Chaos Walking: Film Review

Chaos Walking

The response to Chaos Walking has been overwhelming negative and the Rotten Tomatoes score isn’t great, so I went in with super low expectations and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, it definitely doesn’t live up to its potential, but it’s not as terrible as I’d been led to believe.

This dystopian adventure, based on The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, is set in 2257 on New World, an alien planet which has been colonised by humans. The main action takes place in Prentisstown, which is only inhabited by men – the women got killed by the natives – and they all have ‘the Noise’, meaning their thoughts are broadcast for all to hear, so they can have no secrets, although some can control or hide their Noise better than others. One day, Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland) comes across Viola (Daisy Ridley) – the first female he’s ever seen in real life – after her spaceship crashes down on New World. He helps her escape Prentisstown, run by the cunning mayor David Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen), and find a way to contact another ship.

I loved the concept – it is such a terrific idea ripe with potential – and enjoyed discovering this new world and watching them venturing into new terrain and getting to know each other and become friends. There are plenty of great ideas in here – particularly about how the indigenous people are perceived – but they are poorly executed, and the characters are generic and aren’t well developed so it was hard to care about them (I genuinely cared more about the dog Manchee). The action sequences were a bit confusing to watch sometimes, they felt rushed and not properly thought through. I also thought the screenplay by Ness and Christopher Ford also needed work. I felt like Todd’s Noise at the beginning was used for a lot of exposition which didn’t feel realistic – would somebody really think those things? – and some of the emotional beats didn’t always work.

I really like Holland, I think he’s a talented actor who has this cute nerdy charm and that works perfectly well here. He has a captivating onscreen presence as the naive and sheltered Todd who is finally having his eyes opened to the lies he’s been told. Ridley didn’t offer up much more than we saw in Star Wars but they play off each other nicely and I liked the team they form, with Manchee (who is adorable) completing the trio. I didn’t like the clothes she wore either, those trousers looked super uncomfortable!

Mikkelsen was perfectly cast as the sly mayor, complete with an excellent fur coat, and I liked Cynthia Erivo as his opposite – the kind and considerate mayor of Farbranch – although she wasn’t in it as much as I would’ve liked. I can’t really comment on David Oyelowo‘s performance as the radical preacher Aaron because I didn’t understand the character at all, although he was convincing as a crazed madman. And I’m surprised Nick Jonas took the part of Prentiss’ son because it was so small and inconsequential.

Chaos Walking had so much potential. The ideas, the characters, and the setting are all ingredients for a solid action-packed adventure so it’s such a shame Doug Liman squandered it and didn’t deliver the goods. There’s still plenty to enjoy in here though so don’t write it off completely.

Available for premium rental at home on all digital platforms from Friday 2nd April

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Midnight Sky: Netflix Film Review

The Midnight Sky

I love a sci-fi film and always want to see the latest Hollywood offering so naturally, I was excited for George Clooney‘s latest directorial effort, The Midnight Sky, which debuts on Netflix on Wednesday.

Clooney plays Augustine Lofthouse, a scientist whose life ambition was to find hospitable planets where humanity could expand. The main action takes place in 2049, three weeks after “The Event”. Augustine is sick and alone in an observatory in the Arctic Circle as he refused to evacuate with the rest of the team. One day he discovers a young girl named Iris (Caoilinn Springall), presumably left behind following the evacuation, and together they must venture across the treacherous terrain to get to a weather station farther north as it has a better antenna for him to reach the last active space mission – Aether. The Aether crew – featuring Commander Gordon Adewole (David Oyelowo), Sully (Felicity Jones), Maya (Tiffany Boone), Mitchell (Kyle Chandler), and Sanchez (Demian Bichir) – are heading back to Earth from Jupiter following a successful mission to the habitable moon K-23 and have no idea of the global catastrophe that’s taken place.

I was fully excited by the premise for The Midnight Sky, a movie adaptation of Good Morning, Midnight by Lily-Brooks Dalton, and I came away so disappointed. Considering this film is supposed to depict a race against time, there is a surprising lack of urgency to it and the pacing is dreadfully slow. I held out hope for the moment when it would eventually pick up the pace to reach a thrilling climax, but it doesn’t. There are a couple of big moments that should have had a dramatic impact yet they aren’t told with much emotional clout, just the cinematic equivalent of a shrug. Everything is so bizarrely underplayed.

It is also frustratingly vague. Mark L. Smith‘s screenplay holds back so much information that it was hard to care about anyone or their situation. We aren’t given any details about The Event so we have to draw our own conclusions and I had so many questions about Augustine – Why he is at the observatory? What is his role? Why didn’t he evacuate? What illness is he suffering from? We get a couple of flashbacks about his past but they’re still not enough. I also had so much I wanted to know about the Aether mission and his trek to the weather station as well, but again, we are offered so little.

I can’t fault Clooney’s performance, he convinces as the hollow-eyed miserable scientist who is truly fed up with his lot, and I also liked the visuals, the scale and ambition of the story, and Alexandre Desplat‘s score, but what a waste of a fantastic idea. So unsatisfying.

Streaming on Netflix from Wednesday 23rd December

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Gringo: Film Review

Gringo has all the makings of a top-notch comedy – from a decent premise to a stellar cast – led by Charlize Theron, David Oyelowo and Joel Edgerton – but for some reason, it just fails to ignite.

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The Cloverfield Paradox: Film Review

I am a big fan of the previous two Cloverfield films, so I was looking forward to what was originally titled God Particle, the next instalment in the series, which was set to hit cinemas in April. So I was pretty disappointed when I learned that it was going straight to Netflix – and was in fact already there. As a big cinema supporter, I was convinced this was the wrong move, a big-budget sci-fi should be seen on the big screen, but after watching it, I kinda understand why it happened.

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Top Films for November

It’s November which means the awards season films are slowly creeping in – but never fear, there’s plenty of blockbuster fare to enjoy too. So here’s my top picks:

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A United Kingdom: Film Review

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A United Kingdom sheds light on the incredible story of Seretse Khama, the heir to the throne in Bechuanaland (modern day Botswana), who falls in love and marries white British office worker Ruth while studying in England in the 1940s, much to the distaste of their families and the British government. I never got a chance to see it when it showed at the London Film Festival so I’m glad I caught this inspiring story now.

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Queen of Katwe: Film Review

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Queen of Katwe is one of those uplifting, inspirational films that I just love – they make you feel like you can do anything if you put your mind to it and keep fighting, no matter your circumstances. I think that’s a great message to teach young kids so I get why Disney chose to make this story.

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Rosamund Pike, Tom Felton & David Oyelowo at the A United Kingdom LFF premiere

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Tonight the London Film Festival (aka LFF) kicked off in style with the premiere for A United Kingdom, which stars David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Tom Felton and Laura Carmichael and is directed by Belle filmmaker Amme Asante. See all the pics and gossip from the red carpet below.

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Selma: Film Review

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David Oyelowo was robbed of awards season nominations for his portrayal of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma. He gives a staggering performance that gives us a rare insight into the mighty public figure from his troubled home life to his doubts over his civil rights campaign.

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Top Films for February

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My top film recommendations for this month are:

SELMA

This biopic of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. depicts a small period in his life where he organises three marches between Selma and Montgomery in Alabama in the 1960s to campaign for the black vote. David Oyelowo gives a storming performance as King and was totally robbed of an Oscar nomination. Review to come. Released: 6th February

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