Coco

Director: Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina

Nominated for: Best Original Song; Best Animated Feature

Coco was wonderfully bright, colourful and vibrant – and became even more so once we travelled to the Land of the Dead. They did the land of the dead really well actually as let’s face it skeletons can be pretty scary, especially if you’re  kid but that’s not a problem here. And they have managed to make every skeleton a very definite character. I do feel Coco-Movie-2017-Pixar-Box-Office-Predictions-Weeklike I missed a number of the cultural easter eggs that Pixar are bound to have included, but then I’m not that target audience really.

I thought I was all prepared for what has become known in our house as the Pixar punch in the gut – you know that moment when you’re happily travelling along in the film and all of a sudden they pull on your heart-strings and something really emotional happens. There’s a moment like this is most Pixar movies – the beginning of Up (Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, 2009) which is still one of the saddest montages I’ve ever seen, the defining moment in Big Hero Six (Don Hall & Chris Williams, 2014), the incinerator scene from Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich, 2010) – but they usually happen towards the beginning of the film so it’s over and done with and then you can enjoy the rest of the film without being reduced to a blubbering mess. Turns out I wasn’t and was quite spectacularly reduced to a blubbering mess in a cinema full of young children all coping really well with the film.

Family is obviously the big driver for Coco and I love meeting all the different characters that make up Miguel’s family. The Day of the Dead is actually a really lovely sentiment – for one night of the year your family, your ancestors get the chance to visit and check up on you. You may not be able to see them but they are with you and can share in your love and joy. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older that I find this a wonderful idea.

tumblr_p4d68cLsGs1rf9go5o1_500My favourite part of Coco without a shadow of a doubt is Dante, the animal sidekick. He is hilarious – this mangy street dog that dutifully follows Miguel around even into the Land of the Dead. I like to think that Dante would totally be my spirit animal – he’s certainly as clumsy as I am!

The song just isn’t in the same league as “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman (Michael Gracey) – it’s not that memorable. I’d pretty much forgotten it by the time I’d left the cinema. The same cannot be said of “This Is Me” which I have not stopped listening to since seeing the film at the beginning of January. However in some ways this doesn’t surprise me as Pixar don’t seem to do songs in the same way that Disney do. So it’s not got my vote for Best Original Song.

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The Post

Director: Steven Spielberg

Nominated for: Best Picture; Best Actress

My initial overwhelming impression of The Post is that the 1970s were really a very brown decade – everything is muted and kind of muddy. But then I actually paid attention to the film and that just morphed into the background. Despite there being a lack of jeopardy as The Washington Post is still going strong to this day it is still a very tense film and I did get goosebumps on a number of occasions.

I didn’t really know much about the historical events that are the driving force of The Post which is unusual for me as I’m fascinated with the Vietnam War so try to learn as much as I can about it. The study of the Vietnam War, and the events leading up to it, that was undertaken and forms the epicentre of this film was, as stated in the film, meant to be a historical piece of work that was read years after the war when there had been the chance to gain some perspective on it. I would argue that even 40+ years after the end of the Vietnam War there is still little chance to get any useful perspective as it was such a divisive war. I mean even Matthew Rhys’ character, Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower, says that “the first priority was to avoid a humiliating U.S. defeat, which took up to 70% of the reasons for the U.S. escalation of the war.” There is still a sense of shame about Vietnam – people are still unwilling to talk about that war, especially their experiences.

I can definitely see The Post being a contender for Best Picture given the current political climate in America but then the question becomes should it win because it is making a political statement or should it be judged on the narrative and acting? I’m also not surprised that The Post has come out when it has – it’s very much a product of the time it was filmed in. If Donald Trump was a smart man (and there’s a lot of evidence that he really isn’t!) he would see The Post for the warning that it is. I mean the similarities with Richard Nixon are quite disturbing. Nixon’s response to this was to take the Press to court – something that had never been done before. He alienated the Press and paid for it with the abrupt ending of his Presidency – he massively underestimated the power of the press and that’s something that Trump is also doing. His response to unfavourable stories was to band certain media outlets from the White House. Here’s hoping he goes the same way as Tricky Dicky.

tom-hanks-the-postTom Hanks is once again stellar in his performance as Ben Bradlee. He’s made something of a career in playing still-living figures and he always does them brilliantly. Mind you I am a serious Tom Hanks fan – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Tom Hanks film that I have disliked. There’s just something intensely likeable about him.

Meryl Streep likewise is brilliant as Kay Graham and is worthy of yet another Oscars landscape-1510126909-meryl-streep-the-postnomination. She really comes into her own throughout the film. It’s great to watch her find her voice within such a male dominated field over the course of the film – another echo to the current situation as women are still having to fight to be heard within the film industry in particular.

The type setting room and print room for The Washington Post are amazing. They are such clever skills that have pretty much been lost due to the modernisation of the whole print process. As such you know that the people working those machines in the film are most likely real news boys thanks to the efficiency of their actions – there’s no way you can learn that in enough time to make it so smooth without having done it in a previous job.

I love that the film ends with Tricky Dicky’s imminent humiliation with the teaser of the Watergate Scandal straight after Graham says she never wants to be involved in something like the Pentagon Papers ever again.

Baby Driver

Director: Edgar Wright

Nominated for: Best Editing; Best Sound Mixing; Best Sound Editing

Baby Driver absolutely blew me away!! The story may be nothing new – your standard chase film – but technically it’s outstanding!! Within the first few seconds of the film starting you realise that the action is intrinsically linked to the soundtrack. The sound is used masterfully in this film – every moment is matched to the music perfectly. It’s almost as if the narrative is being told through the music rather than dialogue at times.

Brody-Baby-DriverThe cast is spectacular. Jon Bernthal makes a relatively short but sweet appearance as Griff, particularly untrusting of Baby. Jon Hamm is once again brilliant as Buddy – and he looks beautiful too. That rocker kind of look really works on him! Lily James as Debora is sweet but has a core of steel in her too – her and Baby very much connect over music. Jamie Foxx is definitely the a-hole of the film as Bats. He’s the loud-mouth antagonist but pulls it off brilliantly. I love CJ Jones who plays Baby’s foster dad particularly as he uses ASL (American Sign-Language) which I’m kind of obsessed with. I think the fact that Baby uses sign language adds another dimension to the film as well. Ansel Elgort is an actor that I’m slowly coming around to – he’s been in a couple of big teen movies that I think he was under-utilised in so it’s taken me a while to warm up to him.

This was the first film I have watched with Kevin Spacey in since the whole debacle thatb49dd76105f6a77bebbf36d35b94313b033634c9 was his coming out hand in hand with allegations of inappropriateness, shall we say. Now I know that you should be able to separate out the performance from the person but I must confess that I found this particularly difficult. It added a level of creepiness to his character, Doc, especially given the type of relationship he has with Baby, and has had for some time with Baby since he was caught boosting Doc’s car in his early teens. It’s not a particularly good look for Spacey either as he looks pretty jowly.

Baby is very much shaped by tragic events in his formative years – his mum is a singer so even from a young age it was a huge part of who he is but becomes much more of a necessity than a pastime thanks to his tinnitus. The music gives the audience an almost intimate knowledge of Baby as music is such a personal thing. It’s very much a part of who he is – when he’s not listening to music he is making it. Music is Baby’s escape from the world – you could argue that it’s just a millennial thing to shut the world out by constantly having your own soundtrack streaming directly into your ears. However, this obsession with listening to music is explained by the fact that Baby suffers from tinnitus and the constant stream of music is actually a coping mechanism that allows him to function properly. In fact on the rare occasions that there is no music playing at any point in the film there is a slight ringing that signifies Baby’s tinnitus.

It’s rare that there is no music, even if it is only playing in the background of the scene, which serves to highlight the importance of those moments. Something pivotal seems to take place in each of these moments. I absolutely adore the vintage soundtrack. It’s only towards the climax of the film that you start getting more modern tracks included. The editing – both visual and sound – is mind-blowing! Now I’ve done a tiny bit of editing while at uni and let me tell you it is a fiendishly difficult skill to pick up. I’m a perfectionist and even I struggled to get everything in sync in the way I wanted it to. Now Baby Driver – everything is completely in sync with the impressive soundtrack. Like perfectly in sync – the gunshots pretty much always happen on the beat and many of the visual cuts take place on a beat as well. It creates such a natural flow. It really is masterful – even if you don’t have any first hand experience of just how complicated editing can be. 

 

Logan

Director: James Mangold

Nominated for: Best Adapted Screenplay

Okay so this one may have some spoilers in it – something I try hard to avoid in blog posts (and am surprisingly better at than when just talking about something!) – as it’s so hard to discuss without giving the game away. So anyway you have been warned – read no further if you have yet to see the film!!

Where to start with this? It’s very much the end of an era as both Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart have said that this is the last time either of them will be adopting these characters … and really you can see why once you’ve watched the film. It’s quite a harrowing film to watch if you’re an X-Men fan, which of course I very much am, as it’s such a different portrayal of some beloved characters within that world. For starters Logan-1Wolverine is old – he doesn’t age! That’s a big part of his character, his mutation not only allows him to heal but at some point he just stopped ageing. So seeing him as a tired old man is a bit of a shock to the system. It’s a bit disquieting actually to see how tired and beaten down he is as Logan is one of the most resilient characters within the X-Men universe. And he doesn’t go by the moniker of Wolverine anymore – he’s very much Logan now.

logan3And then there is Patrick Stewart as Xavier – yes he may have returned to the land of the living but he’s not in a good place. Again it’s quite upsetting seeing a character that you’ve grown to love and are used to seeing as the rock of this world just broken in every sense of the word. Having said that there is a little bit more freedom to Xavier – he’s this wonderfully belligerent old man in this film and seems to have lost of a lot of his inhibitions. It also highlights that just because they are mutants it doesn’t mean that they are impervious to human illnesses and diseases. After all the deterioration of Xavier’s health is thanks to Alzheimer’s – a horrible disease for anyone but a catastrophic one for the world’s most powerful brain! I found that I actually quite logan-caliban-grenadesliked Stephen Merchant as Caliban – this was somewhat of a surprise as usually I cannot stand Merchant. Caliban is visually an interesting characters thanks to his albino nature. He’s also pretty sassy and provides some comedic relief. But there is a greater depth to his character that comes out later in the film and makes him so much more than just a jester.

Logan-Boyd-Holbrook-as-PierceThe bad guys in the film live up to their name. Boyd Holbrook as Pierce somehow manages to be both menacing and charming at the same time. Richard E Grant on the other hand is particularly odious as Dr. Xander Rice – the man in charge of experimenting of children in order to wipe out the mutant race! He’s slimy and sleazy but ultimately gets his comeuppance.

The new young mutants are great – they have some epic powers and really come together as a group. You get the impression that they could continue on the X-Men movement, something that has been missing for a number of years in this setting. I love the reference to the X-Men comics in the film – even if Logan is dismissive of them. logan1Dafne Keen is exceptional as Laura – its such a physically demanding role for someone so young, especially given the animalistic nature of her mutation. I love how she interacts with Xavier and has a hand in forming the three of them into a somewhat dysfunctional family unit. Somehow Logan yet again becomes a reluctant parent which is very in keeping with his character. As much as he wants to be a loner, removed from society he is very much a protector of the under trodden. It’s hardwired into who he is and he can’t help himself – but that doesn’t mean he likes the role that’s been forged for him!

There is a far more emotional drive to the narrative than in some of the previous X-Men films which is saying something because as much as the X-Men films are action-packed comic book movies they also always have a deep emotional undercurrent. Xavier’s death is simply heartbreaking for me. Over the course of the last 17 years and multiple films (not even counting all the comics or the awesome cartoons of the 90s) I’ve become very attached to Xavier that I found it incredibly difficult to say goodbye and know that this was the last time I’d see Stewart take on the role. But then as we all know I’m actually an extremely emotional person when it comes to films and am quite often reduced to tears.

There is some exceptional acting from Hugh Jackman in Logan. Not only does he play a very different Logan to the one that we’re used to seeing but he also takes on the role of Unknownhis own clone, X24, a weapon breed for destruction and nothing else. These two roles are not only visually very different, as Logan is coming towards the end of his life, and that extra long life of high levels of violence is finally taking its toll, and X24 is in the prime of his life. They are also characteristically as different as you could get – Logan has a soul and as I mention above is hardwired to be a protector whereas X24 has no soul and has been designed as a killing machine blindly following orders. I found there were some similarities to Liev Schrebier’s Sabretooth from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Gavin Hood, 2009) in the visual appearance of X24. There’s no overlap in the characters at all which highlights how remarkable an actor Hugh Jackman is. I often think action movies or more recently, thanks to the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, superhero/comic-book movies are often overlooked for the acting within them by the critics. Sure they’re crowd pleasers but they rarely get recognised for the outstanding actor that goes into the films. They’re so much more than just big stunts and this doesn’t ever seem to be acknowledged. Come awards season comic-book movies are lucky to be nominated at all – and if they are its only ever in visual effects. Okay rant over – I shall leave you all by saying that this is a beautiful, if upsetting finale to a journey that was started 17 years ago with the first X-Men movie by Bryan Singer in 2000, and if you like X-Men even the slightest little bit than go watch it. It’s a very fitting farewell to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.

Blade Runner 2049

Director: Dennis Villeneuve

Nominated for: Best Visual Effects; Best Sound Mixing; Best Sound Editing; Best Cinematography; Best Production Design

Blade Runner 2049 has been a very long time coming and as such had quite a lot of expectation attached to it … would it be a worthy sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) or would it be a poor substitute for the original and therefore diminish that world in some way? I’m glad to say that it was very much a worthy sequel and Villeneuve handled that world beautifully. It’s an intriguing storyline with many twists and turns which kept me second guessing what I knew to be true right up until the end.

I love the little nods towards the original that were included. K’s costume has echoes to that worn by Deckard in Blade Runner so there was a sense of continuity. The taped interview between Deckard and Rachel is instantly recognisable if you’ve seen the original and solidifies the links between this narrative and Blade Runner. original-origami-1507291177I also love the nod towards Philip K. Dick’s source novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (1968) with the appearance of the origami sheep. It’s an image that only really works if you know the novel as well but I love that they included it as there are a lot of us nerds out there who will have read the book as well. The production design bladerunner_setsis the perfect continuation of that world, with a seamless fusion of east and west. The visual style is very much on point – it has enough stylistic similarities to Blade Runner that you automatically situate it in that universe, but it expands on that visual style in a quite organic way which gives you the sense that the universe has grown and developed in the time we’ve been away.

blade-runner-jared-leto-1500x1000Jared Leto as Wallace is seriously creepy (and you just know that thanks to him being a method actor he would have been creepy the entire time on set!). His character is a disturbing one anyway, especially morally thanks to his enormously egotistical god complex, but this repellent element is reinforced by blinding his eyes. There is an odd relationship with Luv, his primary replicant too – enough that K comments on it. Luv, played superbly by Sylvia Hoeks, also bears a slight resemblance to Rachel from the original Blade Runnersean-youngs-replicant-rachael-is-nowhere-to-be-seen-in-the-n_kkuq.1280

Ryan Gosling is masterful in this as K … and markedly more verbal than his last few films put together! blade_runner_1982_and_blade_runner_2049-split-h_2017He also looks strangely like a young Harrison Ford, a similarity that is enhanced through the style of costume as I’ve already mentioned. This echoing lends itself well to the twisty turning narrative as it adds weight to some of the questions the audience will be asking themselves. It’s almost 2 blooming hours before Harrison Ford makes his reappearance as Deckard but it’s worth the wait. Him and Ryan play off each other well and make an interesting couple to watch. Harrison still goes all out in everything he does as well which makes him a joy to watch. I loved that Villeneuve wasn’t afraid to embrace the silence and have long stretches without any dialogue – which is just as well given the laconic nature of his two male leads!

The visual effects are outstanding but at the same time subtle (which is what all good visual effects should be) It’s a seamless positioning of holographic technology with the everyday. I particularly love when K is interacting with Joi, played brilliantly by Ana de Armas (an actor I’ve not come across before but will definitely look out for now). There blade-runner-fig-5were a few stand out scenes for me in terms of the visual effects for that character – when K blows smoke through her image and she ripples and then again when she kind of superimposes herself over K to read the records herself while in the records room. It can becoming slightly jarring though, as evidenced in the make out scene, when there are multiple people all just ever so slightly out of sync with each other. 

I’m really glad they took the time to wait and do this film properly. I can’t think of anyone better suited to this universe than Ryan Gosling and this quickly became one of my favourite performances from him (I’m not sure anything will surpass his performance as Noah in The Notebook, Nick Cassavetes, 2004, however) Even my dad got sucked into Blade Runner 2049, without having seen Blade Runner beforehand so I guess you could say the film could work as a standalone as well. It’s also even more of a testament to the great work by all involved that dad liked it as Sci-Fi is so not his taste in movies!

Beauty and the Beast

Director: Bill Condon

Nominated for: Best Costume; Best Production Design

I’m a late 80s baby and therefore the Disney movies from the early 1990s, like The Lion King (Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff, 1994), Aladdin (1992, Ron Clements & John Musker) and The Rescuers Down Under (1990, Hendel Butoy) hold a special place in my heart as they are the ones I grew up like, and none more so then Beauty and the Beast (1991, Gary Trousdale) which is my absolute favourite animated Disney classic. Needless to say I was a little bit wary when they announced that Beauty and the Beast would be the next in the current line of Disney animations to be re-imagined as live-action films. I also couldn’t wrap my head around how they were going to have real actors being the wonderful objects – like would they be identifiably the face of the actors providing the voices or what? I certainly did not expect to like this new version of Beauty and the Beast … nor did I want to like it … but I have to say that Bill Condon did an exceptional job and actually surpassed my expectations (and they were high expectations indeed!!)beauty-and-beast-2017-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

That’s not to say there aren’t elements that didn’t quite gel with me because there were. And sadly the one that just didn’t sit right at all was Emma Thompson’s Mrs Potts – or more specifically her accent. Now it was always going to be difficult to take one the role that was made iconic by the wonderful Angela Lansbury but I had faith the Emma Thompson would be the women to do so. And she wasn’t – her singing voice is wonderful but the accent she used for Mrs Potts was all wrong for me. I understand wanting to put your own spin on a character but Emma’s got such a lovely voice anyway that I didn’t really get the decision to go with an accent. In fact the accent’s in general were sometimes a bit hit or miss – like Ewan McGregor’s French accent as Lumière.

Sir Ian McKellen was brilliant as Cogsworth – the irascible old clock forever put out by Lumière’s failed plans. The relationship between the two of them is hilarious. And Cogsworth gets even better when they’re returned to their human forms and you discover that there is a rather unexpected harridan of a wife in his past life. Actually the way that they linked the villagers with those who had been trapped in the enchantment was one of the new elements that I liked the most. I also thought the idea of adding Stanley Tucci as a piano, Maestro Cadenza, was a brilliant one but then I love Stanley Tucci as an actor. He adds a lot of humour to his roles. Kevin Kline fits as Maurice – and by adding more of a back story to his life becomes a much sadder character which makes you love him even more.

mVa0DfBgIWHlLuke Evans just is Gaston – he’s perfect. It’s as if the animated character has walked off the screen and become Luke Evans. The look is spectacular and he can back it up with the voice needed for Gaston too. It is spot on casting! As is the casting of Josh Gad as his hapless sidekick LeFou. The interplay between the two of them is wonderful. But what I really like is that LeFou is allowed to develop emotionally as a gaston lefoucharacter. He definitely starts off as Gaston’s sidekick who blindly follows all his instructions and directions but he actually develops something of a conscience and begins to make decisions for himself after coming to realise that Gaston isn’t really the leader everyone makes him out to be.

Dan Stevens grew on me as the Beast but then I think that was just getting used to the make-up. The addition of the opening scenes of him as the spoilt Prince before the enchantment befalls the castle was a great decision as it shows the starting point of the man and makes his journey through knowing Belle all the more meaningful and a noticeable change in character by the end of the film. And the man has a set of lungs on him – I was very taken with his voice. I absolutely adore the new song written for the Beast. It’s beautiful, haunting and so emotional and perfectly fits the moment. But then the film benefited from having Alan Menken on board to write the music which meant that any new additions would still fit with the original songs thanks to him being the original composer. 

Belle is the Princess I want to be – even now – as she’s a reader and a feisty character. She’s not the damsel in distress that previous Disney Princesses were – in need of the Prince to save her. In fact it’s she who saves the Prince! As such it was really important to have the right person for her. And I actually love that it was Emma Watson. I know that the comparison has been made between Belle and Hermione from as far back as the very early Harry Potters but it is a worthy comparison and you just know that J.K Rowling will have been inspired by Belle when writing Hermione so it’s a choice that made sense for me. Sure there were moments when it was like ‘Oh there’s Hermione’ but not so much that it took you out of the film.

The costumes are simply stunning! They’ve managed to maintain the magic of the original film while at the same time putting their own stamp on things. Actually that’s one of the things the whole film did really well – the new additions were done carefully and enhanced the original film rather than detracting from it. It must actually have been quite a daunting position for the costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, as these costumes headshots_1490713523438.0are so iconic and yet animated so don’t exist in the real world in the same way. Especially the yellow ball gown that is very much the signature piece of the film. She has done an exceptional job – I got goosebumps the first time that scene comes on. It’s everything the original was and yet more because it was real this time. But I think the costumes that blew me away the most in terms of technical ability were the debutante dresses from the opening scenes that establish the Prince as the loathsome character he started as. These are all done in shades of cream, off-white and ivory and are absolutely stunning. They’re gorgeous – every one is an individual design that relies on different textures and patterns rather than colours to make them different from the others around them. It’s quite a brave thing to do as it could so easily have just all blurred into one but it was done masterfully and added a level of richness to the film. images

Now nothing is going to be able to replace the original animated Beauty and the Beast for me because that will always be my favourite Disney. But I will say that this film did an admirable job and actually took me by surprise in terms of how much I loved it. The new additions bring an added spark of life to the film without replacing or removing anything that made the original so magical in the first place. And oh my god – the library – so much more mind-blowing in this film than the animation. I’m still so very jealous!!

Kong: Skull Island

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Nominated for: Best Visual Effects

I’m not really a monster movie fan so I wouldn’t normally choose to watch a King Kong movie. But I am a Hiddleston fan … and as much sister is always telling me is I’m very shallow and quite often watch films just because they have someone I like in them. Kong: Skull Island was fantastic! I kind of knew it was going to be visually stunning before the film even came out as when we were at Universal Studios a couple of years ago they had just finished the ride and the visuals of that were awesome. The scale of the ride was epic so ultimately I knew that the film it was based on would also be larger than life.

poster_57517_1486991879Jordan Vogt-Roberts made a conscious decision to have the film set at the tail end of the Vietnam War and was heavily influenced by Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) I mean my dad came in and after watching roughly 30 seconds of the film guessed that it was set around the Vietnam War. The lighting, the score and some of the set pieces echo Apocalypse Now which helps to situate the film in a specific period of history. And it’s not just the technical aspects of the film that are influenced by the Vietnam War but also the narrative. The team of soldiers assigned to assist the scientific expedition, led by Samuel L. Jackson’s Packard, are very much products of their recent environments and the experiences they went through. They definitely have a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality about them which is rather a saddening thought. Because of their time in what has come to be recognised as a hellish war they’re completely blinded to the beauty and incredible nature of the island around them … at least at the beginning anyway. Samuel L. Jackson’s Packard is your Sam Jacksonstereotypical bad-ass army man who has let the power of command go to his head. His priorities have become skewed thanks to the war and he’s actually one of the most dangerous characters in the film – far more dangerous than the majority of the monsters inhabiting the island.

UnknownJohn C. Reilly is hilarious in this as the marooned World War II US soldier. He’s been stuck on this island for almost 30 years with an enemy, in the form of a Japanese soldier downed at the same time, and a native tribe of people who remain silent throughout. To say it’s left him with the inability to recognise if he’s speaking out loud is an understatement – he also has no filter which is brilliant. There is a sadness to his reaction when he asks whether they won the War only to be answered with “which one?” I also love the banter between him and Slivko as Cubs and Tigers fans, respectively, as by the time Kong: Skull Island was released Cubs had finally managed to not only get to, but win, a World Series. As I’ve mentioned before I’m something of a Tom Hiddleston fan and it was really enjoyable to see him in a pure action hero role – he’s not the antagonist for once (that’s not to say that I don’t love him when he’s being the truly antagonistic Loki because well … what’s not to love about Loki?!)

weaver's photosBrie Larson is awesome in this as Weaver, the war photographer embedded with Packard’s squad. At first glance she’s there to fulfil the beauty aspect of the classic ’twas beauty killed the beast that is associated with the King Kong legacy. But she is so much more than that. She is a real kick-ass female character who is about as far from being a damsel in distress as you can get. She is much more one of the boys and gets stuck in with all the rest of them. My absolute favourite part about her character is that the camera not only works but also had real film in at all times while they were shooting. All of those photos were taken by Larson – she’s got an incredible eye! And they really do bring to mind military photos – particularly ones from that era – there’s a strong resemblance to the work of Don McCullin. I mean sure there may be a giant skeleton behind them which is a bit incongruous once taken out of the context of the film but otherwise they could be straight out of recent history. Larson’s Weaver also has some genuinely touching moments with Kong – she is definitely the one who connected with him the most.Skull-Island

Kong is absolutely stunning!! The level of detail in his creation is outstanding and holds up under very close scrutiny as there are a number of close-ups on his face … which is so very expressive. And a large part of that is due to the skill of Terry Notary in bringing him to life through motion-capture. He is very much a protector in this film – displaying it on a number of occasions particularly the scene where he effortlessly lifts a downed helicopter off a giant wildebeest. Kong has the ability to switch from brutality to gentleness instantaneously evidenced in the fight scene with the skull crawler where he maxresdefaulttakes the time to rescue Weaver. The Skull Crawlers are the stuff of nightmares – they are hideous and seriously creepy looking. Perfect adversaries for Kong. I really liked that there was an obvious respect for Kong – and not just from the scientists on the expedition who you could argue are predisposed to look at new discoveries with open eyes. Indeed this respect counteracts the arrogance with which the whole expedition first arrives on the island.

I love the ending even if it is a very sentimental one – it’s one that brings a lump to my throat every time I watch it. Now I’m a film fan and it’s rare that I watch a film and don’t find something that I like about it – I just enjoying watching films of any sort – but my dad is much more selective in what he views and ultimately likes. You couldn’t really say that he watched Kong: Skull Island out of choice as I was monopolizing the shared living room but he actually rather enjoyed it I think. He certainly watched the entire thing and didn’t leave which is much more of a recommendation than me saying I loved it is (as I tend to love everything)