It’s been a good nine years since Toy Story’s third instalment had been released. A film that was once universally regarded to be the definitive and beautifully bittersweet capstone of the genre-defining Toy Story films. But, knowing Disney’s habit of capitalising on its more nostalgic properties as of late, the release of a fourth instalment to this beloved franchise was, more or less, to be expected, albeit with relative scepticism of its quality compared to its predecessors. With a new director, Josh Cooley at the helm along with writers leaving the project due to ‘creative differences’, and an almost 2-year delay of the film due to other projects, such as The Incredibles 2, audiences were nervous that Toy Story 4 was doomed to fall short of their expectations set by previous instalments. After all, what could a new instalment possibly add after such a final and near-perfect conclusion? Did we really need to know what happened to Woody and Buzz next?Read More
I have always been a casual fan of the Pokémon franchise. I enjoyed the show as a kid, I still play many of the games to this day, and I even briefly got on board with the Pokémon GO craze that came about in 2016. That being said, while Pokémon, to this day is still a big hit with younger audiences, I’ve always acknowledged it’s older demographic as being a rather niche market. Which is why I never would have expected a film concept as ‘shockingly’ outrageous as Pokémon: Detective Pikachu to be greenlit. Pun intended.Read More
When it comes to stylized, energetic and gloriously ultraviolent contemporary action flicks that aren’t bound to a comic-book mega-franchise, the Chad Stahleski-directed John Wick trilogy are without a doubt, the films that set the standard for the mid/late 2010s and continue to live up to their hype with each instalment. As with its predecessors, John Wick 3 Parabellum delivers another brutal orchestra of elegantly choreographed and over-the-top bloodshed with Keanu Reeves starring as its merciless conductor, using any and every means in the vicinity to put down his enemies, whether it be a gun, a book or even a horse. It gives me great satisfaction knowing that Reeves who was long criticized and disregarded for his ‘wooden’ performances in past performances could spring to life in these films through his energetic movement and innate determination in conducting his own stunts.Read More
During its rather explosive 11 year run, the Michael Bay-helmed Transformers film franchise hasn’t exactly developed a particularly stellar cinematic legacy, with most productions being widely regarded as crass, noisy, explosion-filled, soulless Hollywood drivel with no shortage of puerile sophomoric humour and scantily clad girls draped over car bonnets. For the longest time, this was the status-quo for this franchise, to the point that I’d stopped caring about investing my money in seeing these films at the cinema by the time ‘The Last Knight’ rolled around. This simply boils down to the fact that since 2009, the mere act of watching Bay’s transformers films, with all their typical tempestuous bombast, incoherence and shameless product placement was in itself an exhaustive and mentally-draining endeavour in and of itself. This speaks volumes of the sloppiness and utter creative emptiness that Bay had invested into these films, and the knowledge that a big budget Hollywood media franchise is comfortable to reduce itself to such a state is utterly soul-destroying for modern cinema as a whole.Read More
What do you get when you toss Wolfenstein, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Saving Private Ryan and possibly the most blatant amounts of historical inaccuracy into a blender? You get a feverishly insane, ridiculously ultraviolent, revisionist war horror, schlock-fest that is Overlord. It could easily be dismissed as exactly the kind of unapologetically gruesome and tasteless B-movie pulp that a fourteen-year-old version of me would call a ‘masterpiece’. But in an era where most action productions are shackled to grand executive franchise aspirations, a schlocky revisionist war film about horrific Nazi experimentation with a simple beginning and an end and no loose ends to be tied up in a sequel or big-budget franchise feels like a breath of fresh air.
I can’t overstate it enough. Guillermo del Toro is one of those directors who’s signature aesthetic style of his productions is something I have a tremendous personal adoration for. His more commercial productions including the Hellboy films and Pacific Rim were simple, yet fun and well-executed for what they were. But while they may have attracted me to his visual style initially, what had garnered a much more profound fascination in me for del Toro’s work were his more ‘artistic’ productions that delve into certain historical backdrops and deftly intertwine and manifest certain conflicts and anxieties of said historical period with his own oddball blend of atmospheric dark fantasy and gothic horror.
When I’d first discovered that the roster for ‘Best Animation’ at the Oscars had included some rather sub-par Hollywood-based productions such as Dreamworks’ ‘Boss Baby’ and Blue Sky’s ‘Ferdinand’ that were competing alongside some visually innovative and even ground-breaking international releases such as the spectacular UK-produced ‘Loving Vincent’, along with the latest Cartoon Saloon-production: ‘The Breadwinner’, I was somewhat disillusioned.