Film Reviews by GI

Welcome to GI's film reviews page. GI has written 304 reviews and rated 893 films.

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Gemini Man

GROAN!!!

(Edit) 11/04/2021

What a thoroughly stupid film! Lovable, with a twinkle in his eye, Will Smith is meant to be the ultimate black ops assassin wanting to retire to peace and tranquility but his last super skilled hit has repercussions and he finds he's targeted by his old boss, a creepy Clive Owen. I'm not sure why, it's a bit of a muddle, but Clive has an ace up his sleeve. A clone of Will, albeit 30 years younger, who has all his skills and none of his conscience. This cues some chases, shoot outs and a ridiculous plot where everyone just buys into it without any thought or even a gasp! Smith has been digitally de-aged to play his younger self, whether you're impressed with this is a matter of opinion. Director Ang Lee shot this at 60fps instead of the normal 24fps giving the film a very sharp and detailed look but it soon becomes wearing and looks like a video game or a cartoon. Mary Elizabeth Winstead supports as a sympathetic agent and gets to do a lot of shooting and fighting too even though she has to get undressed for reasons unknown. Will Smith clearly wants to be an action hero but this pseudo-James Bond stuff is not right for him, he needs to stick to something that better fits his screen persona. International hit man he ain't!

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The Irishman

Highly Recommended

(Edit) 11/04/2021

Martin Scorsese's return to the gangster genre doesn't disappoint although this isn't the adrenaline rush of Goodfellas (1990) and is a more contemplative story. Robert De Niro is Frank Sheeran, a mob hitman who we first meet as a very old man in a nursing home recounting his life and relationship with mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci in a stunning performance) and eventually with notorious union boss Jimmy Hoffa (a typically shouty performance from Al Pacino). Sheeran expresses both regret and conviction in detailing the murders he commits told in various lengthy flashbacks. And length maybe an issue as this is Scorsese's longest film to date coming in at three and a half hours. That might be an issue for some and the film can feel like it's dragging at times. But the weight of the performances and the sudden, shocking violence keeps you watching. The story and disappearance of Hoffa has become almost a mythological issue in the US and this film offers an answer to the mystery and one to which the narrative builds but it's in the subtleties of the film that it's brilliance is to be found, such as Sheeran's relationship with his daughter Peggy (Anna Paquin) who soon sees what her father is and remains coldly distant from him which affects Sheeran deeply and the conflict between Hoffa and Tony Pro (Stephen Graham who exudes restrained violence always ready to explode at any moment). These are moments and scenes which mark this as a major work. This is not Scorsese's best film by any stretch but it's certainly a worthy one and I highly recommend it.

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Rambo: Last Blood

Awful

(Edit) 11/04/2021

In the novel First Blood by David Morrell the main character Rambo dies at the end. What a pity that when the 1982 film adaptation was made the character was allowed to survive. That first outing for the character is actually a decent action thriller with something interesting to say about bigotry and combat PTSD. Then we had a series of awful sequels resulting in this latest one. This is a clumsily scripted, exploitative and ultra violent thriller (and it appears the decision to go for all out gratuitous bloodshed was deliberate) and its a bit of a travesty. Basically the story is a hybrid of Taken (2008) and Man On Fire (2004), both far superior films, where the pretty niece of John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), now a humble but still troubled rancher, foolishly heads off to Mexico to look for her no good father, falls into the hands of sex traffickers and needs her violent and vengeful uncle to come and rescue her. The results are horrific to say the least and sadly there's nothing redeeming in the story or it's presentation. Indeed this is the perfect Trumpian film, exposing the weak border with Mexico where lurk very nasty criminals just waiting to kidnap wholesome American girls!! And sadly the narrative here doesn't even allow for the female to play a part in her own revenge she must wait for crusty old uncle to save her! Stallone has hinted at another instalment despite the title of this film but hopefully he'll see just how bad this is. A shame in a way because in the enjoyable Creed films he neatly sidelined his Rocky character and that's what's needed here too.

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Saint Maud

Recommended

(Edit) 11/04/2021

An atmospheric, ominous horror psychodrama with two stunning central performances. This is how a good horror film should be, a slow build up to something quite terrifying with clear disturbing signals along the way. Morfydd Clark plays Maud, a young nurse who has recently found God and lives a pious life believing the she can hear God through her prayers. She is sent to the isolated seaside home of Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), a once celebrated dancer and now dying of cancer. Maud's duties include cooking, cleaning and generally caring for Amanda who can be very prickly and difficult. Maud comes to believe that God wants her to save Amanda's soul, a tormented process that gradually pushes Maud to extremes. This is all told in a taut, visually impressive film with Amanda's hilltop house resembling a gothic haunted country retreat and Maud appearing to be a timid loner but who is slowly descending into madness. Her attempts at retaining normality instantly fail and the film moves inexorably to a quite horrific climax. British horror has a long history and when it's good, it's damn good and this is a fresh, impressive and disturbing addition to the genre. Recommended.

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Jojo Rabbit

Interesting But Flawed

(Edit) 11/04/2021

It's always a risky business satirising Nazism especially when the narrative is played out through the eyes of a child. This comedy plays it quite safe and comes out with plenty of laughs and occasionally tips into the brutality of the Nazi regime. Whether this works will be a matter of personal opinion. Set in Germany in 1944 and ten year old JoJo (Roman Griffin Davis) lives with his mother (Scarlett Johansson). With his father away serving in the war JoJo is a member of the Hitler Youth and has been indoctrinated in the propaganda of the state. But when he attends a weekend camp he finds he has no appetite for the lessons on killing and he ends up back at home with menial chores to perform. Without a father figure he has created Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend (director Taika Waititi) and seeks his guidance when he has doubts about the future of Germany and nazism. Then one day JoJo finds a young Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in the attic where she is being hidden by his mother. Their relationship gradually changes JoJo's outlook. Believe it or not there's plenty of comedy found here and there are laugh out loud moments. But equally there are some shocking moments and combat scenes. I'm not convinced these worked within what the film is trying to achieve but where the film studies the manipulation of children there is something interesting to be seen. The support cast are good especially Sam Rockwell as a German officer now reduced to being in charge of the local Hitler Youth, Stephen Merchant as a cartoonish Gestapo officer and Rebel Wilson is here doing her usual thing. An interesting film, and certainly a funny one and worth checking out even though it's a little imbalanced and the slapstick and the seriousness occasionally don't quite mix.

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Color Out of Space

Well Worth A Look

(Edit) 11/04/2021

With any Nicolas Cage film you never quite know whether you're going to get rage Cage, trippy Cage or demure and serious Cage. With this horror/scifi hybrid you get elements of all three and it's makes for a rather enjoyable, psychedelic, phantasmagorical film. Cage is Nathan, a former artist, who now lives in a gothic style old country house in an ancient forest with his family, where he breeds alpacas. One night a strangely glowing meteorite lands in their garden and afterwards the flora & fauna begin to change and then soon Cage and his family too. First with mood swings and tantrums followed by physical transformations. There's some scary bits and some funny bits too, and yes the whole thing is downright bizarre but very, very watchable too and you'll end up enjoying this despite yourself. It has the feel of a good ol' Hammer Horror. Adapted from a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, which if you're familiar with his work, has all the traits you'd expect. Interestingly the story has been adapted before in the 1965 British horror film Die Monster Die which set the story in Cornwall (it's worth checking out if you can find it nowadays). Here British director Richard Stanley has added some interesting modern day aspects including a homage to John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing. This is well worth checking out especially as it's Cage at his best.

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Knives Out

Excellent Whodunnit

(Edit) 11/04/2021

Here's an example of why genre cinema is so fulfilling. The ability of a skilful director and writer (Rian Johnson wrote & directed this) to satisfy his audience whilst playfully subverting their expectations. This whodunnit is a homage to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes et al which delivers laughs, twists and sheer thrills in equal number. In a gothic style old country house elderly and famous mystery novel author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer - still brilliant as always) is found dead on his 85th birthday. Suicide appears the obvious reason but famous sleuth Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) has been hired by an anonymous person to investigate and he quickly suspects foul play. This opens the narrative up to showing the possible motives of various members of the family and a convoluted twist and turn plot that includes flashbacks to a party held on the night of the 'murder', and inevitably towards a final reveal. It's marvellously entertaining and with a superb cast including Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon and Toni Collette. So if you love a good mystery thriller then look no further, this fits the bill perfectly.

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Hustlers

Watchable Caper Movie

(Edit) 11/04/2021

Part caper, part crime thriller and part morality tale this is a glitzy and powerful film about women taking control albeit in a questionable way. Constance Wu plays Destiny, a young New York based woman struggling for money and taking care of her ageing grandmother. She takes a job as a lap dancer/stripper in a Club frequented by rich Wall Street bankers. She is taken under the wing of Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) who knows exactly how to operate in the seedy environment and soon she's making large amounts of cash. But then the 2008 financial crash occurs and the clientele drys up leaving all the girls struggling until Ramona teaches them all how to 'fish'. This amounts to picking up men in bars, getting them drunk and drugged and then milking their credit cards. Things go well for awhile but then it all starts to unravel. Although a fictional story this is based on an exposé article that identified the practices that the film portrays. The film looks at the uncomfortable relationship of lurid male desires fuelled by wealth and the exploitation that results on both sides of the sexual divide and it tries to judge where the line should be drawn. It's not always successful in this regard. There's some amusing episodes in the film and some very uncomfortable ones and the narrative signposts that something is going to go terribly wrong so there are no big surprises. However the performances are all sound especially Lopez and the film is well worth checking out.

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The Platform

Excellent Thriller

(Edit) 11/04/2021

This is a highly effective psychological thriller cum futuristic horror film. Without any explanations as to the origins or purpose the story is set in a strange prison known as 'The Hole' where two people occupy each cell, with one cell on every level. Each day for two minutes a platform containing a sumptuous feast of food is lowered through to each cell. The platform contains enough food to feed all if those at the upper level, who get access to it first, only take what they need. Inevitably they stuff themselves leaving nothing for those on the lower levels. Each month the occupants wake up on a different level never knowing whether they will be higher or lower and consequently will get lots of food or very little if any. The story focuses on Goreng (Ivan Massagué) who has volunteered to complete six months in the Hole in return for a social reward. His cell mate is an old man who teaches him the rules and has been imprisoned for one year after accidentally killing a man. Goreng quickly learns that if the higher levels ration themselves no-one will go hungry. He has to persuade others to his way of thinking. The concept here is a very clever one based on theories of social conscience, greed and human hypocrisy. There's some quite unsettling aspects to the story and some of it is shocking but what an interesting little film and certainly one worth checking out.

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The Personal History of David Copperfield

A Delight

(Edit) 11/04/2021

This latest adaptation of Charles Dickens celebrated novel is a real treat. In the hands of director Armando Iannucci it has that Pythonesque absurdity and great comedy he always brings to his films. This makes it highly original and it zips along at a wonderful pace. The film puts great emphasis on Dickens' bizarre and eccentric characters and reinforces them beautifully. Most important is Iannucci's choice of casting and the deliberate ignoring of the actors ethnicity. It simply works and of course resonates so wonderfully in the modern world. If you are unfamiliar with the story, young David Copperfield is raised by his widowed mother who dotes on him but when she remarries his new stepfather is cruel and sends him off to a life of hardship in a bottling factory. When his mother later dies David finds his Aunt and his fortunes turn for the better but it's not to last as the family is defrauded by the sinister and creepy Uriah Heep. The cast are all impeccable with Dev Patel in the title role, the always brilliant Tilda Swinton as the Aunt, Hugh Laurie hilariously funny as Mr Dick, Ben Whishaw as Heep, Peter Capaldi as the ever optimistic Mr Micawber and loads of others. This is a really enjoyable and funny film and one I highly recommend.

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The King

OK Historical Drama

(Edit) 11/04/2021

This big sprawling historical epic links aspects of Shakespeare's lyrical play with real history and manages to create a rather tawdry film in the process. A shame really because Timothée Chalmet's performance as the reluctant King Henry V is rather good. So here we have a young Henry or Hal to his mates spending his time drinking and whoring with his drunkard of a friend Falstaff (Joel Edgerton as a sort of Little John figure) - Falstaff is a direct lift from Shakespeare as he didn't really exist. His father Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn in a nice cameo) disinherits him but Henry comes to the throne in any event and is then faced with treachery and political intrigue and forced into a war with France which culminates in the Battle of Agincourt. The final battle is a little anti-climactic although it does stick as close as possible to how the real battle went although it lessens the mythological impact of the longbow's decisive use. Indeed the battle scenes are very reminiscent of The Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones, a strong influence on the film as a whole. Overall this is a bit too long, has many things going for it but ultimately it's disappointing,

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The Informer

OK Crime Thriller

(Edit) 11/04/2021

A competent crime thriller, if a little hackneyed. Joel Kinnamen plays Pete, a former convict now working for a big time Polish drug baron in New York but secretly informing to the FBI in the guise of Rosamund Pike and her boss Clive Owen. When the big sting operation that will see Pete free of the criminal life goes awry he is forced by his handlers to go back to prison to infiltrate the bad guys operation inside. This is all a testosterone filled implausible story but it rattles along at a reasonable pace, has a fair few action scenes that have all been done before but the cast makes up for its failings, including Common and Ana de Armas. Perfectly watchable.

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Uncut Gems

Sandler on Top Form

(Edit) 11/04/2021

This New York based crime drama gives us probably the best performance from Adam Sandler who we normally see in paltry comedies. Here he plays Howard Ratner, a once successful gemstone dealer who's gambling addiction has led him into serious debt with some nasty guys. He hopes to turn everything around with an illegally imported black opal from Ethiopia which he believes is worth a fortune. But at every turn Howard is thwarted and the risks to his life get greater and greater. What's really enthralling about this film is Sandler's portrayal of Howard as ever optimistic even when his whole life is falling apart. It really is a stunning performance in an energetic and very watchable film with Scorsese influences at every turn. I enjoyed it and there's no doubt director brothers Benny and Josh Safdie will be making films to look out for.

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Marriage Story

Heart wrenching

(Edit) 11/04/2021

If you love Kramer Vs Kramer (1979) then you will find it's influence here in this fantastic drama from director Noah Baumbach in what is probably his best film to date. The opening scenes where married couple Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) deliver a list of why they fell in love with each other is a heartwarming opening montage that is actually the opening salvoes in an increasingly destructive divorce. She is a successful actor and he a theatre director who have a young son Henry (Ahzy Robertson), they live in New York but Nicole goes to Los Angeles, where she originates, to appear in a new TV pilot, when this becomes a series she wants to stay there with Henry but Charlie wants Henry to return to their home. An acrimonious divorce then develops aided by the nastiness employed by divorce lawyers (Laura Dern & Ray Liotta - both fantastic performances here). It's in turn heart wrenching and amusing and the two central performances are so good I'll be surprised if awards are not forthcoming. Alan Alda has a nice cameo as a down to earth and gentle grandfatherly older lawyer. The film has some painful scenes but it's blended with regrets over lost love, fear of loss and I've no doubt reflects the utter despair when break ups go awry. A must see film.

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Angel Has Fallen

Clichéd and Mind Numbing

(Edit) 11/04/2021

A thoroughly clichéd, predictable and ultimately a tiring third film featuring Secret Service (super) agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). This time he's framed for an assassination attempt on the President (Morgan Freeman, who has gradually risen up the ranks through the three films), escapes custody and is then chased around by the bad guys and the FBI until deciding to get his estranged Dad (Nick Nolte) to help him and eventually giving himself up! Cue lots of shooting, explosions and the odd building being demolished, sadly just a hospital in this one, a tad disappointing after half of London was destroyed in the last film. It's all complete nonsense of course and Butler continues his beefy action man stuff that he does in nearly everything nowadays. There's a good support cast including Danny Huston and Tim Blake Nelson but along with Freeman and Nolte they probably did it for the money. Indeed the most disappointing thing is that Nolte is underused and he's the best thing in the film. Hopefully that's the lot and we'll not have to have another.

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