John Boyega

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

While Rey (Daisy Ridley) attempts to learn the way of the Force with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), General Leia (Carrie Fisher) leads the Resistance as the First Order threatens them all.

All the characters we met before in The Force Awakens (2015) have returned, plus some new ones. Two of the key new characters are Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who befriends Finn (John Boyega), and Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) who hotshot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) clashes with.

A lot of the film focusses on Rey’s training as she learns more about the Force and what made Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) turn to the Dark Side. Rey and Kylo are often portrayed as equals or two sides of the same coin and their interactions are often tense and fascinating. These two are the main focus of the film, which then means characters like Finn are side-lined which is unfortunate. To be honest, the Finn and Rose’s whole plot could’ve been much more condensed so they get back to the main group of heroes sooner. That being said, all of the cast give excellent performances and Hamill and Fisher add so much more to their iconic characters.

The Last Jedi is an action-packed sequel with a lot of humour, some of which doesn’t always hit the mark. There’s a lot going on in this film with characters splitting off and going on their own missions, but at the same time, all of this stuff doesn’t do much in terms of progressing the overarching plot. This film seems to focus more of character development, which is not a bad thing at all, though it is sometimes heavy handed and by focusing on this there doesn’t seem to be any form of resolution in the battle of good vs evil. Naturally this is the second film in a trilogy, so there’s time for things to be resolved in a satisfactory way.

The action is well shot, and the blend of CGI and practical affect is once again to the highest quality. The Last Jedi is also a good-looking film, with some stunning locations and interesting new worlds and creatures to meet.

The Last Jedi combines the family fun with dark themes, to varied affect. Sometimes these opposites are too extreme while in other cases it allows for a moments rest before these characters we know and love are in peril once more. There’s a lot of twists and turns in The Last Jedi, taking the franchise to places it may not have gone to before and it’s an unsettling thing. This makes The Last Jedi a fun ride but it’s not a flawless one. 3/5.

*Side note* I will be seeing this film again next week so I’m interested to see what I make of it after I’ve had time to think about it – will the flaws be more noticeable, or will I find more things I like? Who knows?

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REVIEW: Detroit (2017)

Amidst the chaos of the Detroit Rebellion in the summer of 1967, gunshots are heard from the direction of the Algiers Motel. When the police and the National Guard arrive, tensions rise and three young African American men are murdered.

Detroit is based on true events and, as the film states at the end, has been put together from first-hand accounts and what limited official documents there are from the time meaning that some of the events depicted are dramatized. Detroit uses archive news footage and photos to help show what the violence and chaos on the city streets was really like and makes it all feel more real.

The whole cast gives phenomenal performances. Will Poulter as racist police officer Krauss is equal parts terrifying and mesmerising. You end up feeling you can’t take your eyes off him for a second as you don’t know what he’ll do next. John Boyega as security guard Dismukes feels underused at times but that’s mainly because he’s almost like a spectator to these events. That being said, when there’s moments for him to show more than restrained horror and the fear begins to register, Boyega nails it.

The violence the police officers inflict on this group of young people is tough to watch. The psychological torture tactics they use is sickening and the camera never really wavers from it either so you as the viewer, like men like Larry (Algee Smith) and Fred (Jacob Latimore) are forced to watch what others are going through.

At almost two and half hours Detroit is a long film and you can start to feel that towards the end of it. the last third is really quite drawn out as you don’t just get the usually text on screen, telling you what happened to these people next, instead you get to see it. This makes their grief and anger hard to take but in a way, it makes it feel like the film is prolonging the people’s pain and the viewers.

Detroit is a tense and powerful film that often makes for uncomfortable viewing. It’s shocking that not only did these events take place 50 years ago, but that no one with any real power to change things has learnt from them as events of police brutality is still prevalent today. 4/5.

Thoughts on BAFTA 2016 Winners

Bafta TrophyThe BAFTAs were last night and I have some thoughts on the winners. I didn’t watch the BAFTAs on BBC One as I was engrossed in my book (A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab if you’re interested) but I followed along on Twitter so I knew pretty much who all the winners were before the show even started on the TV.

I don’t know how much the BAFTAs will be a guess as to what the Oscars winners will be, history dictates that there’s usually some crossover but who knows. But I was pretty OK with most of last night’s winners. The two big nominees that I have yet to see are Brooklyn and Steve Jobs so I can’t really comment on those that much.

Now onto the stuff I can and want to talk about. First up Best Film, I can understand why The Revenant won, it’s got all the things voters love – it was tough to make, cast and crew could’ve died etc etc but I really would’ve liked any of the other nominees to win, especially Spotlight. That film really touched a chord with me so I kind of want it to win everything it’s been nominated for so I was really pleased when it won Best Original Screenplay. The same point can be made with Alejandro G Inarritu’s Best Director win for The Revenant, I get why he won but really I wanted any of the other nominees to win more.

The acting categories are always interesting. Leonardo DiCaprio was pretty much a shoe-in to win Best Actor, I don’t think The Revenant was his best work and if he goes on to win the Oscar, a part of me thinks it will be a bit like a “we’re finally giving you the Oscar and we don’t really care what film it’s for” Oscar. I’m so happy Brie Larson won Best Actress for Room, gosh she was amazing in that film and she was my favourite out of the nominees. Mark Rylance won Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies which I was happy about, would’ve liked Mark Ruffalo to win for Spotlight because I love Ruffalo but I’m happy about Rylance’s win. Like I said, I haven’t seen Steve Jobs so I can’t comment on Kate Winslet’s performance but I really hoped Alicia Vikander would’ve won for ExMachina.

I was surprised (but pleased) by how many awards Mad Max: Fury Road won. I loved that film a ridiculous amount so it see Margaret Sixel win Best Editing for it was amazing. One of the reasons I liked Mad Max: Fury Road so much was because it didn’t look like your usual quickly-edited-so-you-can’t-really-see-what’s-happening action films and that was down to Margaret Sixel. Mad Max: Fury Road also one Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Make Up and Hair and were all worthy of the prize.

I also want to talk about the EE Rising Star Award. This Award is the one BAFTA that is voted for by the public it’s always an interesting one. I’m so happy John Boyega won! To be honest I’d have kind of been OK if any of the other four nominees won but Boyega has a special place in my heart. He gave a great speech and I’m still so happy for him.

Did you watch the BAFTAs last night? Do you get caught up in awards buzz or don’t you care that much? Let me know if there was anyone you’d wished have won below

The full list of winners: (more…)

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star-wars-force-awakens-elenasquareeyesThirty years on from the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises in the form of the First Order. When former Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) meets desert scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) they get caught up in the fight against the First Order as they struggle to find the Resistance.

The Force Awakens is a really fun movie. While there are some quieter character moments, it starts with a bang and never really lets up. It is wonderful to be in space and to see different planets and creatures. One thing that The Force Awakens does so incredibly well is merge CGI and practical effects, whether it’s BB-8, the most adorable droid ever and a great sidekick, which really did roll around after everyone or the deserts of Jakku which was a real location – it just makes the whole thing feel more real and lived in.

The cinematography coupled with the score that has a lot of nostalgia beats make The Force Awakens a beautiful film. The aerial dog fights between TIE fighters, X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon are easy to follow and thrilling. When there’s a lightsaber duel (it’s Star Wars, there’s going to be at least one of them here) it is well-shot and brutal. (more…)