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

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


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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Movie Review … Spider-Man: Homecoming

‘Spider-man: Homecoming’ is proof of the old saying ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try again’.  Featuring the third actor to portray Peter Parker/Spider-man in three separate film series, audiences could be excused for feeling confused.  After the artistic failure of the Andrew Garfield Spider-man movies, film company Sony have re-booted the series yet again.  Although that may reek of desperation, they needn’t worry this time as ‘Spider-man: Homecoming’ restores the fun and energy previously missing. 

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a teenager attending high school.  Cared by his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), he holds a secret.  In between hitting the school-books he hits the streets as costumed hero Spider-man.  Having spider-like abilities, he uses it to right wrongs.  With the help of mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr), Peter needs all the help he can get when facing the Vulture (Michael Keaton).  Using his wing-tipped arsenal for evil, the Vulture presents a new challenge for Spider-man to prove why he is the hero the world needs.

‘Spider-man: Homecoming’ is the best Spider-man movie since 2004’s ‘Spider-man 2’.  That isn’t to say it’s totally fantastic but it achieves to stand alone as its own movie than existing as an excuse to set up further sequels.  We all know sequels will surface anyway but ‘Homecoming’ remembers to provide a joyful, thrill-packed ride full of youthful exuberance.  Although sluggish in its pacing, it achieves high points due to the strong cast and Jon Watts’ direction who handles the myriad of characters well.

‘Homecoming’s second half is much better than its first.  To get there we see a litany of scenes that wouldn’t feel out of place in an 80’s teen movie.  Holland performs well as Parker in these sequences, having a goofy charm capturing the early comic-books well.  It’s not until the story gets going with the Vulture that his and Keaton’s performances really hit their stride.  The action is nicely realised, the humour is amusing and there are few dull spots preventing the ‘is it over yet?’ question from appearing.

‘Spider-man: Homecoming’ isn’t perfect and nor does it have much genuine depth.  But as a more enjoyable and watchable film than previous entries, it admirably succeeds.  It’s gratifying Sony finally got it right with Stan Lee’s and Steve Ditko’s creation sure to spin more silver screen webs in years to come.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

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 … My Cousin Rachel

The best types of stories are those keeping you guessing.  After a book’s final page has turned or a movie has finished, if their tale stays with you it’s a mark of how well it was told.  Based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1951 book, ‘My Cousin Rachel’ is such an entity.  That shouldn’t be surprising given how many of du Maurier’s books have been successfully adapted for screens.  From ‘Rebecca’ to ‘Don’t Look Now’, her gift for psychological thrills is evident in this second movie version of ‘My Cousin Rachel’. 

When his cousin dies in mysterious circumstances, Phillip (Sam Claflin) seeks to uncover the truth.  Suspicious of his late cousin’s wife Rachel (Rachel Weisz), Phillip integrates himself into her life.  Initially wanting to expose her as a gold-digging opportunist, Philip swiftly becomes entranced by her bewitching manner.   Events take a sinister turn when letters surface showing Rachel in a bad light.  Questioning his line of thought, Phillip tries to solve the mystery plaguing his family once and for all.

A very well written and directed film ‘My Cousin Rachel’ can be appreciated on several levels.  Laced with romance, drama and suspense, it’s an engrossing film about deception and how the mind can be manipulated by the slightest action. Is Rachel really innocent?  Is she hiding something? Is someone else casting suspicion on her?  These questions remain tantalising for the viewer to solve with new revelations effectively changing character perceptions.

‘My Cousin Rachel’ succeeds due to Roger Michell’s astute direction and great performances.  Claflin makes for a fine hero whilst Weisz shines as the mysterious Rachel.  Her role is crucial in blending the tough sweetness it requires.  Weisz skilfully carries it off with her co-stars rising to the challenge of balancing the mystery without giving the game away too quickly.  The cinematography is also excellent, adding genuine atmosphere and making use of its historical setting well.

Whilst occasionally slow, ‘My Cousin Rachel’ is a generally solid adaptation of a still captivating book.  It makes you think long after the credits have faded.  That’s a good thing in this era of mindless cinematic drudgery with more film versions of du Maurier’s works more than welcome.

 
Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

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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