Sunday, December 17, 2017

Movie Review … Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The ‘Star Wars’ movies need no introduction.  There is barely anyone on earth who either hasn’t seen or at least heard of the space saga since 1977.  It has generated a fortune for all involved with the franchise showing no signs of vanishing.  ‘The Last Jedi’ is the 8th installment in the series although there have been a few related films slotted in between.  Fans will lap this one up no matter the quality although there is no fear for anything approaching the awfulness of the dreaded prequels.  Fast, exciting and full of genuine awe, ‘The Last Jedi’ is a great addition to the enduring series.

After having finally found skilled Jedi warrior Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Rey (Daisy Ridley) is taken on a journey to become a Jedi herself.  She’ll need all the training she can get with the evil forces of dictatorial foe Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) closing in on the virtuous rebel army.  Aided by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and others, Rey goes on an intergalactic adventure. Tackling the ways of the mysterious Force, her new abilities are needed to combat the power of the dark side.

One word describes ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ and that’s ‘courage’. Director Rian Johnson has gone out of the Star Wars comfort zone to generate something quite different.  There’s a new-found sense of genuine danger in the narrative with the ‘anything can happen’ feel ever present.  The cast do an amazing job in their roles, especially Ridley who makes Rey a strong heroine.  Whilst Hamill and the late Carrier Fisher are excellent as always, the focus is squarely on the new characters who hold their own against established ones.  This highlights the courageousness of Johnson’s direction as he presents a refreshing take on classic personas making events more watchable.

Although the longest film in the series, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ moves fast.  The pacing never lets up from its opening moments with the action sequences superably realised.  This is a beautiful looking production with flawless CGI and the always fantastic John Williams providing a stirring musical score.  ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ truly embraces the epic expanses of the original premise with a story taking its time to breathe.  The surprises are genuine and add much to the tale without feeling gratuitous.  The script works on several levels but remembers to have that same light-hearted tone which appealed to audiences forty years ago.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is one of the strongest entries in the series.  Consistently engaging and exciting, it utilises the big screen canvas very well.  The next chapter will have a lot to live up to as ‘The Last Jedi’ raises the standards by which future instalments will be judged.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  9

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.


TRAILER


SOUNDTRACK

Monday, December 11, 2017

Movie Review … Paddington 2

Since 1958, English author Michael Bond’s creation Paddington Bear has enchanted people of all ages.  With a love of marmalade and attired with hat and duffel coat, the cute bear has spun off into all sorts of different media.  Films are a natural for the character with ‘Paddington 2’ picking up where the 2014 film left off.  Charting the further adventures of everyone’s favourite bear, ‘Paddington 2’ is fun nonsense sure to shake the morose apathy of the most hardened movie-watcher.

Paddington is enjoying living life in Windsor Gardens with his adopted family the Browns.  Looked after by Henry (Hugh Bonneville) and his wife Mary (Sally Hawkins) Paddington has become a popular member of the community.  When his Aunt Lucy celebrates her 100th birthday, Paddington decides to purchase a special pop-up book for the occasion. On his way to buy it, he is dismayed to discover it has been stolen.  Accused of the crime and sent to prison, he and his family determine to find the culprit.  A suspect emerges in Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant) whose shady ways are no match for the always clever bear.

‘Paddington 2’ succeeds because of its abundance of charm.  That’s the key to a successful children’s movie.  If it manages to have a modicum of enchanting charm then it’s halfway there.  ‘Paddington 2’ has genuine feeling and depth without overly laying on the sentimentality.  It’s a credit to Paul King’s direction that we care about an animated creature with Paddington’s innocent optimism a bonus instead of a sugar-coated negative.  The human cast do an excellent job in matching the film’s light tone, diving into the fun adventure with glee.

Although the pacing occasionally drags, ‘Paddington 2’ is consistently enjoyable viewing.  The English locations are wonderfully photographed, effectively capturing the original aura of the Paddington books.  It would have been easy making these films period pieces but the modern setting works.  There are no cynical remarks or bodily function gags which could have robbed it of any timelessness.  Years from now ‘Paddington 2’ should still stand up as quality family entertainment with the action sequences and sense of awe never fading.

‘Paddington 2’ is a bouncy ride having the ‘wonder’ other films lack.  Sadly Michael Bond died a few months before this film was released.  But hopefully Paddington’s creator knew his legacy was in good hands as ‘Paddington 2’ further cements the character’s popularity for further generations to enjoy.

 
Movie Review Rating out of 10:  8

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

TRAILER

SOUNDTRACK

Movie Review … Lady Bird

‘Lady Bird’ is a comedy drama about family relationships.  As we all come from a family in one way or another, films like these should easily resonate as the topics are usually the same with the high and low points challenging.  Dealing with these issues can bring out the best and worst in people as ‘Lady Bird’ shows.  Written and Directed with stylish flair by Greta Gerwig, ‘Lady Bird’ is an arresting essay in the trials and tribulations of growing up and familial life.

Christine (Saoirse Ronan) attends a Catholic high school.  Preferring to go by her nickname ‘Lady Bird’, she grapples with what life throws at her.  Dealing with her over-bearing mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) and friends, she has a lot on her plate.  Christine’s daily hassles nearly take their toll on her tough exterior with a crisis always around the corner.

There’s nothing more exciting than watching the debut feature of a new talent.  Gerwig is someone to watch as she puts a lot of herself into ‘Lady Bird’.  It almost plays like a documentary as the camera eavesdrops into Christine’s emotional dilemmas.  Based on situations in her own life, Gerwig directs with keen authenticity without resorting to melodramatics.  The characters and emotions are very real with the humour and drama blended perfectly.  Little feels forced in what Christine and her friends face as they attempt to find their place in the world.

Ronan, Metcalf and their co-stars also make ‘Lady Bird’ compelling viewing.  They highlight the best parts of Gerwig’s astutely written script due to their realistic performances.  Whilst the interaction between Christine and her mother are occasionally uncomfortable, that’s the whole point of ‘Lady Bird’ as it meditates on the problems of teenage and parental life.  The cinematography deftly captures their arguments in extreme close-up that forces viewers to join in the melee.  The subversive look at the catholic school system is interesting as well with the typical clich├ęs in other coming of age school movies absent.

‘Lady Bird’ isn’t the usual type of family film seen.  ‘The Brady Bunch’ it isn’t and it’s the better for it.  With a solid cast and strong script it rarely falters as it discards false sentimentality in favour of authentic freshness making for an unusual but captivating outing.

 
Movie Review Rating out of 10:  8

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

TRAILER

SOUNDTRACK