Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Captain America. The government intervenes. The Avengers have a choice. The choice is split. Captain America vs Iron Man. Civil War. Someone pulling the strings in the background?

Ok, so another new Marvel film and I’m definitely a fan of the Marvel films, even if I’m a bit slow on the ball with this one. I love the fast-paced action, the colourful scenes, oh and the brilliant actors and actresses playing the best superheroes. This film is not any different. Especially that some of the Avengers (other than Captain America) make an appearance. What is not to love? Well, there was a few issues for me sadly… But this didn’t much affect the film, it’s still a good Marvel film, I just wouldn’t say it’s the best.

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So the plot was a bit confusing. I don’t know if you have to know the Captain America story inside out and this is where I fell down, but the beginning was a tad confusing for me. I would definitely recommend the other Captain America’s before you watched this one. However, still some parts were confusing at who was who… Or where the film was heading. Although after this started to kick in and things started to make more sense the film picked up incredibly. There was a lot fast-pace action so familiar to Marvel fans, where a lot was going on at the same time, although this is the fun and action of the film, and it definitely wasn’t let down by this. The graphics were great, everything just looked real in a world of superheroes. All your favourite superheroes kicking ass. Ok not all your favourites, personally Thor is mine and he wasn’t in this one, nor was the Hulk; however, it is predominantly a Captain America film. But joining Captain America is Natasha Romanoff, ie. Black Widow, Tony Stark, ie. Iron Man and Clint Barton, ie. Hawkeye. All of them familiar from the amazing Avengers films, and of course played by the brilliant same people, or that would cause an outrage. Imagine someone else being the snarky Iron Man other than Robert Downey Jr?! It just wouldn’t be right.

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This film is quite long as well, but once past the first part this doesn’t make much of an effect on the audience. ‘Captain America: Civil War’ does require constant attention to, it’s an easy watch, but you just need to watch it all. Something that I did notice, is that it does seem to be a film of all around the world, jumping to so many places. However, this is easy to know where they are, with the massive words of the place popping up on the screen; although this may be seen as drawing your attention to the fact that it is a film because the words were so big on the screen, but then again maybe you need them to understand the film, it could be more confusing without.

Something I actually loved about this film was the two new additions! These were Spider-Man and Ant-Man. They both were brilliant additions, they were hilarious in their own way. Paul Rudd has always been a favourite actor of mine, and now this film has just made me want to see Ant-Man even more, sadly haven’t seen it already! And the new Spider-Man, can’t wait until that comes out! Tom Holland was excellent, he is definitely pronounced as the young one of the new team, especially as the actor himself is about 20 now, surprisingly, he definitely looks younger! Maybe it’s the contrast to all the others… But his chatting away was brilliant during the fights and comical for the audience. I’m so happy with these two new additions, even if only for one fight scene, but I feel they made such a difference to the film.

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I would recommend this film, especially if you’ve seen all the other Captain America’s. The film is full of fast-paced action, colourful fun scenes, amazing actors and actresses, busy fight scenes, and some funny moments. If you’re a fan of Marvel this has to be on the list (but I guarantee you’ve probably already seen it). ‘Captain America: Civil War’ is a good watch, but not the best Marvel film. But hey, what sides wins?

Rear Window (1954)

An Alfred Hitchcock film, and in my opinion you have to watch one of his, being one of the most well-known Hollywood directors ever! Whether it be his most famous horror ‘Psycho’, or ‘Vertigo’, or even ‘The Birds’; there’s too many to name. Personally, I can’t say I’ve actually seen a lot of his films, but after watching this, I’ve realised I need to watch many more, and at least I’ve seen one!

‘Rear Window’ is such a clever film. It has such a simple plot and it is so easy to follow, but there is so much depth within this simple plot. It is based around one apartment, actually everything is around this one apartment. The apartment of L.B. Jefferies, or Jeff (James Stewart), our main protagonist. Even though we are based in one apartment and all we witness is inside this apartment and the courtyard from Jeff’s window; we are told so much more. The film cleverly brings in other characters who come into the apartment and fill in the gaps of the outer world. For example, Lisa Carol Fremont (played by the famous Grace Kelly!), also there’s Stella (Thelma Ritter) and finally, Detective Doyle (Wendell Corey). All of these characters are of course played excellently and all bring a different aspect into the film for the audience to enjoy.

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As the title says, there’s a hint that there might be a focus on windows, and I cannot express how true this is. The whole film is delving into the lives of others, of Jeff’s neighbours, as he watches we watch. The audience might find it a bit invasive, spying on people’s private lives. However, I feel it reflects how windows are always both ways, and perhaps we expose too much. The whole film is Jeff invading people’s privacy being a “peeping Tom” as Stella states. So many lives take place in this one film; we witness a ballet dancer, a newly-wed couple, a couple who own a cute little dog, a woman known as ‘Miss Lonely Hearts’, a piano man, a couple going through issues, and others. In this one courtyard there is a variety of lives happening, but as the film progresses Jeff becomes focused on one apartment in particular, and this is where a mystery begins… A very clever plot.

This film is definitely clever in bringing in the audience into an intriguing set-up atmosphere. You just want to know what has happened, you need to know. Especially as Jeff becomes more desperate and crazed in his ideas, we understand what he means, however we doubt as the audience is shown more than what Jeff knows in some parts. This makes you question your own ideas and definitely question Jeff’s. What happened to that man’s wife?

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I can’t fully explain how brilliant this film is, I really did enjoy it. I was tense in some parts, significantly the end, but so intrigued into the whole film. It’s obvious that this film is going to be excellently directed, it’s a Hitchcock film! And he stands out for what he is known for and is definitely great at doing it. This mystery film is one I would recommend over and over again. It’s so different, delving into other people’s lives, watching as a couples’ arguments may have turned into something else. The whole idea of only seeing Jeff’s apartment and through windows is so clever; even though it is limited space you can be told so much! A blind closing assumes something, someone behind a wall makes the audience intrigued and hides away little details, however we can guess what is happening, or some details are exposed right in front of the window, where everything is out in the open, where we can see. So as I said I would recommend this film. Besides, aren’t you a little curious at what has happened?

A Cinderella Story: Once Upon A Song (2011)

Once again, another version of ‘Cinderella’. This time one rather different from all the others, especially from the original. Instead looking for a shoe, he’s searching for that girl with the voice. Hence the ‘Once Upon A Song’.

I love versions of Disney Classics, if you don’t already know. And I do love this version, however I would understand if you didn’t. It could be considered one of those cheesy chick-flicks, but who cares? It’s a feel good representation and different take on the classic ‘Cinderella’. Also, it has a very predictable ending, but of course it does! You don’t watch one of these films to think you’re going to be delving into a mystery and full of twists that leads to confusion, you watch it for that cute soppy ending, where everything turns out great. And this is definitely what the film expresses. I love it!

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I really like how different this representation is to the others. The ball is instead a Bollywood Dance, as I’ve already said he’s searching for a voice rather than a glass slipper, there’s no magical edge or fairy god-mother, and instead of two step-sisters, it’s a step-sister and a step-brother. So there is of course many differences. Although saying this, there are still elements that links it to the ‘Cinderella’ story. The main protagonist, Katie (Lucy Hale), is living with her step-mother due to her father re-marrying and then sadly passing away, although this story isn’t told at all, just mentioned. Also, the ‘prince’ of some sort, is Luke (Freddie Stroma) in this, who, not actually a prince, is famous and is controlled by his father wanting him to pursue something else in life than what he wants, ie. like the prince in ‘Cinderella’ having to choose a princess to marry rather than marrying for love. Additionally, Katie is blackmailed by her step-mother and she has to do everything she says. So you can see there are essences of ‘Cinderella’ within this film.

Personally, I think this film is actually hilarious. Bev, (Megan Park) the step-sister, is so dumb you just have to laugh, the things she comes out with… The step-mother, Gail (Missi Pyle), is brilliant as well. She is definitely a different interpretation on the evil step-mother, she is self-obsessed and so rude, but her comments are cleverly done to make them funny, her harsh realities really do crack me up. But she’s also a drunk, something quite different to the other interpretations I might add. The step-brother, Victor (Matt Lintz), obviously a different take having it being a brother instead of a sister. But I love this change, he is a great addition to the film. He’s such a naughty little boy, called the “demon’s spawn”; the sort of things he comes out with is so cheeky yet some things are so extreme. But when it comes to the end of the film, he adds to the soppiness and happiness of the ending. To be honest, there are many moments where I laugh in this film.

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I really enjoy the songs as well. Because this film is so revolved around songs and singing, it is important for this to be a good aspect, and it is. You can definitely hear that it is Lucy Hale singing, who of course is Aria from ‘Pretty Little Liars’. They are fun poppy songs that are enjoyable. They can be quite repetitive however, but you just learn them throughout the film and sing along by the end. Also I have to add, Freddie Stroma singing is beautiful, much love when he sings ‘Knocking’. So I hope that other people would find these songs enjoyable as well.

As you can tell I love this film! It is quite fun and such a different take on the famous ‘Cinderella’ everyone must know. So if you want to witness a different life of ‘Cinderella’, one where she wants to be a singer, when she’s the one with the great voice not her step-sister, then this your calling.

The Convict (2014)

Sweven Films presents this thriller drama short film, based upon the limits of a desperate man and his determination of getting to his destination. Written and directed by Mark Battle, you can tell this is a stylistic and unique film that should be appreciated.

This short film lasts just over twenty minutes, but it manages to captivate the audience and make them intrigued in the main protagonist’s life. This is David Eller (Dean Temple), a convict who we know has recently just escaped from jail. We know this straight from the beginning as he is wearing the typical red jumpsuit and has one handcuff attached to his wrist. His desperate need to hide himself and his wound tells the audience that he must have escaped recently and that it wasn’t easy. As the story goes on more pieces are joined up, however not everything as the audience is kept wondering. There is the clever use of the radio, this shows a little more of who this man is, that he’s wanted, that he’s dangerous. Again, more pieces joining up.

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‘The Convict’ is quite a stylistic film. There is almost a black and white tint to the film, giving an edge, everything just seems darker and gives the sense of a thrill in the film. There is also no music to the film, until the very end. This is something very different to all the other films that we are more familiar with. However this works really well, it makes the film eerily quiet, the silence eats away at the audience, only diegetic sounds can be heard. Tearing into the possibility of more a realistic film, etching into that desperate need of this man. I also really liked how more of the pieces were joined up for the audience through the use of a flashback; this worked really well and told the audience his one desperate need, perhaps the reason for breaking out of jail, but I won’t say, you’ll have to watch it to find out.

Overall I would recommend watching this short film on ‘The Convict’. You witness David on his desperate journey meanwhile figuring more about him, however some questions are never answered making the audience question if they matter. This film is stylistic and clever in creating a tension in a thriller. Besides aren’t you a little intrigued in where this journey is taking David?

Mamma Mia! (2008)

‘Mamma Mia’ is a classic musical loved by so many and for very good reason! There’s a mix of emotional songs, some fun songs, strong powerful songs, and so many others! All of them begging for the audience to appreciate and sing along to. And all of them originate from the well-known band Abba. I’m going to be honest here, you’re either a fan or you’re not, simple as. Personally, I am a fan. Having seen the movie repeatedly and even seen it in theatre, it’s obvious this is going to be a good review.

Now I’m assuming most people will know what this film is about. But just in case there are a few out there who have no idea then here we go. There’s a small island where Donna (Meryl Streep) runs a hotel. Her daughter is Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), due to be wed to Sky (Dominic Cooper). Que the wedding, and who does Sophie invite secretly? Her father. But small problem, she doesn’t know who he is. It’s one of three; Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) or Harry (Colin Firth). She’s clearly struggling for identity, trying to find herself in her father (A-Level English Literature really changes the way you see films). She tries to hide the men so she can figure out which one is her father, meanwhile a secret starts to roll where she doesn’t tell her fiancé or mother, but Donna discovers they’re there in a ‘Mamma Mia’ situation so confusion hits as she is presented with her three ex’s; the whole time when a wedding is in preparation.

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I love this film, it really is a feel-good watch. Plus all the songs are amazing. The classic ‘Dancing Queen’ to boost the morale of Donna, hilarious moments from her two best friends, Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters). Two characters that even though they are parallel opposites are a brilliant addition to the film to get the audience laughing and routing for them, whether it be Tanya pushing away a guy in ‘Does Your Mother Know?’, or Rosie desperately clinging onto her man in ‘Take a Chance on Me’; both memorable moments to love. Or perhaps going to a powerful song sung beautifully by Meryl Streep where she finally gives in in ‘The Winner Takes it All’. Not forgetting an emotional song of a daughter growing up sung by the mother, ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’. Another fantastic song portraying the love between Sophie and Sky in ‘Lay All Your Love on Me’. And you can never forget the classic ‘Mamma Mia’! I haven’t even gone anywhere near the amount of songs there are; but just to show the variety and that they all are ones to enjoy, there you go. And all amazingly sung!

Phyllida Lloyd really has created an enjoyable film to watch with a mix of songs to appreciate, but also brilliant actors and actresses, many of them recognisable. Meryl Streep is of course amazing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film she has been awful in and I would never expect to. Amanda Seyfried, again brilliant, personally I’ve watched quite a lot of films of hers, she is probably one of my favourite actresses (especially that she does films that I like, for example ‘Letters to Juliet’), but also that I can rely on her being good in it. The three fathers are all huge actors, all should be recognisable to most people. The best obviously being the outstanding Colin Firth! And there’s also Julie Walters, Mrs Weasley in a very different situation. Julie Walters is brilliant in this film, additionally so is Christine Baranski, like I’ve said before they are both hilarious and add so much to the comedy of the film. So as you can see, an amazing cast!

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Understandably and certainly I would recommend this film over and over again; even if it’s just to watch it at least once in your life. I understand you have to love musicals so I get when people say they would hate it, but this, ‘Grease’ and ‘Hairspray’ are the best musicals in my opinion, and if these can’t change your opinion on musicals then none can. But anyway, if you appreciate the musical, then watch away, watch Sophie struggle with her fathers, or Donna with her ex’s. It’s a fantastic family film, that’s full of humour and romance. Plus it will get you singing, you have to!

Bench: A Short Film (2016)

‘Bench’ is a short film created and starred by Christopher Laws and Jack Mckenna. This short film only lasts four and a half minutes. But it’s surprising how much you can get within that short amount of time and ‘Bench’ definitely does it well.

The camera is quite personal and makes the audience feel more connected to the two characters, Chris and Jack. It tells you the aspects you need to focus on, whether it be the fact that he’s alone on that bench, or focusing on the face and the emotions he’s expressing. The lighting is quite bright; I feel this contradicts what is being said, but this is a good thing. I feel it’s representing something, either hope in sadness, or maybe where Jack is going; but then again that could be me reading into it too much, I’m unsure.

Because the film is so short, things have to get running pretty quickly. And right from the beginning the audience is told a number of things. Number 1) the film isn’t going to be some happy story, one to get you laughing, rather the opposite. The music echoes sadness, we know this from previous films we’ve watched where music is associated with certain emotions. 2) It’s going to be emotional and powerful. A man crying on a bench, alone. 3) A life is going to unravel in a short conversation.

This film is very clever in throwing emotions at the audience, it captivates them to find out what happened to Jack and makes them intrigued. Even though nothing much is said, we are told so much. Somehow emotion hits the audience, even if they are not sure what has happened, or will ever know.

I would recommend watching this, it’s beautifully emotional and full of power. Who knew a single bench would become a story expressing the emotions of one guy, feeling all alone.

Maleficent (2014)

This adaptation of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is beautiful, the different interpretation should be loved as it is such a unique spin on the well-known Disney Classic. As friends of mine would know, I love Disney, but there’s nothing more that I love than someone putting their own interpretation and twist on a Disney Classic itself, so of course this is a film I would appreciate. But the best thing, is that it is not a let-down, it is brilliantly created to give a new side into the villain Maleficent; someone that was just perceived as evil before. Robert Stromberg creates a beautiful land of the Moors and a stunning alternative in ‘Maleficent’.

So as you can guess, the story is Maleficent’s. Played excellently by Angelina Jolie. Jolie makes this film so much better, she is truly amazing in her part. The way she expresses all her emotions, whether it be pain or love, desperate need or hate, she creates a character lost in anger and found again when her heart starts to repair. The whole look of Angelina Jolie is brilliant, she looks alike to the animation in ‘Sleeping Beauty’, but you can tell she carries her presence in her costume and make-up, but also in her attitude and power. Maleficent becomes the protector of the Moors, the strongest fairy of them all. But she is wronged by a man who is overtaken by greed and his want to become King. It’s in this light we see the pained and heartbroken Maleficent; one who only sees hate and revenge in the colour of green. Until one little girl is born, but Maleficent riddled by anger makes the worst mistake of her life, placing a curse on the innocent Aurora (Elle Fanning). All because her father, Stefan (Sharlto Copley), pissed off a very powerful fairy.

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The whole essence of this film is one to be admired. The film is very creative, for children to get lost into this admirable kingdom of the Moors, a land of strange and magical creatures. From this magical place we jump to and fro the other neighbour, the human kingdom; one not so pretty, one riddled by greed and darkness, where a King starts to go crazy in this own mind and a Queen is depressed by the loss of her daughter, who was sent away into a small house in the woods for safety. The other effects are also excellent. The slow motion in action scenes are really effective for the audience; or perhaps vision blurred to express the pain from Maleficent and her weakness. The whole film flows well even if it is over a big time scale.

There are a variety of aspects to love in ‘Maleficent’. You can have a chuckle at occasional comments, especially between Maleficent and Diaval (Sam Riley). Or maybe you can smile at the small pathetic arguments between the little fairies who are supposed to look after Aurora; Flittle (Lesley Manville), Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton – indeed the one and only Umbridge! But a very different character I promise) and Thistletwit (Juno Temple). There are also some action moments, which done by the graphics is brilliant (like I’ve already said). I don’t know if people will be happy to hear, but I thought I’d mention anyway, this Disney isn’t a musical, there is no random break-outs of song. There are some very emotional moments, the audience shocked a character would treat someone else that way, and also some heart-felt moments.

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I would recommend this film, I love it. Such a different interpretation of a film I watched as a child is one of course I’d love. The fact that it is done so well and Angelina Jolie is amazing, are just a plus. I would advise you to watch ‘Maleficent’; discover her past so different from the story told before, and follow her as she takes steps into hatred and love. Besides can those little three fairies look after little “beasty” on their own? Or will Maleficent, torn between villain and hero, save the day?