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After We Fell- Review

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After We Fell is the third instalment of the “After” series, based on a series of fanfiction published on Wattpad in 2011 by Anna Todd. The film stars Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Hardin Scott and Josephine Langford as Tessa, the leading couple. This film follows the pair as they face troubles as Tessa makes a life-changing decision, her estranged father gets back in touch, and Hardin’s family secrets begin to unravel. Check out the trailer below.

The film is laden with issues. The script is awful, you can really tell it was fan fiction from Wattpad. The dialogue makes you cringe and it really doesn’t sell that these people and their relationships are real. The direction is just about competent, the acting is barely passable, and the story is predictable and vapid. I’m sure the cast has great acting chops, but they can’t flex them here in the slightest. Every ‘twist’ is set up so badly that when the jaw-dropping reveals happen, anyone who has been paying attention has seen it coming for the last hour. The story isn’t engaging. It sets things up that don’t really go anywhere. The characters outside of the central duo are completely interchangeable and they feel superfluous to the story. Anyone who isn’t Hardin or Tessa feels like they’re there just to fill the vacuum between awfully shot sex scenes until the credits mercifully roll.

I could go on for hours about how this fails on every level as a film, but honestly, I don’t think its intended audience cares about cinematography, screenwriting, or production design etc.- which is fine, most people don’t care about those things as long as the story is engaging and enjoyable- (if they did this wouldn’t have many fans). The film clearly knows its target audience is teenagers, the type of person who reads fan fiction on Wattpad about One Direction. The film has a few, shall we say, ‘intimate’ scenes, which are cleverly edited to ensure a 15 rating. During those cleverly edited moments, there is always a shot where the camera cuts away to show Harden getting a condom and opening it, so the audience knows that even ‘bad boys’ like Harden Scott use protection. And then during one scene where they don’t show Harden getting a condom, the next morning the two mention how they didn’t use protection the night before and have a brief discussion about contraception. Which is great, encouraging safe sex is always great, regardless of how you do it. However, people should not be having sex with someone as manipulative and toxic as Harden, even if he is wearing a condom. This is a nice segue into the real problem with After We Fell.



The biggest issue with this film and the whole After series, in general, is the relationship at the centre of it. Hardin is controlling, possessive, and aggressive. One evening in After We Fell, Tessa and Hardin are enjoying a romantic time in a hot tub. After being interrogated by her boyfriend, Tessa eventually confesses to briefly having feelings for someone else while they were broken up and Hardin storms off and ignores her for the rest of the night. He disrespects a waiter who is innocently talking to Tessa, he stalks her, harasses her. In some scenes, it feels like he is only a step away from hitting her. At best their relationship is toxic and at worst it’s abusive and manipulative. And despite all of this, their relationship is presented as romantic and merely “troubled”. Hardin is dominating and proprietorial, he refuses to listen to Tessa, he lashes out at her, invades her privacy, and then someone assures Tessa: he only acts this way because he loves her. He is the way he is; he does the things he does, out of love. The writers and the characters act as though Hardin being extremely toxic and pretty much abusive is sweet and caring. It’s difficult to write a review of the film when the overarching concept and theme is just too wrong to look past. This is not a well-made film, but I’ve seen many poorly made films that are an absolute blast. This being a bad film, though, doesn’t matter because its issues run so much deeper than just below-par technicalities.

The idea of young people watching this and imagining that this kind of relationship is not only normal but romantic and passionate is genuinely concerning. If this is the standard filmmakers set for romantic relationships for young people, it is extremely worrying. This film is rated as appropriate for 15-year-olds. However, the subject matter and the type of relationship this is romanticising warrants an 18 rating. No 15-year-old girl should be watching this and thinking that it is a good relationship, that Hardin is a troubled but sweet person, which is how the film presents it. This is really one of the most irresponsible film series being made right now; it’s borderline dangerous.

After We Fell hits Amazon Prime on 22 October.

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Marvel

Hawkeye Episodes 1 & 2 | Review

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This year alone, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone intergalactic with the celestials in Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home promises to open up the multiverse with all sorts of madness and mayhem, but Marvel’s latest offering delivers a much-needed grounded entry into the MCU.

We finally get a much closer and deeper look at one of the original avengers, Hawkeye. Whilst he’s not necessarily everyone’s favourite hero and in comparison, to a god that can control lightning or a giant green rage monster, a skilled archer is a bit naff in but Hawkeye is actually rather underrated and has an interesting story to him.

The Hawkeye TV show starts off in 2012 during the events of the battle of New York from the first Avengers film. We see it from Kate Bishop’s perspective, a young girl who sees Hawkeye on the roofs of buildings firing his arrows and gets inspired. We then jump forward to the present day where we start to see the lives on both Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and 22-year-old Kate Bishop who’s now played by Hailee Steinfeld. Clint must get home to his family for Christmas despite the fact a threat from his past has resurfaced.

Photo by Mary Cybulski. © Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

The show immediately establishes itself as being much more grounded and smaller scale than a lot of the Marvel content we’re used to. And it’s actually quite refreshing to see things like this for once. There’s a certain more naturalistic feel to the show, a bit like many of the Netflix Marvel shows like Daredevil. Whilst Hawkeye is nowhere near as dark as Daredevil, getting to see our hero on the streets of New York post-Blip fighting mobsters rather than intergalactic aliens is quite nice to see.

However, what stands out most about the first two episodes of Hawkeye is just how much fun this show is! It’s set the week before Christmas and this holiday spirit is throughout both episodes that I’ve seen. They play into the Christmas nature both in the tone and aesthetic of the show and it makes for a joyous time. Hawkeye and Bishop are both cracking jokes and quipping in the signature Marvel fashion but it’s done in a way that’s light-hearted and fun and yet it doesn’t take anything away from the film’s action scenes.

As for the action, there’s not been loads just yet however the show is just getting started and by the end of episode two it’s definitely found its feet and is ready to go full throttle in episode three. The action that we have had is well-shot and has good camerawork to keep us entertained. Hailee Steinfeld shines as Kate Bishop and brings so much charisma to the character that she’s a welcome addition to the MCU and I’m sure fans will eagerly follow where Bishop goes throughout the universe.

Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

The show is constantly taking the MCU in a different direction, with a much more grounded feel and us getting to see things we’d never expect to see from Marvel. Whether that’s a musical about  Steve Rogers (which is absolutely incredible and deserves to be a real thing) or Clint having a run-in with some live-action role-players, the show is full of excitement and fun is a downright great time to be had this Christmas.

Hawkeye is a joy to watch and brings a much-needed look at one of the most underrated Avengers. It brings some holiday cheer to the MCU, something that’s been lacking since Iron Man 3 and provides some light-hearted entertainment whilst also developing a character that we’ve never really had much detail on before. Hawkeye is great fun and has set itself up for a very promising series.

The first two episodes of Hawkeye will release on Disney+ on Wednesday 24th November with new episodes every Wednesday.

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Adventure

Ghostbusters: Afterlife | Jason Reitman Has Truly Outdone Himself

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After more than a year of scheduling delays due to the pandemic, Ghostbusters: Afterlife has finally made it into some theatres across the world. The newest film in this iconic franchise is a direct sequel to the original 1984 Ghostbusters and 1989s Ghostbusters II, which was released more than thirty years ago. Director and co-writer Jason Reitman, is the son of Ivan Reitman, who directed both Ghostbuster films and his legacy to his Father’s Ghostbusting franchise was a nostalgic joyride that features the same heart and soul as the originals and truly took me back to when I first experienced the spiritualistic, scientific wonder. 

Ghostbusters: Afterlife follows Callie (Carrie Coon) and her children Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), and Phoebe (McKenna Grace), who after becoming broke and indebted are evicted from their home and are forced to move to a decayed farmhouse in Summerville, Oklahoma, left to them by the children’s late grandfather. A series of unexplained earthquakes are occurring despite not being situated on any fault lines or tetctonic plates. In addition Phoebe discovers strange and ominous ruins in an old mine that is rumoured to have once belonged to the alleged occultist Ivo Shandor.

Photo: Sony Pictures

The children also discover the history of their grandfather with the original Ghostbusters, who have since been largely forgotten by the world beyond their fan base. But when a supernatural phenomena relating to New York City’s Manhattan Crossrip of 1984 occur and threaten the world, the kids along with their family and friends, must solve the decades-old mystery of the relocation of their grandfather and use the equipment of the Ghostbusters and become their successors to save it. 

At the heart of the story is the youngest child of the family. Mckenna Grace who is perfect in the role as Phoebe and her character is certainly relatable, she’s a young person trying to find a way in a world where her mum sadly doesn’t encourage her scientific cleverness and she has few but very little friends. Bespectacled and introverted with a dry wit, Afterlife is her journey of discovering the importance of her heritage and embracing her true gifts and talents. 

Mckenna Grace personifies the person in this story with the intelligence to see through the paranormal of everything that’s happening, Much like Egon did and certainly would have, had he been part of this spectacle of a movie. she also gives subtle homages to Ramis’s comedic approach.  

Photo: Sony Pictures

Afterlife felt like it was built around paying homage to his absence, but he and Egon loom largely over the whole film especially with a touching dedication “For Harold” which truly had me tearing up and speechless, the tribute is just loving. Not only is the movie an energetic ghost-blasting joyride, its filled with beautiful emotion, which I wasn’t emotionally prepared for. 

Photo: Sony Pictures

Among the supporting cast Carrie Coon portrays Callie as she comes to grips with the loss of a father she never really knew. She’s a dedicated, yet struggling single mother and doing her best whilst childhood wounds heal. She is also not quite understanding of phoebe’s hobbies. Both her and Mr Grooberson played by Ant-Man and current People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive aka Paul Rudd have great chemistry and comedic moments together. 

Photo: Sony Pictures

Stranger things star Finn Wolfhard also seems to be in familiar territory with all the supernatural things going on. His character trevor seems to have a crush on Lucky, a classmate at High School and a forth-generation resident of Summerville. As for Logan Kim, he truly steals every scene he’s in as Podcast. He’s an intrepid kid obsessed with mystery and the supernatural, this mixes well with Phoebe’s science. The 10 year old podcaster also has some great sequences with all the iconic gadgets. 

The cast is just so good in this movie, they’re simply terrific and all serve the purpose of this story. The script and dialogue also are so cleaver and truly honours and acknowledges the nostalgia that longtime Ghostheads like myself feel for the original story. moments of fan service occur with iconic imagery scattered throughout the film as the camera pans and lingers on iconic props like the P.K.E. Meter, Twinkie, etc. 

The dirt farm is also a fantastic location that also serves as a character. It’s decaying state shows neglect but also that something isn’t quite right. Egon has suddenly left hundreds of tools and paraphernalia for the family to uncover. Reitman creates a film that truly honours the legacy of Ghostbuters, but he also creates a phenomenal new film to introduce to new generations. It’s an expansion of the universe in which these kids are finding where they fit into the world whilst it passes the torch onto the next generation of Ghostbusting heroes. 

Photo: Sony Pictures

If you’ve watched the trailers then you’ll be aware of Muncher, Mini-Pufts and the return of the terror dogs, every Ghostbusters fan will have a favourite. The Mini-Puts were absolutely hilarious and mischievous, they’re small humanoid marshmallow men that are somewhat the same shape as the mascot on the Stay Put Marshmallows packaging. And though they may look cute at first sight, they are quite a destructive bunch and tend to not think before acting, and don’t care about their or others of their kind’s well-being. 

Muncher surprisingly voiced by Josh Gad loves to chew down on anything metal it can get its hands on. He’s somewhat smart, but more of a pest than an actual threat. 

Photo: Sony Pictures

The action sequences are done brilliantly especially with ghosts flying about everywhere. And seeing the Ecto-1 drifting through a wheat field and then driving through Smallville chasing after Muncher with all the proton blasting was thrilling and energetic. 

Photo: Sony Pictures

The music and score by Rob Simonsen is phenomenal and truly nostalgic as he uses many of the late Elmer Bernstein’s iconic themes from the original film which truly gave me goosebumps.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife truly left me wanting more, especially with the new mythology and characters. It’s perfectly a story about a father’s forgiveness and a young girl on a journey to discover herself and her grandfather’s legacy. That relationship really resonated with me as my own grandfather introduced me to this franchise growing up on VHS, so I really wished he’d have been here to watch this, even though I felt his presence whilst watching the film. And whilst the film still honours the original in an emotionally incredible satisfying way, writer-director Jason Reitman and co-writer Gil Kenan have truly crafted a phenomenal, engaging and an emotional story about lineage. Jason Reitman has truly outdone himself and pays tribute to his father’s greatest work. 

So Who you gonna call? 

 

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Classics

Reel Recommendations: Possession – One Restoration You Do Not Want To Miss

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One of my favorite elements in the horror genre is taking a contemporary story and somehow implementing the genre’s core elements. Take the film Cure (1997) directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa; the film is about a detective who is investigating a series of grizzly attacks by a serial killer. On the film’s surface, it is your simple crime-thriller ala David Fincher’s Se7en (1995) or his 2007, Zodiac. However, throughout the film, the viewer gets inside of the mind of his victims in a psychological battle between light and dark; understanding the killer’s motivations and way of attack. Enough talk about Cure (1997), that is for another time.

I hold this element of the genre close to my creative heart because the genre does not always need a monster or killer or the loose, the genre is about set-up, execution, and the atmosphere in which those two elements listed are contained. If you are looking for more horror films like that, that are not about unstable detectives, look no further than Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession.

This 40-year-old lost film has recently been gaining a cult following and the film distributor Metrograph has graced film fans with a restoration. My thoughts on that are listed below the review.

Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill @ Possession (Andrzej Żuławski, 1981

Possession is a film about how division; division of two people who seem to be at odds and have fallen out of love for one another amidst the middle of the Berlin Wall, a division of communication between a couple and the affair that has brought them down as well as a division of body and state. Possession is about the breaking point between a couple as they’re in the very early stages of a divorce. They both have simply fallen out of love with one another and have started sleeping with other people, mainly Isabelle Adjani’s Anna. As Sam Neil’s Mark understands the situation unfolds, the more angry and sickly he becomes. There are points where he will look like he has not eaten in days and looks incredibly pale-skinned. There is a moment throughout the first 25 minutes where Neil is having a seizure in a cold sweat.

While Possession is a body horror in terms of visual effects, its a body horror from the performances given. We see both of the films leads reach sadistic and stomach-churning when it ocmes to range. The first half being dedicated to Sam Neil’s perspective of the situation and how he is treating himself during this change, where he goes from calm to physically abusive. Then as the story unfolds, Żuławski pays more attention to Adjani’s Anna, as an audiences we are opening the curtain to what she has been up to when the camera is not focused on her. The camera work works in one takes with very abrupt takes in its editing. Żuławski wants everything to feel like one fluid motion rather than have multiple takes for one single scene. The subway scene in particular roughly has about two-three takes and you do not evne notice because of how hypnotized you are to Adjani’s otherworldly performance. I am treading lightly on the plot due ot the genius of this film is to go in knowing nothing.

Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill @ Possession (Andrzej Żuławski, 1981

Possession is one of those horror films that were lost in time but recently have been gaining a resurgence through word of mouth and many clamoring for a Criterion blu-ray release, and for good reason. Possession includes some of the best performances I have ever witnessed with direction that is unpredictable and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. If there is one restoration you should have eyes on it is this one.

Restoration Review

Possession not only is a wonderful film but is also one of the best restorations I have seen recently. Metrograph elevates the horror film and at times looks like it was made from the last decade. The stark blue color pallette shines due to how cold and emotionally distant the characters are. The sound design is wonderful, every whisper is heard and understood, every scream feels like a scare, every tension-building moment plays like gangbusters. This is one restoration you do not want to miss especially for cult-genre fans.

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