Film Reviews by GJ

Welcome to GJ's film reviews page. GJ has written 17 reviews and rated 50 films.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Felt like they had 5 days to come up with this finale

(Edit) 08/05/2020

This is a blueprint of a movie. Take all the elements that worked in ptevious movies ( particularly the emipre strikes back ) and rearrange them. Add a few contrived scenes ( let them fight among the waves ..... why ? ) add superflous characters ( the lady in the helmet ) and tie everything with ropey dialog

Even John Williams score was on auto-pilot. The final battle was spectacular though a carbon copy of every star wars film before it . The rest of the film seemed low key ( dare i say low budget ). There were times it felt like an 8 part streaming series than a cinematic event .

As for characters : why are Star Wars smugglers so boring ? Oscar Isaac is a good actor but his captain zack badass charming rogue ace pilot blah blah only works when somebody writes actual dialogue for him. ( The Solo movie had the same problem: a load of good actors sitting in a room talking about ..... who cares ?)

The actors do their best - particularly Adam driver and Daisy Ridley but the writers couldnt work out their character dynamic . Ok, one wears black and the other white but both are humourless , constantly distracted and borderline kamikaze. It was difficult to care about either one.

JJ abrams directed this remotely from a galaxy far far away - i dont think he wanted to make this film and used broad strokes.

It was nice to see returning characters - some worked better than others but unfortunately i dont think the Carrie Fisher scenes work that well . I dont know what they could have done . Her scenes were included with respect and care but took you out of the movie .

I like the Force Awakens and the Last Jedi but this film feels like a rushed fan service film that had to double back and cut the developing saga in its tracks

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Entourage

A Fairytale of success and excess

(Edit) 20/04/2020

Critic Mark Kermode hated this movie and for the first 20 minutes i agreed wth him . These characters are reprehensible. All of them should be in Jail and when it looks like the chips are down for any of them , miraclulously they come out on top. Yet by the end of the movie you join in ( sort of ) with the implausible success . This isnt an accident . The TV series was the same . You have these five anti-heroes, stumbling around a very superficial wasteland where cars and party-goers move in slow motion . The credit goes to the writing and particularly the performances. The interplay is still sharp and the comedy still feels fresh. Time has passed since this film was released and some people appearing have had their own share of scandal. Its a fairytale from a very specific viewpoint - it is both insulting and embracing of its characters and their situations. Viewers who liked the series will probably like this movie but i dont think it will win over many converts.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

A very fairytale Hollywood

(Edit) 29/03/2020

A carefully crafted film with a top flight cast and crew but im not sure its an oscar worthy film. There wasnt any stand out scenes or performances for me . Seems to be a lot of lingering shots of Margot Robbie and she doesnt really have much to do and Tarantino does seem have a thing for feet !

Although 1969 is recreated well , this is a world unaffected even by events a year earlier - assasinations , escalating wars .

Maybe thats the point but this hollywood seemed too confident. I Would like to have seen a more insecure, conflicted hollywood where the old clashed with the new and why something like the manson 'family' could take a foothold.

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La La Land

A clever and touching musical

(Edit) 15/01/2020

For the first 10 minutes I found I wasn't in the mood for a musical but before long the performances , chemistry and unromantic romance wins you over. It is a film about dreams in an unforgiving world . I didn't know what to expect but the quality is there throughout and there is always a suprise round the corner .

Both leads are at the top of their game and ably supported by everyone in front and behind the camera .

3 stars is probably too low but I'd reserve 4 stars for a film that draws a stronger emotional response. This film was probably just below 4 stars for me .

So we'll worth watching especially if you like your musicals mixed with touching drama

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Spotlight

Film-making at its best

(Edit) 07/12/2019

The acting was nuanced and yet striking to keep you engaged thougout the movie . The script and direction was pitch perfect . Kudos to the editing : no scene was too long or cut short . This is a film that deserves its success .

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Aquaman

high water mark for the visuals

(Edit) 24/11/2019

Yes its cliched and the acting is underwhelming but for sheer visual spectacle i dont think anything matches it - not even Endgame. The true star of this film is the visuals ... and locations . The action sequences work better than most comic book films particularly the segment in Italy.

The acting is strangely weak . I know its a very technical movie with a lot of dialogue filmed underwater but i think the director fails to get strong perfomances out of anyone with the exception of Black Mantis's father.

As for the script and plot - there are no suprises . Fulfilling your destiny is a mainstay of these types of films and certain plot points were just too obvious.

The biggest flaw is that this film is part of an existing cinematic universe and the first few scenes felt like an ongoing episode in another series . I think these films should exist in their own standalone universe. Eg Burton's or Nolans Batman. The creatives would then have more scope and the quality hopefully improve.

With all its flaws i enjoyed the movie . The acting was a distraction but the sheer variety of visuals and locations made this film a good watch

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Avengers: Endgame

A heartfelt, epic but flawed finale

(Edit) 27/10/2019

The film is a very heartfelt and personal movie with an intergalactic twist . This mixture doesn't work as well as Infinity war and perhaps theres one too many scenes by a lakeside. The performers are all good , particularly Robert downey Jr - who gives his all and could easily have phoned in his performance. Karen Gillan also stands out who despite difficult makeup and gives her character depth.

Its sometimes a difficult film to follow - particularly if you havent recently watched Ant Man 2 or Infinity War , however its true each film isnt designed to exist in a cinematic vacuum by itself.

Endgame a well crafted , confident film. Its not a great film but considering it draws a line under 22 odd films that have come before it - it is a cinematic achievement .

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Captain Marvel

An enjoyable romp

(Edit) 22/09/2019

I had my reservations - although the film joined the billion dollar club, it wasn't getting the positive buzz that black panther was receiving for instance . However from the word go , like all good action-adventure movies the pacing doesnt let up .

I was a little wary of Bree Larsons understated acting but it actually works - I like this Captain Marvel .

My only gripe was how Nick fury lost his eye. The eye-patch is an iconic image and the reason this film uses is a bit of a throwaway. Otherwise Sam L Jackson seems to be enjoying himself ., Jude Law gets a good role as well.

An enjoyable film and looking forward to the next standalone movie .

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp

Too many sub plots

(Edit) 13/08/2019

Spiderman 3 was criticised for having too many plots running at the same time and I think the same can be applied here . There's this need to involve characters from the comic books when it's not necessary . The film constantly lurches back and forth from one sub plot to another and the charm of the first film is lost along the way.

On the plus side the acting and visuals are on top form but I don't expect to see an ant Man 3 any time soon .

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Get Out

reminiscent of an old 1970's shocker

(Edit) 23/04/2019

Very much like the Stepford wives 1970s horror . Very well directed and acted. They even throw in a few dont go in there , dont open that moments . A witty cautionary tale for any significant other no matter your background.

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Blade Runner 2049

Didn't replicate the first films strengths

(Edit) 16/03/2019

Blade runner 1982 was poetic in its visuals , script and portrayals. Though this film is visually effective and I liked the nihilist tone , this sequels plot seemed unfinished as if somebody wanted a franchise out of this . The main plus is the acting everyone is good . All in all a good movie but not a great movie . In 10 years time I suspect someone will remake the original 1982 movie rather than trying to extend the blade runner timeline.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

More like a TV movie

(Edit) 17/02/2019

I could see this as a TV series along the lines of firefly , each episode with a special guest star . This episode Woody Harrelson , the composer struggled to make this film seem epic and tried valiantly to remind you you were watching star wars .....didnt really work .

in order of priorities : visuals , cinematography, music , acting , editing , ( a distant sixth ) directing and ( somewhere at the other end of the cosmos ) ..the script

At one point , for a brief moment , i couldn't remember if i was watching star wars or star trek ... not that they look alike, but the dialogue is the same . nothing said is memorable . lots of running ,lots of explosions contrasting with blues and browns , no real humour , no real drama . actors doing their best with cliche's like 'i'm the best there is'; scenes directed without any urgency , heart or panache.

its not the disaster i thought it would be but despite the composers efforts it is a lacklustre film . Solo feels more like a tv or netflix series than motion picture .

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The Shape of Water

Del Toro in top form

(Edit) 20/01/2019

This is a masterclass in film making . It is an adult and charming tale brilliantly acted and directed . It is very much del toro's territory (pans labyrinth and hellboy movies ) but each scene and character is handled with care and dignity . Well deserving of its awards and plaudits.

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Avengers: Infinity War

An Epic film

(Edit) 29/12/2018

Cinema had got to the stage where these kinds of stories can now be told . creatures of imagination now meld seamlessly with live action . Directors who can match the mundane with the fantastic . The performances are strong and the script seems more polished than usual and even the guardians of the galaxy seem likeable compared to their vol2 . Perhaps the film was too big in places and you do find yourself thinking 'oh yes, i forgot about them ' . however thankfully , each segment intergates back into the main story line

I liked the previous two Avengers movies but im finally impressed with this one.

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Black Panther

Almost takes the MCU to a different level

(Edit) 22/12/2018

A great film is one that takes you into its world , whether its a crime drama , comedy or documentary . well written and acted , well directed and great production values . Black Panthers production values are top notch it is well directed - probably one of the best directed marvel movies . it is well written although the familiar tropes of destiny and family are at the forefront yet are far more relevant here than in other movies. The acting is good , although the lead Chadwick Boseman needs more range and more confidence for me .

it is thankfully, a more stand alone movie than say, Captain America civil war which seemed too episodic.

Black Panther's strengths are its visuals and characters, particularly supporting characters. you are interested to see what happens to them and this bodes well for future Black Panther adventures . The characters also merge easily into other locations which again is a good sign.

Watching this movie almost a year after it premiered made it difficult to watch without hearing all the plaudits echoing in your ears . It it successfully paints a world not seen before and doesn't hide from uncomfortable issues and deserve's success on its own merits. As a film I think its on par with a very good star wars or great fantasy adventure film but it is not quite a classic .

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