Dancing on f**king ice
Who knew the world of female figure skating could be so...well...batshit crazy?!
Directed by Craig Gillespie, I, Tonya charts Tonya Harding's life, right through her troubled childhood when she firsts starts skating, through to adulthood when she was on the cusp of becoming one of the greatest figure skaters in the world. Staring Margot Robbie in the title role, the movie also stars Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney & Bobby Cannavale. I have to admit that prior to this movie, I knew absolutely nothing about Tonya Harding, I didn't even know who she was. However other reviews that I had read had peaked my interest - all of these had mentioned "the event" that results in her downfall. This along intrigued me enough to check the movie out.
Check out the trailer below.
I, Tonya is proof that you don't need to have any interest in the subject matter to enjoy a movie on the subject. The last thing I'd want to do on a Saturday night is stay in and watch Dancing on Ice, however, I, Tonya had me invested from start to finish. It is a fantastic movie - Robbie's performance in particular is a joy to behold. This could very well be her career defining role so far; everything about the performance was believable - and whilst she performs some of the skating, she does a great job of making you believe it actually is her out there jumping & spinning on the ice! The performances don't just stop there either - Allison Janney puts in an awards worthy performance as Tonya's abusive mother & Sebastian Stan (aka The Winter Soldier) does a great job Tonya's husband. As for the skating scenes themselves - they are electric! The combination of the insane choreography & the soundtrack keep you absolutely fixated on the screen for the duration.
Where the movie really came to life for me though was "the event". Now unless you know the story of Tonya Harding - then prepare to be shocked. It was mental. I don't want to say too much in order not to spoil it but it has everything from the FBI to a bodyguard who claimed to be a secret agent...
Overall, I thought I, Tonya was great. The combination of the unknown storyline, Margot Robbie's performance & the excellent cinematography had me hooked from the beginning & I won't be surprised to see this movie or its stars pick up an Academy Award or two...I, Tonya gets 4 out of 5 stars from me.
You can catch I, Tonya in cinemas now.
Hail the King
Every so often a genre movie will come along that gets everyone talking. Last year it was Get Out, the incredible horror mystery from Jordan Peele. This year is Marvel Studios latest blockbuster - Black Panther that seems to have all the buzz.
Directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), Black Panther is the 18th movie entry into the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) & stars Chadwick Boseman in the title role, alongside Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.
After an impressive debut in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, could Black Panther hold his own in a standalone movie? Check out the trailer below.
Following the death of his father during the events of Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa (Boseman) takes his place as king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. The title of king of Wakanda also comes with the mantle of the superpowered Black Panther - who is the protector of the nation. Due to a meteorite collision centuries ago & the subsequent discovery of the near indestructible element vibranium, Wakanda has managed to become technologically superior to every other nation on earth - whilst continually maintaining the illusion that they are a poor farming nation. T'Challa's position is challenged by an outsider; Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who looks to take the throne for himself & share Wakanda's secret with the world.
First up, Wakanda looks incredible - the design team have done an fantastic job in bringing it to life. It looks so otherworldly; the futuristic neon skyscrapers & high-speed trains amongst the lush African greenery - think Blade Runner meets The Lion King! The costume & set design also play a huge part in this; traditional African dress is often offset against high tech interiors with the odd traditional decoration in the background. The soundtrack is also a spectacle - Ludwig Göransson has done a wonderful job with the score & the accompanying OST by Kendrick Lamar makes for excellent listening.
Chadwick Boseman plays T'Challa/Black Panther perfectly. He brings all the gravitas & presence required for playing a character of royalty whilst maintaining a sombre gentleness needed of a role that requires him to mourn his father's death whilst being the protector of a nation. Marvel Studios rarely get the casting of their superheroes wrong & they have nailed it again here with Boseman - it's hard to imagine anyone else donning the Black Panther suit (except maybe Shuri?).
One of the biggest complaints about Marvel movies is that they tend to feature largely forgettable villains. How many really stick in your mind out with Loki, Ultron & The Winter Soldier? Thankfully, for Black Panther though, Killmonger is a rather memorable villain who is played brilliantly by the fantastic Michael B. Jordan. Erik "Killmonger" Stevens seems to start the movie as an accomplice to one of Black Panther's longtime foes; Ulysses Klaue Andy Serkis), however, as the movie progresses & through a combination of grief, anguish & rage, we get to fully understand his actions and the motive behind them. Far too often, Marvel villains are just a monster who wants to destroy the world, however, with Killmonger his motives are more contained & Jordan adds a real level of humanity to the character that is usually often missing.
As impressive as Boseman & Jordan are, for me Letitia Wright's (Black Mirror's Black Museum) Shuri steals the show. Shuri, T'Challa's younger sister also plays the role of James Bond's Q; head of Wakanda's technology department, alongside developing Black Panther's suit & weapons - a role that gives Tony Stark a run for his money. Shuri, whilst obviously a scientific genius, finds plenty of time for being sarcastic & a prankster - however, she is not afraid to fight when it comes down to it. It is a role that is played perfectly by Wright, and if you are yet to see the aforementioned episode of Black Mirror - then I urge you to do so.
Black Panther is an excellent addition to the MCU & one that quite rightly has critics & fans buzzing with delight. It looks stunning, it sounds stunning, it is filled with fantastic performances, but most of all; it is bold, unafraid to take risks & makes a cultural statement. For a movie that is director Coogler's THIRD directorial outing, Black Panther is a must-see for movie fans - whether you are invested in the MCU or not.
Overall Black Panther gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me. Wakanda Forever.
Netflix Drops A Monster Sized Bomb
Remember Cloverfield; the interesting found footage monster movie from ten years ago, and its rather excellent psychological horror sequel 10 Cloverfield Lane from 2016? Well, during the Superbowl Netflix debuted the first trailer for The Cloverfield Paradox - the third movie in the franchise, and a movie that from the trailer, promised to tell us where the monster from the original movie came from. Though, it wasn't until at the very end of the trailer where Netflix really dropped a bomb - it was available to watch immediately after the game; worldwide & only 3 hours after the first trailer had been released.
The Cloverfield Paradox is directed by Julius Onah & produced by J.J. Abrams. It stars Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O'Dowd, David Oyelowo & Elizabeth Debicki to name a few. Check out the trailer below.
The way in which The Cloverfield Paradox was released was unheard of in the movie industry, and something that I guess only really Netflix could pull off. But was it a masterstroke or a a load of wasted potential? Well the answer is a bit of both really.
The Cloverfield Paradox focuses on a group of astronauts/scientists who are working on a space station above Earth. Their goal is to solve Earth's energy crisis by starting a on board particle accelerator that will create a source of infinite energy for Earth to harvest. Critics & sceptics of the technology fear that it will create an opening to an alternate universe will unleash all sorts of horrors on Earth. While I wont delve into too much detail in order not to spoil the movie; things don't quite go as planned & quickly spiral out of control.
It's an interesting premise for a Sci-Fi movie - however one not too dissimilar from last year's Life, and it's certainly hard to ignore the comparisons. For a movie that is set in an such enclosed space for its majority, with a large cast of characters; it spends so much time with long rambling speeches about parallel universes & alternate dimensions that it spends very little time actually developing these characters. The movie is filled with character stereotypes; an efficient German engineer (Brühl), the wisecracking Irishman (O'Dowd) & an uptight Russian, with an over fondness for guns (Aksel Hennie) - the only character that I ever really cared for was Hamilton (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Her character is the only one who is really given some background & due to a horrifying past incident involving her children, she has a clear drive throughout the movie & her performance at least invokes some emotion.
One big positive of the movie is the visuals - it is certainly a delight for the eyes & it is easy to tell that it has been filmed incredibly well. There are several spectacular set pieces throughout; disappearing planets, huge space explosions & a particularly strange one involving a severed arm. These visuals for the most part, were enough to keep me engaged.
As a whole, the movie just doesn't quite work - that's not to say that I didn't like it, because there were parts of it that I enjoyed; thehighly impressive visuals & Gugu Mbatha-Raw's character in particular. Also, I am a bit of a movie nerd & because this is "part" of a franchise that I was already invested in - I just had to watch it. However, for a movie that promised to provide some answers to questions posed by a franchise that kicked off almost a decade ago; we are frustratingly left with more questions than answers. With a fourth movie (currently titled Overlord)in the franchise planned for later this year, we may see some light shed on these mysteries, however with J.J. at the helm that these are sadly answers that we might never get.
Overall, The Cloverfield Paradox gets 2.5 out of 5 stars from me.
You stream The Cloverfield Paradox right now on Netflix.
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