Split

4 Stars

One of those rare, good-quality horror flicks.

Split should satisfy both horror and thriller fans, and most certainly M. Night Shyamalan fans will see this as a strong return to form.

split1

Teen classmates Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lou Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are kidnapped by Kevin (James McAvoy), who suffers from Disassociative Identity Disorder. With 23 different personalities and talk of a frightening new personality to soon show himself, the girls must try to find a way to escape.

split2

James McAvoy does an amazing job at projecting Kevin’s different personalities with clarity and ease; in some scenes doing one after the other. Anya Taylor-Joy does well as the troubled Casey but I wish she didn’t remind me so much of Kendall Jenner as I think I could have warmed to her character a bit more otherwise.

Disassociative Identity Disorder is an extremely interesting subject in and of itself, and this gives it an extra dimension when compared to a bog-standard horror film.

split3

As director, producer and writer of the film, Shyamalan is in full knowledge that his audience will be expecting plot twists. He doesn’t disappoint here, you may even find yourself being double-bluffed as I did!

The film is probably more of a 3.8 than a 4, but i’ve rounded it up for simplicity’s sake.

Split premieres in Sweden on 20 January.

Jackie

1.5 Stars

For the most part sleep-inducingly boring, Jackie has a few fleeting moments of brilliance.

JFK (Caspar Phillipson) has recently been shot dead, and Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) is recounting recent events to a journalist (Billy Crudup).

jackie1

Limiting the timeline of events to shortly before and after JFK’s death, there is so little story to work with. Perhaps the makers wanted to avoid copying too much from the 2011 miniseries The Kennedys, starring Katie Holmes. However the lack of material brings all focus in on Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy.

jackie2

Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie has its good points and bad points. Impersonations aside, she brings her acting chops into play. Especially in one harrowing scene, where Jackie has the heart-wrenching task of wiping her face of the remains from the gunshot that just killed her husband. But convincingly mimicking the former first lady for the full film is beyond her. She manages to get glimpses of Jackie at best. For one she simply doesn’t look enough like her. But it’s the inconsistency of her vocal performance which is the major flaw. Sometimes it sounds remarkably good and sometimes it sounds forced or exaggerated. This makes quite a big difference – rather than being able to forget about the voice and move on, you are constantly reminded that this is Natalie Portman doing her best Jackie Kennedy impression.

The casting department at least did well finding decent lookalikes for JFK and Robert Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard). The costumes and overall feel is also very well done. Unfortunately the bad points outweigh the good by a long way here.

Jackie premieres in Sweden on 3 February.

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.

Oasis: Supersonic

3.5 Stars

Walk out of the cinema with a proper swagger.

If you’re already an Oasis fan (and I guess you wouldn’t be going to see this if you didn’t at least like the band) get ready to like them even more than before. Hearing the songs with cinema-sound gives them a whole new life, almost guaranteed to make you want to go home and listen to them again.

supersonic1

Produced by the team behind the Amy Winehouse documentary ‘Amy’, Supersonic covers the time shortly before the band was formed, up until they played to a 2-dates sold out Knebworth in 1996. Also included is a little background on Liam and Noel growing up. The documentary is comprised mainly of audio interviews with Liam, Noel and their mother Peggy. The focus here is solely on the band, surprisingly not even a mention of the Blur rivalry.

supersonic2

As with most documentaries, there isn’t much groundbreaking material that we haven’t heard before; although I did find it interesting to hear more about their childhood and it helps you to appreciate why Liam and Noel are the way they are. I would have liked to see some visual footage of the interviews rather than just the audio. For the most part it worked well to use the audio over the top of photos or videos of what was being spoken about. But it was clear in some parts that they needed to fill-in with visuals; at one point they had some animated drawings to describe what was being talked about in the interview, which felt a little odd.

supersonic3

The thing which really comes across here is the unique attitude of the Gallagher brothers – that it was never just about the music but rather the whole package.

supersonic4

There have already been some promising comments from Liam about a possible Oasis reunion at the film’s premiere, Liam has stated “If it happens tomorrow, I’m ready, my bags are packed, If it happens in a year, I’m still ready, if it happens in 10 years, I’m still ready.” There’s nothing like seeing this film to get you hyped up for that!

Oasis:Supersonic premieres in Sweden on 14 October.

Snowden

3.5 Stars

Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers in a film that everyone should see.

Snowden is a biopic covering the life of Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
shortly before he joined the CIA, during the time he served as an NSA contractor, and when he broke the story to the world. You see his life as a whole – his experiences at work and how it affected the relationship with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley). Many people already know the basics about Edward Snowden but not as many know about his personal life, so to see the full picture is especially interesting.

snowden1

Even though he may not seem outstanding in the trailer (actually, the trailer does not do the film justice at all), Joseph Gordon-Levitt does incredibly well. He is able to mimic Edward Snowden’s voice and mannerisms so well, that after 5-10 minutes of watching you can completely forget that he isn’t the actual Snowden and just sink into what’s going on.

snowden2

Accuracy can be an issue with biographical films. I feel shortchanged if I find out later that the story was fabricated. In this case, Edward Snowden himself has said that the film is “pretty accurate”. There is also the issue of predictability – it isn’t a work of fiction where anything could happen. This is overcome somewhat by the focus on life outside of work – a side which most people are unfamiliar with. Not only that – it’s shot in such a way that even in scenes where you know what happens you can still feel suspense and tension.

snowden3

Most importantly, Snowden brings the issue of online privacy rolling back into focus. We use devices on a daily basis and it’s easy to forget we should be aware of the implications of this. There’s a huge difference in hearing news reports and actually being presented the information in this way. There is a clear and important message here, yet it manages to stay entertaining and enjoyable as a film. I had a similar feeling after seeing ‘Spotlight’ – but even more so, seeing as this affects almost everyone.

snowden4

A certain politician is called to account – and not a politically correct callout by any means. I won’t name who it is because I don’t want to spoil the film, but I will say I respect the director Oliver Stone greatly for not being afraid to show someone popular in an unfavourable light.

Snowden premieres in Sweden on 16 September.

Suicide Squad

2.5 Stars

Style over substance.

If anything, this film is proof that being hip and cool doesn’t count for much when the story isn’t up to par. Even with a winning concept, the wardrobe department on top of their game and a killer soundtrack.

suicideSquad1

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) works for a secret government agency in charge of security. Against her colleagues’ advice she suggests putting together a squad of the most dangerous and colourful criminals in custody, in order to respond to future security threats. Under command of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), her suggested lineup includes Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), amongst others. The most lethal of these is a witch called Enchantress (Cara Delevingne).

suicideSquad2

In this depiction of the comic world, The Joker (Jared Leto) is Harley Quinn’s boyfriend. As much of a fan as I am of Jared Leto, I found his portrayal of The Joker a little lacking in something that I can’t quite place my finger on. Lacking in soul, perhaps? Or maybe just *TOO* odd. I’m not sure if it’s because he didn’t have enough scenes to really show what he had, or maybe we have been so spoilt with Heath Ledger’s version that nothing else can come close. He certainly didn’t copy – i’ll give him that.

The beginning of the film is promising, it feels like they had a decent writer churn out the overall idea and then handed it over to a bunch of monkeys to finish it off. Disjointed, boring at times, I could go on. It’s such a shame because there was so much potential.

My favourite thing about this film? Harley Quinn’s outfit and props, hands down.

Suicide Squad premieres in Sweden on 3 August.

Jason Bourne

4 Stars

He’s back, and the action scenes are more spectacular than ever.

There’s no doubt that Jeremy Renner did a great job portraying Bourne in 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, but there’s nothing like having Matt Damon back in the role. Damon even produced the film this time – a first in the series. This is classic Bourne: Matt Damon, scenes shot in Berlin, rooftop sniping, and as usual he is on the top of the CIA’s wanted list.

jasonBourne1

Jason Bourne’s past is brought into question when documents are discovered by old comrade Nicky Parsons (Julia Styles). He must uncover the truth behind his existence in the CIA program whilst being viciously hunted down by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) and agent Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander).

jasonBourne2

The chase scenes in Bourne movies have always been fantastic, but this time things are turned up a notch. Without giving too much away, you get a glimpse of what i’m referring to if you check out the trailer and see the van crashing into a Las Vegas casino.

jasonBourne3

My only reservation with this film is that perhaps the storyline is a little too simple, and therefore not as unpredictable as it could have been. Ok, and maybe Alicia Vikander’s erratic accent which seems to morph from American to British at will. Other than that, this is a must-see for Bourne fans!

Jason Bourne premieres in Sweden on 27 July.