stunts – all wrapped up in a slick bow with incredible visuals. The 23rd instalment truly honours classic elements of the Bond series it’s modern in its approach, intense in its dramatic kicks, witty and charming in its humour but also a fantastic action film in its own right.

Cinematographer Roger Deakins stamps the film with the most impressive visuals ever seen in a Bond film. His combination of shots as well as framing and focus pulls the audience into the action and perfectly mirrors the atmosphere of each specific scene. For example, at the beginning of one of the action sequences Deakins employs a fixed focal length and has 007 walk from out of the darkness into the spotlight pulling out the intense and quiet drama the scene creates and embedding hidden meanings of Bond’s journey throughout this narrative.

But even if you were to take away these amazing shots and iconic landscapes you would still be left with an outstanding cast that have enough chemistry to cause epic Bond style explosion. For me, in this film Daniel Craig establishes himself as a darker Bond with strong emotional depth that hasn’t been displayed in the other leading actors. His tone and manner bounce perfectly off the best actress in this film – Judi Dench playing M. Dench shines as the perfect M and provides a constant source of entertainment and emotional grounding throughout the film.

Although I was impressed with both Craig and Dench I was most pleasantly surprised by Javier Bardem as Silva and Ben Whishaw as Q. Bardem encapsulates a vengeful and twisted villain reminiscent of Hannibal Lector and Heath Ledger’s Joker which contrasts with the 007 Craig has developed to deliver high levels of tension. Meanwhile Whishaw reinvents the stereotypical Q represented in previous Bond films and injects his own charming and youthful twist on the character.

The verdict? Skyfall dusted away the doubts and delivered a powerhouse of a Bond film that is up there with the best of 007. Mendes has pieced together all the elements, both modern and classic to truly celebrate the 50th year in Bond history. Skyfall is witty, charming, intense, action packed and typically British which is everything audiences could have asked from it and more.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

I'm loving: Christmas movie decorations

Hi guys! Super busy with deadlines at the moment so just a quick festive blog post today!

It's finally upon us and it tis the season to be jolly! At Christmas I love nothing more than watching a heap of Christmas movies and cramming as many movies into the festive season as possible. But this Christmas my movie obsession is starting to spread around my house and this year I've become obsessed with movie related Christmas decorations!

I just can't get over these adorable Christmas ornaments! You can get a range of adorable ornaments from homemade baubles to Disney bauble sets from just shopping around craft shops and websites such as Ebay, Amazon and Etsy. These little treats just get me in the mood for the Holidays so I can officially start watching my Christmas film list!

What baubles would decorate your tree? I especially love the Cinderella carriage ornament!


Friday, 30 November 2012

Review: Project X

Project X is the story of 3 underdog high school seniors  who decide to throw a birthday party in a bid to be known. However, the party gets bigger than any of them ever expected and quickly chaos ensues.

This film is full of obscenities, crazy stunts and dumb fun that sometimes you had to look twice at. After watching this film I had nothing to say, it was just a crazy party with a blurred narrative, for me it just seemed like director Nima Nourizadeh just went crazy and wanted to create an outrageous film and weirdly enough it works. The fact that most of the film was shot handheld and through continuous filming by both cast on and off screen suits the film perfectly.

Although I was actually rendered a bit speechless I was thoroughly impressed with the soundtrack which worked hand in hand with Nourizadeh's outrageous vision. Featuring tracks such as Heads will roll (A-Trak remix) by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Cudi. In total the soundtrack features 46 songs that all keep that party atmosphere going.

The official soundtrack alongside the camera work makes you feel like you're in this crazy party with its somewhat loveable main characters Thomas (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown). The explicit soundtrack lifts the party scenes to a whole new level and at a deeper look replicates the themes hidden in amongst the energetic plot.

Project X takes a lot of risks and is sure to divide audiences. It could be read to have no moral compass and to promote alcoholism, drug culture and what lengths "underdogs" are supposed to go to to achieve a high school legacy. Personally, I feel like this film is just a crazy result of what would happen if The Hangover and Jackass got mixed with a lot of vodka in a blender, and I'm ok with that. This film has its niche and its controversy that even if you don't like this film you have to appreciate.

This film definitely doesn't make my favourite list and I'm not even convinced it makes my liked list but  if there is one thing I'm sure on is that the soundtrack is just as epic as the film intends to be. The remix versions of popular songs generate an undeniable party atmosphere and mirrors the plot perfectly.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

DVD Review: Gone

Gone is a dramatic mystery thriller which follows Jill (Amanda Seyfried) who is convinced that her kidnapper from the past has returned and abducted her younger sister Molly (Emily Wickersham). The race is on for Jill as she sets out to find her kidnapper and save her sister despite every obstacle that is in her way.

Director Heitor Dhalia has stuck to traditional conventions of a thriller by using a well practiced combination of camera shots, soundtrack, editing and lighting. One of the most effective parts of the film for me were the jump cuts between past and present that develop the narrative as well as reinforcing the genre of the film. These sharps cuts are intensified by the grim lighting employed throughout the film. The dark tones effectively reflect the dark plot and themes that guide the story forward.

The film sets out to be fast paced and tense from the outset but for me is really driven by Seyfried's performance. While the techniques employed in this film are traditional of the thriller genre they're not exciting. For me, Gone relies way to much on well practiced conventions to create a mediocre film that heavily relies on its lead actress to make it work.

Gone is an easy enough film to watch but it doesn't challenge the genre it's trying to fit into and it doesn't deliver a memorable film for audiences. For me this film had a lot of potential, the back story was interesting but the plot just dragged along linked by some effective action scenes which ultimately just lead to another car which drives the plot from point A to B.

I am personally disappointed in this film. Genres and conventions have been established since the start of cinema and the great films of today are developing sub-genres, breaking conventions and even building new techniques and codes for identifying film genres. Although the ending had me glued to my screen it ended as quickly as it began and left me ultimately just wanting more.

This film just goes through the motions and offers no creative flare for its audience. On paper it ticks all the right boxes for editing, lighting, acting and the like but it doesn't excite. Perhaps I'm just expecting more or comparing it to other thrillers that I adore such as Se7en, but this film is simply average and just goes to show how relying on traditional genre conventions isn't enough in some cases. Unfortunately, for me personally Gone is one of these films you watch once and don't go back to again.


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Review: Brave - A classic Disney film?

Brave is the latest Disney animated feature which brings the promise of a new Disney princess in main character Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald).

Merida is a passionate archer and daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Feeling trapped, Merida is determined to live her life the way she wants to, and when she runs into a mysterious old lady (voiced by Julie Walters) her wishes and actions have drastic consequences for everybody she loves.

The film is a beautifully animated feature which focuses on classic themes embedded in Disney film history: tradition, heritage, rebellion, family and destiny, all linked by a sense of morality. Although I appreciate the aesthetic of this film and enjoyed it immensely I felt like it was simply easy watching and highly predictable.

Now this isn't a bad thing, but haven't we seen this narrative before? The Disney princess narrative is long in its history and vast in its numbers and it's a winning formula but I'm not sure if Brave fits that mould. The Pixar influence has meant that this film isn't a classic Disney narrative that can be placed alongside the likes of Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella, but once again this isn't a bad thing.

Brave adapts and plays on this winning formula to create a strong lead character that will win over its audience just like Rapunzel did in Disney's Tangled. The establishment of a classic Disney hero, a princess, a donor and a villain alongside a journey of self discovery is a guaranteed hit with its audience. The narrative is filled with heart warming and funny moments that give it that classic Disney feel that emphasises its plot and themes. However at the same time the narrative pushes the family theme to the front and pushes the traditional romantic narrative at the fore front of so many Disney classics into the background.

Brave is definitely a film of 3 parts. Each act predictably develops the narrative and the characters and really drives the narrative forward. In parts its narrative is witty and charming and I adore the relationship between Merida and Queen Elinor. The aesthetic and the narrative present an exciting future for the Disney/Pixar collaboration which breaks away from the Disney princess classics and their narrative. Brave is a unique combination of classic and modern Disney which means in places the narrative is flawed but overall is refreshing and heart warming.