Transcendence

Fascinating premise

What it’s about

After an assassination attempt Will’s desperate wife uploads his consciousness into a quantum computer to save him. He soon begins making groundbreaking discoveries but also displays signs of a dark and hidden motive.

My thoughts

Despite Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman starring in this film along with Paul Bettany, to say that this film got a poor response would be an understatement, it’s Rotten Tomatoes score is just 19%, the question is though does it deserve such a poor response?

​Well in all honesty yes and no, on one level it did deserve its response, and that is because it was and continues to be billed as a very different film to what it actually is. Basically this is an arty film which has a very deep but also interesting premise which is in reality an exploration of the human mind, so basically this film is about delving into the ethics and philosophies of science and technology.

I imagine a lot of people simply from reading that will think that this is not a film for them. And you could be right, but that does not mean that this is not a good film to which. This brings me back to the question of does it deserve its poor critical score. As a commercial film without a doubt, but if it is watched with what it actually is in mind, an exploration of the human mind and the ethics and philosophies of science, this is for what it is a decent film. Or at least I think it is.

To say the least I’m a fan of films which are not afraid to ask the tough questions and follow through with answers that are truthful and honest to the world they have created. And that’s what this film does, you can argue that the world they have created is rubbish but you cannot deny they stay true to it.

The story itself is at its heart quite simple, a woman is in love with a man, but that man has been poisoned and has only weeks to live and she is desperate to save him.

They are great scientists and one of their friends has been experimenting with uploading a person’s mind onto a computer. One of the big questions of the film is is this actually possible, can you upload a person’s consciousness into a computer. Or, will it simply be a digital copy.

In this film they attempt to find out the answer, illegally of course, because Johnny Depp’s character, Doctor Will Caster, gets uploaded onto the computer. His wife played by Rebecca Hall and his friend Max Waters played by Paul Bettany are the ones who secretly upload Will Caster’s mind to the computer. But there is a bit of caveat, Will Caster had been working on creating a self aware computer and they used that computer as a means to upload his mind.

And this is a big factor in this film, is the uploaded Will Caster actually still Will Caster, or is it simply a computer program which on some levels appears to be Will Caster but in actual fact is not. Evelyn Caster thinks that it’s Will, Max Waters does not.

What muddies the waters is the fact the uploaded Will Caster seems to be on a mission to create a means to save the planet, and through technology is able to pretty much heal people from any injury or disease.

So in away think of it like the self-aware computer from Terminator, Skynet, but in this case rather than wanting to kill people, the uploaded Will Caster has good intentions. But the question is are those good intentions ethical and actually to the benefit of mankind.

Step forward a terrorist group who are against technology, and are afraid of the very technology that Will Caster had been working on. In fact they are the group who attempted to kill Will Caster in the first place. They kidnap Max Waters and turn him to their cause, and eventually through him reach out to Morgan Freeman’s character in an effort to finally take down Depp’s character.

So like said this is very much a film that asks questions about the ethics and morality of technology while at the same time asking philosophical questions about what it means to be alive. Are we simply a body and a mind, nothing more than chemical reactions and brain synapses, or are we something more, a mind with the body.

All in all this film is one of those films that if you’re looking for something for purely entertainment purposes then you may find this a disappointment, you may not but there is a high chance that you will, but if you’re looking for something that will make you think, this will most certainly do that. Whether you will think that it’s a load of rubbish or not is an entirely different story, but it will make you think. That means from me this film gets a thumbs up as like said I love films that make you think.

Director: Wally Pfister

Writer: Jack Paglen

Genre: sci-fi, drama, thriller

Year: 2014

​Runtime: 119 minutes

Heat

A film that will entertain while at the same time make you think

What it’s about

Lieutenant Hanna, a detective played by Al Pacino, decides to catch a highly intelligent seasonal criminal, played by Robert De Niro, who has vowed to pull off one last robbery before he retires for good.

What you will learn from watching it

​Heat is based on the true story of Neil McCauley and Detective Chuck Adamson from back in 1964, McCauley was a calculating criminal and was an ex-inmate of Alcatraz, Detective Chuck Adamson was the man who caught him.

What makes this film perhaps a really interesting proposition is that though poetic licence has been used to make the story more dramatic, there is a lot of truth in the account of what happened, which is rare for a Hollywood film.

For example, in the film Al Pacino who plays Chuck Adamson and Robert De Niro who plays McCauley, meet one-time for a coffee. This actually happened. The next time they meet in the film guns are drawn. This also is true, in real life the next time they met guns were drawn.

Obviously also the film is set in the 90s rather than the 60s, but ignoring that by Hollywood standards this is a fairly decent account of what went down. In terms of what in my view you can learn from watching this film, besides an interesting account of a true crime story, is the power of the bad guy.

To explain, what makes this film interesting is the fact that no person can watch it and not find themselves rooting for the bad guy. You will really want Robert De Niro’s character to get away with it and escape to his new life with his girl.

Based on what he has done, you should not want this to happen, you know you should not want this to happen, there are literally no grounds to justify his actions, and yet you most definitely do want this to happen.

The way I see this film is a perfect example of how bad guys no matter how bad they are when shown and seen in a certain light can feel like the good guys, and because of that you find yourself rooting for them.

In a way it is like the famous saying, bad guys don’t see themselves as bad guys, they see themselves as good guys, which is why at times they can seem so attractive. For example, Al Capone genuinely saw himself as a good guy, he thought he was helping people to have a good time and because of it was working in the interests of the people.

He was not a good guy, selling the alcohol illegally was one thing, but all the killing and the evil crimes he committed were another entirely. But if he told his story the way he wanted to tell it, so from his perspective, no doubt he would argue that every crime he committed was in the interests of the greater good and that he really was a good guy and no doubt he would be able to sell his argument with such strength that you might actually believe him, which at the time a lot of people did.

It is so easy to get taken in by a bad guy, in my view this film shows you just how easy and that for me makes it a great watch. The fact it is such a great film is the cherry on the cake.

Is the story any good

There are a number of angles going on in this film, on the one hand you have the breakdown of Al Pacino’s relationship with his wife, on the other hand you have Robert De Niro’s character realising he does not want to live a life alone, and so is looking for love.

Added to the cat and mouse game that De Niro and Pacino play, it has to be said this film makes for a highly compelling watch but the character that you end up rooting for is without question like said De Niro.

And that is why this is such a good story, because like said you should not be rooting for him. Yet the way the story is told makes you root for him while at the same time making you feel like you shouldn’t be rooting for him.

Final words

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, even a young Natalie Portman, the roll call in this film to say the least is filled with some great actors. And for good reason, this is a brilliant film. It should be said that if you don’t like nitty-gritty crime dramas which are driven more by the actors rather than the effects team, then you will probably find this film boring, but if you do like nitty-gritty crime dramas which are driven by the actors rather than special effects, then you’ll most probably like this film, maybe even love it.

For that reason from me this film gets a big thumbs up.

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Michael Mann

Genre: crime, drama, thriller

Year: 1995

Runtime: 172 minutes

Chain Reaction

Won’t set your heart on fire but will entertain you on a Saturday evening

What it’s about

When a high profile scientist at the University of Chicago is murdered, Eddie, an undergraduate, and physicist Lily are framed and accused of stealing an innovative alternative fuel formula. With the police and the secretive organisation that framed them hunting them, they are forced to go on the run, and if they are to survive they must prove their innocence.

My thoughts

First thing’s first, despite the poor reviews this is an enjoyable and fun film and if you like Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman you’ll probably find it a decent watch; however, before watching it some points need to be taken into account. Firstly, it was made during the time period in which it was popular to believe that there was some secret government force, which was backed by the petrol barons, who were keeping a cheap green energy source from the world.

This film buys into that narrative, a scientist has come up with a way to create cheap and clean energy and wants to give it to the world, but a secret government body controlled by the CIA wants to stop him, the reason being that they argue that the technology would cause markets to crash et cetera et cetera.

So like said it plays into the popular belief of the time, and there are some big names in this, like said Morgan Freeman, Keanu Reeves, but also Brian Cox, Rachel Weisz and others. But despite the strong premise in reality this is nothing more than a typical action thriller.

Or rather the good guy gets framed by the bad guy, then goes on to prove his innocence, save the world, save the girl, and get the girl. The only questionable thing about this film is the fate of Morgan Freeman’s character, he plays a sort of half bad guy half good guy and for the type of film this is the fact he does not face any form of real justice for his half bad guy deeds is perhaps a questionable choice.

In fact it is most likely born out of the the fact producers suspected that cinemagoers wouldn’t like to see Morgan Freeman as the bad guy, or rather at least that they would not like to see him get his comeuppance in the way typical bad guy would. But in all honesty he didn’t have to get a typical bad guy ending, and with a little bit more creative thinking there could have been a better one, at least in regards to the plot.

But I don’t want to be negative because this film is an enjoyable watch, nothing special which the indifferent reviews are testament to, but most definitely an enjoyable watch, and if you are a fan of Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman, and are not the type of person who will sit there criticising every element of a film, it will entertain you on a Saturday evening and for that reason from me it gets a thumbs up.

​​Director: Andrew Davis

Writer: J.F. Lawton and Michael Bortman

Genre: action, drama, sci-fi

Year: 1996

​Runtime: 107 minutes

The Ghost Writer

A solid thriller with a great twist

What it’s about

When a successful ghostwriter agrees to finish the memoirs of a former prime minister after the previous writer suspiciously dies, his publisher assures him it’s the chance of a lifetime. Instead, he begins to uncover evidence that suggests his late predecessor knew a dark secret and may have been murdered to prevent it from coming to light.

My thoughts

This feels a very Roman Polanski -type film, which is inevitable as he directed it, but at the same time it is a very hit and miss sort of film. Ewan McGregor puts in a solid performance as the lead, the other big star name Pierce Brosnan also puts in a solid albeit reality fleeting performance.

And it is indisputable that there is much suspense and mystery in this film, also you definitely get the feeling that there is something sinister going on, and that McGregor’s character has well and truly found himself in the middle of it.

At the same time it is hard to avoid the fact that this feels like a bit of a dig at Tony Blair’s premiership and his close relationship with the US. In fact my first thought upon watching it was that this is a conspiracy film about Tony Blair. It is not but the parallels in the accusations directed at Pierce Brosnan’s Prime Minister and Tony Blair over his relationship with the US is pretty much impossible to miss.

But at the same time this is used to good effect with McGregor’s ghost writer coming to the conclusion that Adam Lang is not who he appears to be, and in fact may have some very troubling links to the CIA. This is of course where we step away from the parallels to Tony Blair and enter into the realms of fantasy, and it is when the film steps away from these apparent Tony Blair parallels that it really comes to life.

Obviously I won’t give away any spoilers but this is a very well done thriller, with McGregor’s character increasingly feeling in grave jeopardy as the film progresses.

The only real letdown is the ending, there is a brilliant twist which is a real aha moment, but that twist in a way is spoilt by what comes after. A little spoiler alert here so be warned, but McGregor’s character ends up getting killed but the lead up to how he gets killed and the way he gets killed just kind of feels unbefitting of how good the story was to this point.

It is not the fact that he dies that is the problem it is the way it happens, the filmmaking is clever but just feels totally illogical for the character. Really you just can’t help but be left feeling that the film deserved a better put together ending, or rather it feels like that the writers thought okay now we’ve revealed the big twist let’s just end things quick.

But I take nothing away from this film, it is an entertaining thriller and as the film progresses you really do feel that McGregor’s character is increasingly in grave jeopardy. For that reason all in all from me it gets a thumbs up.

​​Director: Roman Polanski

Writer: Robert Harris, Roman Polanski

Genre: thriller, drama, mystery

Year: 2010

​Runtime: 130 minutes

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi

A decent if not very basic look at a legendary Queen

What it’s about

Loosely based on true events. Freedom fighter Rani of Jhansi shifts the balance of power by leading her people into battle against the British Empire in 1857 India. Her insurrection set in motion the demise of the British East India Company.

What you will learn from watching it

​This film is done very well in regards to providing a very simplistic snapshot of the political situation in the providence of Jhansi in regards to the rule of the British East India company, it also captures very well what really went so wrong with the British East India company.

But before getting onto that, one thing is clear there is nothing in-depth about this, so this is a very very simplistic near enough back of a cigarette packet look at the situation of the time, so what caused the uprising in the mid-1800s and how the British East India company responded to it. It is also a very PG look, so this is a very light story which considering that it covers subjects like mass rape and murder, as well as a fifteen-year-old Queen marrying a much older king, may lead some to wonder whether the film does the story justice.

But on the flipside this is a film that younger people could quite easily watch, and I imagine if I had a youngest daughter this would be a great film to watch with her. And that’s because this is a story that is very much of the inspirational sort, a film which shows that even in the past there truly were women who could kick ass and inspire.

Now to how it shows quite well just what was so wrong with the leadership of the British East India Company, perhaps the best example comes when one of the shareholders proudly states that he is sixth generation shareholder. Meaning he sure as hell did not earn his role.

This is a clever piece of dialogue because in a very simple way it highlights one of the biggest problems of the British Empire, and that was how the people running it rarely earned their position and more often, in fact pretty much in every case inherited it, and the more this happened the more the Empire fell into decay and the more wrongdoings the Empire ended up committing. For example what led to the Indian uprising in the first place was a catastrophic error on the part of the British East India Company – the bullets were made using cow and pig fat, something which was sacrilege to the Indians of the time.

But like said this it is very much a back of the packet of cigarettes telling of what happened and what the situation was. But it gives that packet of cigarettes type review in a very clear and intelligible way, making it a great starting point for perhaps someone young to gain knowledge of a very inspirational historical figure, but for the adult market perhaps lacking in depth.

Is the story any good

Director Swati Bhise has created a hit and miss film, the drama and storytelling is quite good but at the same time it feels that such powerful historical figure of Rani Laxmibai deserved a more in-depth story, something that really got into the nitty-gritty of just who she was, the hurdles she had to face, and just what she had to overcome to truly become the Warrior Queen.

But like said as a PG version it works, and is a fun and inspiring story. The only real letdown is the fight scenes, firstly she slaughters British troops in a way similar to how Arnold Schwarzenegger kills the bad guys in a typical action flick.

The difference of course is whereas in Arnold’s world firstly due to his size he does look like he could do some damage, but secondly due to the type of films he stars in these types of unrealistic feats are expected.

In this film not only does it not seem believable that Devika Bhise’s Queen Rani could do the type of damage that she does, at the same time it doesn’t feel the type of film where you would expect such feats to be possible.

For example, in one scene at the end she is surrounded by British troops and my first thought was why the heck did one of the troops just shoot her, surely they would have done.

In a typical action flick you would not think such a thing because you expect such things from that type of film, the problem this film has you expect a little bit of realism but in the fight scenes it just feels like there is none and it pushes poetic licence just a little bit too far.

Really I think the problem is the director seemed to be unable to decide whether she wanted this to be a film based on realism or a fantasy version of it. So something that turns the Warrior Queen more into a mythical figure than a real figure. At times it feels like you are being asked to see this as a realistic tale, at other times it feels like you are being asked to see this as a mythical tale.

But ignoring this if you look past the fight scenes, this still tells a decent story.

Final words

If you are interested in learning a little bit about British/Indian history specifically the uprising in the mid-1800s but do not want to go in depth in your learning, this film presents a decent solution by telling the story of a person who is in effect a true real life kick ass Queen. But remember when watching this not to expect anything in depth, this is just like I say a very simple back of a cigarette packet style look at one of history’s great figures. It is also very PG which means it is great for perhaps showing to a young daughter as means of inspiration but not so great for someone wanting a more in-depth look at a legendary historical figure.

But despite that this film still gets a thumbs up from me, as it is a fun watch.

Director: Swati Bhise

Writer: Devika Bhise, Swati Bhise, Olivia Emden

Genre: historical drama, action

Year: 2019

Runtime: 104 minutes

The Finest Hours

An Amazing Story Made More Amazing by the Fact That It Is a True Story

What it’s about

Set in 1952, this is the true story of where four coast guards brave a deadly storm in an effort to rescue the survivors of an oil-tanker, which has split in half, and is fast sinking.

My thoughts

This film was basically a box office flop, and critics called it old-fashioned to a fault which translates to its uses an older filmmaking style which in reality means it uses a slower style of pacing than modern films.

I have to say I agree with this opinion and because of this it is not a film I could see myself ever feeling compelled to go to the cinema to see which is likely why it flopped. As a film to watch on TV though I have to say it is a solid watch.

It is based upon the 2010 book, The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue, which was written by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. And this book tells the true story of what happened on that fateful day back in 1952.

In terms of how true to the story the film is, extremely so. Only small scale changes have been made, for example in real life he is married to his wife when the rescue happens, whereas in the film it follows the story of him meeting her and getting engaged to her. But the courtship that is shown in the film is a largely accurate account of how they got together including the fact that she was the one to ask him to get married.

Also in the film we see the crew of the oil tanker crash the ship onto a shoal in an effort to stop it from sinking, this did not actually happen. Another minor change is that on the way home it was a lighthouse light which showed them the way home not his fiancée parking her car at the waterfront and switching on the beams.

So the changes that have been made in reality are small-scale ones which have been made mostly for the purposes of concise storytelling along with adding some dramatic effect.

All in all that means this film tells a highly accurate account of what happened and just how amazing what they did that day really was, and what they did really was amazing, I mean it has to be said the fact that they went out there, into a hurricane class storm in the boat that they did, a boat that was only designed to rescue twelve people and yet they brought back thirty-two people. It is simply staggering. The fact that they also really lost their compass when barely out of the harbour and not only did they not turn back but still managed to find the oil tanker and make it back home just makes it even more insane.

That means yes, this film’s pacing will feel at times a little bit slow especially during the periods which focus upon Bernie’s fiancé as she struggles to deal with just what it is he is doing, but the true story and the fact they stay so true to it makes this film not just a compelling watch but a most definitely worthy watch.

That means from me this film gets a big thumbs up because this is simply a story which beggars belief and is a story which deserves to be told and needs to be seen because it will prove to anyone just what lengths people will go, the sacrifices people are willing to make, just to save lives. And one thing I love more than anything is an amazing story and that’s what this is.

​​Director: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Scott Silver, Paul Tomasy, Eric Johnson

Genre: action, drama, history

Year: 2016

​Runtime: 117 minutes

The Martian

Superb Story of Survival Told with a Positive Attitude

What it’s about

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.

My thoughts

One thing about this film right off the bat, the visuals are brilliant and it really does make you feel like Matt Damon’s character is trapped on Mars. In regards to the story, it is one of isolation but isolation with a positive attitude which means Matt Damon’s character never feels as isolated as he actually is trapped in hostile conditions one hundred and forty million miles from Earth.

Some could argue that that is a bad thing, but I’m not one of those as I believe that to survive such a situation a positive attitude would most definitely be needed and his positive attitude makes you truly believe that he can not only survive on Mars but make it back home.

That means that this is not one of those nitty-gritty doom and gloom I’m all alone films, this is one of those super positive attitude there is nothing I cannot achieve if I put my mind to it films. That means if anything goes wrong the lead character is just going to smile, get over it and solve the problem, then the next problem, then the next problem and so on. And I have to say a big fan of films like this as I do love a positive attitude.

In regards to the story, it is derived from the smash hit book of the same name which was written by Andy Weir back in 2011. What made the book so compelling was that it came about as a result of Andy Weir wanting to work out the logistics for a journey to Mars.

That led to him posting his chapters on his website as he wrote them, with his fellow science buff friends many of whom were highly skilled people nitpicking the science until the point that the book told a story that was extremely realistic in regard to both the science and the realities of both a mission to Mars and just how difficult it would be to save a person should they become stranded on Mars.

In one of the best things about the film, is that it has largely stayed true to the idea of using present-day science to tell a story of a person being trapped on Mars, along with how difficult it would be to save a person stranded on Mars, along with how difficult it would be for a person stranded on Mars to survive. That means this is to an extent a film which tells a realistic story. Meaning if you want to know how we would save a person trapped on Mars this film will within reason give you a good idea.

One thing I will say is that due to the type of story this is the main character spends the majority of the film alone, and one of the big dangers of doing this is that due to this fact it becomes a straight up bore fest, and what can make things worse is that often the character ends up talking to themselves but not in a natural way, in an exposition laden way. That means that rather than just showing us the story they end up having the main character telling us the story.

Thankfully director Ridley Scott has navigated this issue well, with the moments where Matt Damon talks to himself actually adding to the film, namely by not only showing just how positive he is but also by providing some excellent moments of comedic relief. And in a film that runs for close to 2 1/2 hours and in which for the most part the lead character is alone that is definitely a good thing.

All in all that means this is film with a positive attitude that uses realistic science to tell a story of how a man in the present day should he get trapped on Mars would both survive and be rescued, and the execution of the story is brilliant and for that reason along with the fact that this is good fun film to watch, from me it gets a big thumbs up.

​​Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Drew Goddard, Andy Weir

Genre: adventure, drama, sci-fi

Year: 2015

​Runtime: 144 minutes

Black Beauty (2020)

A nice story but nothing more

What it’s about

A wild horse, transported to Birtwick Stables, comes across Jo Green, a lively teenage girl. Over a period of time, the two develop a friendship that helps Jo overcome challenges.

My thoughts

This is not the type of film I would normally watch, it was more a film that I watched due to the fact that it was not my turn to pick a film. It is a remake, in fact it is a remake of a remake of a remake and in fact there has actually been eight versions of this film made over the years, there have also been a number of TV series.

I have not seen any of them nor have I read the book, which initially spawned the Black Beauty world. It was penned by British author Anna Sewell back in 1877, mainly as a way to to expose the bad treatment of horses and other animals and call for people to give them better treatment.

Anyhow, one thing that all versions of Black Beauty have in common is that the story is told from the perspective of the horse. This film follows that pattern and uses a voice-over so that we can hear what Black Beauty is thinking.

Kate Winslet voices Black Beauty and tells us exactly what Black beauty is thinking, and tells us exactly what Black Beauty is thinking is the problem with this film. Warhorse was a brilliant film which followed a horse throughout the course of its life without the need for a narrator telling us what he was thinking.

The fact that in this film they decided that they needed to tell us what Black Beauty was thinking highlights the problem that showing us was not enough, meaning the visuals didn’t do a good enough job of telling the story which is why they had to have been a writer tells the story, and what the narrator constantly and repeatedly tells us it is that Black Beauty is thinking is that she is desperate to see Jo.

Which is fine, but if you having to tell us this then clearly you have not done a good enough job of showing us this which is the problem.

Now don’t get me wrong there is a nice story being told, and the acting is decent, the pacing is acceptable, even the fact that they have changed the gender of the horse from a male to a female is not a problem. Even the fact that the message of the entire series that animals should be treated better is ominously missing is not a problem.

Even the fact that at the film’s beginning, the opening scenes especially, the footage looks more like a Lloyds bank advert than something from a feature film is not a problem. Even the fact that the most important message of the entire novel, that people should be nicer to both animals and each other is missing, is not a problem.

The problem is that Black Beauty is supposed to be all of the latter and yet this none of the latter which begs the question of how is this film Black Beauty. It feels like in reality the heart and soul of Black Beauty is missing from this version of Black Beauty, and the fact that I, a person who is not a fan of the series and am able to easily pick up on this fact is really telling fact about how good of a Black Beauty film this is.

Though perhaps that is inevitable, horses these days are treated better in many ways than a lot of humans so perhaps in the revamp Disney felt it best to simply focus on a story of a young girl bonding with a horse.

Maybe they made the right call, who knows. But that’s what this film is, a story about a young girl who was torn from her family through great loss, befriending a young horse who was also torn from her family, and together forming an unbreakable bond.

That means this is not a story of a horse, this is a story of a young girl and her horse, which is told verbally through the perspective of the horse but which is told visually through the perspective of the girl. Meaning it is more the girl’s story than the Black Beauty’s.

In terms of whether it is any good, it tells a nice story and I’m always a fan of nice stories, with that in mind this gets a thumbs up from me but only as typical Disney film with a nice story. And it has to be said Black Beauty fans may be disappointed with this film.

​​Director: Ashley Avis

Writer: Ashley Avis

Genre: family, drama

Year: 2020

​Runtime: 110 minutes

Don’t Let Go

A Film That Will Pleasantly Surprise You

What it’s about

Detective Jack Radcliff gets a shocking phone call from his recently murdered niece Ashley. Working together across time, they race to solve the crime before it can happen.

My thoughts

The time travel genre has been done to death over the years which makes finding a new angle from which to use time travel difficult, but this film manages to do just that, the story feeling both fresh and unique.

However, it should be noted this film is a slow starter and many could miss out as a result by switching off too soon. That would be a mistake, because once this film gets going it doesn’t hold back, David Oyelowo and Storm Reid respectively putting in solid performances as detective Jack Radcliff and his niece Ashley.

It’s not a film that’s going to change your life, but it is a film that will pleasantly surprise you. The idea of getting a phone call from your dead niece who is alive and well in the past after all is a mind-boggling notion in its own right, and writer/director Jacob Estes does not miss a beat in using this to build a substantial amount of suspense.

It is perhaps let down a little by the ending where the bad guy played by Mykelti Williamson so freely chases after the young Storm Reid’s character with a shotgun seeming not to care about being seen.

But this should not be held against it as it is after all not a big budget film. Also unlike the majority of time travel films these days it completely avoids any forms of explanation about how the time travel works. This means there is zero technical jargon to be afraid of nor much exposition to worry about.

All in all this is a decent story with a great premise which makes for an entertaining evening watch, which means it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Jacob Estes

Writer: Jacob Estes and Drew Daywalt

Genre: drama, horror, mystery

Year: 2019

​Runtime: 107 minutes

Meet Joe Black

Death falls in love with the living threatening deadly consequences

What it’s about

Disguised as a human, Grim Reaper Joe Black comes to Earth to escort back the soul of media tycoon William Parrish. But Joe’s fascinating journey ends with him falling in love with William’s daughter.

My thoughts

What would happen if death fell in love with the living and the only way for them to be together was for death to take the life of the person he loves? This is the tantalising question that is asked in this film, and the journey to the final resolution is executed superbly.

If you’re not a fan of romances then it should be noted this is likely a film to miss, but if you do like romances and stories about the nature of love then this is a great watch.

Brad Pitt nails it as death, and Anthony Hopkins as ever puts in a stonking performance as the father of the daughter death loves, fighting to prove to death that he should not take the life of his daughter.

This film will make you think about the merits of love at first, and what it means to love full stop. All in all, most definitely entertaining, most definitely will make you think, most definitely worth watching. But like said only if you like romances.

Director: Martin Brest

Writer: Ron Osborn, Jeff Reno, Kevin Wade and Bo Goldman

Genre: drama, romance and fantasy

Year: 1998

Runtime: 181 minutes