Why Him?

2 Stars

First-rate actors in a second-rate film.

Come on, Bryan Cranston, James Franco and Keegan-Michael Key – what were you thinking? It’s a crying shame that this group of fine actors would sink so low as to appear in this. I can’t imagine how much of a dud it could have been without them.

whyhim1

Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) is dating millionaire gaming tycoon Laird (James Franco) and it is finally time to introduce him to her father Ned (Bryan Cranston) and family at Laird’s mansion. Together they are like chalk and cheese; Laird’s unconventional nature and penchant for curse words drives Ned crazy, in spite of the fact that Laird is hell-bent on making a good impression. German estate manager Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key) adds an extra dose of whacky to proceedings.

whyhim2

Understandably there is a clash of personalities but it doesn’t make much sense that Ned is completely unimpressed by the fact that his daughter is dating someone who could afford to provide and look after her every want and need. Surely this is something that a father ought to be elated about?

Let’s be honest, this is a film that never needed to be made. If you really fancy watching a movie about a disapproving father, watch Meet the Parents.

The trailer is a pretty good indication of what you’re in for. Why Him? premieres in Sweden on 25 December.

Passengers

4 Stars

Decent, but had even greater potential.

passengers1

Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) are passengers on board a start-of-the-art spaceship ‘The Starship Avalon’, travelling from Earth to inhabit a new colony planet. 30 years into the 120 year journey, a malfunction in the ship causes Jim’s hibernation pod to open too early. Unable to reset the pod, and with only an android bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen) for company, Jim must consider his options.

passengers2

The prospect of being stuck on a spaceship hurtling through space alone with no hope of escape is a really interesting premise; reminiscent of Alien and Moon. This makes for a really strong start to the film. Passengers starts out in sci-fi thriller territory but unexpectedly ends up in romance, somewhat killing the tension that had been built up. Luckily there are just enough plot twists to keep you entertained regardless. Although if I had a choice, I would have preferred things to remain in the same vein throughout. There was potential there for a far more intense (and less cheesy) storyline.

passengers3

Chris Pratt is perfect as the regular, down-to-earth guy Jim. This takes up the slack for Jennifer Lawrence as Aurora, who is a little more up tight and therefore harder to relate to. The Starship Avalon is almost a character in itself, with its hi-tech automated messages and assistant holograms. The vastness of the unpopulated ship helps to give an eerie feeling, similar to the hotel in The Shining. Yet its luxurious design scheme adds so much to the overall look and vibe of the film.

passengers4

Finally, It’s nice to see a big budget film come out that isn’t part of an existing franchise! Passengers premieres in Sweden on 21 December.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

3.5 Stars

Slightly better than The Force Awakens.

For those who are unaware, Rogue One is actually a Star Wars Anthology film – a standalone story which is set within the Star Wars universe; but not part of the sequel trilogy. This means the main characters from other Star Wars movies are largely left out.

rogueone1

The story centers around Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who are on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star – a superweapon developed by the Galactic Empire with the capability of destroying entire planets.

From the locations and sets to the costumed background characters and aliens, the Star Wars universe has been utilised to full effect with beautiful results. There are many visually stunning scenes.

rogueone2

It is actually refreshing the fact that this is a standalone movie that hasn’t been stretched out or watered down in order to fit into a set number of installments. I think this is what makes it superior to The Force Awakens, it feels more complete.

The story is a little complex and difficult to follow at first, but don’t stress – as the film folds out everything starts to become clear and make sense. It can be a little confusing when place names sound like character names and vice versa!

rogueone3

My misgivings about Rogue One largely center around the lacklustre lead characters. It’s not that there is anything ‘wrong’ with them as such, they just can’t hold a candle to the likes of Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo, Princess Leia or even Queen Amidala in terms of likeability and charisma. Jyn Erso’s character doesn’t feel fresh, as her look and personality traits are much like Rey from The Force Awakens – she might as well be the same person. This lack in strength of the new characters becomes further apparent when Darth Vader makes a brief but welcome appearance in a couple of scenes.

rogueone4

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story premieres in Sweden on 14 December.

Collateral Beauty

3 Stars

Manages to pull at the heartstrings, despite the fact that it’s a Will Smith movie.

Let’s face it, Will Smith’s likeability factor has plummeted since his early days in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It’s not for lack of acting skills – he just lacks the charm and charisma he once had. His role in Collateral Beauty is no exception, but in spite of this it still holds up as a decent film overall.

collateralbeauty

Howard (Will Smith) is a key partner in a successful New York advertising agency until his world falls apart after the death of his only child. As he decends into deep depression, the firm is in danger of collapsing unless his business partner Whit (Edward Norton) and colleagues at the agency Claire (Kate Winslet) and Simon (Michael Peña) can figure out to find a way to get through to him.

Edward Norton is one of my favourite actors, but I was most impressed with Dame Helen Mirren’s performance – her understated acting really carries things along and helps you to really get into the film.

You may be left scratching your head a bit at the end as it is left to the viewer’s imagination to determine exactly what has transpired. I’m not sure if this was tactical or just lazy script writing, but it didn’t seem to piece together as elegantly as it could have done. Nonetheless, there is a nice message in it – and if you’re willing to go with it you may end up teary-eyed as I did! There’s even a cosy Christmas vibe thrown in, which is most welcome but unfortunately loses some relevance for Swedish audiences seeing as it won’t be released here till next year.

Collateral Beauty premieres in Sweden on 4 January.