Sunday, July 23, 2017

Movie Review … Dunkirk


The problem with so many war movies is finding something new to say.  Literally dozens have been set during both 20th century World Wars that distinguishing them is difficult.  ‘Dunkirk’ gamely attempts to be different by focussing on an event within an enclosed setting.  Directed by the current master of epic films Christopher Nolan, ‘Dunkirk’ is a spirited exploration of comradeship amidst one of the fiercest battles in World War 2.

Surrounded by the German army on the beaches of Dunkirk during the early stages of the Second World War, the allied soldiers face peril including fighter pilot Collins (Jack Lowden) and Alex (Harry Styles).  Involved in an evacuation dubbed ‘Operation Dynamo’, overseen by Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh), the soldiers try to snatch victory from the jaws of potential defeat.

‘Dunkirk’ is essentially one long action sequence. Unlike other Nolan movies, it moves at a brisk pace without any slow spots.  It charts its course from the opening moments and never lets go.  That’s good as it immediately immerses the viewer into the dangerous battle for freedom and the turmoil the soldiers’ experience.  Their banding together to fight the enemy and cope with the hostile conditions is starkly shown.  These moments are given greater poignancy via the strong cast successfully conveying the soldier’s plight.

The best aspect of Nolan’s direction is he refuses to over-sentimentalise events.  ‘Dunkirk’ isn’t an exercise in patriotic flag-waving, but a focussed study in the value of team-work in any situation.  The location filming on the real Dunkirk beaches fully bring the authenticity the film requires in a movie thankfully devoid of bloody violence.  It’s all about the people and the cinematography and all areas of production strive to ensure the soldier’s memories are done justice.

‘Dunkirk’ isn’t a boring history lesson and nor is it a gung-ho action yarn.  It’s a movie about overcoming the odds without the clich├ęd elements such a phrase brings.  Nolan has put aside his often ponderous cinematic ego and delivered a more thoughtful piece free of speeches but full of respect for those doing anything to survive war’s harsh gaze.

Movie Review Rating out of 10:  8

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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



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Movie Review … Atomic Blonde

With so many superhero comic-books being turned into movies these days, you could be forgiven for feeling ‘comic-book fatigue’.  Add to that adaptations of graphic novels which are adult in tone.  The latter is more interesting as it allows film-makers to further push the envelope in creativity and action.  Based on the 2012 graphic novel ‘The Coldest City’, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is certainly filled with violent spectacle little seen elsewhere.  It’s also a solid thriller with all involved diving into the story’s frenetic energy with imaginative gusto.

Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is a talented MI6 spy dispatched on a dangerous mission.  It’s the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and Lorraine is sent to investigate the mysterious killing of an undercover agent.  Working with Berlin station Chief David Percival (James McAvoy), Lorraine uncovers a ruthless espionage ring.  Determined to protect the West’s intelligence operation, the duo face their foes with lethal force.

Directed by David Leitch, ‘Atomic Blonde’ is a very enjoyable ride.  A full-throttle blast of pure action that’s a great showcase for Theron who has always been a very versatile performer with remarkable range.  Here she is in full ‘action-chick’ mode with her character kicking villainous behinds with the best of them.  Theron throws herself into the role and portrays her character’s determined spy well.  She is well assisted by McAvoy’s shady performance with co-stars making their roles more than one-dimensional archetypes.

Whilst the action scenes are incredible, ‘Atomic Blonde’ succeeds due to its successful evocation of the era.  You truly feel you are in the late 80’s and a part of an important moment in history.  The real clips of the Berlin Wall’s demise interweaves well into the ‘reel’ narrative as the clock ticks towards getting the job done.  The retro music soundtrack is pleasing to the ears and the film never lets up in providing a ton of dazzling stunts.

‘Atomic Blonde’ is a lot of fun.  Female heroes are important and Theron capably ensures her role is added to this pantheon.  Although ‘franchise fatigue’ can be wearying, one wouldn’t mind seeing another installment featuring ‘Atomic Blonde’s feisty character who never refuses to take no for an answer.

 
Movie Review Rating out of 10:  8

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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


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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Movie Review … Baby Driver

A commercial movie doesn’t have to feature heroes wearing capes or massive explosions every five minutes.  It can still be interesting minus the bells and whistles of popular film-making.  What it needs are strong stories, great characters and astute direction.  All of these can be found in ‘Baby Driver’.  Directed by Edgar Wright, who helmed ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’, his latest is a quirky and fun heist caper.  It also stands out in the current glut of sequels and superhero movies as it arrives in cinemas as a welcome cinematic antidote.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young man with a special talent.  A getaway driver for dangerous criminal Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby joins in the various crooked heists to earn a living.  Coping with the pressure of the lifestyle via his IPod filled with classic tracks, Baby thinks he has life settled. That is until he meets Debora (Lily James) who captures his heart.  Sensing a chance to ditch his dodgy ways for a better life, he must survive one final shady mission before he can move toward brighter horizons.

‘Baby Driver’ is an enjoyably breezy action heist flick.  It’s ‘cool’ without being too smart for its own good.  You can see where Baby is coming from and how he wants to achieve his dreams.  Whilst he’s a wayward character, his heart is in the right place with his relationship with Debora grounding him in an uneven world.  She represents a new, more hopeful existence than the miscreants with whom he deals.  People such as Doc remind him of how he could become if he stays on the haphazard road that usually ends in tears.

Edgar Wright tackles ‘Baby Driver’s myriad of themes with energetic precision.  He knows how to tell a fast paced story filled with passionate danger and relatable characters.  No one person is ‘right or wrong’ with the emotional grey areas easily understood by the viewers.  None of this would work without the talented cast and a tight script increasing tension to a blistering finale.  The car action sequences feel much more authentic than elsewhere with an excitement level matching the personal moments with ease.

In a year filled with blockbusters adding to the overall ‘franchise fatigue’ cinema is currently experiencing, ‘Baby Driver’ deserves praise.  Whilst it’s not totally original, it has enough of its own unique vibe making it stand out. It can be hoped Edgar Wright directs more off-kilter classics like these to save movie-goers from the endless stream of super-heroic hijinks.


 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.


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