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

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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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

Moana

Image: Disney

Summer holidays means kids movies! And you can’t go wrong with a little bit of Disney magic.

Moana is the latest heroin to join Disney’s repertoire. This water loving Polynesian girl is the village chief’s daughter. While her mother and father want nothing more than for Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) to take her rightful place as the future chief, the young woman has dreams of her own. She wants nothing more than to be with the sea. Her love to the ocean is so great that when an ancient curse invoked by the demigod Maui (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) threatens all life, the water choses Moana to help fix it.

Being Disney, you come to expect a pretty catchy sound track; and Moana doesn’t disappoint. With Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) on board, you can expect to have at least a few of these tunes stuck in your head long after the movie has finished.

Catering for multiple ages, this film has the colour and sound to occupy the littlies, those expected shrouded jokes for the adults, and a complex and entertaining enough storyline to entertain anyone in between.

One particular feature, which may seem small to some but had me internally shouting, was the fact that the characters actually put their hair up! So often you see animated characters with ‘princess hair’ that, no matter how rough things get, just seems to sit perfectly. Well not here. You see Moana’s amazing curls get in her way on occasion, enticing her to just tie them back and get on with her mission!

As far as animated movies go, 2016 is set to finish on a high with Moana.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Image: Disney

Over the past 39 years, we’ve been given a reasonably complete timeline for the Star Wars galaxy from the Skywalker point of view. While this is all fantastic, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story marks the first time the goings on of the rest of the rebellion have been brought forward (at least since the dismissal of the extended universe).

In Episode IV: A New Hope, the Alliance were able to destroy the Death Star, thanks to intel provided by a group of dedicated rebels. Rogue One tells the story of the rebel fighters who acquired the Death Star plans in the first place. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the estranged daughter of an Imperial scientist, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an Alliance Intelligence Officer with vast field experience, and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), the reprogrammed, and extremely opinionated, Imperial droid are just the base of the team tasked with finding the newest Imperial plans. Continue reading

Trolls

Image: DreamWorks Animation

It’s time to dive down the rabbit hole in a swirl of colour, hair, glitter, and music. If you can get past the psychedelic use of every colour in the spectrum, you’ll find a story a friendship, self-belief, and how to find happiness. But if you don’t want to think that hard, just sit back and enjoy the rainbow splattered song and dance numbers.

For twenty years, the trolls have live happy lives, free of the fearsome Bergens. Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) enthusiastically leads these bright little creatures in celebrating their freedom each year with a party; this year’s being the biggest ever. However, not all the trolls agree with her idea. Branch (Justin Timberlake) is Poppy’s polar opposite. Preferring to be unnoticed, this drab green and grey troll refuses to take part in a party so loud it could potentially lead the Bergens to the troll village. And he does NOT sing.

As predicted, Poppy’s party attracts the attention of a particularly gruesome Bergen who kidnaps her friends. It’s then up to Poppy and overtly negative Branch to save the day.

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Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Years before Harry, Ron, and Hermione graced the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the wizarding world was already in full swing. In this newest addition to JK Rowling’s repertoire, we are introduced to one Newt Scamander. Mr Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a young English wizard (and a Hufflepuff) with a fascination for all magical creatures under the class of beast. His travels take him to 1926 America. Through a series misfortunate occurrences, Newt has the great opportunity of meeting witch sisters Porpentina ‘Tina’ (Kathrine Waterson) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), and nomaj (the American term for a muggle), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).

Eddie Redmayne is positively adorable in his portrayal of Newt. With his long blue coat, bowtie, and pleasant, if quiet, mannerisms, Newt is a stereotypical English gentleman. His character is all the more obvious when stood alongside Dan Fogler’s Jacob. Jacob, while still a gentleman, is much more outwardly confident and talkative. In one scene, Jacob’s charisma and Newt’s honest curiosity are beautifully displayed in their body language as they carry a conversation; Jacob making sure that Newt is still there and interested, while Newt is constantly angled towards his friend, showing undisrupted attention and interest.

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Arrival

Image: Paramount Pictures

In a post 9/11 world, having multiple phones around you going off and receiving requests to turn on a news channel is sure to inspire fear. For linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), an attack is not what she finds, but instead, the arrival of interplanetary visitors.

12 identical pods set down at seemingly random coordinates around the Earth; and with no governing body, the human race soon discover how hard it can be to work together. In an effort to understand what the beings inside these devices want, US army officer Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) enlists the help of experts such as Banks and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner).

What could be described as animalistic sounds make up the spoken dialogue for the visitors, suggesting that beings don’t have to speak a seemingly humanoid dialect to be considered sentient and intelligent. Their written language however, is where things truly start to get interesting.

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Hacksaw Ridge

Image: Cross Creek Pictures

This is not a movie. This is a retelling. A recount of the events that occurred during the World War II Battle of Okinawa, and of the service of one man in particular.

Virginian boy, Desmond T. Doss, like many other young men at the time, enlisted in the American Army to serve during the second war to end all wars. The reason Doss was different from those he served alone side, was his refusal to bear arms. Due to Doss’ beliefs, he did not carry a weapon for the duration of his time in the army. Instead, he served as a medic.

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Image: Paramount Pictures

From Washington D.C. to a New Orleans Halloween parade, Jack Reacher will go wherever he needs to find the truth behind this latest conspiracy.

When Major Turner (Cobie Smulders) finds herself framed for espionage, her new contact Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) must dive back into the world of the military to help her uncover the truth.

Action, violence, cars, guns, you should know the drill by now. It all adds up to lots of noise and cringing when that particularly hard hit lands. One thing that is a little different is that our hero really gets his butt handed to him a few times. Yes, he’s a highly trained MP (sorry, ex-MP), but so are the people he’s up against. They are trained to fight and to kill. So it stands to reason that Reacher will get as good as he gives.

If you haven’t seen this film’s predecessor, fear not. While the main character is returning, you don’t lose out on any of the story line if you start here.