Tag Archives: Movie

Moana Review: An Inspiration From The Sea (SPOILER FREE)

By Joanna Cosgrove

Personally, I had been waiting a long time – a long long time – to see Moana since I first heard of it being announced. It just felt like it was going to be an adventure differing from previous ones we had seen from Disney and its vast collection of heroines. It was different. A good different. An exciting different.

There is so much to try and condense down into a review, but it all needs covering. First of all: “I’m not a princess!”
Moana is a large, strong leap from the Disney princesses of the 1950s, who were created to fulfil the “damsel in distress” stereotype that sadly, many grew up with. With Moana’s constant correction to Maui, who calls her a princess repeatedly as an undermine of her abilities, by stating “I’m not a princess, I’m the chief’s daughter”, it brings a new sense of character to the leading female. She isn’t rich, she isn’t entitled, she doesn’t have it all handed to her; she refuses to have her work done for her and her dreams crushed for what’s expected of her. I personally felt deeply inspired by Moana’s character – imagine what many other young girls must feel after seeing what is possibly the best animated example for them on the big screen.

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Let’s continue with the cultural background of the story, because this is where we all must feel our proudest.
As we all are too aware of, Hollywood has a thing about celebrating minority cultures. They don’t do it – and if they do, it involves white people who are lying right to our faces about it. Moana, however, does it all right. Most importantly, the voice behind the lead character is Auli’i Cravalho. She is a young, Hawaiian-born actress who auditioned for the role despite feeling like she would never be chosen – and look what happened!
Cravalho has a rich ancestry, being of Chinese, Puerto Rican and Portuguese descent, to list a few. Having an individual like her, who portrays the character more closely than possibly any other girl who auditioned, is going to make girls and women of colour grow up with hope and confidence in their talents and skills. “Representation matters”, as they say, and I believe it.
But Cravalho and the cast aside, the story of Moana of Motunui is one which believe me, many would not have expected to be told in a film. To my knowledge, I had never known a film with such a high backing as Moana had from Disney that was telling a story based on Polynesian mythology. It proves that every corner of the globe has a culture with stories that are worth sharing. It could inspire young movie-goers to seek out and learn more about the mythological figures of various cultures. I know I’m very intrigued to learn more. Best yet, you can tell the culture was greatly researched beforehand; those working on the movie took research trips to islands such as Fiji and Tahiti, and conversed with those who were native to the South Pacific about their culture; they didn’t want to get a single detail out of place, which makes me very proud. They were careful of their content, and wanted to honour the culture wholeheartedly. This is what all movies should aim for: do your research!

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Let’s move to the music, because we all know Disney loves their tunes in their movies. Moana, of course, was no exception.
We have all sort of grown bored of the cheesy, overplayed songs of Disney hits (Let It Go, anyone?), but I felt differently about the ones in this movie. Every song was heartfelt, and used elements of music styles you would find from musicians of that culture.
Special thank you to music genius Lin-Manuel Miranda for his major involvement in this movie’s score. As a great music (and Hamilton) enthusiast, I was ecstatic when I learnt that Miranda was lending his skills and his vocals to these songs – it just made me more impatient to see it – and let me say, I was not at all disappointed. The songs were well-placed, served their emotional or humorous purposes (thanks for the laughs, Dwayne Johnson), and just well done, Disney. These are songs I would love to hear over and over again.

Finally, and I wouldn’t always comment on the animation and the look of the film, but I had to. The rich use of colours, and every fine detail took my breath away.
The movie focuses on nature and preserving what the Earth has given us, and never trying to tamper with it, no matter the intentions you had behind it. The stunning aesthetics on the big screen were blinding, but in a beautiful artistic way. I had never seen clearer how gorgeous nature truly is away from real life, but Disney did it in Moana. It drives home to themes of nature, spirituality, and in general, living life how you wish.

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I really recommend seeing this movie, if you hadn’t already. Well, if you have already too. I know I wanna see it again!
Well done, Disney. Keep doing us and our little girls proud.

Rating: 10/10

Doctor Strange Review: Strange? Maybe… (SPOILER FREE)

By Joanna Cosgrove

Marvel’s cinematic universe has given us some great heroes – and villains – but what keeps us coming for more is how this whole universe has so many levels, and so many worlds. We have the Avengers, saving the planet with all their might; we have the Guardians of the Galaxy, protecting the worlds beyond our own; and with the newest installment, we learn that Earth can be saved with the physical and the spiritual. Enter Doctor Strange.

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Alright, we have all heard mixed expectations. As the MCU expands, and we discover more brave faces, we also discover the diversity in how they keep everyone safe. That is where Doctor Strange dazzles us.

The story of famous surgeon, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), reaching past his medical expertise to cure himself of what he was repeatedly told was incurable nerve damage, shows something human in my eyes. He was full of himself, and he closed his mind off to whatever of the universe he didn’t know – he acted as if he knew it all – but he opened up his mind and that led to his powers. Opening his mind made him who he is; the best he can be. It’s inspiring, honestly.

We must discuss the ethnicity issue. It’s been there since the beginning and throughout the promotion for the movie, it needs to be discussed, not the whole movie is released to the public.

I need to admit, Tilda Swinton – as talented of an actor as she is – was possibly a mistake in casting. Don’t get me wrong, the diversity of actors cast in these roles is realistic and appropriate, but I believe the character of the Ancient One would have been best to remain as being Tibetan. “Whitewashing” is not a term I’m throwing in here though, because it’s not necessary when diversity is clear and greatly appreciated, as well as being used for the sake of making a successful film – not just to keep movie-goers happy and avoid the “racist” label.

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Same as whitewashing, we cannot call “cultural appropriation”. The representation of spirituality and healing is not used disrespectfully, and the story of Stephen Strange opening his mind to realities he never heard about and abilities he never gave a chance to before is one everyone can pay attention to. Alright, I don’t really want to be that person who finds depth beyond depth in a normal action movie, but there is here. Like we only believed in the Avengers catering to the usual, the stereotypical way of dealing with the supervillains, we can also be opened up to the idea that the mind is just as mighty as the body it controls. Doctor Strange is an example of changing what we know about the strength of superheroes, using your mind to save the world.

Last, definitely not least, we have the special effects of this movie. Like wow.

The representation of the powers in our world, manipulating surroundings, is more than a regular eyeful. It gives us exactly what we need: a visual understanding of these powers. It makes you imagine “how would that feel?” as the world stretches, spins, and separates in front of our very eyes on that big screen. It’s exciting, and despite it being the result of something most of us won’t believe is a real thing, it makes us believe that little bit more. It’s terrifying, but exhilarating, because that could easily be the world we live in. Let us wish it never will be though. It may not end well for us.

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Overall, worth the watch. It might not be your favourite MCU movie, I’ll admit, but it would be a mistake to skip this, as it holds a whole new chapter in this universe, beyond the Earth and the stars. The universe in our own minds.

Rating: 7/10

Ghostbusters Review: We Still Ain’t Afraid (SPOILER FREE)

By Joanna Cosgrove

No one can deny the effect Ghostbusters had on the world back in 1984, when our four main men (Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson) went ghost-hunting and, honestly, gave us one hell of a visual treat – especially as for the era, the use of SFX was top-notch and stunning to its original audience.

Since then, the franchise has grown and grown – even after the setback that was Ghostbusters II – which has extended from the big screen to the small screen in the form of two cartoon shows, The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters, and several video games.

However, 2016 brought back this frighteningly fantastic franchise in the form of a brand new movie – but hold on. The four men are not the ‘Busters we are seeing; instead, we are granted a shake-up in the form of an all-female hunting team.

This reboot centres around four new characters: former professor Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), her old friend Dr Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Yates’ engineering colleague Dr Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and street-wise MTA worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones).

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As Yates and Holtzmann study the science behind the paranormal, Gilbert – once the study partner of Yates – had tried to change her beliefs and denied any such existence of ghosts until suspicions drove her and the other two women to start investigating. After once more embracing her beliefs, as she did years before, the three of them start a small business, named “The Department of the Metaphysical Examination” by Gilbert (surprisingly, no-one else uses it); to take note of all calls coming in, they hire the visually, but not intellectually, appealing Kevin Beckman (Chris Hemsworth). As they develop their equipment, preparing to fight and capture these paranormal predators, Patty Tolan visits them to alert them of a personal encounter she had with a ghost on the job. Not long after they investigate, Tolan invites herself into the group, insisting she can bring historical knowledge of New York to the gang of scientists. She is brought in and trained, armed with some new gear, thanks to the handy tools of Holtzmann.

Without giving much away, I will say: hold whatever opinion you want about Hollywood rebooting Ghostbusters, especially with an all-female team instead of all-male, but I have to be honest. There could not have been a more comedic, visually stunning, respectful reboot of the film franchise than this movie.

Important notes include the natural chemistry between Gilbert and Yates; which only comes from experience of actors working tremendously well together, which we all know Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig have (Bridesmaids) and continue to show throughout the movie.

Special praise is also deserving to Leslie Jones, who has shown how unique and hilarious a comedienne she truly is. Starting from SNL, Jones has proven she has humour worthy of the big screen, especially in a picture as highly anticipated as Ghostbusters.

In all honesty, all four women made this movie a masterpiece, a phenomenon. If it wasn’t for this exact combination, I do not believe the movie would have worked so well. These women just have this connection onscreen that define ‘teamwork’ – and if Ghostbusters works perfectly with anything, it’s teamwork.

And lastly, let’s not forget: you cannot have a reboot without a few actor-shaped Easter eggs. Aykroyd, Murray and Hudson all have their own fun cameos, as well as another familiar face in the form of Sigourney Weaver. These wonderful personalities bring gasps and grins among the audience who recognise and understand their appearances – me among them – and it just added to the indescribable sensation every viewer got from watching the movie.

I dare all men who cry and moan about “the feminists” remaking Ghostbusters, saying it’s been “ruined” by a “men-hating” group of actors, to see it. Open your eyes and ears to the heart-stopping experience. I do not expect you all to say it’s better – even I have to say it isn’t better than the 1984 original – but it’s faithful and respectful, and is on par with the original (as agreed among myself and my two best friends).

Prepare. View. Enjoy. And remember: we ain’t afraid of no ghosts… But the SFX came close.

Rating: 9/10

The Inbetweeners 2 – Movie Review. “There’s Always Some C*** Playing The Guitar”

FILM: THE INBETWEENERS 2

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STARRING: Simon Bird, James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas, Tamla Kari.

It is fair to say in this film, we really have hit a peak of what can be classified as a 15. With all the bodily functions on automatic and the laughs still coming as consistently as they did during the three original series, I am glad to say that the film gives you more of what you know and keeps all your good memories in tact. E4’s most popular show is back after a three year break with more laughs than you would have expected.

Will, Simon and Neil find that growing up is a bit crap (and frankly, we all agree). But, they find a way out of University and work by finding their friend Jay who is currently enjoying a gap-year in Australia (the sex capital of the world according to James Buckley’s perverted Jay Cartwright). The lads don’t take too long to set off on the road and to a new adventure. Laughs come in every direction, especially when its bringing the nostalgia of what we know the boys for (the embarrassing car, Neil’s dodgy bowels, Will being the awkward virgin) and you will feel sick when you see Will race out of a water slide when he has a dirty missile coming towards him. The film does see the friendship still strong and shows just how much these guys are still the lads we grew to love and relate to.

Cameo’s from the show do come in as rather fun and provide a sweet taste to the fans. Also seeing Jay’s real reason for being in Australia is a rather touching moment and also one of the greatest facial expressions that will make you feel sorry and laugh out loud at the same time. Also to see where Simon and Lucy are since they got together in Malia is fun and at times the only real connection to the first film.

New characters are not as extensively prominent in Movie 2 as they are in the original. Whether its Will McKenzie’s primary school crush Katie or the upper-class modern hippie Ben, it feels they don’t get to be seen as more than tools for the plot. I am not saying they are a complete waste, Katie does get Will to instigate an acoustic performance of ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ and some bedroom antics which causes an awkward moment thanks to a gift from Will’s Mum. Also, even though he isn’t in the film much, Jay has his Australian Uncle make a mark on the lads through his only two scenes in the movie.

The film is indeed a laugh-filled riot throughout. It makes you cringe, you will be shocked, you will laugh a lot and you will think twice before going down a waterslide or asking for survival tips from a friend. As much as I think this is the end, I would be happy to see the boys return again…

Final Rating: 9/10

Review By Jonjo Cosgrove