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.

Cherry: AppleTV+ Film Review

Cherry

Tom Holland has joined forces with his Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo once again for a completely different kind of project – Cherry. But is it as successful as their previous collaborations? Not so much.

Cherry, based on the semi-autobiographical book of the same name by Nico Walker, tells the story of a US Army medic who suffers PTSD when he returns home and turns to opioids like OxyContin and heroin to numb the pain. To fund his junkie lifestyle, he turns to robbing banks.

That is the plot of Cherry in a nutshell but the film is an epic two hours and 20 minutes, so there is a lot more to it than that. The film is split into five decently-sized chapters bookended by a prologue and an epilogue, which basically depict the same events. Part one is set in 2002 when the protagonist known as Cherry meets Emily (Ciara Bravo) at college and they fall in love. During a brief split, Cherry signs up for the army and drops out of college, marrying Emily just before he goes off to Iraq. The next two chapters cover his two years in the army, and the following two parts depict his return, his PTSD, and his and Emily’s descent into “dope life”.

The film is tonally all over the place. It starts off as this irreverent crime drama, with Holland doing a lot of voiceovers and talking to the camera, then there’s a teen high school romance section, then a war movie, and then a drug/crime movie. It is also way longer than it needs to be – I truly believe we would have been fine if the film had started at part three as the meeting Emily and army training chapters aren’t completely vital to our understanding or connection to the story. I also thought the screenplay was weak, it relied on the voiceover too much, and the film was overstylised, with words occasionally appearing on screen, the aspect ratio changing for no apparent reason, and sometimes there were weird unfocused, grainy elements surrounding a focal point in certain shots.

To his credit, Holland comes out of this quite well. This is his most mature and complex role to date and although I couldn’t quite suspend my belief enough to believe him as a drug addict bank robber, I thought he threw his all into the part, which required him to go to a very dark place emotionally and drop a bit of weight to look frail and deathly thin. There is a scene in which he cries on the phone and I thought he did a terrific job with that. Bravo is completely new to me but I thought she was solid as Emily, although it really annoyed me that she went from being a responsible teacher to taking the “if you can’t beat them join them” approach to taking EFFING HEROIN. Other notable supporting cast members include Jack Reynor as the drug dealer and Forrest Goodluck as Cherry’s pal James.

I know you don’t have to actively enjoy all movies to like or appreciate them, but I found Cherry really bloody depressing. I hated watching these two lovely good-looking kids destroy their lives and slowly kill themselves, and the film depicts their junkie lifestyle in a really grim and gritty detailed way. Needless to say, Cherry really outstays its welcome and becomes a slog to get through.

Streaming on AppleTV+ from Friday 12th March

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Devil All the Time: Netflix Film Review

The Devil All the Time

With an incredible A-list line-up including Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, and Sebastian Stan, I couldn’t resist checking out Antonio Campos‘ The Devil All the Time. I had seen a lot of mixed reviews online but I really liked it.

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Films I want to see this September

Mulan

It’s baaaaack! For the first time since March, there seem to be enough movie releases to bring back my monthly movie preview.

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Onward: Film Review

Onward

Marvel stars Chris Pratt and Tom Holland reunite to lead the voice cast in Disney/Pixar’s latest animation Onward, a sweet little adventure that tugs on the heartstrings.

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Top films for March

Onward

It’s the start of a new month yet again, which means it is once again time to look ahead at what’s coming to cinemas in March.

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The Current War: Film Review

I was looking forward to The Current War because I felt like it would fill a gap in my knowledge – I knew nothing about George Westinghouse and his involvement with the evolution of electricity – but the film only offers a potted history and I felt ambivalent about the whole thing.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home – Film Review

Spider-Man: Far From Home has a tough job being the first film after Avengers: Endgame so I’m happy to report that MCU fans will come away satisfied.

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Top Films for July

It’s about to be the start of a new month, which means it’s time, once again, to look ahead to the films coming to UK cinemas this July.

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My top 10 movies of 2017

A lot of people have been doing their end of year lists since the start of December, but I like to wait a little longer just in case there is a late entry – I thought The Greatest Showman might have made it (it didn’t) – so here are my top 10 films of 2017.

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