Film Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Director Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters is something of a po-faced monster movie. The emphasis on the human characters weighs the film down.

It has been five years since Godzilla attacked, and the monster has not been seen since. Agency Monarch has to fight against a series of monsters, as the monsters battle each other…

Director and co-writer Michael Dougherty (with co-writers Zach Shields) brings the monsters together with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a follow up to 2014’s Godzilla. The opening ten minutes is an exciting introduction to the film, succinctly introducing the narrative set up. After this, the film settles into a standard pattern for an action blockbuster, with several scenes there to provide exposition on the monsters and current state of affairs, interspersed with big action set pieces.

There are a few good thrills, where Dougherty plays up horror aspect of the monster movie. The additional monsters are introduced quite quickly; it feels like a rush to pit the monsters against each other. Viewers do not get to have a full appreciation of these new monsters.

The script is rather lacklustre. The dialogue is exposition heavy, and lacks any particular character. The explanation of Dr Russell’s actions, which occurs about a third of the way through the film, is bizarre in its need to illustrate the rather basic things she mentions with images. The film does not really earn its moments of gravitas, as the characters are not fleshed out in any meaningful way. The frequent cuts to the human activity during the big fight sequences exposes Godzilla: King of the Monsters‘ flaws.

The moving camera does help to infuse the film with a sense of urgency. The CGI effects are not particularly seamless. In some of the scenes, there is simply a whirlwind of CGI and bright lights, which is not particularly exciting to watch. The real star of the film is the sound. The sound effects for the monsters, in particular, are most impressive. The film boasts a good cast including Ken Watanabe, Vera Farmiga, and Kyle Chandler. The script does not give them much to work with unfortunately.

Given the high-concept premise, Godzilla: King of the Monsters should have been a lot more fun.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters is available on DVD, Blu-ray™, 3D Blu-ray™ and 4K Ultra HD from 14th October 2019.

Film Review: The Commuter

Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Commuter is very much a Liam Neeson action thriller. As such it is a bit silly but entertaining throughout.

Michael MacCauley is an insurance salesman who has done the same commute to work for ten years. On his way home one day, he is given an intriguing proposition. Yet things aren’t quite what they seem…

One of the more unexpected genres to emerge in the last ten years is the Liam Neeson movie. The characteristics are clear; Neeson is the gruff antagonist (with the specific set of skills) put in an unlikely but dangerous situation. These films have had varying degrees of success.

The Commuter is director Jaume Collet-Serra’s fourth collaboration with Liam Neeson. And the film does suffer from some of the same issues as its predecessors. Like Non-Stop and Unknown, viewers will have to suspend their disbelief with the increasingly far-fetched narrative. Nevertheless, whilst the incredulity can get tiresome in the earlier collaborations, The Commuter plays on this in an effective manner. The plot offers an interesting premise, which quickly stretches the realms of believability with every twist. Yet as this occurs, Collet-Serra ramps up the action and intensity to keep viewers engaged.

The film delivers an air of mystery with its premise, and protagonist Michael’s search for the mystery passenger. The screenwriters attempt to evoke a Hitchcockian level of suspense, and indeed there are parallels with The Lady Vanishes. Although The Commuter does not quite match the style it emulates, it is still very enjoyable. The dialogue offers lines which can only be tongue-in-cheek. The action is well executed, and the momentum is build effectively. Liam Neeson does his regular gruff action hero schtick. Vera Farmiga is decent in a small role.

Jaume Collet-Serra is clearly growing and improving in the action thriller genre. Whilst The Commuter is at times predictable and silly, it is finely paced and a lot of fun.

Previews: Game Night Trailer, The Post, More!

Lots of cinematic wonder in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Game Night trailer, The Post, Sherlock Gnomes, and more…

Game Night Trailer

Here is the new Game Night trailer. The film is about a group of friends who get together for a game night which becomes a murder mystery party. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Kyle Chandler. Game Night is scheduled for release in cinemas on 4th May 2018.

The Post Trailer

The trailer for The Post exudes quality. The film features a stellar cast and crew, and focuses on team behind the The Washington Post taking a stand for free speech during the Nixon administration. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is written by Josh Singer and stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, and Sarah Paulson. The Post is released in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

The Greatest Showman Poster

Here is one of the new posters for the upcoming The Greatest Showman. The musical is all about the spectacle, focusing on the ambition of P.T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman heads the cast, and is joined by Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. Featuring music from the Oscar-winning Pasek and Paul (La La Land), The Greatest Showman hits UK screens on 1st January 2018.

Sherlock Gnomes Trailer

Sherlock Gnomes is a follow-up to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. The film sees the couple arrive in London and enlist the help of the famous detective to find out who is kidnapping garden gnomes. The adventure comedy features the voices of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Johnny Depp, Maggie Smith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Sherlock Gnomes is set for release next year.

The Commuter Image

Here is a new look at the upcoming action thriller The Commuter. The film stars Liam Neeson as an insurance salesman who is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger before the train reaches its final stop. Neeson is joined by Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill. The Commuter arrives in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

Previews: The Commuter Trailer, Tomb Raider, More!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the brand new The Commuter trailer, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Tomb Raider, and more…

The Commuter Trailer

Here is the brand new The Commuter trailer. The action thriller is about a regular commuter who is forced to find a hidden passenger on his train. The film sees director Jaume Collet-Serra reunite with Liam Neeson following Non-Stop and Unknown. Also starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill, The Commuter launches onto UK screens on 19th January 2018.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Trailer

Here is the new Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle trailer. The film is a new adventure based in the world of Jumanji. The film is about four teenagers who are sucked into the jungle world, and stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is set for release on 20th December 2017.

Tomb Raider Trailer

This is the trailer for the new Tomb Raider film, a reboot of the game-set series which starred Angelina Jolie in the early 2000s. Alicia Vikander plays Lara Croft, and the film focuses on the character at the beginning of her career. Also starring Dominic West and Walton Goggins, Tomb Raider is scheduled for release in March 2018.

The Glass Castle Clip

Above is a clip from The Glass Castle. The film is based on the memoirs of Jeannette Walls, focussing on her relationship with her unconventional father. Starring Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, The Glass Castle is out in cinemas on 6th October 2017.

Better Watch Out Trailer

This looks like a lot of fun. Better Watch Out is a Christmas time-set horror comedy about a babysitter who must defend her tween charges from an intruder. The film looks like it has all the ingredients of an entertaining movie, from the trailer above at least. Starring Levi Miller and Olivia DeJonge, Better Watch Out hits UK screens on 8th December 2017.

The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Poster

I was non-plussed about The LEGO NINJAGO Movie but this cat is making it much more appealing. The third LEGO movie, this film is about a group of secret ninja warriors. Featuring the voices of Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, and Justin Theroux, The LEGO NINJAGO Movie is out in UK cinemas on 13th October 2017.

Film Review: The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2

Director, producer and co-writer James Wan has created a genuinely scary horror movie with The Conjuring 2. It is Wan’s best horror film to date.

A mother and her four children begin to experience strange occurrences in their home in Enfield, North London. With professionals stumped by the strange case, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to the UK to investigate…

The Conjuring 2 outshines its predecessor The Conjuring in terms of fear, atmosphere and engagement. The film delivers a palpable sense of apprehension for much of its two hour plus running time. There are a few times that the film veers into sentimental territory, but these are balanced by plenty of scares.

The film is set in late 1970s England. The Conjuring 2 features an almost obligatory montage of London crowd shot to introduce the setting. Whilst this is a bit tired, the suburban backdrop of Enfield gives the impression that supernatural activity could happen anywhere. Unlike the remote farmhouses of other horror films, there is a normality to the setting which is unnerving.

Wan appears to throw everything into the film in order to produce frights. The Conjuring 2 is heavy on jump scares, yet these are effective most of the time. Some of the more supernatural elements seem overexposed, and yet Wan throws in a number of red herrings which work effectively. The central antagonist is a genuinely frightening spectre.

By the time the film reaches its conclusion, fear gives way to violence. The threat has transformed into something tangible, requiring sufficient action to combat. Although the ending is a little predictable, it is a suitable ending for the film. There are several unnerving moments earlier in The Conjuring 2 to compensate for the lack of terror in the ending.Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles well. Frances O’Connor does a decent job as the frantic mother, whilst Madison Wolfe is believable as the young Janet.

The Conjuring 2 feels like a finale to James Wan’s series of horror films. If this turns out to be the case, the series certainly ends on a high.

Previews: The Conjuring 2 trailer, The Jungle Book and more!

The first of the film previews for 2016, including The Conjuring 2 trailer, the latest poster for The Jungle Book and more…

The Conjuring 2 Trailer

The Conjuring 2 trailer promises more of the same from horror director James Wan. The follow-up to 2013’s The Conjuring sees Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as ghost hunters Lorraine and Ed Warren. With the action shifting to 1977 for the Enfield haunting, The Conjuring 2 will hit the big screen on 17th June 2016.

The Jungle Book Poster

The Jungle Book poster

Here is the latest poster for The Jungle Book. Jon Favreau directs the live action adaption of the famous tale. The film features an enviable voice cast which includes Bill Murray, Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson. Newcomer Neel Sethi stars as young Mowgli. No word yet on whether there will be songs. The Jungle Book is set for release on 15th April 2016.

The Forest Trailer

The Forest is horror movie set in Japan’s Aokigahara Forest. The film stars Natalie Dormer as an American who travels to Japan to track down her missing twin sister. Also starring Tyler Kinney, The Forest will be released in UK cinemas on 26th February 2016.

Hail, Cesar! Poster

Hail, Cesar! Poster

Hail, Cesar! is the new comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen. Set during Hollywood’s Golden Age, the film concentrates on a day in the life of a studio fixer. Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton feature among the film’s stellar cast. A must see for those who love films about filmmaking, Hail, Cesar! hits UK cinemas on 4th March 2016.

Film Review: The Conjuring

The Conjuring

The Conjuring is an atmospheric horror that successfully combines the visceral with the psychological.

In 1971, Carolyn and Roger Parren move into a Rhode Island farmhouse with their daughters. When strange events begin to occur in the house, Carolyn contacts noted paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to remove the dark presence…

The latest offering from James Wan, helmer of Saw and Insidious, combines elements of the haunted house film with that of an exorcism flick. This works for the most part, with the detective aspects being employed for expositional purposes.

The Conjuring builds tension in an effective manner. There are well-placed jumpy moments. These are executed with some restraint, rather than being an onslaught.

References to other horror movies begins with The Conjuring‘s opening titles. The film’s title on screen immediately evokes The Exorcist. This is not the only allusion to the 1973 film. Other horror films are also referenced in Wan’s film.

The only real let down is that too much is overstated in The Conjuring. Th film attempts to drop some red herrings but these fall like clangers rather than hints. The result is that the end game is rather predictable. This is only the case as The Conjuring adopts the tried and tested methods of horror films past.

Wan’s direction is solid. There are several nice transitional and tracking shots employed in the film. The sound is an effective tool in generating tension. For the most part, the film looks of the era it is set.

It is a nice touch that Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are cast as the experienced investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, given that both actors could be considered veterans of the genre. Elsewhere, performances are decent.

There is enough in the film to give both the immediate jumps and disquieting feelings that should stay with viewers. The Conjuring is not perfect, but it is a very entertaining horror.