Film Review: Long Shot

Director Jonathan Levine’s Long Shot is a comedy-drama that never fully convinces. Despite a good start, the film fails to satisfy completely.

A chance encounter reunites Fred, a recently unemployed journalist, and Charlotte, Secretary of State and in the running to be the next President. Charlotte hires Fred as a speechwriter, while he still has feelings for his former babysitter…

Directed by Jonathan Levine (who previously worked with Seth Rogen on The Night Before and 50/50), Long Shot is written by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah. The premise offers enough to keep viewers engaged. An odd couple pairing with a political backdrop, the film has promise. Unfortunately the direction which the film takes is a little disappointing.

Long Shot works best when it is buoyant and when it is satirical. When the film veers into romcom territory the wheels come off a little. The romance is never compelling when it plays out, although the chemistry between the two leads before this is good. The more serious tone does not sit as well as the first half of the film. Long Shot makes a few well targeted jabs, yet does not take aim at some obvious targets. The result is a little lukewarm; the film prefers to straddle the middle ground, politically speaking.

The emotional aspect of the final quarter of the film does not give the pay off Levine may have hoped. There is not really a sense that Fred is deserving of the risk Charlotte takes to be with him. He is a rather one-dimensional character; the type we have seen Rogen play before. The climax of the film is rather schmaltzy, a sharp departure from the film’s amusing opening. 

Charlize Theron is wonderful in the film. She is great in the film’s comedic moments, and does well to generate chemistry with Rogen. O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Bob Odenkirk stand out among the supporting actors. The film’s soundtrack is most appealing.

Long Shot offers some great moments of levity, but the romance is fails to capture the imagination.

Long Shot is out on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD from 9th September 2019.

Previews: Long Shot Clip, Rocketman, Dark Phoenix, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including a new Long Shot clip, Rocketman, Dark Phoenix and more…

Long Shot Clip

Here is a brand new Long Shot clip. The film is about a journalist who reunites with his childhood babysitter as she is about to make a presidential run. Directed by Jonathan Levine, the film stars Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. Long Shot will hit UK cinemas on 3rd May 2019.

Rocketman Featurette

This featurette looks at Elton John’s involvement with biopic Rocketman. The film, featuring the music of John, stars Taron Egerton as the musician early in his career. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, Rocketman will screen at the Cannes Film Festival before being released in UK cinemas on 22nd May 2019.

Fast & Furious: Hobbes & Shaw Trailer

A spin-off of the hugely successful Fast & Furious franchise, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw focuses on two of the favourite characters from later films. The two former enemies partner up to bring down a threat to humanity. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, and Vanessa Kirby, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw is scheduled for release on 2nd August 2019.

Dark Phoenix Trailer

Above is the latest trailer for Dark Phoenix. A continuation of the latest X-Men series, Dark Phoenix concentrates on Jean Grey as she evolves in Phoenix. Regulars Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and James McAvoy return for the sequel. They are joined by newcomer Jessica Chastain. Dark Phoenix will hit UK screens on 5th June 2019.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Clip

Here is a new clip from John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. In this latest episode, assassin Wick has a hefty price tag on his head. Director Chad Stahelski (John Wick and John Wick: Chapter Two) returns for the film, and is joined by Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, and Angelica Huston. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be released in UK cinemas on 15th May 2019.

Playmobil: The Movie Trailer

Here is the first trailer for Playmobil: The Movie. The film is based on the toy line of the same name. The film is about a sister who must rescue her younger brother when he disappears into the Playmobil universe. Featuring Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, and Daniel Radcliffe, Playmobil: The Movie is set for release in UK cinemas on 9th August 2019.

Previews: Pet Sematary Clip, Long Shot, More!

Plenty of film-related goodness in this preview of coming attractions, including a new Pet Sematary clip, Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, Thunder Road and more…

Pet Sematary Clip

Here is a new Pet Sematary clip. The upcoming film is an adaption of the Stephen King novel, which was previously brought to the silver screen in 1989. This new adaptation stars Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz who relocate to rural Maine with their young children. Pet Sematary hits the big screen on 4th April 2019.

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood Poster

Here is the brand new poster for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood. The film is set in 1969, and focuses on a television star and his stunt double around the time of the Manson murders. The film features an enviable ensemble cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Al Pacino. One Upon a Time in… Hollywood is set for release on 14th August 2019.

Thunder Road Trailer

Thunder Road, which has been a critical hit at festivals so far, gets a UK release. The film is written and directed by and stars Jim Cummings. Thunder Road is a dark comedy about a police officer who suffers a breakdown following his divorce. The film will be released in UK cinemas on 31st May 2019.

Long Shot Trailer

Long Shot is the latest film from director Jonathan Levine (The Night Before, 50/50). The film is about a journalist who is reunited with his first crush, an accomplished diplomat who is making a run for the presidency. Starring Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan, and O’Shea Jackson Jr., Long Shot hits UK screens on 3rd May 2019.

Spy Cat Trailer

What is this? A film about a special agent cat certainly ticks the boxes! Spy Cat is an adventure comedy about a house cat who must team up with a band of drifters when she is abandoned at a rural petrol station. Spy Cat will exclusively be screened at Vue Cinemas from 26th April 2019.

Film Review: Ingrid Goes West

Director Matt Spicer’s feature debut Ingrid Goes West is a well-written comedy. The film is very contemporary and a lot of fun.

Ingrid Thorburn has a history of mistaking social media interactions for real friendship. When Ingrid moves to Los Angeles, she attempts to ingratiate herself into the life of rising social media star Taylor Sloane…

With Ingrid Goes West, Writer-director Matt Spicer and co-writer David Branson Smith tackle the modern phenomena of social media stars and how much of their lives are depicted online. Ingrid is the perfect protagonist to enter this world. In the opening sequence her backstory is succinctly established. She is a well crafted character; unhinged and awkward, and very sympathetic.

Spicer and Smith’s screenplay is peppered with wit. There is a lot of funny dialogue throughout. In the second half of the film, the subject dictates that the tone becomes more serious. This sift in tone works, thanks to the writing and direction. Notwithstanding, jokes are never too far away. The set up of the film works well; the narration of social media captions provides many laughs. The writers are sometimes biting when tackling modern fads. This is also a great cause of laughs. The film gives a negative impression of social media, but only in its extreme forms.

Characters in Ingrid Goes West are well written, even supporting characters such as Dan and Ezra are fleshed out and given believable personalities. Ingrid and Taylor take centre stage, and they are both flawed and convincing. The narrative is a bit predictable, but this does not take away from overall enjoyment of the film. Aubrey Plaza delivers a great performance as protagonist Ingrid. Elizabeth Olsen and O’Shea Jackson Jr. are also gold in their roles.

Ingrid Goes West is a very contemporary, satirising view of online connections. Matt Spicer has created a highly amusing film.

Ingrid Goes West is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

Film Review: Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

Boasting possibly the best soundtrack of 2015, N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton is illuminating, if not always engaging. F. Gary Gray’s film says as much about the era it is set in as it does about the group.

In 1987 in Compton, Los Angeles, a group of five young men come together to make music. When they produce a rap song on their own label, it grabs the attention of a music manager who helps get the group signed. N.W.A. achieve great success with their songs about their experiences, but this is not without controversy…

Straight Outta Compton tells the story of the formation and success of early 1990s rap superstars N.W.A. On one level, the film is a rags-to-riches tale of a group of young men from Compton who capitalise on the appetite of a new kind of music. Nevertheless, the film goes beyond the biographical tale to illustrate preoccupations of the era.

The film opens on Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright taking care of business. It is clear that Straight Outta Compton is going to be a straightforward biopic. The handheld camera is more suggestive of an action thriller than a drama. The film racks up the tension as it progresses, with elements of the group’s success causing rifts between key players.

The film also focuses on social issues at the time. There is reference in Straight Outta Compton to the mistreatment the group faces by the police, and how this informs one of their biggest hits. Other socio-cultural issues are at the forefront  Later in the film, fractions in the group and between record labels lead to the creation of some well-known acts and incidences. The only downside to the film is that it is a little overlong. Some of the appearances of famous artists in the final third, for example, might be amusing but are not really necessary. Performances in the film are good overall, with O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Jason Mitchell standing out in particular.

Straight Outta Compton is a fitting portrait of N.W.A. and a great example of a layered biopic.

Straight Outta Compton is available on digital download now and on DVD and Blu-Ray from 11th January 2016.