‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ Review

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Goodbye Christopher Robin is a semi-biographical British family drama film starring Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, and Kelly Macdonald. The film follows noted English author and playwright A. A. Milne and his creation of, Winnie-the-Pooh, after his experiences in World War I. Milne finds inspiration for his Winnie-the-Pooh tales through his interactions with his young son Christopher Robin Milne after his family moved from the West End of London to their new country home, Cotchford Farm, in Hartfield, East Sussex. Before watching this film I assumed Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, and the rest of the characters from the 100 Acre Wood were creations of the Walt Disney Company. I also believed that the characters were real and not imaginary, which I’m still not sure is the case in Disney’s adaptation. Needless to say, I learned a lot from watching this film. The film itself is stunning and remarkable from end to end. The costume design and set pieces are brilliantly done. It was almost as if I was gazing into a portal of the past while watching the film. The cast is great and brought so much love and drama into these real-life characters. Domhnall Gleeson does well as A. A. Milne. Affectionately called Blue by his family in the film, Gleeson portrays the WWI veteran and author as tired and longing for a sense of purpose. He has seen the horrors of war and never wants him, his family, or the world to experience it again. It is great to see Gleeson portray a father because I have never seen him in this role before. His character growth is great. In the beginning, he is not sure what being a father is and then he grows to care for his son deeply during their time together. It is also enjoyable to hear Gleeson speak in his natural accent as a proper British gentleman. Margot Robbie also turns in a good performance as Daphne de Sélincourt. While Robbie doesn’t have as much screen time as Gleeson she makes her time count. Daphne is the kind of character that you love and hate at the same time. While she genuinely cares for her husband, she rude to both him and the maid, Olive. She is very old fashioned and expects to live the lifestyle she is accustomed to. If things don’t go her way she makes it known how unhappy she is. This is a different role for Robbie to take. Normally, she plays an American character, so it is nice to see the Aussie actress take on something different. She is believable in the part almost to the point that I thought I was watching a documentary. Will Tilston plays a young Christopher Robin Milne, affectionately called Billy Moon by his family. He does a fine job capturing the innocence of a child growing up with that kind of fame. He does a great job making the audience care and become attached to him. Alex Lawther comes in late during the film as an older Christopher Robin, but packs in some great lines of his own. The standout of the film is definitely Kelly Macdonald as Olive “Nou” Rand. You love to love her and grow attached to her as you watch her raise Billy. She is like a second mom to the boy and does everything to make sure his childhood is filled with as much happiness as possible. I can see Kelly Macdonald getting a few Best Supporting Actress nods for her role in this film. I give Goodbye Christopher Robin an Excellent 10/10. Overall the film is sweet, charming, and fun to watch. It provides a lot of information into the lives of the Milne family during the creation of the world’s most favorite bear.

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‘Blade Runner 2049’ Review

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Blade Runner 2049 is a neo-noir science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve that stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and Jared Leto. The film is a delayed sequel to the cult classic 1982 film Blade Runner. Set thirty years after the original film, the story depicts a “Blade Runner” named K/Joe, who discovers a hidden truth about an old NEXUS-6 replicant named Rachel. To prevent a possible war between replicants and humans, K/Joe is secretly tasked with finding and destroying all evidence related to her. Having enjoyed the original film, I was excited to see where Denis Villeneuve was going to take the story. The original film left fans with many unanswered questions that I just knew this film was going to answer. Unfortunately, Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t answer any of those questions posed by the original film. As a matter of fact, Blade Runner 2049 adds many more questions to this franchise… questions that I will not get into because they would involve spoilers. The film has many other issues as well. The runtime of the film is 163 minutes (2 hours 43 min) and it is very, very slow! The film could have shaved off 43 minutes and still worked. That extra amount of time is a hindrance to the plot and provides little to no solid information. Secondly, there are plot holes that could have been easily explained, yet they aren’t. Also, some of the scenes are very dark, which makes sense because of the smog-filled environment when people were outside, but not when the people were inside. Next, some of the characters are unnecessary for the film, including Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and Niander Wallace (Jared Leto). In addition, there is a scene with a de-aged Sean Young that lasted a little too long, which made the CGI aspect of her character very noticeable. Lastly, the films’ villain is one-dimensional and basically pointless. The film does have some merits though. The cinematography is great and many of the locations are beautifully shot. I wouldn’t be surprised if this film won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Also, Hans Zimmer’s score is well done and blends in elements of the original Blade Runner score perfectly. Third, Ryan Gosling is great as K/Joe and his acting is fantastic. He is the main character that we see for most of the film. The more information K/Joe learned during his case the more unsure he becomes. Gosling handled this perfectly as he rode the thin line between knowing his duty and doing the right thing. All the other actors performed well with the minimal screen time that they were given. I give Blade Runner 2049 a Normal 6.7/10. The film is beautiful to watch but unfortunately, it is also too long, too slow, and quite boring at times. The film could have used either more action or a shorter runtime. A sequel such as this shouldn’t leave you asking more questions than the original film.

‘Battle of the Sexes’ Review

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Battle of the Sexes is a semi-biographical sports film, starring Emma Stone, Steve Carell, and Sarah Silverman. The film is loosely based on the 1973 tennis match between a 29-year-old Billie Jean King and a 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. Riggs had been a top men’s player in the 1930s and 1940s in both the amateur and professional ranks. King, who had previously rejected challenges from Riggs, finally accepted the challenge after a lucrative financial offer was made to play him for $100,000, winner-take-all. King further explained that she accepted the match not only for the money, but also for all of women’s tennis and to prove that women are equal to men. The match, dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes”, took place at the Houston Astrodome in Texas and garnered huge publicity. Emma Stone is great as Billie Jean King. The Academy Award-winning actress shows off her talent once again as she basically becomes King. Stone looks very much like a young Billie Jean King and even speaks like her. She does well in making the character more than a two-dimensional athlete. She gives the audience a look into King’s soul as she works through the complexities of her emotions, need for equal rights, loyalty to her husband, and love of tennis. The same goes for Steve Carell’s performance as Bobby Riggs. He plays a loveable yet damaged guy very well. He’s a good dad and a great tennis player, but he’s also a gambler and a hustler. He knows he has a problem, but he doesn’t hide it. Well, he mostly doesn’t hide it. He wants this happy life with his wife but is unwilling to change for her. Also, I really enjoyed Sarah Silverman’s portrayal of Gladys Heldman. She provided comic relief as well as a small dose of sincerity when needed. I wouldn’t be surprised if she got a few Best Supporting Actress nods this upcoming award season. The film’s story was easy to follow and very believable. The writer did a great job of focusing the story on the characters’ lives building up to the match instead of just focusing on the match itself. With all the ups and downs each character experiences, the audience is never overwhelmed as the events unfold on screen. Also, the director’s pacing was smooth and use of camera angles and color was phenomenal. Lastly, the editing of the older footage into the film fit in seamlessly. While watching the final match, there are times when you can’t tell if they edited the old match footage or shot new match footage. The only negative I have for this film is how it was advertised. The trailers made it seem like just a comedy, but clearly, it’s much more than that. I give Battle of the Sexes a Decent 8/10. This film offers up a fun and interesting history lesson about tennis and equality.

‘American Made’ Review

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American Made is an American true-crime film directed by Doug Liman. The film stars Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who flew reconnaissance missions for the CIA over South America and became a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel in the 1980s. In order to avoid jail time, Seal approached United States government officials and served as an informant for the DEA. American Made is a very interesting film to me because of the fact that it is based on true events. Also not knowing how much of the story was fabricated for the film leaves me wanting to know more about the incident. Some family members I had in the theater with me remember seeing the reports on the news when they were younger. The film even opens with real video footage from the ‘70s and ‘80s with the production logos shifting between their classic and modern designs. As always, Tom Cruise delivers a great performance. For a man in his 50’s, Cruise doesn’t look a day over 40. He makes the character of Barry Seal very likable and similar to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort character from The Wolf of Wall Street. Some of the funnier scenes in the film involve Barry trying to launder his drug money. It’s hard because he was making as much as $500,000 USD per flight and had money literally everywhere on his property. Domhnall Gleeson also delivers a great performance as CIA Agent Schafer. His character is very mysterious and likable. Gleeson shows how Agent Schafer is clearly untrustworthy, but you can’t pass up the deal he is offering. The audience never really knows what position Agent Schafer holds in the CIA, but it only adds to the mysteriousness of his character. Sarah Wright also delivers a solid performance as Barry’s wife Lucy. Lucy Seal is an honest, hardworking, and loving wife who is always there for her husband. She even admits that she loves him even if she doesn’t always trust the type of business he’s getting into. Overall, American Made was a fun film. The story was easy enough to follow and didn’t drag on too long. Doug Liman does a great job at keeping the focus on Barry Seal and showing how the other characters revolve around him. The only negative I have is that some of the editing in the film is a bit jumpy. The scenes where Barry is telling his story to the audience via videotape starts partway through the film when it should have started at the beginning. I give American Made a Decent 7.6/10. The film wraps up nicely and offers a more realistic take on what can happen when you get involved with the CIA and Medellín Cartel.

‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Review

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Director Matthew Vaughn delivers another crazy, out of this world, action-packed film in the Kingsman franchise. Actors reprising their roles from the first film include Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Edward Holcroft, and Sophie Cookson. They are joined by newcomers: Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal and Jeff Bridges. Kingsman: The Golden Circle takes the Kingsman agents to the United States to join forces with Statesman after a ruthless crime syndicate known as “The Golden Circle” destroys the Kingsman’s headquarters. This film really starts off with a bang! With the first scene, Matthew Vaughn treats us with a car chase worthy of The Fast and the Furious franchise. The music is loud and crazy and fully conveys what is going on before the viewer’s eyes. The film maintains pretty quick pacing for the rest of the story. After meeting our villain, the viewers are led into the thick of the plot with the heroes journeying to the United States. Taron Egerton brings back all of Eggsy’s pizzazz from Kingsman: The Secret Service while also showing us that he is more mature and professional. Showing Eggsy’s character growth is a great choice by Vaughn because this rarely happens with characters in action franchises. The same goes for Mark Strong; we see a more emotional side of Merlin this go-around. Edward Holcroft, as Charlie Hesketh, is front and center during both the trailers, but I didn’t even recognize him. He plays the role of Poppy’s henchman well. It’s great that Vaughn is keeping with the mechanical appendage theme: Gazelle had her legs in the first film and Charlie has his “Winter Soldier” arm. The introduction of Statesman is hilarious and fun. Over the top, as always, Channing Tatum does a great job as Agent Tequila. He has a delightful Southern charm as well as a bad boy personality. The other Agents, Ginger Ale (Berry), Champagne “Champ” (Bridges), and Whiskey (Pascal), are also entertaining on screen. Of the Statesman, Agent Whiskey gets the most screen-time, and boy does he deliver. He is better than Indiana Jones with the whip and more versatile than Wonder Woman with the lasso. Speaking of which, Statesman has some cool weapons and technology. Everything was über American and fit perfectly with the Statesman theme. Their technology is actually how we get to have Colin Firth back as Harry Hart. I won’t spoil how it is accomplished, but it fits right into the craziness of this film and is explained very well. This film does come with a few negatives though. Julianne Moore is interesting as the main villain, Poppy, but she is never really a threat. Her plan is as silly and deadly as Richmond Valentine’s, however, Moore doesn’t command the screen in this film like Samuel L. Jackson did in the previous one. While Statesman is a great introduction to the series, we barely get time with the other agents. Channing Tatum is on all the marketing for the film, but his role is basically an extended cameo. I felt we should have had more time with them and less with Harry. Lastly, Vaughn makes some questionable choices with a few characters, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I give Kingsman: The Golden Circle a Decent 8.3/10. This is an insanely over-the-top thrill ride from start to finish, but it doesn’t grasp the same magic as the original. Hopefully, Vaughn can recapture it in the third installment.