Baby Driver

Image Credit: Sony Pictures

Baby. B-A-B-Y, Baby.

Heist movie, meets car movie, meets love story, meets one killer soundtrack. Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), Baby Driver is a true break through film.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young hot-shot driver whose skills have him in the unwilling employ of criminal master mind, Doc (Kevin Spacey). A childhood injury has left Baby with a constant ringing in his ears which he drowns out using his favourite tunes, letting him choreograph his life to his personal playlist.

Not one to enjoy the criminal life, Baby is happy when things start changing. His time with Doc is coming to an end, and the beautiful Debora (Lily James) is the start of a new tune. Of course, things don’t go to plan; but it wouldn’t make for a good movie if he could just whistle a tune and end his contract in peace.

The film kicks off with a heist. As Buddy (Jon Hamm), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), and Griff (Jon Bernthal) head in to rob a bank, Baby is left in the car, waiting to make a quick getaway. This is the first example of how important music is going to be to this film. An epic lip sync routine ensues to Bellbottom by The Jon Spencer Blue Explosion ensures while Baby is waiting. Music continues at the forefront of the film, really becoming a character all its own. Different situations require different songs, and Baby carries around numerous iPods to ensure he’s never left without the right track.

The specific choreography of the film really comes to light in the second scene as Baby heads out on a coffee run. The way Elgort moves down the street blending to the music as the street itself matches up with lines from the song using graffiti, store signage and more to create the ideal music video for life.

Throughout the film camera angles chop and change to make the most of each scene. With aerial shots and street view following Baby’s insane route through the city.

If you’ve listened to anything about this film, chances are you heard it described as ‘cross-genre’; there isn’t a better way to describe it than that. Action filled car chases and adrenaline fuelled gun battles blend with love in the diner and witty work colleagues in a seamless way.

Baby Driver will have you completely invested in the first 5 minutes, and unable to look away until the very end.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel fans rejoice! We have another roaring success with the newest addition to the Cinematic Universe. Since his introduction in Captain America: Civil War, the newest reincarnation of New York City’s web slinger, played by Tom Holland, has captured the hearts of Marvel fans.

During the wall-crawler’s first stand-alone film, we see the clean-up of New York after the Avenger’s (2012) battle. Some entrepreneurial workers who are less than pleased when they have the post battle clean up contract taken from them. Luckily, they find other ways to make a profit from the battle. Add a little time jump (Civil War, 2016) and, of course, things have started to go bad; But Spidey is there to save the day.

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The House

Image Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures

When a much needed scholarship falls through, Scott and Kate Johansen have to find a way to send their daughter to the college of her dreams. A trip to Las Vegas gives them the perfect idea.

The only logical choice, of course, is to open an illegal casino.

Bored wives and husbands from around their suburban neighbourhood soon get involved and ‘The House’ is a roaring success; they rake in the cash and draw in on their goal before things start to go wrong.

You’d think Will Farrell and Amy Poehler on screen together would result in non-stop laughter to the point tears. Unfortunately, ‘The House’ stops short of the mark.

With a lacklustre dialogue and a few attempts at physical humour, the movie falls fairly flat. Jeremy Renner does provide a change of pace eventually, but that comes in far too late in the piece to be a saving grace.

Die hard Farrell or Poehler fans might enjoy ‘The House’ but it’s not guaranteed.

Train to Busan

Image: Next Entertainment World

I am a sucker for zombie movies and will watch nearly anything, even if it is not of the highest quality. Thankfully, Train to Busan is not one of the second-rate z-flicks.

Disclaimer to start with, this is a Korean film so if you do not like subtitles it might be a struggle; but I would definitely recommend fans of the zombie genre give it a chance.

Directed by Sang-ho Yeon, and written by Yeon and Joo-Suk Park, Train to Busan is a suspense filled thriller meets horror. Workaholic dad, Seok-woo (Yoo Gong), and his young daughter Soo-an (Soo-an Kim) are on the train headed to see Soo-an’s mother in Busan. When riots and violence begin to break out, the trains passengers see it in their media feeds on their phones, and start to receive calls from loved ones as people try to work out what it going on. Unfortunately the incidents don’t stay outside the train. When one infected gets aboard it starts a domino effect. Continue reading

Split

Image: Blinding Edge Pictures

With M. Night Shyamalan at the helm, Split promises great things before the opening credits even begin. Most of what the trailer used to suck you in has already come into play by the 20-minute mark of this film. From that point forward, nearly everything is new.

Three teenage girls are abducted by Kevin (James McAvoy), a man whose body plays host to 23 completely separate personalities. While most of these personalities are harmless, there are some who foretell the rise of something terrible.

Split offered the opportunity of a lifetime for any actor wanting to test their mettle; and James McAvoy certainly played the role to its fullest extent. While there are 23 personalities living inside Kevin, the main focus throughout the film is on three of them, Patricia, Hedwig, and Dennis. The complete and utter difference between these characters is astounding. For the most part, the clothes McAvoy wears in any given scene tell the viewer which personality is in charge, but wardrobe isn’t the only thing that changes. Each personality has distinct voices, speech patterns and body language. While actors often change all these things to suit a role, its unusually for an actor to have to switch between them in a single movie.

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Gold

Image: Black Bear Pictures

2016 gave us some great based-on-true-event films, and 2017 looks set to continue that trend. Built loosely around the mining scandal that befell Bre-X in 1993, Gold brings adventure, crime, and suspense to the big screen once more.

Prospector Kenny Wells’ (Matthew McConaughey) business is just like his liquor, on the rocks. Having taken over his late father’s company, Wells has been unable to land a big contract and he grasps at his last available straw. Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) is a geologist living in Indonesia. When Acosta is approached by Wells to find the gold the geologist was once so sure exists beneath the jungle, a little persuasion is required. Soon enough, they’re off, obtaining funding (though only enough to scrape through by the skin of their teeth), workers, and core samples; but they find nothing. Just as all hope seems lost, what should appear? Gold.

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La La Land

Image: Summit Entertainment

Winner of seven Golden Globes, nominated for fourteen Oscars, and with numerous other award nominations and wins under its belt, La La Land breathes new life into the art of cinema.

Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress, drawn to Hollywood by her dream to be on the screen. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a pianist with a love for the classic jazz music of Hollywood in its heyday. They find themselves coming together, despite the different circles their lives are in. After a half-hearted effort to not get involved, their lives intertwine to create an old-fashioned love story for the 21st century.

Costumes, music, sets, acting, the whole nine yards of this film are unbelievable. They blend together so perfectly, while still allowing each individual feature to take its time at centre stage.

With an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Costume Design you can expect something special. Seemingly old fashioned styles with ladies in bright dresses and gentlemen in suits and wingtips, make you feel like you’ve been pulled back in time. The occasional smartphone being used and the models of the cars are the only real indicators that this is 2016.

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xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Image: Paramount Pictures

Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is back, and he’s just as hook on adrenaline as ever. The extreme sports junkie is called in to once again save the world as part of Augustus Gibbons’ (Samuel L. Jackson) xXx program.

As far as action movies go, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is everything people love, without brining anything new to the table. Stunts, explosions, girls in bikinis, and guys with no shirts. It’s all well and good, and if action movies like this are your thing then, by all means, check it out. In all, it’s very reminiscent of late 90s, early 00s action flicks with big explosions and little subtlety.

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Sing

Image: Illumination

While he may not be the best businessman, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) has the spirit of a showman; and anyone who is serious about showbiz knows one key thing. The show must go on! In an attempt to save his beloved theatre, Moon decides to host a singing contest. Que all animals great and small! From a tiny snail to a giraffe whose head in in the rafters, there are auditions of all kinds, their acts and varied as their species.

In the end, the line-up includes Gunter (Nick Kroll) and Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), two pigs with very different styles, Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a little mouse with big opinions of himself, Ash (Scarlett Johansson), the rock and roll porcupine, chronically shy elephant, Meena (Tori Kelly), and Johnny (Taron Egerton) the gorilla, wanting to find something more than the family business. Continue reading

Red Dog: True Blue

Image: Screen Australia

Whether it be the beauty of the Australian outback, an adorable dog, or the story of a young boy and his best friend that draws you to this film, you won’t go away disappointed.

Director Kirv Stenders returns with Red Dog: True Blue, both part prequel and sequel his 2011 Red Dog that captured (and broke) so many hearts. Without spoiling too much, the prequel part of the tale tells the story of young Sydney boy, Mick (Levi Miller), whose mother sends him to live with his grandfather after the death of her husband. Michael’s grandfather (Bryan Brown) owns and runs the NAME cattle property. Living this rural and remotely is a challenge for Michael at first, but when a storm brings a little red pup, Blue (Phoenix), to his side, things start to change.

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