Movie review: The Snowman

Movie reviews

Hello!

Welcome to a review of a movie you have never heard about. This is The Snowman!

IMDb summary: Detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose pink scarf is found wrapped around an ominous-looking snowman

Writing

The Snowman is a European crime thriller (I love thrillers!), written by Hossein Amini (Drive, Snow White and The Huntsman, Our Kind of Traitor), Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Frank, Our Brand is Crisis), and Søren Sveistrup (a Scandinavian TV writer), based on the book of the same name by Jo Nesbø – quite a well-known Norwegian crime novel writer. I’ve, personally, never read any of his books, but I definitely know that my dad has enjoyed quite a few of them. Sadly, I didn’t have the same experience with the movie adaptation of The Snowman. Mostly because of how illogical the plot was.

The opening set-up for a villain left me with so many questions, which were not really answered throughout the film. So, supposedly, the bad guy did nefarious things because he grew up abused by a man, who was probably his father, but somehow blamed his mother for everything and then decided to punish all less-than-perfect mothers las an adult? What kind of senseless self-styled heroism is this? I’m guessing you could make a case about his psychological damage pushing him to do that, but, even if we take his potential mental disorders into consideration, his actions still don’t make much sense!?

The other ‘hero’ characters were all similarly damaged. Additionally, the detective case was not just a job for them, but a personal vendetta. Their character development was minimal: the majority of the traits of the characters directly related to the plot. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the character features appeared to be completely unnecessary and not relating to anything but then were forced into the main plotline. The supporting characters served no purpose in the movie, a few of them were dropped halfway through, with no explanation.

The narrative was predictable, typical, and full of plot-holes. The story was spread out all over the place – elabarote but not in a good way and convoluted rather than complex. All of the plotlines and the story strands were super loose. And yet, the movie somewhow managed to tie everything together. I guess the plot sort of made sense in the context of the film, but it would fall apart easily if one just dug a little deeper. The Snowman did very much feel like an adaptation of a book and I have a feeling that the story worked much better in the novel form.

Directing

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s director Tomas Alfredson helmed this film and did a passable job. At the beginning, the film did have a slight David Fincher-esque vibe, but that quickly went away. The Norwegian setting and the visuals of the fjords and the snow were good. In general, the realistic, down-to-earth vibe of a very European thriller was refreshing (I’ve been watching a lot of Hollywood high-glamour thriller lately, so this one was a nice change). However, that same vibe also made the project seem less cinematic and more like a TV movie. The violence was quite brutal and explicit (so maybe don’t see the film if that bothers you or your stomach). Lastly, the pacing was super slow and the intensity wasn’t always there to make up for the lack of action.

Acting

The Snowman assembled quite a good cast. In the lead was Michael Fasssbender, who desperately needed a financial or a critical win after Assasin’s Creed and Alien: Covenant (in both of which he was actually good in). However, The Snowman won’t do his career any good. Can somebody get him another Steve Jobs-type of a role? Or are we betting everything on the next X-Men film?

Rebecca Ferguson (MI5, The Girl on The Train, Life) was the co-lead on the film. Her character arc started out promising but then turned into a stereotype, however, Ferguson still delivered a neat performance. The supporting cast included a French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg (whose English language films include Independence Day: Resurgence), Val Kilmer (who I haven’t seen in a movie for years), and J.K. Simmons (Renegades) who had no business being in this picture. Oh, Jarvis aka James D’Arcy (Dunkirk) was in it too!

In short, The Snowman is a thriller that is not worth anyone’s time. If you are interested in the story, maybe read the book instead of watching the film?

Rate: 2.7/5

Trailer: The Snowman trailer

The_Snowman_(2017)_poster.jpg

Movie review: X-Men: Apocalypse

Movie reviews

Hello!

Welcome to the 4th comic book movie review of 2016! This time, we are discussing the latest entry into the X-Men franchise – Apocalypse.

IMDb summary: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

Background

X-Men was probably the first superhero trilogy that I have ever watched, even though I wasn’t a big movie fan back then – and by ‘then’ I mean the early 2000s when I was still a kid. At about the same time, I also used to watch the reruns of the 1992-1997  X-Men Animated Series. In 2010, I started getting into movies a lot more and only a year later, First Class came out and I was hooked. The Wolverine’s spin-offs were kinda a hit and miss for me – I always preferred the team up movies. Days of Future Past was the biggest and most welcomed surprise of the 2014 summer movie season –  that film restarted, fixed, and reinvigorate the franchise. I have reviewed DOFP back in 2014 when it just came out and I also looked back at the whole franchise in greater detail – you can find that post here. Nowadays, I am also starting to get into comics – I picked up Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes Wolverine edition, which features Incredible Hulk #181 and Get Mystique! storylines, at my local second-hand bookshop. This edition seemed like a great way to star reading the X-Men comics because it featured a character that I was somewhat familiar with (that meant that I wouldn’t be completely lost in the lore while reading the story). It also provided me with a glimpse into the history of the comic books. The first story of the edition was originally published in 1974, while the second in 2008, so I was not only able to see how the character has changed throughout the years but how the stories and the art have progressed as well. Basically, I had a Crash Course on Wolverine in Comics. 

!SPOILER ALERT!

Writing and Story

The 9th X-Men film was written by Simon Kinberg, who has a mixed track record. Kinberg has previously written such great films as Mr. & Mrs. Smith and 2014’s Days of Future Past. However, he has also worked on X-Men: The Last Stand and last year’s Fantastic Four – two of the worst comic book movies of the decade. With Apocalypse, Kinberg succeeded for the most part. In general, writing was probably the strongest part of the movie.

To begin with, Apocalypse had this old school feeling, reminiscent of the first two X-Men films from the early 2000s. At the same time, the picture was new and fresh in that it continued the reboot/new timeline version of the franchise. This film made a lot of verbal references to The First Class and tied up the loose end of DOFP. The film’s buildup was also kinda slow, with a few small action scenes in between dialogue. The pace really picked up at the end of the 2nd act and during the final battle.

Apocalypse as a villain was also not a bad choice. I appreciated the religious undertones that he had, which were especially obvious in his motivation/purpose. The False God accusations reminded me of BvS a bit as well. His Survival of the Fittest way of thinking was very Darwinistic/Eugenics like. The scene, where Apocalypse was learning about the new world, was also an interesting setup and tied the franchise to the Cold War setting quite nicely. When Apocalypse was destroying those nukes and shouted No More Superpowers!, I felt that this was a partial verbal nod to the famous Scarlet Witch’s line – No More Mutants!. The way Apocalypse could transfer his consciousness but could keep the power of his previous hosts was an interesting idea and his mental battle with Xavier was also pretty neat.

X-Men: Apocalypse also continued the versus idea of this year’s comic book movie season, since, in this picture, the mutants were fighting their fellow mutants. Although, that has always been the basic idea of all X-Men movies – mutant friends becoming mutant enemies and either trying to protect humans or destroy them. Generally, X-Men: Apocalypse felt like a formulaic movie but a well written one. It was not as surprising as DOFP and definitely did not accomplish as much. Nevertheless, it fit into the timeline perfectly and made sense – and that’s the most important aspect that Kinberg should be praised for.

The film also had a few funny moments. The stand-outs to me were the scenes between Moira and Xavier. Seeing Professor X act as a teenage boy was both awkward and amazing. Another nice scene was that Star Wars discussion between Jean, Scott, Jubilee and Nightcrawler. I especially liked Jean’s line how the 3rrd one if always the worst. It was such an obvious jab at The Last Stand (the 3rd X-Men movie that butchered The Dark Phoenix Saga) but it was perfect.

Directing and Visuals

Bryan Singer, once again, directed the film and did a pretty nice job. The stakes felt high and the action was pretty sweet. The X-Men franchise is probably the craziest and the most comic-booky- comic book movie franchise of all time, so I just wish that they would fully embrace the comic book-y-iness and gives us some colorful costumes.

The opening credits sequence was a really cool way to open the movie and nicely showed the passing of time, from Ancient Egypt to the 1980s. Speaking about the 80s, the fashion and the style seemed pretty tame, especially after watching Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!. That film embraced the campiness of the 80s, while Apocalypse seemed to only be inspired by it.

The X-symbolism as well as the Phoenix shape teaser during the last battle were also nice visual references to the comics. The action scenes where the mutants combined their power were also pretty sweet. My favorite action sequences of the film were: 1. Magneto killing those soldier/guards with the necklace. 2.Quicksilver saving everyone (almost) from the fire. The song, featured in that sequence, was also excellent .

Actings and Characters

The film had a lot of characters and, while the majority of them were really nice additions to the story, others were kinda wasted.

The good:

  • James McAvoy as Charles Xavier / Professor X – McAvoy was really good in the role, once again. I liked him both as a teacher and the war leader. The scene, where he was transmitting Apocalypse’s message, was relly good and showcased McAvoy’s acting abilities nicely. If you want to see more of McAvoy, I really liked him in 2013’s Filth – a really dark and ironic look at mental illness.
  • Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto. Fassbender also nicely portrayed the emotional damage of Erik. The Forest scene with Magneto’s family was amazing. I only wonder if his double crossing was true (‘I didn’t betray you, I betrayed them’). Magneto is known for switching sides, so I, if I was Xavier, I would keep an eye on him, even though it seems like they are friends at the end of the film. If you want to see more of Fassbender, may I suggest Inglourious Basterds, Prometheus, Frank or Steve Jobs
  • Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme / Mystique. Lawrence was also amazing in the role, I especially liked that she led the new X-Men, being The First Class alumni herself. I only wish that we would have seen more of her in the blue form. I liked her line about the fact that the lack of war doesn’t mean peace. You have probably seen a lot of Lawrence’s movies (THG), but I suggest you check out her first breakthrough role in Winter’s Bone.
  • Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy / Beast. Hoult has always been one of my favorite actors and I am glad that the filmmakers found some space for Beast in this film. I loved his scene with Raven – ‘I love you!’. Hoult’s movie suggestion – Mad Max Fury Road, although I also want to check out Kill Your Friends
  • Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver. Quicksilver was my favorite part of DOFP and I was so happy that they didn’t leave him at home in Apocalypse. He was my favorite character – the most efficient in action scenes, the funniest and the one with most potential – I would love to explore his and Magneto’s relationship. I haven’t seen any other films starring Peter, but if you want to check out more of him, I suggest American Horror Story.
  • The new successful additions to the cast in the familiar roles were Sophie Turner as Jean Grey / Phoenix and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler. I’m so happy that Turner is getting more work because of Game of Thrones and I believe that she will be great as the Dark Phoenix. Smit-McPhee also played the Nightcrawler nicely and provided some great comedic relief. I wish we would have seen more of his adaptation to the capitalist world of the west.

The medium:

  • Oscar Isaac as En Sabah Nur / Apocalypse. When the look of Apocalypse was revealed, I did not really like it, and, after seeing the film, I still don’t fully understand the need to cast such a good looking and expressive actor, only to cover him underneath tons of makeup. Although, I, at least, appreciated the eye movements of Apocalypse, but those also felt CGI and not real. Issac’s film suggestions: Star Wars The Force Awakens, Inside Llewyn Davis and Ex-Machina.
  • Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert. Moira only had two roles in the film: exposition and being a love interest for Xavier. She succeded in both places, but I wanted her to be used more. Byrne is a comedic actress, so all of her movie suggestions are comedies: both Neighbors and its sequel, Bridesmaids and Spy.
  • Tye Sheridan (Mud) as Scott Summers / Cyclops, Olivia Munn (Mordecai) as Elizabeth Braddock / Psylocke, Alexandra Shipp (In Time, minor role) as Ororo Munroe / Storm, and Ben Hardy (EastEnders) as Warren Worthington III / Angel / Archangel were okay additions to the cast. Scott was more interesting in a few scenes before his brother’s death – he turned into a brodding, not-fun, James Marsden’s version of the character way too quickly. Psylocke and Angel were cool in the action scenes, but didn’t have much to do, except stand around Apocalypse. Storm at least had some extra development, with that saying that Mystique is her hero.

The bad (or wasted):

  • Lucas Till as Alex Summers / Havok. Till’s Havok had two purposes in the film – to destroy Cerebro and to die. I don’t really think he was needed at all.
  • Lana Condor as Jubilation Lee / Jubilee was the most wasted character of all. She didn’t even use her powers, so I don’t even know why she was included in the film.

Post-Credits and Future

It has been annouced that the next X-Men film will be set in the 90s and the X-Men team that was formed at the end of Apocalypse will probably be back. I do not know if the Proffesor X, Magneto or Raven will return, as the actors who play them might be working on other projects. Rumours have been floating around that Kinberg wants to try to make The Dark Phoenix Saga again and, after that jab at The Last Stand, I kinda believe this to be true.

Another future project, which is also set in X-Men universe, is the 3rd solo Wolverine movie. In Apocalypse, we found out that, after Stryker got Wolverine at the end of DOFP, he experimented on him. It seems that it is innevitable for Logan not to get the metal claws, even when the timeline changes. When Wolverine showed up, the only thing on my mid was: Well, you can’t make an X-Men movie without Hugh Jackman. I wonder if his solo movie will pick up where Apocalypse left off – with Logan running off into the woods. His and Jean Grey’s scene was kinda creepy and yet somewhat nice callbacks to their relationship in the original trilogy. The post-credits scene showed the Weapon X base being infiltrated by Essex Corpor., which has ties to Mister Sinister from the comics. I wonder will the Weapon X serum(?) have a role in Wolverine’s film or in the next X-Men film. I was kinda expecting the 3rd Wolverine’s standalone film to be an adaptation of the Old Man Logan story, so I don’t know how Essex corp. and Mister Sinister can figure into that.

All in all, X-Men: Apocalypse was a thourougly enjoyable film. It had a great story and a few nice actions scenes. Some characters could have been cut or could have received more development. The 9th installment of the longest running comic-book franchise was not its best entry but defintely not the worst either.

Rate:4/5

Trailer: X-Men: Apocalypse trailer

cf7kkqeuuaeqame.jpg

Movie review: Room

Movie reviews

Hello!

As the Academy Awards (with all the controversies and changes) are only a month away, let’s review – Room – another movie dealing with quite a heavy and depressing subject matter.

I watched this film in the small art cinema (like Carol) with a bunch of elders and retired people (it was daytime). It was definitely a different experience, seeing the film on a smaller screen in a tiny room than watching it in a big hall with a huge screen. Independent cinemas are cozier and don’t have many distractions, thus, the viewers can get sucked into a movie much more. In the case of Room, the topic of the picture was so uncomfortable (at least the first half) that I, personally, wanted to step back, but couldn’t, so the themes and ideas of the movie were unavoidable.  Also, the cozy atmosphere of the movie theater and the shocking subject matter of the film created a huge and jarring contrast.

Lastly, this whole tiny passage of the review got me thinking, which kind of cinema do I prefer? The big commercial one or the tiny artistic one? In the end, it probably depends on a film that I am watching…

!SPOILERS!

IMDb summary: After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery.

Writing and Story

Room’s screenplay was written by Emma Donoghue. It was her second script ever and also an adaptation of her highly successful book of the same name. As I have mentioned before, the first half of the film dealt with very uncomfortable and tragic subject – kidnapping and raping of Brie Larson’s character for 7 years. As I haven’t seen the trailer or read any reviews before going to see the film, I was very surprised that they managed to escape from the room on the 2nd attempt and were out in the world by the middle of the film and the end of the first act. But then again, this film was not about the room but about the people in the room. It was a story of these two individuals getting to know the world anew or for the very first time, while simultaneously being about the world and society, trying to deal with having two new and very damaged members. In short, the film was about adjusting rather than escaping.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat throughout the escape sequence. The policewoman who managed to get the location out of Jack was very smart and efficient, and I was quite happy to see police force represented in quite a good way. However, I also didn’t understand, how they did not find them sooner? Also, I found it quite weird that the kidnapper gave up and just ran away after a single unsuccessful attempt to drag Jack back to the car. Lastly, I wish that they would have answered the question if the kidnapper was ever caught? The news report on the TV implied that the suspect was arrested, but that line of the plot was never followed up. Another thread of the story that seemed to be forgotten for no reason was Joy’s real dad’s resentment of Jack, because his father was the kidnapper. I would have liked to know if the dad ever came to his right senses and embraced his grandson. The moment of the film that I disliked the most was that reporter, questioning Joy’s parenting skills. That kind of journalism is the reason why I decided not to become a journalist myself.

The film’s story revolved around the mother (Joy) and her son (Jack) and the main focus of the narrative would jump from one character to the other. We started with Joy, then moved onto Jack and repeated this pattern a few times, while centering on Jack at the end of the film, because he was/is the future of that family. I also liked that they presented the idea of plasticity: Jack, still being a little kid and open to the world, assimilated into the society quicker and easier than Joy, who was too stubborn and, I felt, acted too over dramatic at times. I know that she had a lot of anger bottled up inside her, but inflicting that pain on others or hurting herself were not the best ways to deal with the situation.

The film was narrated by Jack, so the viewers were able to see this story through innocent eyes of the child, who only sees good in a world. It was a different perspective than the one that an adult would have to these horrible events, but I think that it made the film more unique and fresh. It also added tons of hope to the film and, when the credits appeared on screen, I at least felt that Joy and Jack will be okay and that they left the past behind.

I loved how the begging and the ending of the film correlated. We started with ‘Good Morning’ and ended with ‘Bye’. The film gave the viewers closure and calmed then down. The movie assured us that, although these tragic events have happened, Joy and Jack will live on and that we, as people, should also live on, despite the horrible events and tragedies that occur in the world. Hope is the only thing that keeps humanity from completely destroying itself, so we, as people, should embrace it.

Directing and Visuals 

Room was directed by Lenny Abrahamson. It was only his 5th picture. He also directed 2014’s Frank which is on my list of films to watch. I believe that Abrahamson did an amazing job. First of all, he worked with a child actor for the majority of the film’s scenes and somehow managed to direct him wonderfully. Of course, that might also be to the actor’s Jacob Tremblay’s credit. In addition, I liked how Abrahamson somehow managed to make the actual room feel bigger than it was and not claustrophobic at all. With his camera work and the visuals, he conveyed this idea that this tiny space that these two people shares was enough for them, that they were as happy as they could be while being held,prisoners. I also liked how the movie threw the viewers into the action and into the room right away with the blurry opening, full of close-ups. The whole handheld cinematography reminded me a bit of Andrea Arnold’s Fisk Tank. Although, it definitely was less shaky and much smoother.

Acting

The film main characters were played by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. I would not be able to tell you who of the two of them was the true lead of the film, because they were both equally important. Brie Larson is the front-runner at the Academy Awards for the Best Leading Actress award and she definitely deserves the win. Not only did she and the child actor Jacob worked together well, but her facial expressions were magnificent and heartbreaking. I have seen a few films starring Larson, but she has never really stuck out to me. I hope that she will do more dramatic films, because she shines in this type of a role. Tremblay was also perfect in the role of a young Jack. Child actors usually are the part of the film that annoys me the most, but he was the complete opposite. He definitely has a long career ahead of him.

The supporting cast of the movie had a few well know and accomplished actors in it: Joan Allen and William H. Macy were playing Joy’s parents, while Tom McCamus played Joy’s mum’s boyfriend, who was a much better granddad to Jack. Amanda Brugel played the smart police officer that I have already mentioned, while Cas Anvar played the doctor that helped Joy and Jack settle back in. Wendy Crewson starred as the reporter/talk show hostess that I disliked. Lastly, Deadwood’s Sean Bridgers played the kidnapper, who we never really got a chance to get to know. We never really found out, why he was doing what he was doing. In 2015, Bridgers also starred in Trumbo – another awards’ nominee, which I am planning to see next week.

In short, Room was a really great film, which told an uncomfortable, interesting, heartbreaking but hopeful story. The directing was also really nice, although it was overshadowed by the magnificent performances of the two leads. Room is a definite must watch to movie fans all over the world.

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: Room trailer

room-2015