REVIEW: THE FAVOURITE

Starring

Olivia Coleman (The Iron Lady)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Joe Alwyn (Mary Queen of Scots)
Mark Gatiss (Game of Thrones)
James Smith (Boomers)

Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)It is 1708, and the recently formed Kingdom of Great Britain is at war with France. Queen Anne is in frail health; she shows little interest in governing, preferring activities such as racing ducks and playing with her 17 rabbits, one for each of the children she has lost. Her confidante, adviser, and furtive lover Sarah Churchill, effectively rules the country through her influence over the Queen. Sarah’s efforts to control Anne are undermined by Robert Harley (who was later created, in May 1711, The 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer), the Leader of the Opposition, who, as a landowner, argues against a doubling of property taxes proposed in order to fund the war.Abigail Hill, Sarah’s impoverished younger cousin, arrives in search of employment. Abigail’s standing is tainted by her father, who gambled her away in a game of whist. Abigail is forced to do menial work as a scullery maid in the palace, but, after seeing the Queen’s gout, she forages for herbs and applies them to the Queen’s inflamed legs. Sarah has her whipped for her presumptuousness, but relents and makes her lady of the bedchamber after she realises the herbs have helped the Queen. Harley asks Abigail to spy on Sarah and the Queen, hoping to circumvent Sarah’s authority. Abigail witnesses Sarah and the Queen having sex.Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in The Favourite (2018)With Sarah focused on the war effort, Abigail kindles a friendship with Anne, which becomes sexual. Sarah becomes aware of Abigail’s machinations and attempts to have her sent away. Abigail drugs Sarah’s tea, causing her to fall off her horse and be dragged on the ground unconscious. Sarah awakens in a brothel, battered from the fall. Anne, thinking that Sarah has abandoned her to make her jealous, takes Abigail into her favour. She allows her to marry Samuel, 1st Baron Masham, reinstating Abigail’s noble standing.Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in The Favourite (2018)When Sarah returns to court, she issues an ultimatum to Anne: send Abigail away, or Sarah will disclose her correspondence with Anne that details their sexual relationship. She tells Anne that Abigail does not love her, and merely flatters her. Sarah burns the letters in regret, but Anne sends her away from court. When Abigail, now promoted to Keeper of the Privy Purse, presents what she claims is evidence that Sarah had been embezzling money, Anne exiles Sarah and her husband from Britain.THE FAVOURITEWhile lounging in the Queen’s chamber, Abigail abuses one of Anne’s rabbits by deliberately pressing down on its neck with her shoe. Anne, now very sick, is awakened by the animal’s distress cry. She forces herself out of bed and orders Abigail to massage her legs, as if she were a servant, while gradually bearing down on Abigail’s head with her hand.the-favourite-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000There are three compelling reasons to see this – Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone. They go full force into this 18th-century world. Its a wickedly ridiculous and dirty dark comedy that only Yorgos Lanthimos could make with a brilliant whip-smart script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. Weisz vs Stone is a master class in acting, and Colman holds the Crown. Showcasing just how devoted one is for love (or power) but if it is truly worth the cost. If you didn’t like The Lobster or The Killing of a Sacred Deer, you may not like this movie. While it is Yorgos’ most commercial movie yet, it is still very much his style.

REVIEW: WARM BODIES

CAST

Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Teresa Palmer (The Grudge 2)
Rob Corddry (Old School)
Dave Franco (Bad Neighbours 1 & 2)
Analeigh Tipton (The Green Hornet)
Cory Hardrict (Battle: Los Angeles)
John Malkovich (Red)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)

About eight years after a zombie apocalypse, R, a zombie, spends his days wandering around an airport which is now filled with hordes of his fellow undead, including his best friend M. R and M achieve rudimentary communication with grunts and moans and occasional near-words. As a zombie, R constantly craves human flesh, especially brains, as he is able to “feel alive” through the victims’ memories he experiences when he eats them.While R and a pack of zombies are out hunting for food, they encounter Julie Grigio and a group of her friends, who were sent out by Julie’s father from a heavily fortified, walled-off human enclave in a nearby city to recover medical supplies from abandoned buildings. R sees Julie and is drawn to her. After being shot in the chest by Julie’s boyfriend, Perry, R kills him while Julie is distracted, and eats his brain, giving R his thoughts and memories, making his attraction to Julie even stronger. He rescues Julie from the rest of the pack by wiping some zombie blood on her face, masking her scent, and takes her back to an airplane he resides in at the airport to keep her safe.Julie is initially terrified of R, and suspicious of his intentions. Julie starts to trust R after he rescues her during a failed escape attempt and finds her some food. R insists that Julie has to stay with him for a few days until he deems it safe enough for her to leave. The two bond, listening to LP records and playing games to kill the time, causing R to slowly begin to come to life. After a few days, Julie gets restless, and tries to return home, yet attracts swarms of zombies, requiring R to rescue her. After fending off a group of zombies, including M, who is confused by R’s actions, R decides it is time to return her to the human enclave.On the way, R reveals to Julie that he was the one that killed Perry, which prompts her to abandon him and return to her home alone. R begins to make his way back to the airport, heartbroken. He then sees that M and other zombies are also beginning to show signs of life, making all of them targets for the Boneys – skeletal zombies who, having lost all traces of their humanity, have shed their flesh and prey on anything with a heartbeat. R and M lead a group to the human enclave, where R sneaks inside the wall. There, he finds Julie and meets her friend Nora, who is initially shocked. When R reveals that the other corpses have also been coming back to life, the three of them attempt to tell Colonel Grigio, Julie’s father and leader of the survivors. Colonel Grigio, however, refuses to believe corpses can change and threatens to kill R, stopping only when Nora pulls a gun on him. Julie and R escape to a baseball stadium where the rest of R’s group is waiting, but soon find themselves under attack by a horde of Boneys.While M and his gang of zombies square off against the Boneys, Julie and R run, but find themselves trapped. Taking the only escape route, R jumps with Julie into a pool far below, shielding her from the impact. After Julie pulls R from the bottom of the pool, they kiss. Colonel Grigio arrives and shoots R in the shoulder without warning. Julie attempts to persuade him that R has changed, when she notices that he is bleeding from his wound – revealing that he has completely revived and is human once more. The humans and zombies combine forces and kill most of the Boneys while the rest die off from starvation and the zombies slowly assimilate into human society. The film ends with a now fully alive R and Julie watching a wall surrounding the city being demolished, signifying the end of the apocalypse.As well as having great characters, Warm Bodies is also really well paced. The plot is extremely interesting, with us getting to know R and his way of life to begin with. It doesn’t take much time for him to run into Julie though and from there, the film only gets better. As the two characters get to know each other, their characters really come to life… literally in R’s case. It was lovely to see the character development here through two people getting to know each other and what they enjoy. Overall, Warm Bodies is a fantastic movie adaptation of one of my favourite young adult books.

REVIEW: JACK THE GIANT SLAYER

CAST

Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class)
Eleanor Tomlinson (The White Queen)
Stanley Tucci (The LVoely Bones)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Ewan McGregor (Big Fish)
Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes)
Ewen Bremner (Wonder Woman)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Ralph Brown (Alien 3)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Tandi Wright (Power Rangers SPD)

In the Kingdom of Cloister, Jack, a young farm boy, is fascinated by the legend of Erik, an ancient king who defeated an army of invading giants from a realm in the sky by controlling them with a magical crown. At the same time, Princess Isabelle becomes fascinated with the same legend.Ten years later, Jack goes into town to sell his horse to support his uncle’s farm. There, Jack spots Isabelle and becomes enamored with her after defending her honor from a group of hooligans. Meanwhile, Lord Roderick returns to his study, only to find that a monk has robbed him. The monk offers Jack some magic beans he stole from Roderick as collateral for Jack’s horse. Back at the castle, Isabelle quarrels with her father King Brahmwell as she wants to explore the kingdom, but he wants her to stay and marry Roderick. Likewise, Jack’s uncle scolds him for being foolish before throwing the beans on the floor and leaving the house.Determined to be free, Isabelle sneaks out of the castle and seeks shelter from the rain in Jack’s house. As it rains, one of the beans takes root and grows into a massive beanstalk that carries the house and Isabelle into the sky as Jack falls to the ground. Jack, Roderick, and Roderick’s attendant Wicke volunteer to join the king’s knights, led by Elmont and his second in-command, Crawe, and climb the beanstalk in search of Isabelle. As they climb, Roderick and Wicke cut the safety rope, intentionally killing some of the knights. At the top, they discover the giants’ realm and decide to split into two groups: one with Jack, Elmont, and Crawe, and the other including Roderick and Wicke, but not before Roderick forcibly takes the remaining beans from Jack (although Jack manages to save one for himself).Jack’s group is trapped by a giant, who takes everyone prisoner except Jack. Meanwhile, Roderick’s group encounters two other giants; one eats Wicke, but before the other can do the same to Roderick, Roderick dons the magic crown. Jack follows the giant to their stronghold, where the two-headed giant leader, Fallon, has killed Crawe. Jack finds Isabelle and Elmont imprisoned there. As the giants prepare to kill their remaining prisoners, Roderick walks in and enslaves the giants with the crown. He tells the giants they will attack Cloister at dawn and gives them permission to eat Isabelle and Elmont. Jack rescues Isabelle and Elmont as one of the giants prepares to cook Elmont as a pig-in-a-blanket. The trio makes for the beanstalk, where Jack causes the giant guarding the beanstalk to fall off the realm’s edge. Seeing the giant’s body, Brahmwell orders the beanstalk cut down to avoid an invasion by the giants.Jack and Isabelle head down the beanstalk, while Elmont stays to confront Roderick. Elmont kills Roderick, but Fallon takes the crown before Elmont can claim it, and Elmont is forced to escape down the beanstalk. Jack, Isabelle, and Elmont all survive the fall after the beanstalk is cut down. As everyone returns home, Jack warns that the giants are using Roderick’s beans to create beanstalks to descend down to Earth and attack Cloister. The giants chase Jack, Isabelle, and Brahmwell into the castle, where Elmont fills the moat with oil and sets it on fire. Fallon falls in the moat and breaks into the castle from below. As the siege continues, Fallon captures Jack and Isabelle, but Jack throws the final bean down Fallon’s throat, causing a beanstalk to rip apart his body. Jack takes the crown and sends the giants back to their realm. Jack and Isabelle marry and tell the story of the giants to their children. As time passes, the magic crown is crafted into St Edward’s Crown and is secured in the Tower of London.This was a lot better than I was expecting, so that was quite a pleasant surprise.  I was prepared to make an early exit from watching the retelling of another favourite fairy tale. But it was actually done very well, with a wonderfully impressive CGI beanstalk and superb giants. All in all, it was a very enjoyable film to watch.

 

REVIEW: CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010)

 

CAST

Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Jason Flemyng (X-Men: First CLass)
Gemma Arterton (The Voices)
Alexa Davalos (Angel)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Luke Evans (Dracula Untold)
Izabella Miko (The Cape)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Polly Walker (Caprica)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)
Rory McCann (Hot Fuzz)
Alexander Siddig (Kingdom of Heaven)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Ian Whyte (Game of Thrones)
Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite)
Vincent Regan (Troy)
Luke Treadaway (A Street Cat Named Bob)
Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner)
Tamer Hassan (Layer Cake)

In ancient times after defeating their predecessors, the Titans, the gods divided the Universe among themselves. Zeus took the skies, Poseidon took the seas, and Hades was left with the Underworld upon being tricked by Zeus. The gods created the mortals, whose faith and prayers fueled the gods’ immortality. As time passed, however, mortals began to question and soon resist their creators, angering the Olympians. A fisherman named Spyros finds a coffin adrift in the sea, discovering a baby, Perseus and his mother Danaë. Spyros decided to raise Perseus.

As Perseus and his family fish from a boat, they watch soldiers from the city of Argos destroy a statue of Zeus. Infuriated at this desecration, the Gods unleash the Furies who attack the soldiers and destroy the fishing vessel. Only Perseus survives and is found by a group of the soldiers. Perseus is brought before King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia, who are celebrating their campaign against the gods. Queen Cassiopeia brashly compares her daughter Andromeda to the gods and boasts that she is more beautiful than Aphrodite. The revelry is cut short by the arrival of Hades, who has been given leave by Zeus to punish the mortals for their defiance. Hades threatens to unleash his monster the Kraken against Argos, unless Andromeda is offered as a sacrifice. Before leaving, he reveals that Perseus is a demigod and the son of Zeus.

Perseus meets Io, who confirms his origin. Io also reveals that she has watched over Perseus his entire life. She has always protected him for he is the only one who can defeat the gods. Perseus leads the King’s Guard to the Stygian Witches, looking for a way to kill the Kraken. After being betrayed by the power-hungry Hades, Zeus gives Perseus a sword forged on Mount Olympus and a winged horse named Pegasus. Perseus refuses both, but the captain of the King’s guard named Draco keeps the sword for when Perseus needs it. Soon after, they are attacked by Calibos, an agent of Hades. Draco severs the beast’s hand and Calibos flees. The band give chase but are attacked by giant scorpions called Scorpioxs that spring from spilled drops of Calibos’s blood. They are saved by a band of Djinn, non-human desert sorcerers led by Sheik Suleiman where the remaining Scorpioxs are tamed by the Djinn. The Djinn also wish for the gods’ defeat and lend their aid to Perseus and his band.MV5BMTgyNTUyNjQwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjUxNzYyMw@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,822_AL_The group arrives at the lair of the Stygian Witches and learn that to kill the Kraken, they must obtain and use the head of Medusa, a gorgon who resides in a temple in the Underworld. Any living creature that looks on Medusa’s eyes turns into stone. Perseus, Io, Suleiman, Draco, and his remaining men, Solon, Eusebios, and Ixas, cross into the Underworld. The men enter Medusa’s temple lair while Io, being a woman and forbidden from entering, remains outside. Medusa kills all three of Draco’s men. Suleiman and Draco both wound the gorgon, sacrificing themselves in the process. Perseus finally beheads her by using his reflective shield to see her with his back turned. As he leaves the temple with Medusa’s head, Calibos appears behind Io and fatally stabs her. Perseus and Calibos fight where upon finally accepting that he is a son of Zeus, Perseus picks up the Olympian sword and stabs Calibos through the chest, who with his last breath urges Perseus not to become a God.

Before dying, Io urges a reluctant Perseus to leave her and save Andromeda and Argos. Then she dissolves into a golden ethereal vapor. Pegasus appears and Perseus mounts the flying horse and hastens back to Argos as the Kraken is released. The people of Argos seize and bind Andromeda to offer her to the Kraken. Meanwhile, as people die in the Kraken’s wake, the balance of power on Olympus shifts. Hades reveals he does not require the faith or worship of mortals (as Zeus does), as he has learned to survive on their fear. Hades then effortlessly subdues the weakened Zeus. Riding the black Pegasus, Perseus arrives at Argos and exposes Medusa’s head to the Kraken, which makes eye contact just before it is able to reach Andromeda. The Kraken, petrified, slowly turns to stone and shatters. Prokopion, the insane leader of the Cult of Hades, tries to kill Perseus, but Kepheus stops him and is stabbed, before both are killed when the kraken’s petrified hand falls on them. Hades appears, intending to finally kill Perseus. Perseus, calling upon Zeus, throws his sword at Hades. A lightning bolt engulfs the sword and the blast sends Hades back to the Underworld. Perseus rescues Andromeda, who is now the rightful Queen of Argos. Andromeda asks Perseus to stay by her side as King, but he declines. Perseus also refuses another offer of godhood from Zeus, who then proclaims that if Perseus is to live as a human he should not be alone and revives Io.

The movie keeps moving without feeling too chopped up and thankfully there’s a minimum of shakeycam or MTV overediting to accompany the overdose of testosterone. Big on spectacle and short on charm, it’s a very different animal to Harryhausen’s film (there’s even an injoke about that version’s irritating mechanical owl), but as long as you’re expecting that it’s one of the better action adventures of recent years.