The Gallows (2015) Film Review


The Gallows

The Gallows is a found footage horror film (apparently) that is based on a high schools production of a show called the Gallows that went horribly wrong when a student, Charlie (Jesse Cross), died by hanging at the performance in front of an audience in 1993.

The story revolves around Reese Houser (Reese Mishler), Pfeifer Ross (Pfeifer Brown), Ryan Shoos (Ryan Shoos) and Cassidy Spilker (Cassidy Gifford) twenty years later. I think the idea was to have the actors play characters with the same name to make the film seem more realistic and go along with the found footage illusion. It failed. Along with the rest of the film.

CastReese and Pfeifer are performing in the school’s first performance of The Gallows since the disaster in 1993, Reese playing the same role as Charlie, the boy who passed away. Due to Reese’s bad acting his friend Ryan suggests they sabotage the show so it gets cancelled preventing Reese from getting embarrassed in front of his crush, Pfeifer. Ryan comes up with the idea of entering the high school in the middle of the night through a broken door he discovered earlier that day and destroying the set. Ryan’s girlfriend, Cassidy, insists that she comes along leading to the three of them entering the school and destroying the set. However they discover Pfeifer that conveniently gets out of explaining what she is doing in the high school in the middle of the night.

THE GALLOWSThe story continues with the four of them trapped in the school encountering strange noises and a lot of nothing. There are hundreds of films that have a poor story and filled with jump scares that can make it slightly entertaining however The Gallows doesn’t even have the jump scares. The basic fundamentals of the film don’t make sense and the majority of the story is unclear. Charlie doesn’t provide any scares for the most part, and the character itself is questionable with an unclear and confusing ending, however the film wasn’t being intentionally clever it was just inconsistent and isn’t interesting enough to leave the audience intrigued.

CassidyIt’s hard to find positives for such a mess of a film. I’ve always believed that horror films are hard to get right and that trailers aren’t a true interpretation of what the film will be like. I’d argue that the best part of The Gallows is the trailer with Cassidy and the red lighting. The story is poor, the acting is poor, the idea has been overused now and it’s time for a change away from found footage.

Rating: 3/10

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Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) Film Review


Kingsman Logo

Kingsman: The Secret Service is potentially one of the best films of 2015 and we are only two months in. This action-comedy-spy movie is loosely based on the comics named ‘The Secret Service’ which was only six issues long (for now) released over one year, mid-2012 to mid-2013. The film is centred around Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton) and Harry Hart or code name ‘Galahad’ (Colin Firth), an experienced member of the secret service Kingsman. Hart witnesses the sacrifice of his colleague and friend after Hart made a mistake when interrogating a threat, due to guilt Hart decides to take a bravery medal to the widow, Michelle Unwin (Samantha Womack), of his ex-colleague. The bravery medal has a number on the back and Hart, feeling in debt to Michelle, claims that she should call the number on the back and state ‘Oxfords not Brogues’ if they ever need help.

KSS_JB_D27_02661.CR2The film advances seventeen years and shows one of the Kingsman, Lancelot (Jack Davenport), attempting a rescue mission on his own. However he is violently killed by Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), a woman with mental prosthetic legs. Meanwhile Eggsy, who is now a young adult, still living with his mother who is now with an abusive boyfriend, Dean (Geoff Bell). Eggsy with his cockiness provokes a number of Dean’s friends to attempt to fight with Eggsy and his two friends in a pub. The film gives the impression that Eggsy often gets into fights due to his sarcastic and confident attitude, however he manages to avoid the fight in the pub and leaves with his two friends only for them to discover he stole the keys to Deans friends car. Eggsy and his two friends take the car for a joy ride eventually crashing after being chased by the Police, Eggsy encourages his friends to leave before they get arrested, which they do. Whilst Eggsy is in the police station he decides to call the number on the back of the medal, this leads to Hart preventing Eggsy from getting in further trouble. Hart introduces himself to Eggsy as he is leaving the police station, which leads to them getting to know each other more, although Hart knows most of what there is to know about Eggsy.

Due to Lancelot’s death the Kingsman hold a meeting which is chaired by the head of the Kingsman secret service, Arthur also know as Chester King (Michael Caine). The meeting concludes with each of them having to put forward a candidate that will undertake weeks of training and tests.After the meeting Arthur assigns Hart to the project that Lancelot was working on. They discover that the case is linked to the famous business man Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). Valentine is the head of a business and is well known for trying to improve planet earth and looking for ways to prevent further damage. Valentine creates his own theory to improving the plant and announces that he will be giving everyone a free sim card for their phone which will provide everyone with free calls, texts and Wi-Fi.

RoxyHart selects Eggsy as his candidate to go into the training and tests. This is where the story really starts moving and growing in depth and introduces some important characters. Roxy (Sophie Cookson) is another candidate that is up against Eggsy however they develop a good relationship from their first meeting. Eggsy also meets the man in charge of all the tests and candidates, Merlin (Mark Strong).

Kingsman shows a completely new type of spy film as it has serious themes, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. At times the scenes are very Tarentino-esque without the large amounts of blood. Some of the cinematography and filming is stunning, one particular scene in a church has some brilliant angles and also has that comic book feel to it. The majority of the fighting scenes are fast paced and smooth which just adds to the fun experience you get from watching this. The cast in the film are brilliant; Firth, Egerton, Strong, Cookson, Jackson all play their characters flawlessly with a number of the characters having interesting relationships that keep the audience engaged in the story. Matthew Vaughn did a fantastic job with this film, finding a brilliant balance of comedy and action whilst also at times poking fun at the classic spy genre.

EggsyKingsman: The Secret Service has created something that has the potential to become a very large and popular franchise. Egerton’s acting was brilliant as he was able to deliver two different characters in the sense that at the start of the film he was a chav, arrogant and reckless yet grew and developed into a gentleman. Firth’s action sequences were visually stunning, whether he did them all or not is another question but impressive regardless. I felt that Strong’s character Merlin was the biggest surprise for me, as the film develops, so does his character. Merlin develops a good relationship with Eggsy as the story grows, Merlin is at times unpredictable with the tasks that he sets for the candidates, which I think develops his character further. There is nothing more unnerving than a villain that thinks their doing the right thing, however Valentine is not necessarily a villain to be feared due to his unintimidating features such as his lisp and friendly nature. Kingsman is fantastic fun, combining a number of different aspects like comedy and action, the blend of the two are just right and don’t leave you feeling like you’ve watched a parody film or another Mission Impossible-James Bond film, but somewhere in the middle.

Rating: 8.5/10

Kingsman Charaters

Dracula Untold (2014) Film Review


Dracula Ttile

Light spoilers.

Dracula - SarahDracula Untold is an action/adventure/dark fantasy film with the main character, Prince Vlad III Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), being portrayed by the Welsh born actor Luke Evans. The film centres around Vlad and his family, Wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and Son, Ingeras (Art Parkinson). What is fascinating about this film is the links from history and the fictional novel, Dracula. It’s believed that the character Dracula, created by Bram Stoker, was inspired by Prince Vlad as there are many references to Prince Vlad throughout the Novel, however this film links history and fiction to have Prince Vlad becoming Dracula.

Prince Vlad is your typical main character in a this type of film, good intentions with a nasty past, it makes for good viewing but is slightly predictable. The film does well to encourage the audience to sympathise with Prince Vlad, being given away as a young boy to train and fight in an army isn’t a nice thought. On a scouting mission a helmet is found in a stream by Vlad and his group, Vlad believes there must be Turks on his Transylvanian land, his only intention, keep the peace. Prince Vlad and two others climb up a Mountain and reach a cave, they go in and this leads to the first but brief encounter with Caligula (Charles Dance), a Roman Emperor turned ‘demon’ that holds the ‘powers of the night.’ Vlad is the only one to make it out of the cave alive, and immediately returns back to Castle Dracula with what he witnessed clearly troubling him, he decides to learn more about the ‘demon’ he come across in the cave.

Charles Dance - Dracula

The next day a group of Turks interrupt Prince Vlad and his small population’s Easter party, which leads to the Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) requesting 1000 boys to join their army, this is something that Prince Vlad is strongly against as it is what happened when he was a boy. Prince Vlad aware that he doesn’t have an army big enough to prevent the Turks and his old friend Mehmed II from going to war with him, this inspires Prince Vlad to go up to the cave of the ‘demon’ and ask for help, after much explanation about the ‘power of the night’ Prince Vlad drinks Caligula’s blood which give Prince Vlad his powers for 3 days, or permanently if Prince Vlad is to give in to his thirst for human blood.

Dracula Mehmed II

As Dracula is such a well-known story, throughout the film the audience is just waiting, waiting for the moment that will see Prince Vlad change into the infamous Dracula. However it doesn’t happen in the way that is probably expected. Prince Vlad, as the film develops, becomes more of a likable character, showing the audience that even the greatest of evil, Dracula, could have come from an act of selflessness. The story is not perfect but is a nice change from the normal remakes with ‘The Beginning’ smacked on the end of the title to make it sound original.

Although the film was not as thrilling in a dark way as I thought it may have been, it was still entertaining with great acting from all, especially Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon and Charles Dance, even with the little screen time Dance had, he really gave off a creepy feel which suited his character down to the ground. Luke Evans looked insanely cool throughout the film and was convincing enough for most to maybe feel some sympathy for this interpretation of Dracula. Dracula Untold gave the impression it is just the start (providing it does well) which is something that I would be excited about.

Dracula Luke Evans

The film offers some very impressive action with the use of CGI, however does become quiet predictable and doesn’t really get used to its full potential. Many have criticised the film, plot holes are present in most films, but I think the majority have misunderstood the film as a whole. It’s not a remake, it’s a reboot, it’s changing or rather creating the roots of Dracula, giving it a platform to build from. I am interested to see what genre would lead the sequel, would it be a horror or would it carry on the action and steer clear of the high tension thriller horror film? I would love to see Luke Evans as a mysterious bloodsucking Count Dracula, we may find out if there is a sequel.

Rating: 7.5/10

Lucy (2014) Film Review


Lucy

Lucy follows the story of a Twenty-something female named Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) who ends up being caught in the middle of drug smuggling when her new boyfriend forces her to deliver a briefcase to a powerful Asian mob leader, Mr Jang (Choi Min-Sik). The delivery doesn’t go as planned for her or her boyfriend when he is shot dead and she is taken by Mr Jang. This all happens in the first 15-20 minutes and sets an interesting but exciting tone for the rest of the film.

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As the story develops and Lucy uncontrollably ends up taking the drug that was in the briefcase, CPH4, the film shows Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) lecturing on humans cerebral capacity. The story does rely on the myth that humans only use ten percent of their Cerebral capacity, and this is probably the largest negative the film has for me. The film travels at a rapid pace, and I think that was a deliberate move in trying to get across the dramatic enhancements that Lucy is experiencing from the CPH4 drug.

The film shows the harsh side of what it would be like to be able to use the whole of the brain’s cerebral capacity, whereas films like Limitless starring Bradley Copper showed a less serious side in the context of what life is about, that’s how I perceived it anyway. Due to Lucy’s enhancements she starts losing the human attributes as she can always work out the most logical answer or action to any situation. This leads to her convincing a French Policeman, Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked) to help and stay with her as a ‘reminder’ of what it’s like to be human.

Lucy Scarlett

I found it fascinating with the route that the film took, despite Lucy knowing everything there is to know, she still didn’t know what to do with what she had. It almost seemed that there were a few morals to the film, even though Lucy never asked to be able to use more of her brain, many people wish they could and it shows that those should be careful of what they wish for, would being able to use the whole brain necessarily be a good thing? In terms explaining things in depth the film could help the audience more, there are many things left for the viewer to work out.

Morgan Freeman Lucy 2014

Lucy explains that Humanity is small in the context of the universe and many things have been made ‘smaller’ to suit the Humans, for example numbers and symbols, everything has been limited. This leads to Lucy claiming that the only thing that can be measured and prove existence is time. It leaves the audience really thinking, if you can look past the myth of humans only using ten percent of their brain capacity. The film concludes with so much depth but only some of that explained, for me this wasn’t a problem I like thinking and working things out in films. However could understand a sense of confusion towards it.

Lucy is a film I’d recommend for the thinkers of the world, and people that enjoy science fiction. It does have its negatives but is clever and maybe tries to be a bit too clever causing the depth to be unexplained. Some of the creative scene’s correlating humans and animals is very clever early on in the film.

Overall I felt the film had the depth and story to be great but lacked the explanations and time with the different levels of Lucy’s cerebral capacity. It was simply too short, which is a change from all the long 2 hour plus blockbuster films that have been released this summer. Scarlett Johansson was fantastic as she showed two completely different ends of the spectrum with her character, Morgan Freeman was Morgan Freeman, his part could have been larger but as always he was very convincing. Amr Waked’s character was near irrelevant, I didn’t dislike his character but he could have been any policeman in all honesty, his personality was never shown in much depth, he was mainly there for Lucy to use.

Scarlett-Johansson-Lucy-7

Rating: 7/10

The Purge: Anarchy (2014) Film Review


the-purge-anarchy
The Purge Anarchy is the sequel to The Purge (2013), and is set in a 2023 America where the newly founded American Government still have the annual Purge in effect. The Purge was generally seen as an interesting idea for a film however the first film turned into a standard house invasion thriller. It didn’t really explore all of the different aspects that could have been in the film. Now, this second film is exactly what everyone wanted from the first.
The-Purge-Anarchy Skull
The film follows three different stories, one about a police man, Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), looking for revenge, a Mother and Daughters, Eva (Carmen Ejogo) and Cali Sanchez (Zoe Soul) and a couple, Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez). In this thriller it demonstrates and really does have moments which leave you thinking ‘holy shit,’ and there are numerous jumpy scenes. The worst part about it is that some are very obvious but are still jumpy; you can’t help but be shocked by some of the scenes.
The_Purge_Anarchy Characters
Frank Grillo is the best character by far even though he plays a very cliché character in this film and is the main piece to the film that enables the story to link together. The team behind The Purge obviously learnt a lot from the original, as there is a vast improvement. This installment adds depth to the idea of the Purge and the way America could be if something like this was in place. There is an introduction to a rebellious anti-purge society that is publicly voicing its anger and informing everyone that they will be hunting the rich to try disrupt the purging that many of the rich would be taking part in.


What works well is the way that the characters all have different qualities and contribute different things at different times. It’s quite rare that the sub plots are also relevant and interesting but it shows a harsh truth of what life could be like if The Purge was a real thing (fortunately it’s not). Of course like every film, there are negatives, it does at times go from thrilling to boring, but it’s good enough to keep the viewer gripped.

The Purge 'GOD'

The people that are purging seemed to be the biggest improvement along with the story, some of the characters were really creepy, a lot of that was down to masks and the element of the ‘unknown’. Again there is a realistic feel to the fact that there is not just one threat, there are an unlimited number, it is all about survival. Overall the Purge is an exciting and thrilling film with a good concept, there is still room for improvement in many departments like depth and intelligence but this second part is heading in the right direction.

Rating: 7.8/10
The Purge Rengence

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) Film Review


dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ continues 10 years after the events of ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ (2011). The world changed drastically as the ALZ-113 virus, now known as the Simian virus, claimed most of the world’s population leaving only humans who are genetically immune to survive after every country had fallen to its knees and collapsed. The Simian Virus had caused civil disorders and martial laws which contributed to economy’s around the world failing and society fading.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) is leading a new group of Apes, with some apes returning from the first film, they live in the Muir Woods as what Caesar describes as a ‘family.’ Throughout the film Caesar’s judgement, loyalty and trust is tested which is something that everyone can relate to. Caesar is such a popular character because of how ‘human’ he is, many humans naturally in life think about and look to the future, this is something that we see Caesar do a few times. Everyone looks up to Caesar, and the relationship he has with his fellow apes is strained when Humans are involved, especially Koba (Toby Kebbell), who we learn more about and see more of, but Caesar does show his ‘animal’ side when needed to.

Caesar

Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and Malcolm (Jason Clarke) are the two leaders of a group of survivors. The group are in desperate need of a power source due to having very little fuel left for generators. Unfortunately for the humans the Apes camp is near a reliable power source, a dam. When Malcolm, his wife Ellie (Keri Russell), his son with a previous wife Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) , and two other members of the group, Foster (Jon Eyez) and Carver (Kirk Acevedo) go looking for the Dam’s station, Carver encounters two Apes, Blue Eyes, Caesar’s son (Nick Thurston) and Ash (Doc Shaw). In a needless panic Carver wounds one of the Apes with a bullet which sounds loud through the forest leading to many of the Apes being around the group in seconds. This as you can tell while watching was just the first of many tense and awkward encounters that the Apes and Humans were going to have.

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Malcolm shows an understanding towards the Apes, appreciating that they are not ‘just Apes’ now. However not all feel the same and this film almost feels like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off, it’s very tense and has you gripped with anticipation. The sub plots are fairly poor, particularly the human ones, relationships are made complicated for no particular reason. Many of the difficulties that as an audience we are meant to sympathise about are not explained or detailed enough, fortunately they don’t have a large effect on the film.

The effects in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ are brilliantly scary, the surroundings looking like something out of ‘The Last of Us’ or ‘I Am Legend.’ The Apes movement and behaviours are fantastic and really help take this film up a level, without the effects it’s hard to see the film competing but the story would hold its own without the effects.

Dawn-of-The-Planet-of-The-Apes (1)

Caesar has developed massively from the first and impresses throughout the film as he learns more about humans and Apes. Malcolm was a good character and the people developing the film did a great job in having someone influential in a human role after losing James Franco. The film shows a true and graphic interpretation on what life would really be like living in fear of Apes in a worn out, run down world. As good as the film is, not knowing what’s going to happen next is a key factor throughout and now knowing what happens, I’m not sure the film will have the same effect the second time I watch it. Although the film includes trust, family, friends, betrayal, hate and love it comes down to what humans and apes would do to survive?

Rating: 8/10

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Film Review


Edge-of-Tomorrow-title

Edge of Tomorrow is a film that’s based on a Japanese novel known as All You Need Is Kill, this clever science fiction action film is directed by Doug Liman. The film was surprisingly impressive, it wasn’t the typical action film it appeared to be and it seems the lack of interest may be because of that, or many people’s disliking of Tom Cruise.

In Edge of Tomorrow, the world has been at war against an alien species called Mimics for 5 years and it’s being sold to the public that humans are within touching distance of victory, however events don’t turn out how they’re meant to and an attack which takes place along the Normandy coastline goes wrong. The main characters William Cage (Tom Cruise) and Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) are among the troops sent in to fight for the United Defence Forces (UDF). William Cage is a cowardly Major in the Army who is sent to the beach against his will to fight against the Mimics, however the day starts again when he dies and they’re exactly the same.

Mimic

Now obviously dying and then reliving the same day or being in a loop is not a new idea, and that alone is not what makes this film so good. The story is relatable and interesting, it makes you want to know and see more.  The fact that the main story is based on Cruise’s character looping back to the same day over and over sounds boring, but it’s far from it.

The films keeps the audience interested in what’s going to happen next and has a very good mixture of action and humour which can be something that’s hard to achieve. The story is nothing short of brilliant, it does have similarities to other films but not to an extent were you feel you’ve seen it before. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are both fantastic and make you feel like you’re on the ride with them. There aren’t many negatives for this film however there are times when it could be seen as a bit slow.

Tom Cruise shows why he is a top actor as his character develops and changes throughout the film. Due to the fact that he keeps repeating the same day you witness an emotional journey for Cruise’s character, and an interesting relationship that develops between Cage and Vrataski. Cruise and Blunt have great chemistry throughout the film and the story really supports that, the acting is believable from all actors in this film.

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Edge of Tomorrow is most likely going to be one of the best films of this year and rightly so, I hope that the vast amount of positive reviews will lead to more people going to see it as it deserves a lot of praise. What is impressive is that although it’s a sci-fi film, it’s one of those that would still be enjoyed even if you’re not a huge fan of it.

Rating: 8.5/10

Edge of Tomorrow