Jolt: Film Review

Jolt

Courtesy of Amazon Studios

I’m a big fan of Kate Beckinsale’s sense of humour and her hilarious Instagram account so I was excited to see her lead this high-concept action-comedy but sadly it’s just not very good.

Beckinsale stars as Lindy, who has unnaturally high levels of cortisol in her body so she feels her emotions more keenly than normal – she snaps over the smallest things, has serious anger management and impulse control issues, and often visualises how she’ll beat up/kill the latest person to piss her off. Her psychiatrist Dr. Munchin (Stanley Tucci) has designed a device that sends electric shocks throughout her body at the touch of a button to stop her acting on her rage. Munchin advises her to try dating so she meets Justin (Jai Courtney) and he seems perfect. However, much to Lindy’s despair, Justin is murdered before their third date night – so she becomes hell-bent on getting revenge.

The concept is silly and fun and the film doesn’t take itself seriously at all. The beginning seemed promising and I loved the comical montage moments of Lindy’s violent impulses and her visualisations of how she’ll act on her anger. I also enjoyed the witty, cheeky and risque script, with my particular favourite lines being Lindy saying “penis is not going to fix me” and that Justin’s “unfurled itself like a travel umbrella”. I snorted quite loudly at those two.

I don’t know if it was a case of the novelty wearing off (very quickly) or if the film just rapidly declined in quality, but from Justin’s murder onwards, it just becomes really bad. I couldn’t tell if they were going for a “so bad it’s good” angle or if director Tanya Wexler wanted over-the-top hammy acting and action scenes that felt proper budget. It also really bugged me that the New York street scenes looked so fake; you could tell it was a backlot, and there were a couple of scenes so obviously filmed on London’s Southbank. The sets didn’t come to life at all.

As you’d expect, we follow Lindy as she formulaically goes through a run of bad guys, hurting them or worse to get to the big bad, the one who killed Justin, although she has the added headache of Detectives Nevin and Vicars (Laverne Cox and Bobby Cannavale) getting in the way. There aren’t any stakes because you know Lindy will always come out on top, but it was still enjoyable watching Beckinsale kick ass once again.

I hardly ever call for films to be longer but an extra 5-10 minutes was very much needed. This film zips by at only 90 minutes but it really bodges the twist. It is hammy as hell and also happens too quickly so nothing was explained properly. The pay-off didn’t feel earned or make a ton of sense and just felt rushed.

I love that Beckinsale got to use her kickass physical skills with her cheeky rude sense of humour and the role suited her perfectly. I enjoyed the fact she got to use her British accent but it weirdly sounded fake even though I know it’s not. But the acting in general isn’t great and at times I couldn’t tell if the cast were taking it seriously or not? Or if it was supposed to be deliberately bad? Cox doesn’t come off well, and Cannavale isn’t too bad but I’m surprised he’s in it full stop.

There is plenty to enjoy about this lightweight action-comedy, particularly in the first half hour, but otherwise I was just shocked and bewildered by how cheap it all felt. And whether you like it or not, it certainly seems like there’s gonna be more!

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video from Friday 23rd July

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Supernova: Film Review

Prepare to have your heart broken by Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth in Harry Macqueen‘s moving drama Supernova.

The film follows British pianist Sam (Firth) and American author Tusker (Tucci), who have been partners for more than 20 years, as they go on a trip in an RV to visit family, friends, and places meaningful to them before Tusker’s dementia battle progresses and he is unable to remember them.

I absolutely love Tucci and Firth as individuals and in this pairing. I loved their characters’ relationship and I thought they worked so well together. I enjoyed watching their playful bickering in the beginning and was deeply invested in their very serious conversations nearer the end. Some scenes were very well written and satisfying to watch, but with others, I wanted more.

Tucci and Firth both gave very emotionally-charged, moving performances and I was very impressed by their tender work, although it’s worth pointing out that Supernova can be quite funny too, with Tusker often using humour to deflect from the seriousness of his degenerative illness. Tucci has the more demanding role as he has to visibly manifest the physical symptoms of dementia but he does this in a subtle and convincing way.

Given the material, I’m surprised I didn’t bawl my eyes out watching Supernova. I was moved and felt sad about it but it didn’t get me real good. I think it’s because the ending was a bit too subtle and delicate.

Supernova, which is basically an LGBTQ+ and British spin on The Leisure Seeker (if we’re being reductive), is a poignant love story featuring strong performances and some beautiful cinematography. I actually want to see it again!

Seen as part of the London Film Festival. In cinemas Friday 25th June

Rating: 5 out of 5.

June in film: My recommendations

In the Heights

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The cinemas are back open and there’s lots of exciting releases coming up this month!

So without further ado, here are my top recommendations for June (released in cinemas unless stated otherwise):

A Quiet Place Part II

Emily Blunt, Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds are back for more in this sequel to the amazing 2018 horror. This one continues right where that first film finishes off and follows the Abbott family as they try to find a new home. Expect more jumps and plenty of unsettling tension as they encounter the monsters, which hunt by sound. My review is already live, check it out here. Released: 3rd June.

The Father

This release is supremely delayed but you’ll finally be able to find out why Anthony Hopkins well and truly deserved his Best Actor Oscar win! His performance as a man suffering from dementia is absolutely devastating and if the final 10 minutes don’t reduce you to tears then you have a heart of stone! This film is clever and deliberately disorientating to put us in the shoes of somebody with dementia. Can’t recommend enough. Here’s my review. Released: 11th June.

In the Heights

I loved Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s stage musical so I’m very excited about the movie adaptation, directed by Crazy Rich Asians’ Jon M. Chu! This film tells the story of different characters living in the Washington Heights neighbourhood of New York City, and judging by the trailer, I’m going to love every second of it. Cannot wait to see all the singing and dancing on the big screen! Released: 18th June.

Luca

I always expect a very high standard from Pixar’s films and so I have high hopes for Luca, an animation based in 1950s Italy. It tells the story of best friends Luca and Alberto who are both hiding a secret – they’re sea monsters! It looks so good! Released on Disney+ (with no premium fee): 18th June.

F9

The ninth instalment in the Fast and Furious franchise looks set to be the most ridiculous one yet! But wouldn’t you be disappointed if they went for realism instead of defying the laws of physics?! Blockbusters are certainly back in business. Newcomer John Cena joins the franchise as Vin Diesel‘s onscreen brother and nemesis. Released: 24th June.

Supernova

Now for something a little different. This lovely drama stars Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci as Sam and Tusker, a couple who go on a trip in an RV to visit their favourite spots and people before Tusker deteriorates further in his battle with dementia. Two dementia films in one month! I saw this at the London Film Festival and cried so I’d definitely recommend tissues for this one. Here’s my LFF review. Released: 25th June.

There are other honourable mentions coming up, including Dream Horse, In the Earth, Land, Shiva Baby, Nobody, and The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.

The Witches: Film Review

The Witches

Nicolas Roeg terrified a generation of children with his 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic The Witches, starring Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch, and now Robert Zemeckis has attempted to put a fresh spin on it with this new remake.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, it goes a little something like this – a young orphaned boy (Jahzir Bruno) and his grandma (Octavia Spencer) check into a hotel in Alabama in the 1960s for a little break. Around the same time, witches arrive at the hotel for a convention during which the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway) announces her plans to rid the world of children – she has developed a formula which can turn them into mice.

Roeg’s 1990 version of The Witches was grotesque, horrifying, and super scary for children who watched it back in the day. However, I was not one of those children. I watched for the first time last week in preparation for this release and I’m confident it would have given me nightmares as a child, as the Grand High Witch’s prosthetic-heavy transformation was still pretty gross, even to me, as an adult watching today. But anyway, my point is that I can be more unbiased as I have no emotional connection or feelings of nostalgia towards it and believe it’s quite a flawed film.

Zemeckis has clearly tried to make his remake less horrifyingly scary, which means that it loses the edginess which made the original so popular. And that would have been fine if it was able to conjure up the magic elsewhere but it just falls quite flat and it feels like something is missing. Although some scary moments have been dropped and the prosthetics have replaced by CGI, The Witches will still terrify children, particularly with Hathaway’s wide-grinned, sharp-toothed transformation and steely, creepy glare. Be warned parents: the Grand High Witch may still give your kids nightmares, but it’s not scary enough to affect adults.

Hathaway deserves a lot of praise for her performance. It’s a tough job following in Huston’s footsteps but she steps up to the challenge. She really throws her all into the role and is incredibly creepy, although it’s a shame the scariest parts of her transformation are realised through CGI. It just meant her big moment – the convention’s opening speech – is nowhere near as disturbing or affecting as Huston’s. Spencer also does well as the lovable grandma befriending CGI mice, while Stanley Tucci is wasted as the hotel manager. Chris Rock‘s narration didn’t completely work for me, but he brought great enthusiasm to the voice role and I liked how it made sense at the end.

The Witches remake may not capture the magic of the original, but it is sure to scare kids regardless. It’s rated PG but consider yourselves warned!

The Witches is available to rent from Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Microsoft Store, Sky Store, and Google Play from Monday 26th October.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

What I learned from being an extra in The Children Act

Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci‘s latest movie The Children Act comes out today and you may or may not have heard that I’m in it! It was my first and only (so far) experience of being a movie extra, but I can finally share what it was like.

[Read more…]

The Children Act: Film Review

I love Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci so I was very excited to see them together onscreen, and they both give impressive performances in The Children Act, which I didn’t really know what to make of. There were bits I loved and bits I didn’t, but I ultimately came away feeling pretty meh about the whole thing.

[Read more…]

Final Portrait: Film Review

As a fan of Stanley Tucci‘s acting work, I had to check Final Portrait which he wrote and directed, and it’s a delightful if forgettable study on the dark side of genius.

[Read more…]

Beauty and the Beast: Film Review

The live-action retelling of Disney classic Beauty and the Beast was under serious pressure to be good because the original meant a lot to my family growing up. Sure, we liked The Jungle Book and Cinderella but Beauty and the Beast is the first of the live-action reboots that I desperately wanted/needed to be good – and I thankfully wasn’t let down.

[Read more…]

See behind-the-scenes of the Transformers: The Last Knight car chase in London

Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins

Today I learned that Michael Bay had shut down The Mall, a very famous (and expensive to close!) road in central London – on a Saturday no less – for the fifth instalment of Transformers, The Last Knight. So of course I went down to check it out. This was the first time I have ever watched on-location filming and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was – I saw multiple car chases, explosions, Anthony Hopkins and Bay himself – and you can see it all below!

[Read more…]

London Evening Standard British Film Awards: My experience

001

Last night I managed to bag myself an invite to the London Evening Standard’s British Film Awards, which were making a comeback after a three-year absence at the BBC Television Centre. I was incredibly excited but nervous because I had only ever covered red carpet arrivals, I’ve never been allowed in and I had no idea what to expect. Here’s a run-down of my night:

[Read more…]