Thursday, 29 September 2016

September Blindspot: The Pianist

The Pianist, 2002
Directed by Roman Polanski

The Pianist piqued my interest, mainly because of how often I see Adrien Brody winning the Oscar for this film on the list of "biggest shocks/surprises" at the Oscars. As well, Roman Polanski is extremely controversial (duh) and I wanted to see the movie that won him his Best Director Oscar, a movie that is based very much on his own childhood.

The Pianist tells the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a famous Polish pianist, who lived through the ghettoization of Warsaw.

My husband commented after the film that it was disappointing there aren't more movies set around the Polish Ghettos during WWII. And after watching this film, I do agree. Not that it was a comfortable movie to watch, but because there are so many stories to be told! And indeed, while The Pianist isn't quite on the level of Schindler's List, in terms of Holocaust/WWII movies, The Pianist is indeed beautiful and heartbreaking.

Adrien Brody is indeed exceptional as Szpilman. He goes through so many different stages and Brody plays them all so well. He has just such an emotional face and he carries the weight of Szpilman's experiences so well.

As well, just the storytelling in general is just so heartbreaking. It's not a quick flip through the scenes, but a studied look at the Polish ghetto and how demeaning that experience was. But also you think about how much luckier they probably were there than at any concentration camp, and you completely depress yourself.

The Pianist is a beautiful and heart-wrenching film that should be seen by more people. This is a movie where I can absolutely separate art from the artist. While what Polanski did was so sketchy and wrong, he was also a man who grew up experiencing the things that we see. And stories like this, about Jewish discrimination and extinction is so important.

9/10

Mini Reviews: Cafe Society, The Light Between Oceans, Where to Invade Next

Cafe Society
I would compare Cafe Society to a beach read, a book you bring on your beach vacation. It's pleasant and even sometimes charming and fun, but overall, it was nice in the moment but it's not overly memorable. However, that's not at all to say Cafe Society is a bad movie. In fact, it's probably Woody Allen's best movie in a few years.

It's the simple story of Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) who leaves New York to come to Hollywood in the 1930's. He gets a job working for his uncle Phil (Steve Carell) at a casting agency for Hollywood stars, and falls in love with Phil's assistant Vonnie. Vonnie is beautiful and cool and she and Bobby become only friends because Vonnie is in a relationship with Bobby's uncle Phil (unbeknownst to Bobby).

I actually loved Kristen Stewart in this movie. I think she finally found the right part that made me think she was so cool and I wanted to be her! Kristen's performance as Vonnie was cool girl with a hint of hypocrisy. She was just so great to watch, and I'm happy she's finally coming into her own as an actress. As well, I enjoyed Jesse Eisenberg, though it was once again a role similar to many things he's played before, this time with a little less arrogance. It was a fun, simple film with some nice performances and left you feeling nice.

7.5/10

The Light Between Oceans
I actually read this book about a year ago and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to see this film, despite the middling reviews. And honestly, it deserves a little more credit than it got. Michael Fassbender is in a role unlike I've seen him in before, and Alicia Vikander reminds us why she won her Oscar.

Tom is a lighthouse keeper and he and his wife Isobel work on Janus island, miles and miles from civilization. After several miscarriages, a boat washes ashore with a small, crying baby and a dead man. Instead of reporting this to the authorities, they decide to keep the baby and claim her as their own.

I was excited that Derek Cianfrance would be directing this because I felt like the subject matter was up his alley in terms of grim portraits of relationships and people. However, it was much more "soapy" than I was expecting from him, which indeed was a disappointment. However, the film was one of the most gorgeous I've seen all year, with beautiful cinematography, costumes and a lovely score from the ever-dependable Alexandre Desplat. Again, the performances were good and I enjoyed the first 2/3 of the film very, very much. It starts to get a little long in the end and it takes its time about wrapping up, but it's still an enjoyable movie about life and love, and doesn't deserve to be quite the bomb that it was.

6.5/10

Where To Invade Next
I saw one Michael Moore film once and I remember not enjoying it at all. To me, Michael Moore is that guy who knocks on peoples door and confronts them and yells at them about injustices/conspiracy theories/etc. So when my parents recommended I watch this, I was a little skeptical but thought the premise was interesting.

Indeed, I enjoyed the film very, very much. In this film, Michael Moore visits other countries around the world to see what things they are doing well (things like education, women's rights, vacation pay, etc) and "claiming" those ideas for America. In fact, I felt this film really communicated a lot of the frustrations I have with the United States while actually being somewhat gracious and hopeful about it!

Michael Moore was not angrily banging on peoples door here, but he was sitting down with real people from and having real conversations about how France treats lunchtime as a class and teaches kid manners and proper nutrition, how Slovenia has free college education, how Norway has a much more rehabilitation approach to prison, and how Italians get a lot of vacation time and how employers want their employees to be happy. It was a great look at so many countries around the world and how backwards the US is in a lot of these ways. Michael Moore was much more gracious than I had ever expected, and it ended on a much more positive and hopeful note rather than an angry/negative one. This film is definitely a must-watch!

9.5/10

Monday, 26 September 2016

Deepwater Horizon


Image result for deepwater horizon poster

Deepwater Horizon, 2016
Directed by Peter Berg

I was a really big fan of Peter Bergs last film, Lone Survivor. I think it was a really well made and well told story. It was a simple story, but it was treated with complexity and subtly. And it also kind of made me believe in Mark Walhberg again. So naturally, I was actually kind of looking forward to this one. While it's a little less nuanced, even in just the subject matter of the story, it was still a well made film.

Deepwater Horizon tells the story of the biggest oil spill in history and gives us a full picture of what "oil spill" actually means. We follow Mike Williams and his crew as they board the Deepwater Horizon to find out the previous crew left early before doing some cement tests on the actual well. The crew insists that they need to do more tests before actually drilling, which the visiting BP men are hesitant to do because this rig is already 43 days behind schedule. However, even after the test results are sketchy at best, BP insists that it's fine. But only a few hours later does everything go wrong.

I vaguely remember hearing about this spill when it happened. It was 2010 and I  was a senior in high school. I remember hearing the term "oil spill" and pictured one of those Captain Phillips-like freight boats was carrying oil and somehow the ship was sideways in the water, oil spilling out. To me, back then, that's what I pictured when someone said oil spill. I don't remember hearing about the fires that took days and days to put out.

Peter Berg makes a smart move and contains the events of the movie simple to April 20th 2010. The first part of the film is a little disorienting, as it jumps straight into oil rig jargon and we don't have a "new person" to have all these terms explained to, for us. While you don't 100% know what's going on, you do get the gist. But the second half, with the explosions and the oil spill, you don't really need words. It's almost like watching Titanic, where nowhere the crew can go is safe.

To me, the films running time at 1 hour 47 minutes is perfect. It's not too long and Berg knows not to draw things out. He keeps the beginning simple, and the second half of the film is just as long as it needs to be. It's a brisk film but it really gets to the point. The only drawback is we probably don't get enough blame pushed onto BP and the big corporations that skimped on a lot of the safety tests, but when you limit your film to only the day-of, that happens. We get enough blame and questions asked as you can for a setting like that.

Honestly, I actually quite enjoyed Deepwater Horizon. In a summer of really meh movies, this is probably the first movie I've genuinely liked in a while. Mark Walhberg does a serviceable job, and it's nice to see Gina Rodriguez up on the big screen. Deepwater Horizon is simple in premise, and while it doesn't make as huge an impact as Lone Survivor did, this is still an admirable film that treats the subject matter with both anger and dignity.

8/10

Monday, 29 August 2016

August Blindspot: Blade Runner


Image result for blade runner poster

Blade Runner, 1982
Directed by Ridley Scott

I watched this film actually about a week ago, though I'm not sure why I waited so long to post my Blindspot review of it. To be honest, I'm not really sure what I thought of Blade Runner. In a way, I don't really think I thought much of it, neither good nor bad.

The concept and the world-building of Ridley Scott's cult classic is really great. The basic premise is that Deckard is a former Replicant Hunter who is asked to return to his job by his old boss when 4 Replicants escape their colony and need to be eliminated. What are Replicants? They are bioengineered androids that can pass for humans. They've been deemed illegal on Earth and are kept as slaves on other planet colonies. Like I said, the world-building of the idea of Replicants and how humans deal with them is really awesome. Even the story itself is really interesting.

I don't know though, something just didn't strike with me. To be honest, there was a scene jump early on in the film that left me confused and I was left feeling a little confused for the rest of the movie. Whether it was a choppy scene jump that actually confused me or if I got distracted and ended up confused, I'm not entirely sure. Also, I was watching The Final Cut. Does this make much of a difference to the film? I know there are quite a few cuts of this film out there.

Anyway, Harrison Ford is just really cool as Deckard, obviously. The 80's were definitely prime Harrison Ford era and this is something cool for his resume. However, was anyone hoping there'd be a big twist and that Deckard is a similar kind of replicant to Rachel? I was seriously hoping that would happen, but it did not. Twist for the sequel?

Honestly, I wish I had enjoyed the film more and maybe after another viewing I probably will. I am eager for the sequel as I'm very excited that Denis Villeneuve was selected as the director. The original had a really cool vibe and was much slower than I was expecting (which I liked) and I think it's definitely right up Villeneuve's alley. Also, Jared Leto better be playing some sort of Replicant because he completely looks the part.

Anyway, I did somewhat enjoy Blade Runner but did feel a bit confused for most of the time. I do plan to try to rewatch this film in the near-ish future (when I get some time!) So hopefully I can change my initial opinion on this film.

7/10

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Ben-Hur



Ben-Hur, 2016
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

I think I can probably count myself as one of a small group of people under 25 that saw the 1959 Charleton Heston version of Ben-Hur. In fact, I ranked it as my 3rd favourite Best Picture winner, so I actually liked the film very, very much. So when I heard that they were doing a new version of Ben-Hur, all I could ask was "why?"

And even after finally watching the new 2016 version, I still don't fully understand the need for this remake. In fact, I'm still fairly unsure who the target audience for this even is. Is it those who saw the 1959 version? But would 3D appeal to that 65+ audience? Is this targeted at the Christian community? Is it trying to draw in new and younger viewers who didn't see the more famous (and long) version? So while I can't exactly figure out who this was aimed at or why it was even remade to begin with, I can say that this remake was much better than I had imagined it would be.

Ben-Hur, if you dont' already know, tells the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince living in Jerusalem. His adopted brother, Masala, is Roman, and when they are grown up, Masala leaves Jerusalem to become an officer in the Roman army. However, Judah is falsely convicted of treason by his adopted brother and becomes a slave, separated from his family and the woman he loves, Judah is driven to return and to have revenge on Masala.

While I did mention this version is much better than I expected, it is in no way a perfect film. In fact, the first 30-45 minutes are a little confusing and not well explained. There is a lot of drama with Romans vs the zealots in Jerusalem but it's not really made all that clear. As well, I feel like who characters even were was not overly explained either. It took a while for the film to eventually find it's feet. But eventually it did, and for quite a while the film was actually really good. Basically, it isn't until Judah becomes a slave that the film really picks up. However, the ending became somewhat clunky as this is the part where the story of Jesus is interwoven into the story and I don't know if the filmmaker really knows how to deal with this part. Without too many spoilers, I felt like it was much more a painting of "Jesus was a really, really good person with great ideas about how to live" instead of telling the audience that Jesus was in fact God and was here to save the world from sin and that he was much more than just a "good man". While I found the lessening of the religiousness and having it turned more into moralism to be somewhat disappointing, I was not overly surprised.

And how can I not mention the chariot scene? I saw it in 3D which was honestly pretty neat, even if my eyes kind of suck at seeing 3D stuff. I can tell this new version really tried to make the chariot scene, which is the most iconic scene from the 1959 version, much more epic, but I really feel like the original chariot scene still holds up so well and is still quite thrilling. Again, this is more a complaint of why remake something that is such a classic, but I digress. The chariot scene was well done, although I feel like most of it was Judah and Masala just grunting at each other and making faces.

Jack Huston as Judah Ben-Hur was quite good. He really nailed the air of a rich naive person who thinks everything can resolve nicely. And Toby Kebbell is also really good as Masala. Morgan Freeman's dreadlocks I found to be extremely distracting, but it was nice to see him around and he was solid (as usual) in his part as Ilderim, the man who makes money off these Roman circuses. Everyone was quite serviceable in their roles, and Jack Huston was actually quite good, but there was nothing that overly stood out to me about their acting.

To be honest, do yourself a favour and see the 1959 version of this film. I know not everyone agrees that it has held up, but it really is a good watch for a 3+ hour movie. However, this 2016 3D Ben-Hur is a serviceable remake of an absolute classic and isn't the worst remake of something I've seen. The pacing is really good despite the confusing beginning and clunky end, and doesn't feel nearly like it's 2.5 hours long. It's not a perfect film, but I've definitely seen far worse this summer.

6/10

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Suicide Squad



Suicide Squad, 2016
Directed by David Ayer

A secret government agency, led by Amanda Waller, begins to recruit a dream team of super villains to undergo secret missions. However, Waller may have gotten more than she bargained for with the likes of Deadshot, Harley Quinn and the others.

Honestly, I had high hopes for Suicide Squad. I really hoped this would give DC the good reviews it surely needs and get its superhero trail going. Because, if I haven't mentioned already, I don't really care for Marvel movies. For me, they're a little too light, don't take themselves seriously enough and have a little too much humor. I know, I know. I'm probably the only person who complains that Marvel movies have too much humor, but whatever. I am a huge fan of the Dark Knight trilogy and have really wanted some more superhero films like that to be made. However, Man of Steel ended up being pretty blah, and I still haven't seen Batman v. Superman, but Suicide Squad seemed to be what DC needed. Suicide Squad assembled an amazing team of actors (Viola Davis, Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto altogether? Count me in!) and even recruited a really fantastic director, David Ayer. And while critics would right now have you believe this movie is terrible, I would have to disagree.

To be fair, I walked into Suicide Squad aware of the RottenTomatoes score and having lowered expectations definitely helps when it comes to opinions on movies, for me. I knew in advance that this movie was choppy (both in story and in editing) so I found it to be less distracting because I knew it would be that way.

Yes, Suicide Squad isn't a perfect movie. It has many slightly cringe-worthy moments and the villain is absolute garbage and I'm still not sure what her plot actually was, but I still enjoyed it. This is the kind of film that I felt was rushed and, had the team behind it been given more time to write a script or even just not be terrified of repeating the criticisms of Batman v. Superman and just went for it with Ayer's vision, it would've been one of the best films of the summer. However, for whatever reason (be it too little time, or just scared of repeating the BvS fiasco), Suicide Squad was several steps away from greatness.

And while I have made several complaints, there is a lot to like about this film. The film had a lot of genuinely funny moments. I absolutely loved the inclusion of Ike Barinholtz in this cast. As a Mindy Project fan, it was so great to see Morgan in this film. While his part is small, I loved seeing him around. But more on, I really loved most of the cast. Obviously Viola Davis was such a boss. Like seriously, can we just have a superhero/super villain movie starring Viola Davis? I would so watch that. And I think it's no surprise at this point that Margot Robbie steals the show completely. I'm so happy she's finally gotten a big role like this and happy for the roles it will land her in the future. Also, I haven't enjoyed Will Smith in a movie in a while, and he was an absolute pleasure in this. And while Jared Leto isn't my favourite Joker, his rendition really fit the film and I felt he nailed what he was going for. Also, is this the first film that Jai Courtney wasn't actually terrible? In fact, he was really great and really funny. And I feel like Joel Kinneman was, every so often, trying to sound like Tom Hardy (who originally had this role before dropping out).

And it wasn't just the acting that was enjoyable, but there were a lot of great moments. The fight scenes were well done and there was a lot of great humor. I liked the balance of humor and seriousness here better than I do most Marvel movies, but again, I realize this is an unpopular decision.

Like mentioned, the biggest downer for me was how terrible the villain is. Like, honestly the villain was so confusing and I don't really know what Enchantress was trying to accomplish. It's the exact same problem I had with X-Men: Apocalypse, with Apocalypse being incredibly uninteresting and have a really flimsy purpose. It was even just really corny to watch, every time she came on screen. The movie was so enjoyable and then the villain would come on screen and I'd remember why this film is currently sitting at a 31% on RT. Which is a bummer, because the rest of the film was actually a lot of fun.

I really do wish the best for DC, but three films in and no critical hit, I really hope that the DC team takes a few steps back and lets their directing/writing team have the time they need to work on and perfect the next few films. Because had this movie had that chance, it probably would've been both a critical and box-office hit. I understand that DC wants the success Marvel has, but even I can say that Marvel has done the work to earn what they have (or at least most of the time!) Suicide Squad was just a few steps away from greatness, and had a lot of potential. And even with a terrible, awful villain, it was a fun ride while it lasted.

6.5/10

Thursday, 21 July 2016

July Blindspot: All The President's Men



All the President's Men, 1976
Directed by Alan J. Pakula

All The President's Men tells the story of two Washington Post reporters who uncover the details regarding the Watergate robbery and come to realize just how high up the scandal goes.

Honestly, I knew very, very little about Watergate. I'm not an American, nor was I alive in the 70's, so it was not something I knew much of. The extent of my knowledge was that President Nixon had illegally recorded people. Honestly, I always kind of pictured that he just had a secret tape recorder in his office and recorded people. Or someone secretly taped him in his office with said secret tape recorder.

However, our film starts with the reported break in at the Watergate complex, inside the head of the Democratic National Committee. The men are quickly apprehended but were said to have bugging equipment on them. What doesn't initially seem like suspicious details, quickly leads both Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward to start digging in to the story. The farther they get, they realize they have a massive story on their hands, though they couldn't have initially imagined just how high up it goes, even if their own paper doesn't really believe in them.

I put this film on my list because of all the comparisons between this film and Spotlight. As well, I am a big fan of both Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford and it seemed like something I shouldn't miss out on. Indeed, the film is quite like Spotlight, in many ways. The thing I really liked about Spotlight is that it didn't sidetrack into the journalists personal lives and included dramas there. It only included personal things that were relevant to the investigate story. As well here, I have the exact same praise for All the President's Men. This movie is innately focused on the subject at hand and doesn't stray.

All the President's Men expertly lays down the story, unfolding piece by piece with great timing. The reveals are well-timed and again, the movie lays out how I imagine reading an article on this subject would've. Honestly, this film is just really good at pretty much everything. It's expertly told and makes it understandable to me (as someone who knows nothing about Watergate). The acting is really good here as well, and I just love Hoffman and Redford. They're a really fun pairing together.

Anyway, I'm happy I finally did watch this and wish I had watched it with my husband because I know he would've really liked it. Another great edition to the Blindspot series!

8.5/10

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Eye In The Sky



Eye In The Sky, 2016
Directed by Gavin Hood
Starring: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Barkhad Abdi

What would you do if you have your enemies located and have your best chance of killing them? And what would you do if suddenly an innocent child enters the target zone? Is one child's life worth the risk of letting the bad guys go free with the promise of much more death and destruction? These are the kind of ethical questions Eye in The Sky asks in it's almost real-time dilemma.

The British military has been tracking several terrorist/extremists for several years in Kenya, a friendly country. They rank high up on the Most Wanted for the East African list. They are dangerous and are known to have been involved in prior large bombings in the country. However things get complicated fast when the option to capture no longer seems viable, and when the decision to kill has been made, a young civilian girl selling bread enters the target zone, what do you do? The decisions are made by people all around the world, from friendly Somali's on the ground in Kenya, to military in Nevada, Hawaii and various locations in Britain.

Eye In the Sky is the kind of war movie I really, really like. I'm not really into on the battleground type of war films. What interests me is war films that ask really strong questions. I'm a huge fan of the Hurt Locker. So Eye In The Sky was genuinely up my alley. Eye In The Sky asks us questions about how ethical drones are and what kind of sacrifices we should be making during war. While Britain and Kenya are not at war in this movie (making the decisions even more muddied), it does reflect the things that our militaries face. As well, the movie is set in imperfect real time (it's more or less real time with some shaving down of time of "trying to get in contact" with people). And I love the decision it made to do that. Eye In The Sky is tense and taut, and plays it's hand well. Like I mentioned, it's not just one room of military employees making these decisions, it's phone calls to various other locations around the world, all involved in this job. And it's a movie that about bureaucracy that is actually interesting! The characters are constantly "referring up" and it shows just how difficult these decisions are, how many people want to weigh in, and how many people do need to weigh in (including people with little to no context). The writing and direction here is excellent. We are constantly feeling the weight of the decisions that need to be made, and that hardly ever lets up.

As well, the acting here is all really great. The script of the film really let all the characters be real humans. We are given a little bit of context to their lives, but we see how these decisions affect, emotionally, many of the characters involved. Helen Mirren, as Colonel Katherine Powell is determined to do whatever it takes to complete her mission. Mirren gives Powell such a strength and is such a force. As the lead of this film, Mirren reminds me why she's as big a star as she is. And while I haven't seen as many films of hers as I would like, the character she plays here feels refreshing and an interesting choice. As well, among the cast we also have Alan Rickman, in one of his final roles, and Aaron Paul. Alan Rickman is just so solid as usual. While his character isn't a showy one, he brings a steadiness to it. Also, Aaron Paul is probably one of the most believable expressive male actors. Isn't he just so great at being constantly teary-eyed? While his role isn't overly large, he is perfect as the emotionally involved pilot who gets the job of launching the drone strike. Aaron Paul needs better film roles, and this was definitely one of them. And also Barkhad Abdi! It was so great seeing him in a film again. It's a shame this is basically his first project since Captain Phillips, but again, Abdi is just really great here and is given a large part (which is nice to see!). I want Barkhad Abdi in more things, because he really is a great actor.

Honestly, I encourage everyone to see this film. Whatever your thoughts are on drone strikes, all opinions seem to be represented here. It's thought-provoking but it's also just a really good thriller. What will happen to the little girl? Will the terrorists get away? The film is tense all the way through and is a better film for it. Go see this movie and support films like this!

9.5/10

Thursday, 30 June 2016

June Blindspot: Raging Bull



Raging Bull, 1980
Directed by Martin Scorsese

I have a big confession to make.... I really did not enjoy Raging Bull.

I know, I know. How can I not love this movie? It's regarded as one of Scorsese's best films and is a pop culture icon. However, I just really didn't care for it. I found Jake La Motta to be someone I had absolutely no sympathy for, and nor did I find I had any sympathy for any of the other characters either. And I know that was probably the point, but films like that make it a lot harder to love.

Anyway, Raging Bull is sort of an anti-biopic about Jake La Motta, a boxer with a complicated personal life. It takes us through the years with his rise to fame and his absolute crash later in life. Jake is someone who is sexist and paranoid and domestic abuser. He's angry and flippant and completely crazy. And I know this is the story of a real person, but it's hard to get behind a movie where a man beats his wives and seems to learn pretty much nothing. After getting married a second time to the extremely young Vickie, Vickie doesn't seem to be exactly innocent either. However, she's young and wants to have a life outside of her controlling and violent husband. But anytime she goes out, Jake is paranoid she's sleeping with someone else. And then there's Jake brother, Joey, who is also crazy. While less paranoid than Jake, Joey keeps things from his brother but also often encourages him. It's a messed up family and Jake is a very messed up person.

Honestly, I'm not exactly sure why I didn't like Raging Bull. I find I hardly ever enjoy boxing movies, but I did think I would like this one. However, the performances are extraordinary here. De Niro just knocks it out of the park, winning his second Oscar for this performance. Famous for being extremely method for this role and for both packing on the muscle and then packing on all the extra pounds for the second half of the film, De Niro brings absolute rage and paranoia to this film. It was almost worth sitting through just for him. But I would also be remiss to not mention Joe Pesci. Honestly, to me, he's still the robber from Home Alone, but discovering all the work he did with Martin Scorsese has been a revelation. Pesci is also so fantastic in this role. After falling for his performance in Goodfellas, he is also so spot on here as Joey. He and De Niro have a great chemistry together, both for brotherly bonding (of which there is little) and for the absolute fights (of which there are many). He absolutely deserved his nomination.

I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't like this more. However, there just seems to be something about Scorsese movies that I never seem to enjoy. Admittedly The Departed has grown on me, but I thought Goodfellas was just alright and I really didn't care for Hugo at all. So there does seem to be a trend. It's a shame I don't care for his films more, but they just don't seem to be to my taste.

6/10

The Legend of Tarzan



The Legend of Tarzan, 2016
Directed by David Yates

I don't know if I mentioned last week in my review of Free State of Jones, but I got those tickets for free for an advance screening. And apparently in this new city I live in, not as many people enter contests for advance screening tickets because I also won tickets for The Legend of Tarzan this week!

So Wednesday evening my husband and I drove across the city to see a new movie for free. I honestly didn't care too much to see this movie, but was vaguely curious what David Yates has been up to since doing the last few Harry Potter films.

The Legend of Tarzan tells the story of John Clayton III, formerly known as Tarzan by the popular media. John has been living in England with his wife Jane for the past 8 years, inheriting the family title and manor. But King Leopold of Belgium, who has colonized a large part of the African Congo, invites John to visit the locals and visit schools and villages. However, what John and Jane don't know is that this was orchestrated for a different reason. King Leopold's right hand man, Leon Rom, actually wants to trade Tarzan to a deadly African tribe in exchange for extremely rare diamonds.

Firstly, I do need to commend the film, in a way, for being about a lot more than just a man who swings from vines and was raised by apes. The film does attempt to bring a more historical context and talk about timely issues. Surprisingly, the film deals a lot with the atrocity that Belgium and King Leopold wreaked in the Congo, taking thousands and thousands of the local natives as slaves. However, despite the film touching on this, it mainly just felt like a very fluffy film. There isn't really a whole lot of plot overall, it's mainly just Tarzan and George Washington Williams, an American historian who wanted proof of King Leopold enslaving the African people, attempting to save a village and Jane who were kidnapped by Leon Rom. So there was lots of action, lots of fights, lots of jumping off cliffs and swinging on vines. But not a lot in the way of actual story.

However, while it wasn't the best movie ever made, I did find it at least somewhat fun. This is a classic popcorn flick, in that it's not all that heavy to watch but it's fun and filled with action and romance. Alexander Skarsgard was decent as Tarzan, but the standouts for me were Margot Robbie as Jane and Samuel L Jackson as George Washington Williams. Margot's Jane was not someone who stood idly by and let herself be a damsel. She's strong and fierce and has a strong sense of self. Samuel L Jackson as Williams however, was definitely my favourite part of the film. His character was like a version of someone he played in a Tarantino film, but the PG-13 version. Honestly, he was the humor in the film and it was just fun.

Honestly, this movie could've been a lot better and the fact that so many people from the Harry Potter films were behind it makes me disappointed it wasn't better than it was. It was fluff and really not all that good fluff. But at least they made it somewhat fun to watch, even if David Yates is capable of much better things. He's hoping his next directorial effort, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is much better than this.

6/10