Movie Reviews II

Published - 8 mins to read
Ex Machina

Before watching this film I read a review saying that it made a point about the way woman are treated in society, and I spent the whole time trying to work out what exactly that point was, to no avail. Having said that, overall I really liked this film, it was a pretty great take on the whole "imminence of robots overlords/AI" etc etc. While its potential social commentary on gender roles was lost on me (I am probably a dumb misogynist), I did think it made some great points about the morality and philosophy of AI, and what happens when/if the lines become blurred between "artificial" and genuine human intelligence. A great story and some solid performances, any sci-fi enthusiast would enjoy this.


Wow, I'm not really sure what to say about this film. I guess first off I should admit that it's a French-Belgian arthouse horror movie (in French), and so I hate myself a little for even watching it. Having said that, of all the movies I have watched this week, I think this one is my favourite. I don't exactly have a written out top 5 or top 10 movies ever, but this is going to be a serious contender if I ever do. After watching almost every other film on this list (the only exceptions being Get Out and The Shape of Water), once it was done, I just got on with whatever I was going to do next. After watching Raw, I sat in my chair for a few minutes to try to process what I'd seen, almost dazed (in a good way). I think I am especially susceptible to coming-of-age stories but this one was wonderfully told, visceral, shocking and appropriately raw. Beautifully shot, solid concept, great performances, great music, in places bizarrely erotic, in others terrifying, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves weird artsy films about teenagers as much as I do. Also this is the only film on this list I actually bought seeing as I couldn't find anywhere to stream it, but it was worth every penny.

Under the Skin

Another arthouse film, from Britain this time, and this film is weird in a couple of ways. Firstly it's weird because the whole film feels like a low-budget indie sci-fi flick, but then it stars Scarlett Johanson, who I assume isn't cheap. Having looked up the budget, I would guess that her fee was a disproportionately large part of the film's piggybank. It seems like it was worth it though, her performance is amazing, and she really makes the whole film. Alluring yet eerie and sinister at the same time, I guess I can forgive her for Ghost in the Shell now. The other thing that is weird is the actual film itself, and its way of telling a story - which I love. There is very little exposition throughout the entire film, instead simply showing a series of a events, requiring the viewer to put together the pieces. This really felt like art to me, the cinematography was absolutely stunning, the best of any on this list, and the fact it left a lot up to the reader's interpretation reminded me of visiting an art gallery. This film, more so than Ex Machina, possibly makes a valid point about women in our society, whether intentionally or otherwise. If you want something beautiful and strange that doesn't really make sense, watch this movie.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Visually this film is incredible. The costumes, makeup, FX and cinematography are all outstanding and shows what a movie can look like when it has some ludicrous Hollywood budget behind us. The action sequences are amazing and really the centerpiece of the film. If you like cars and explosions then this film will probably give you a raging erection. If however, you like a compelling story, then maybe this isn't the one for you. One might assume that given the title of the film, that Max himself might be the protagonist, but for most of the film it felt to me like he was only tangentially involved. To summarise the plot of the film, they drive down a road one way and have a bunch of cool car-fights, and then they turn right back around to have one big car-fight on the way back. It's a shame that the writing didn't match the visuals for this one.

El Laberinto del Fauno

Going into Pan's Labyrinth (I have no idea why this film is called that in English - there is no mention of Pan in the entire film) I think my expectations were way off, which slightly hindered my enjoyment of the movie. I had always known the iconic image from this film as being the White Man with eyes in his hands, and assumed that it was essentially Alice in Wonderland having a bad trip. After watching the previous weird art-films I was really in the mood for something else bizarre, and I hoped this would give it to me. Sadly, it turned out there weren't that many fantastical sequences in this film, and really it is more about the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Nevertheless, this film is great, and I think I would have loved it if I had had no expectations going into it. Brutal in parts, strange and passionate in others, the story is wonderfully told by Guillermo del Toro, and it was a good opportunity to try to make sure I don't lose the small amount of Spanish I learned in Mexico.

Blade Runner 2049

I had really low hopes for this film going into it. I loved the first Blade Runner, and love the cyberpunk sci-fi genre in general, but the concept of this movie (much like Will Toledo's latest album release), scared me. A reboot almost 40 years later, with the original actor back in? Admittedly Harrison Ford has done an amazing job maintaining the longevity of his career without taking on terrible roles, but in general I felt like I had a lot of room to be disappointed by this film. However, once again I was totally wrong, and loved this film. Visually gorgeous, incredible cinematography, another really great score, an intriguing story and some great acting performances. Everything Ghost in the Shell should have been, I am glad a big Hollywood movie managed to do this genre justice, and in spectacular fashion. The ending (unsurprisingly) sets up for another movie, and while I sort of hate films that do that, I hope they make another one that can live up to the legacy of this and its predecessor.

Get Out

Everyone raved about this film when it came out, so my expectations were high, but Get Out still managed to exceed them. I don't want to say too much about this film so as not go give anything away. Films with an agenda usually feel contrived to me, but this film has a powerful messaged infused into a piece of art. Everything about this film is amazing, nearly perfect, and more so than being a captivating story, it will make you think deeply about yourself and our society. I can't recommend this film highly enough.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

I watched this because I wanted to have something to watch while I was only half paying attention, and for that this film did pretty good. The jokes are... bad. Like, really bad, in my opinion anyway. I understand this film is trying to appeal to a wider audience but my friends and I had this kind of sense of humour when we were 10 years old. I guess they thought "hey, we've got Chris Pratt now, better make the script funny"? Also, unless I misremember something from the first film, or wasn't paying close enough attention in this one, the last section makes literally no sense from a plot point of view. I don't think any human I have ever met would act that way. Having said that, this film does have some great visuals, and some surprisingly evocative moments of sincerity. Not a bad movie, not a great movie, but an OK movie.

The Shape of Water

Another movie I had heart wonderful things about, I was a bit worried after hearing Day9 say he cried during it (I avoid watching anything I think might make me cry), I was going to pass on this film until I discovered Sally Hawkins was in it. She is in two of my favourite films ever, Richard Ayoade's Submarine and The Double, and while she is only a supporting actress in both those, her casting for The Shape of Water was enough to make me resolve to watch it, despite any potential manly tears. I am so glad I did, this film was another gem. Usually I hate film clichés, which include the good guys winning, but I don't think I have rooted for a happy ending harder than during this film in a long time. Sally Hawkins' performance in this is marvelous - despite her playing a mute character, I found myself empathising and feeling emotioanlly attached to her. A lot like Raw, this film beautifully combines real life with the surreal in a way that you might forget that this is not how the world actually is. Amazing storytelling and some great attention to detail made this film a joy, and I loved it. However, if you do watch it, and you don't cry, you're probably a replicant.

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