Warcraft: The Beginning

Starring Vikings actor Travis Fimmel, as Lothar, Warcraft is a great film which is not only brilliantly acted but also has fantastic voice acting and this story follows (as the title says) the beginning of the Warcraft story.
The story is intriguing and thankfully lacks dull moments due to the multiple fight scenes and its effects, but for a film that is supposed to follow the beginning of the Warcraft story, I don’t feel that it followed the actual story line well, as I have been influenced by friends who play the World of Warcraft game. Considering this, the film is still amazing and is definitely worth a watch, if you’re a Warcraft fan or any other fantasy fan. Even if you are not a fan of either of these genres, it just needs watching.

Ultramarines (animated film)

I’ve been a fan of Warhammer 40k for a long time now and I currently have 3 armies on the go and I am a massive fan of role-playing games such as Dark Heresy, Black Crusade etc. Having a film about a game cannot always be good for example the 1st hitman film based on the popular game Hitman.  Upon watching this for the first time I wasn’t expecting much from it.

Ultramarines is a film about a squad of space marines, of the Ultramarines chapter, investigating an imperial distress beacon coming from a planet’s surface, and it’s their job to investigate, and ending with a dire situation, which could cost the lives of millions.

Written by the amazing mind of Dan Abnett, the story is predictable by the end, however, the story is epic and in true Warhammer 40,000 style, it is filled with bloody and loud fight scenes, victory over the forces of chaos and shouting “FOR THE EMPEROR” a lot.

The characters are the usual 40k type characters and this film, however, revolves mainly around Brother Proteus an ultramarine, who is part of the rescue team. His character is full of ambition and drive to do better as he is always the first to volunteer himself for deadly and simple tasks. He is constantly attempting to prove himself, for example, he talks with Captain Serverus (Terence Stamp) about the taint of chaos and if he has the courage to banish it if he came face to face with it, and he replies with a very courageous and strong: “Yes captain, I do”.

The story, however, does tend to slow down in places, but thankfully in my opinion, it doesn’t harm the pace of the film, as it manages to keep its suspense and tension with dramatic cut scenes and quiet moments where you can only hear the steps of the ultramarines armour.

The story is even more enthralling due to the quality of the acting from Terence Stamp as Captain Serverus and the extremely talented John Hurt as Chaplin Carnak of the Imperial Fists Chapter of space marines, who was charged with protecting a holy relic. The quality of the acting really adds to the film story and helps from keeping the story from dulling down.

The only down side to this film, granted it’s a big one, is the animation. Granted it wasn’t a high budget film or had a lot of publicity so a lot of people have never heard of it unless you are a part of the Warhammer gaming scene. The animation, even though not good was done well, but it did look like it was a compilation of cut scenes from an early video game. Some of the facial expressions are either over-exaggerated or not emotional enough and an obvious mix of live action explosions and animations is annoyingly noticeable. Although the fighting animation may still be awful, its overreaching movement lets us see what is actually happening instead of multiple close up scenes where we can’t see what is happening.

Overall, Ultramarines is a brilliantly voice acted film which is full of tension, and brilliantly written by the amazing Dan Abnett with its only down side being the animation. In my opinion, this is a film every Warhammer fan should see.

In Bruges

A film following 2 hitmen on a forced trip to Bruges. In Bruges is a very dark humoured film, not for people who are offended easily. The film can be slow in some places but full of hilarious moments but the film has a slightly underwhelming ending.

Mainly revolving around the characters Ray (Colin Farrell) and his partner Ken (Brendan Gleeson), who have been told to go to Bruges, Belgium, by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes).

Ray, the self-destructive character and quite childish for his age, is one of Colin Farrell’s funnier roles as he seems to be the amateur and the child of the pair with Ken being the more experienced of the two, and what would seem to be the parent. The best scene to explain this would be the scene in the old church that they are both visiting and Ray is sat making noise with the wooden chair in front of him on the old stone floor and shuffling his feet, like “a 5 year old who dropped all his sweets” as Ken says.

One of the problems with this film I would say, is the lack of depth of the characters as we don’t really know too much about them at the beginning and only a slight bit more by the middle/end of the film where the characters become more depressed, sad and sympathetic. The quality of acting makes up for the beginning of the film where its mainly dark humour.

We also don’t really get to know anything about the characters backstories, until Ray has a flash back to what caused them to go to Bruges. We get hints to what the incident was in some scenes, for example, Ray saying, “why’d you have bring that up” with a crack in his voice.

With the film being in Bruges, the shots of the small quaint town, especially the shots in the canal and the tall old medieval towers really add to the quality of the film. In some cases, the shots of the film can be mistaken for a tourist advert for the town.

Overall, this film is hilariously dark humoured with good quality acting and story, but also some dull spots. Although, a lot of films have their dull spots but with a kind of underwhelming ending. It was very well shot, and the sound design was very good with the correct music for each scene and fit the pace. I would recommend this film for those people who love dark humour and / or comedy.

6 Days (Netflix original)

The new film by Toa Fraser, called 6 days, is based on the true-life events of the Iranian embassy in London. In my opinion, this is well filmed and ever so slightly boring as the film lacks some suspense in places where-as it seems to rely heavily on Max Vernon’s (Mark Strong) negotiation with the terrorists.

Still, its good to see Jamie Bell in a film which isn’t completely awful, and to see him in a role which isn’t awfully edgy or some sort of man child role. It’s good to see him in a serious role as a member of the SAS who leads his team in to an embassy that has been taken over by terrorists, planning the siege of the building while being given contradictory advice.

Mark Strong also plays a strong role of the police negotiator, who is driven to solving the crisis with a peaceful end and building a rapport with the terrorists to unwittingly buy time for the SAS, while contending with the terrorists constantly threatening to kill the hostages, while everything is being reported on by the nation-wide news such as BBC’s Kate Adie, (Abbie Cornish).

The film (as the title states) takes place over 6 days and from multiple viewpoints; the police whose job it is to negotiate with the terrorists, the SAS who are planning the siege and the higher ups in the government such as MI5 and MI6, military colonel and the late Tim Pigott-Smith as the home secretary, who all have conflicting plans on how to deal with the situation and Thatcher’s refusal to deal with terrorists by sending in the SAS.

Even though the film is dull in places, the best scenes involve the SAS. Jamie Bell’s role as a team leader is one of his best roles to date in my opinion as his character is serious and focused with a mix of arrogance. There are also many tense moments such as the moment they are all geared up to storm the embassy only to be told to stand down and go back to sitting in front of the TV watching the snooker whilst smoking until they receive more orders.

The most impressive thing I found about the film was the ability to build suspense with the audio as the music helps to build the atmosphere of the severity of the siege and when mixed with the calm but heavy breathing of the soldiers, it really shows the professionalism of the soldiers to keep calm in such a high-pressure situation.  This shows that audio is a vital part of such films. With this film being in the 1980’s, the attention to detail is pretty spot on (I’m guessing that it is, having not being born in the 80’s). These details being the cars, the cameras, the effects of the TV screens and the posh looking well-spoken news reporters.

So, in my opinion, 6 Days is a really good film with great characters. Yes, it has dull moments but they are needed for the continuity of the film and development of the characters. It is also a good recreation of the events that unfolded (again, guessing, having not being born in the 80’s). Definitely a great film for military film lovers.

Citizen Kane

A film about a man’s last words and a reporter attempting to find the meaning of those words. This film, in my opinion is a massively over rated film.

The story is overly complex and seems to miss its own plot, as the reporter is supposed to be trying to find out the meaning of the word “rosebud” by asking Charles Kane’s close friends. However, it ends up being a long extremely boring string of anecdotes from working with Kane to being his lover. The length of these ‘anecdotes’ are way too long and pointless, as none of them even come close to finding the meaning of “rosebud” and just seem to be a chance for some pensioners to talk about the ‘old days’ to someone that will actually listen.

There are some good points of the film, for example, the scene in the newspaper editing office. Leland seems to break the 4th wall by seeming to stare down the lens and say, “I’ll keep that piece of paper, I have a feeling it will come in useful someday.” As the same piece of paper makes an appearance in the second half of the film, in a letter from Leland to remind him of the promises he made as a younger man, this was a good example of foreshadowing as Leland seemed to know that Kane as a person might change and become something he isn’t. The film then takes an anticlimactic turn as the reporter, stood in Kane’s mansion, starts chatting to the people in the mansion clearing it out, and he just seems to give up on what he’s looking for, as if it just all of a sudden doesn’t bother him anymore so he just accepts defeat way to easily.

There are some good shots used in the film, for example the rally scene, where instead of a live action crowd they used lots of cut outs to replace the crowd. For the time the film was made, it looks very technical, at a time when computer effects didn’t really exist or weren’t very good.

Overall, I think this film isn’t anything special as it seems to avoid its own purpose of finding rosebud, and anecdotes about an arrogant and self-destructive billionaire, who, for some reason, tells every one he meets that he owns a newspaper. The characters seem to just be there and don’t seem to have much depth to them. Technically, the film is quite good but doesn’t make up for the story and the disappointing ending.

The Hateful 8

Having never watched a Tarantino film, I decided to start with “The Hateful 8”. This is a film that is fairly even in its ups and downs. The film mainly consists of strange decisions by the characters, random breakouts of arguments and odd situations. Apart from all that, most of the characters seem to be quite interesting and have a purpose for being where they are.

Some parts of the story however, don’t seem to make any sense, seem to be very convenient or obviously scripted in. This in turn can potentially ruin the immersion of the film, especially when we find out why the people are at the haberdashery in the first place. This placement adds to the convenience of Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and the others.
It seems like the group knew that the stagecoach was going to stop at the haberdashery, which to me, seems like a problem in the story. The stagecoach could of just went past and ruined the film. That to me is the most annoying thing in films as it’s quite obviously meant to happen and nothing could be done to avoid it.

However, the quality of the acting is very good and there was no better choice than Samuel L. Jackson. I complained about how the story is annoyingly convenient for the characters, but the characters seem to get on pretty well through the film. For example, when John Ruth (Kurt Russel) pick up Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and at the start, he is understandably cautious of Warren as he is another bounty hunter that he thinks he will try and steal his bounty. Obviously after some conservation and Warren promises not to, they begin to trust one another. But the strange thing is, Russel becomes strangely obsessed with Warren’s Lincoln letter. Warren and Mannix become kind of friends, even though they were on opposite side in the civil war.

While I can’t understand why 2 bounty hunters picked up a known member of a gang with extreme racial views, there is some really good character progression.
Russel, Warren and Mannix become a kind of team within the haberdashery and finally trusting each other in a dire situation. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when Mannix sides with Warren, as they spent most of the film not really liking each other and was surprised to find Mannix not being one of the film antagonists. This is a pleasant surprise as most of Tarantino’s films tend to involve racist undertones, which are relevant to the film for example Django unchained

The film is also amazing visually as the style of it is innkeeping with the original westerns, wide landscape shots of the forests and the rolling hill and mountains with the cloud rolling over them. The font of the text also sticks with original style.

It seems that Tarantino tried too much to make this film an original style western, however visually he succeeded and with the characters but the story kind of lets it down as everything seems to happen because it needs to. This makes it obvious that it’s a heavily linear story. Everything considered, I do think it is a good film and it should be watched for the character development and visual moments as they in my opinion, are the strengths of this film.