All posts by Georgia Sanders

A Silent Voice – Review

Please allow me to preface this review with the fact that I am not an Anime buff. I went in cold to this movie, so here’s my outsider perspective on the latest Anime to hit the screen.

A Silent Voice follows our antihero, Shoya Ishida, a former junior school bully who was once so cruel to deaf student Shoko Nishimiya that she had to change schools. Ishida’s single working mum had to pay for her broken hearing aid, and then Nishimiya’s mum beat up her and it was a whole thing.

Flash forward to high school and Ishida has lost all his friends, worked a part time job until he could pay his mum back for the expensive hearing aid, learned sign language in order to find and apologise to Nishimya – all in preparation for his imminent suicide.

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However, his encounter with Nishimya goes a lot better than he expected; he finds the two of them becoming friends. After a talk with his mother in which she begs him not to kill himself, he continues his high school career, occasionally meeting with Nishimya and watching their friendship blossom.

Sounds quite touching so far, right? Well it kind of is; but that’s just the first fifteen minutes of the film. From that point the storyline becomes so convoluted and melodramatic that I could feel the visceral sounds of collective eye-rolls from the audience.

One teen who was Ishida’s friend, and then wasn’t, and then was, and then wasn’t – I don’t know – had shrieking breakdowns at every little thing he said that she didn’t agree with. One character was just an awful bitch for no real reason. The entire script felt like it had been pulled directly from the diary of an over-dramatic teenager. Granted, it made a very realistic pass at how important teenagers think everything is, unable to see the rest of their lives ahead of them – but it went a step to far in expecting adult audiences to sympathise with these problems, and take them as seriously as the aforementioned teens.

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The story, comprising nonsensical twists and turns, dramatised the very mundane (bickering among friends over some name-calling) and completely overlooked the deeper discussions (Ishida’s depression, his mum’s struggle to raise two kids and a granddaughter whilst running a business). Overall, both the story and script felt juvenile and listless (again, I’m an anime novice, so I don’t know if this might be something that got lost in translation?).

Character development-wise, the group of teenagers were shallow and unsympathetic. Sure, they were likable (mostly) but very difficult to care about. Their problems were minor, their arguments pointless. It felt long and arduous to watch them bicker for two hours.

Animation-wise I got the same feeling – that the creators had tried incredibly hard to create something artsy and moving but ultimately missed the mark, on a knife’s edge between beautiful and tacky.

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Plus points – Ishida’s niece, Maria, is my new favourite character in anything and is totally adorable. Sadly, she couldn’t save the rest of the movie.

Ultimately, A Silent Voice felt like a story that didn’t need to be told; the woe-is-me attitude of the emotional teenager dressed up to be something it wasn’t – deep and artful. It watched like a first draft, with the somewhat unneeded in-between scenes left in and the aspects that could have made a touching film left unexplored.

A Silent Voice is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

Baywatch – Review

Perhaps it began with Starsky and Hutch? It was certainly perfected by 21 Jump Street. Parody-esque reboots of vintage TV shows have been peppered through recent film history. They’re fun, they’re dumb, and they’re a good Sunday afternoon watch. Baywatch pretty much fits the bill, there.

Taking the reins from the untouchable David Hasslehoff, Dwayne Johnson steps into the shoes of Mitch Buchanan in this self-aware summer romp. The very first noticeable part of Baywatch is the objectification – I know, I promise I’ll be a beach about this real quick and then the review gets more upbeat.

At first, the lingering face-free shots of bikini clad women in the same Hollywood cookie-cutter shape was eye-rolling. However, I’ll be the first to cry hypocrite – because the objectification didn’t just stop at the ladies and I’m not going to sit here and pretend Matt Brody (Zac Efron) climbing an obstacle course shirtless didn’t do things to me that I’m less than proud of.

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There’s an attempt at balancing the playing field a little by focussing on dudes as well as women – but it’s hard to deny the blatant male gaze of director Seth Gordon’s approach. Butts and boobs aside, however, Baywatch is witty. It’s by no means clever – quite the opposite. But it’s fun – and what’s more, it’s very funny.

The film centres around new Baywatch recruits Summer (Alexandra Daddario) and Ronnie (Jon Bass) – and Matt (Efron), an ex-olympic swimmer with a chip on his shoulder and a hatred for team work. Whilst the team is in training, they learn of a drug operation led by millionaire Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), and take it upon themselves to investigate and shut it down in order to protect the bay.

With constant nods to its parent show, and (perhaps one too many) meta jokes about the lack of jurisdiction for life guards in a drug-bust, there were understandably constant laughs throughout the very over-the-top film. Not gut-bustingly funny, but certainly enjoyable.

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The Rock’s ridiculous tongue-in-cheek performance keeps the show afloat (sorry not sorry) even its most ridiculous moments, and bounces off of Efron with entertaining gusto.

Its stupidity doesn’t detract from the warmth of the characters, though they come across as one-dimensional and cartoonish in a way that feels almost purposeful – almost as forced as Ronnie’s love arc with CJ (Kelly Rohrbach), a couple with as little on-screen chemistry as they had dialogue (spoiler – it’s not a lot).

Boob shots, prosthetic penises, puns and blue humour, Baywatch is a self-deprecating, silly, and ostentatiously stupid film – and an absolute must-watch for anyone who fancies something fun, light hearted and silly.

Is it a work of art? No. Is it going to go down as a great movie? No. Should you watch it anyway? Dude, go for it.

Baywatch is out in on DVD & Blu-Ray now! 

All Ahh, No Tchoo: Stop with the Ambiguous Horror Endings

If you’ve watched pretty much any horror film in the last twenty years, you’ll be familiar with a phenomenon I like to call: “All Aah, no Choo.”

It’s a sneeze metaphor, and yes, it sounds better out loud than it looks written down but shh, listen: How many horror movies have you sat through, tensed up, clenched fists, gasping in all the right places, just waiting for that climax (I’m still talking about horror movies, get your head out the gutter), only to just see the credits roll.

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Yes, it’s a cinematic trick. “Leave them wanting more,” a disembodied voice shouts jovially. Well, I call bullshit. Leaving me “wanting more” has done nothing but kill my enthusiasm for modern horror. No hyperbole, I honestly do not bother with it anymore unless the thing has some seriously wicked reviews and comes highly recommended by my pals.

The last thing I want after dedicating two hours of dark silence to a film (side note: I will only watch horror films in the dark, in silence, with absolutely no human contact – it’s the only way to get the spooks. Side note to this side note: last week I watched a horror film in an abandoned 18th century prison and if you’re a scare addict I cannot recommend it enough) anyway where was I?

Right. The LAST thing I want after committing myself for two hours of my life is to see that dreaded cut-to-black credit screen roll, with no explanation of what the hell just happened, and me screaming “BUT WHY?”

And it happens all too often. And maybe it’s just me, I mean everyone went nuts for It Follows when that came out and I was infuriated. Maybe it’s my naturally skeptical nature; maybe it’s my fascination with how things work. Maybe it’s because I was raised on early horrors, films like Poltergeist, the original “because of the Indian Burial Ground” movie.  I want to know why the spooky stuff happened, and I refuse to believe I’m the only one.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve become so fond of James Wan movies. Insidious and The Conjuring have everything I look for in horror – the scares, the uncertainty, the depth – and the god-damned ending.

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Sure, have the house haunted – but tell me who’s haunting it, tell me why. Fine, have a masked murderer on the loose, but give him a back story. Demons running rampant in your dreams, sure! But tell me where he came from. This box you found at a garage sale is stealing souls? AWESOME, where did it come from?

I don’t know how much longer I can take sitting in front of the screen with my arms raised, looking helplessly at my other half and shouting “but WHY?!”

Do you know, I can almost hear you screaming internally at this article from here. “But it’s a metaphor” you squeal. Mate, I get that. But this is what really trips me up. Films I’ve seen that have a subtle metaphor, the type where you end up thinking that perhaps the ghoulie wasn’t a ghoulie at all (hello Oculus, hello The Babadook), always end up with worse reviews than those which end with a lazy “it was magic, the end” (I’m looking at you, The Witch.)

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Maybe it’s just me. But I like a scary film to fuck me up.  I don’t want that shit out of my head for days, I want it to creep up on me when I’m alone in the dark and whisper “it could happen to you, too.” If I have no idea what the hell just happened, if all I’ve seen is a bunch of jumps and gore, it’s gonna be pretty damn forgettable.

Give me real endings. Stop murdering my love for the genre.

Give me my choo.

What do you think?

Spark -Trailer

The animated action movie Spark has a new trailer! The titular Spark is a teenage monkey alien from Planet Bana, a world which has been enslaved by the power-mad General Zhong. Attempting to build history’s deadliest weapon by harnessing the power of the Kraken, General Zhong’s usual egotistical idiocy reaches dangerous new levels as he teeters on the verge of destruction (that sounds disconcertingly familiar).

Spark and his friends, Chunk and Vix, task themselves with defeating Zhong – and in the process, discover their rightful place in the universe.

Yes, you read all that correctly. Teenage monkey aliens who know martial arts try to defeat a monkey dictator. With a goatee. There’s also a robot. I just…I just don’t know.

Spark is out in May

The Hippopotamus – Trailer

The movie adaptation of Stephen Fry’s 1994 novel The Hippopotamus now has a trailer – boasting a sufficiently pissed Roger Allam in the titular role of the Hippo himself – a once successful poet turned fired alcoholic theatre-reviewer.

The Hippo, Ted Wallace (Allam), is paid handsomely to investigate a series of unexplained miracle healings at the manor of his friends Lord and Lady Logan.

Hopefully the problematic trivialisation of alcoholism in the trailer is just bad editing, and the film itself will echo the elegant approach taken in the novel upon which it is based. If so, this promises to be an excellent Sunday-afternoon-with-a-cup-of-tea film.


The Hippopotamus is out May! 

Mary Poppins Returns: First Look

We don’t have much in the way of glimpses at Mary Poppins returns just yet, but from what we do have it looks like Emily Blunt has found her calling as she steps in to the shoes of history’s most magical nanny. Alongside the not even slightly overrated Meryl Streep, Blunt heads a cast of pure talent, featuring Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Dick Van Dyke, and Angela Lansbury (told you, talent.)

Set in 1930s London, the sequel draws on all seven of the books that followed the original Mary Poppins. Poppins (Blunt) re-enters the lives of the Banks children, now adults themselves, to help them rediscover the wondrous-ness of life.

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If you’ve been following the production closely you’ll notice I’m missing someone. My editor told me I couldn’t turn this announcement into a gushing love letter, but I’ll be damned if he’s not getting his own paragraph.

World-renowned songwriter, actor and freestyle-extraordinaire – and winner of the MacArthur Genius Grant, which proves definitively that he is a literal genius – Lin-Manuel Miranda (yes the guy who wrote 9 time Tony winner Hamilton, based on a book he picked up on holiday, injecting new live into this generation’s love of both musical theatre and hip hop), joins the cast as an optimistic street lamplighter named Jack. His sneaky tweets reveal that he will be donning an English accent a la Van Dyke in the original, and pretty much everything he touches turns to solid gold so we should all be excited, okay?

The film is due to arrive in cinemas on Christmas Day 2018 – and crews have been spotted out and about in the square mile getting the on-location scenes.

Ps. Lin-Manuel Miranda is the best.