Nerve (2016)

The advertisement around this film was screaming excellence, best mystery thriller of the year, so of course I had to watch it and put my own opinion on it. Plus it’s got Dave Franco and Emma Roberts, who’s going to say no to that?

Emma Roberts and Dave Franco as Vee and Ian, find themselves being forced to pair up when it comes to a game of Nerve. “Are you a watcher or a player?” Vee has been a watcher, until Sydney (Emily Meade), her best friend, who is a player, pushed Vee to do something with her life. Taking life through dares, Vee, paired with Ian, seems to be getting the worst dares. Something Sydney becomes quite jealous of. From watching the trailer, to be honest I thought it was going to be a bit more of a thriller from the start than it was, but I felt that it built up characters much more than I thought it would. Not saying this is a bad thing.

Nerve - Vee and Ian

The way tension was built was extreme. There were parts of the film where I couldn’t watch, too much stress all at once. This was all because of the camera angles, they were very clever in creating this tension and making it extremely stressful for the audience. Literally, times in the film where I had to turn away, worried for what might happen. This made the film crazy and a clever thriller. I felt the film was all building up to the ending, and it was a very good ending at that. Mix of shock, unsure what will happen, unsure what just happened. Very clever. I also loved the excellent use of technology in this film. This is what the film is revolved around as Nerve is a game on the internet, the aspect around technology had to be good and it was. There is a constant unknowing of what is going to happen.

Nerve - motorbike dare

As Vee and Ian start to become more famous with their stunts, the mysterious watchers watch and the game only gets more dangerous, more risky, more deadly. They had no idea what it would build up to but now they have to win.

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Murder Mystery (2019)

Nick and Audrey Spitz are expecting an ordinary honeymoon to finally celebrate their 15 years of marriage – instead they end up wrapped up in a rich murder mystery where they end up as the prime suspects.

Starring Adam Sandler as the husband Nick and Jennifer Aniston as wife Audrey, I did feel it was natural to have high hopes for this film. A comedy, murder mystery, with crime and classic Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, surely to make a film of success and brilliance? Maybe not. I’m not saying the film was terrible, it wasn’t at all. It was just a bit flat…

Murder Mystery 2

First of all, I expected a lot more from the murder mystery side, especially as it is called ‘Murder Mystery’. It seemed to have a classic Poirot ending where all the suspects are brought together for a big reveal, which I thought was great. However, this film couldn’t really bring the elements David Suchet brings to his TV show. Instead, I was a bit underwhelmed by the reveal, I mean it was ok and I hadn’t pieced it all together, but it wasn’t as great as it could have been.

Secondly, the film is incredible fast pace. Which isn’t exactly a problem, it definitely keeps you watching throughout the whole film. Death after death after death. Maybe the reveal wasn’t as intriguing as I didn’t feel I was hooked into actually wanting to know because it was so fast pace. I didn’t really become intrigued or care… I’m more intrigued in a ‘Criminal Minds’ episode than I was in this film.

The film seemed very surreal from the beginning. Kicking off with this odd invitation to the new holiday journey for the couple, it seemed so fake and random. I thought there would be a little more build up to the understanding, but nope it is kept as random as inviting two strangers on a boat party with an upper-class family. The character the invitation was from, Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans), could have been explored so much more. Giving the audience a reason for this invitation, even if it was just simply to annoy the host of the party – that would have made more sense. Saying this, hardly any of the characters got an explanation. I don’t really understand any of them as a presence on screen.

Murder Mystery

Finally, I wasn’t a big fan of Adam Sandler’s character. I didn’t find his awkward comments that funny, but rather just that, awkward. It seemed to miss the mark compared to his other films. Jennifer Aniston however was fab; she was great in the film and I did like her character. Plus, she is amazing anyway!

‘Murder Mystery’ wasn’t a great film. I enjoyed it for what it was, but don’t think I’ll be racing to watch it again. It was just a bit underwhelming. Saying this, I did like the action elements and there were parts that put a smile on my face, although I wouldn’t class it as a ‘comedy’ as such. Last point, David Walliams in the film was not my cup of tea, but rather awkward… sorry.

Red Sparrow (2018)

I’ve actually been struggling on what to say with this film, because with the mystery of it all it’s hard to explain the story without giving anything away. There’s also a lot going on in this film, which adds so much depth. But I think I’ve finally sussed an opinion on it to explain to you all. You may think the trailer says a lot, but it’s quite the opposite, it does say some things, obviously as it wouldn’t be a trailer, but it also kept many things a secret, which just embedded with the mystery of the film.

‘Red Sparrow’ is a film of Russian spies. The organisation declares tensions between Russia and America have come to an all time high. The Red Sparrow programme teaches young adults to use their bodies to extract information from anyone. In particular, to use sex to decipher what’s happening over in America. Dominika (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in this programme when she has no other option, one mission, she’s told, one mission and she’ll be free, but once she’s in she discovers more than she’s supposed to, becoming even more entrapped in this hostile, emotionless scheme. Dominika’s mission is one to discover the mole in the government, she has one lead, an American CIA agent (Joel Edgerton).

Red Sparrow - Dominika

There are some hard scenes to watch, the extremity of limits this programme goes to can be hard to process, although I think it is supposed to test your limits on the horrific things happening in Dominika’s life. There are some horrible scenes. Additionally, it is a very complex film, it’s not an easy watch and not something you can watch just in the background. You do have to pay attention and follow everything that’s happening. Furthermore, there are some awkward sex scenes, some of them felt a bit unnecessary and rigid, but happily there wasn’t many. The whole sex element of the film was very strongly driven and it didn’t seem that necessary, it just created a very negative view throughout the whole film. Ultimately, I do think the threat of rape was one too dominant, but I guess that was to add to the tension, but instead just tested the audience in something so horrific to happen repeatedly. While on this topic, this is a film for older ages if you hadn’t of guessed, some of the difficult moments to watch are sex-related or gory, there is also swearing and nakedness. I would say this should be an 18, rather than a 15 in my opinion.

Red Sparrow - Dominika 2

The stand out of this film does has to be the acting of Jennifer Lawrence, she is amazing. I don’t understand the negative views on her in this film, because I think she played the haunted role extremely well. ‘Red Sparrow’ presents Jennifer Lawrence in such a completely different role from anything else I’ve seen her in, a Russian spy with a complex mind in a hideous position. We all know she can do a variety of films, from ‘The Hunger Games’ to ‘X-Men’ to ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, or ‘House at the End of the Street’ and ‘Passengers’; ‘Red Sparrow’ just adds to the colossal of films she’s in. Summing up, she is definitely an actress of more serious films, rather than comical or romance to say the least. Jennifer Lawrence’s character in ‘Red Sparrow’ is one of difficult judgement, what I mean by this is that she becomes a very untrustworthy main protagonist. I spent the whole film having no idea what was going on in her mind and what she was thinking, instead you follow her in the film, knowing she is a victim and trying to do everything to survive in her situation, but never knowing her next unpredictable move. She would say one thing to someone and something else to another, but who was she telling the truth to? I had some inklings of what she was thinking, but her irrational behaviour made me doubt everything. Dominika does become a character of constant torture and a body of sadistic violence, she couldn’t suffer more in this film, so don’t expect a Jennifer Lawrence like in other films, because this one is physically and psychologically damaged in so many dark ways. I really believe Jennifer Lawrence was brilliant in this film, she played the character amazingly. The acting of everyone else in the film was also brilliant, all the characters carry some darkness and bring more depth to the film. Flawed, real characters played extremely well, I could not fault the acting at all!

Red Sparrow - Dominika 3

The Sparrow programme is extremely negative, one which extended to horrific limits to serve the country, one very demeaning and brutal. The thrilling tension in the film is very well done because the audience is unknown to so much. The film does become much more talky than action, and brutality in violence is dominant, but that’s the sort of film it is. It is also quite a long film, but it all builds up tension and discovery of the mission itself. This is definitely a film of certain preference. To say I enjoyed the film seems a bit overestimated as there were so many moments I was worried for the characters on screen. I thought it was a good thrilling mystery with discovery points I didn’t expect. Overall, it wasn’t a dreadful film, it wasn’t one awful in all it’s rights, it’s far from that, it’s challenging in areas, but I thought acted well and intriguing from the beginning as you just want to know what is going on. It builds up tension well and definitely becomes a film to try to come to grips with everything that is going on. Dominika becomes a character, even if unpredictable, strong in so many ways, tortured yet all that is wanted is for her to be safe and not in the situation she has fallen into. The ending also becomes one of discussion and brilliance. It is definitely a different thrilling film, good in its own ways.

Happy Death Day (2017)

Another repetitive film, this time as a horror, or so the trailer assumes. In fact, this isn’t much of a horror to me, and trust me I scare easily. There are moments of horror, obviously, because that’s what we see in the trailer, however that’s about it. Because of the other elements of the film, I would say this is more of a mystery, discovering who is trying to kill her, rather than the kills themselves. Just because I’m saying it’s not the genre it advertises in doesn’t mean it’s not good, because it’s far from that! It was a great film, thrilling in moments and I was definitely warped into trying to find out who was killing this girl over and over again.

Happy Death Day - killer

So the main character, Tree (Jessica Rothe) wakes up on her birthday, hanging from a heavy night out. But she doesn’t wake up in her own bed, instead in a dorm room, Carter’s (Israel Broussard). Her day continues with small occurrences, a woman petitioning to save global woman, a car alarm going off, sprinklers spraying students, a student falling to the ground and finally Tree bumping into a previous date. Once at her own sorority home, after a confrontation with one of her ‘sisters’, Danielle (Rachel Matthews), she finally ends in her own room where her roommate Lori (Ruby Modine) is quick to mention her rolling in at this early hour. Her day still continues and towards the end of the day a masked hooded figure stalks and kills her. Only then, she wakes up back in the dorm room with Carter on her birthday once again. On her death day.

Happy Death Day - killer and Tree

Tree is great in this film, Jessica Rothe plays her amazingly. She is realistic in how she reacts, for example, she presumes the second time it’s her birthday is just deva-vu. On the first day we get a feel for what sort of person she is, one to say the least is not the nicest… But as the days pass she slowly becomes a character more understood. She even becomes a source of slight comedy in a section of the film, surprising in a film that’s supposed to be a horror right? Just want to clarify, she’s not a source of comedy through her dying, it’s more how she reacts to it all. She definitely goes through all the emotions. And it’s played really well.

Happy Death Day - Tree

I would definitely recommend this film, it’s not a frightening film. But there are of course some thrilling moments, which are brilliantly executed and definitely creates suspense. Throughout you are always wary of where the killer is going to turn up next, behind the shower curtain, in a car? There’s some great songs that represent the dramatic suspense or the confidence Tree has recovered. You become warped into Tree’s suspect list trying to figure out why someone is doing this to her. It is really a good film. Also, one of the greatest things, it’s a repetitive film that doesn’t actually get repetitive, because even though all days end in death, they are all different. I would definitely watch it again. Aren’t you a little curious?

Murder On The Orient Express (2017)

Agatha Christie brought to life in another light, new actors and a new director, and in a film. From the 1934 novel to a new 2017 film. As a fan of the television programme Agatha Christie’s Poirot, it was hard for me to come to grips with a new Poirot as David Suchet is such a brilliant detective and amazing to watch in this show. When announced that director and star Kenneth Branagh (personally most famous as Gilderoy Lockhart in ‘The Chamber of Secrets’) would be the new Poirot, I wasn’t sure how to take it, it didn’t seem quite right as, to me, David Suchet will always be the best Poirot, and after watching the film I will still stand by that. Nevertheless, he was not a bad Poirot and in fact did play it well.

Agatha Christie is famous for the brilliance in her crime novels and her renowned detectives of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. One of her most well-known novels was ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ in which this film is based on. So as you can probably guess, a murder happens on the orient express, a steam train for those who don’t know. It just so happens that one of the best detectives in the world happens to be on that train, Hercule Poirot, so therefore becomes detective on the case. Easily done, everyone not in first class is immediately excluded from the suspect list. Here then comes the amazing cast and the brilliant characters we learn about. Firstly, the victim, which I surprised to be killed off, was the one and only Johnny Depp playing Ratchett. This leaves as the trailer so dominantly advertises: The Professor, The Butler, The Count, The Assistant, The Governess, The Missionary, The Widow, The Salesman, The Maid, The Doctor, The Princess. The brilliance of the cast lies in (and recognisable for me): Willem Dafoe, Derek Jacobi, Josh Gad, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench. Of course, everyone in this film is amazing though, they all play their characters to perfection.

Murder On the Orient Express - 1

The mystery of the film was excellent, I was warped into the film, dying to know who was the murderer, excuse the pun… And one of the greatest things of the film was that I couldn’t guess, I could not guess the ending, I was sucked into the film until the very end, until Poirot did what he always did, reveal the killer in his own spectacular way, in front of the whole crowd, the audience included.

One thing that does have to be mentioned is the brilliance of the camera work in this film. Forget the normal shot reverse shots or the standard profile camera shot, this film had shots from the ceiling, or crane shots from bottom to top of the screen, or even camera shots through blurred windows which seemed like the audience is sneaking up in the mystery of the film. Of course there were the normal shots as well, but the interesting change in camera angles really did add to the whole essence of the film. We had the potential to see from all angles, but we were restricted in so many ways.

I really enjoyed this film, there is no needs to compare it to others, because as it stands alone it’s a great film. For those who have never experienced Hercule Poirot you get all the information and background of his character from this film, so if you’re a newbie don’t worry. It’s an enjoyable mystery film and I would recommend it.

Exam (2009)

Well this was a mystery thriller quite different to ones I’ve seen before. But something so basic, yet I was warped into it and did enjoy it. First thing I have to admit though, is that the trailer does assume more of a thriller than it actually is; the film is much slower than the trailer suggests. So don’t be thinking this is a film of quick pace thrilling moments, it’s more psychological than that, a film to get you thinking, questioning everything, even if you don’t actually find out much at all.

So if you’ve never heard of this film (because I definitely hadn’t), here’s the plot. There are eight candidates, an invigilator and a guard. The candidates are given 80 minutes to find the answer, yet they are unsure to what the question is. There are given a set of rules and if you break one then you are at risk of being disqualified. The worst in people starts to come out when truths are exposed and the candidates start to realise how desperate they are at passing this exam and being chosen for the job at hand. A job we are not even certain what is, soon to learn that not many of them actually do. The candidates are all ones chosen, all of them different, all of them bringing something different to the exam, so is it a test in which to work together? Or do they pick each other off, they turn against each other, survival of the fittest, as it were? All the different personalities are desperate for the job in some way or another.

Exam 1

The film is definitely one of mystery. I was confused at what the question was, but absorbed into the film, desperate to understand. As the candidates argue and discover more about each other, they struggle to find any answer to anything. Something quite different to the film, which adds to the mystery of the film, is that we never discover any names. One candidate chooses physical features in which to nickname the others, but no real names are ever told to us. Although, because of the type of mystery this film is, I feel like it’s probably just a film you watch once. During the film, revelations in flashbacks are shown to us, it’s not a film you watch again to understand it more. Once you’ve witnessed the ending, then that is the end of it. Saying this, I would recommend the film, I really enjoyed it, but wouldn’t say it’s a film you watch on repeat. There is also an element of sci-fi in the film, perhaps a world we’re not used to.

Exam 2

Overall, like I’ve already stated, I would recommend the film. I was trapped in the film, begging to find out the answer and discover what was actually happening. There is so much we aren’t actually told in the film, but that makes the ending even better in my opinion. It’s a film to get you thinking and questioning everything you witness. To say the least, when I watched it with my flatmates we definitely discussed what actually just happened, it is a film to get you talking at the end. So why not give it a go? If you think it’s a film for you of course.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

So I understand the new rave over the Netflix original programme on ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, but in my opinion, the film outshines it. Obviously, the books are the best, having the film and programme being sourced from them, and maybe it’s because I watched the film first, but the film will always be one of my favourites. If you’re unaware of the books, film or even the programme, then this review will focus on the film, but I’ll start from the plot, just in case you are unfamiliar with them all.

The film is based on the first three books, whereas the programme will go through all the books, there are 13; so maybe if you want to know all the adventures, the books and the programme might be better. However, this doesn’t make a difference to the film personally, yes there is a different ending and some parts are slightly different, but the film is the interpretation of the books and a film that is always going to be one film needs an ending, and this one does.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - kids and Po

So what is ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ even about? The film revolves around the Baudelaire orphans, Violet (Emily Browning), a 14 year old inventor who believes “there’s always something”, Klaus (Liam Aiken), the only boy who memorises every book he reads, and finally the youngest, the toddler, Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman), a biter who can bite anything with her “four sharp teeth”. Straight away we are informed by Mr Poe (Timothy Spall – recognisable as Peter Pettigrew in ‘Harry Potter’), that the children’s parents have died in a fire and ultimately this opens up to many secrets that the children didn’t know about their parents and the series of unfortunate events begin. The children then jump from guardian to guardian, starting with the villain of the film. Count Olaf. Now Count Olaf is played by Jim Carrey, compared to the programme where Olaf is played by Neil Patrick Harris, they are both very different personalities despite being the same character. Harris’ Olaf is very much a villain, and more accurate to the books, more serious; although, Carrey’s Olaf is more comical in a way, over-exaggerated in the brilliant way Carrey plays his characters. I think it does work in the film, and I suppose this is what makes the film so different to the books or the programme, but again I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing at all! The audience are quick to recognise that Olaf doesn’t actually want to look after the children but in fact his interest lies in their rich inheritance instead.

Film Title: Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Similar in all three mediums of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, there is a narrator in the film. The narrator talks to the audience directly in the background. Straight away the first thing he mentions is that the story is not a happy one, that we should leave the film, turn it off and never come back to it. Of course this draws the audience in more closely, a clever aspect you don’t see in many films. The narrator is Lemony Snicket, played by Jude Law. Lemony Snicket is a character in which prevents scary aspects for children as this is a film for younger ages, but obviously enjoyable for all. Although, there are some tense scenes where Olaf goes to extremes for the orphan’s fortune, but it is cleverly done to want to be watched all the way through. There is also a mystery element all the way through the film, the secrets that never fully become unwrapped. Who were their parents? Why was there a fire? What is this spyglass?

There are many recognisable actors in this film and they are all played so excellently. Other than the ones I’ve already mentioned, there is Billy Connolly as the snake-obsessed Uncle, Meryl Streep who plays a woman petrified of irrational things, and Catherine O’Hara as Justice Strauss. Additionally, Violet, Klaus and Sunny are played well. So the actors is not something to be looked down upon, they make the film that much better.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - Olaf's Car

Ultimately, the film is a very different children’s film to many others but shouldn’t be disregarded. I find it a brilliant film, with all the elements of the film perfectly executed. Like I’ve mentioned before, Jim Carrey is fantastic, but he always makes his characters his own and they are all great, this one is no different. I would recommend this film, it is different to the programme and books, but personally so much better. It is a brilliant film and should be watched.