Showing posts from August, 2016

The good, the fun and the exceptional: Mini reviews for The BFG, Ghostbusters and Kubo and the Two Strings

Ah, the pleasure of once more living somewhere where three cinemas are within a 30-minute drive. Apart from Suicide Squad (read my review), I’ve managed to catch three other movies in the three weeks I’ve been back in South Africa. Here's a short rundown of each of them.

Steven Spielberg, surprisingly, is the director’s chair for this CGI-heavy adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book. After she spots a giant sneaking around the streets of London, precocious orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is whisked away to the land of giants. Lucky for Sophie, her kidnapper is a benevolent vegetarian – a Big Friendly Giant – although that doesn’t mean she’s safe with other monstrous man-eaters sniffing about.

The BFG is very charming, and the Harry Potter-esque John Williams score only adds to the sense of magical whimsy. It also features phenomenal performance capture of Mark Rylance as the title character. It’s just that the film is, well, too lovely; too safe. Nothing really h…

Zootopia / Zootropolis reviewed: Cute. Clever. Compulsory viewing.

This review appeared over at Stu Hopps: Judy, you ever wonder how your mom and me got to be so darn happy?
Judy Hopps: Nope.
Stu Hopps: Well, we gave up on our dreams, and we settled. Right, Bon?
Bonnie Hopps: Oh, yes. That's right, Stu, we settled hard. Yeah, I’m pretty sure this exchange isn’t what you expect to hear in the first five minutes of a Disney movie. But it is very much typical of Zootopia (or Zootropolis as it was released in South Africa) from Walt Disney Animation Studios. For an animated movie with cute anthropomorphic animals, Zootropolis is surprisingly edgy. It pulls no punches with the delivery of its messages about prejudice and inclusive diversity, among other things. Yet at the same time, these themes are explored without ever succumbing to heavy-handedness.

Zootropolis is massively entertaining – and in a year of Brexit anti-immigrant fear-mongering, and Donald Trump’s racist hate-spewing, it feels like the film should be mandatory viewing …

Suicide Squad reviewed: Very problematic but buoyed by charismatic stars

Live-action DC Comics adaptations seem to be the new Tom Cruise films. In other words, critics can't wait to pummel them with as much vicious prose as possible, regardless of actual merit. For cinemagoers then, it becomes difficult to receive a fair assessment of the film’s quality.

I went into Suicide Squad with as much of an open mind as possible. I refused to believe that the film was worse than Batman v Superman, as many critics were insisting. And it turns out that I was right. It may be leaping a low bar, but heavily flawed Suicide Squad is considerably more entertaining than the theatrical cut of Batman v Superman (my review).

In essence, the film is the Dirty Dozen of superhero films. Assorted villains from the DC universe, including master hitman Deadshot (Will Smith), ferociously crazy ex-psychiatrist Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), fire-powered gangbanger El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and feral cannibal Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) – to name just a few – are forced…