Legend Movie Review: Two Tom Hardys, Twice The Mayhem

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Brace yourselves, the biopics are coming in full force

The Oscar bait films are in bound, and to lead the pack is “Legend.” Hot off the heels of “Straight Outta Compton,” “Legend” follows the tale of Reggie Kray (Tom Hardy) and Ronnie Kray (Tom Hardy) as they take over the entirety of the 60’s London underworld. That’s right. For those who know nothing of the film, The Kray twins are both played by the ever-talented Tom Hardy. An interesting gimmick, but how does it work in practice?


Remarkably. Truly remarkable. At first it’s undeniable to see just Tom Hardy, but as the film goes on the two twins really become their own characters. Small nuances differentiate them, posture, facial expression, movement, each tuned to the individual aspects of the specific character. The goal of any actor is to fool the audience into not seeing the actor but the character they portray, a feat Tom Hardy pulls off with ease.

“Legend,” perhaps reflecting the central characters too much, is ultimately a very schizophrenic and split experience in most of it’s presentation. It works in some aspects buy in others it really is a head scratcher. The highlight of the show for many audience members will certainly be Ronnie Kray, the unhinged psychopath of the two. For a film focused on underworld violence, Ronnie proves to be the foil to the typical genre conventions with genuinely laugh out loud dialogue and actions that provide frequent and copious levity. Ronnie’s scenes are the stand outs from the film providing some truly memorable moments. He’s likeable despite his obvious and apparent flaws. This is both one of the film’s greatest strengths and weaknesses.


“Legend” feels confused and erratic. It jumps from moments of complete levity to those of dire consequences. It constantly pokes fun at the stigma of homosexuality light heartedly, then alternates to the psychological deterioration of another character. It’s jarring to say the least and because of the evident lack of tact the tonal changes take,  the main emotional beats of the film don’t really hit home. Or anywhere close to home for that matter.

The script very clearly favours Ronnie too, with the more level headed Reggie’s character being rejected to development via a simple romance sub-plot that weighs the core themes of the film far further than they should have ever reached. These conversations that Reggie Kray and his romantic interest Frances (Emily Browning) have also have a strange sense of revision, as if one script was edited heavily to include weighty one liners meant to inject some sort of ideological drama into the film where it seems it has no right to be. Pseudo, “deep” lines are placed oddly at the end of conversations for what I can only imagine was to leave a poignant sense in the audience. Not so.


“Legend” suffers from what can only be described as a confused tone which leads to an incredibly distracting dissonance between what we’re seeing on screen and what the tone suggests. Perhaps this is what, “Legend” was aiming for, a sense of utter surrealism in the face of preposterous situations yet the totally bizarre scenes are stuck beside supposedly emotionally heavy scenes resulting in a messy, confused and ultimately disappointing final film.


Review by Alex Reid

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review: Express Yourself

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The biopic is a classic genre in film that usually leads to award season opportunities as well as audience and critical acclaim, but where most biopics focus on those historical characters that are largely considered to be “good” people, “Straight Outta Compton” focuses on the endlessly controversial world of gangsta rap, specifically the pioneering group of the sub-genre, N.W.A.

“Straight Outta Compton” follows rappers Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren as they form one of the most prolific hip hop groups of all time, and the effect it has on their personal lives. This is the film’s greatest strength, it’s ability to make large personalities relatable and engaging. These are men that, despite their flaws, ultimately sympathetic characters. Their attitudes are summarized in one line by Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), “Our art is a reflection of our reality.” A stinging criticism of general pop culture but a poignant justification for what was at that point in time some of the most controversial music to ever hit the mainstream.

The inter-personal relationships between the characters and their attitude towards their culture is always backed against ever increasing tensions between the police force and the African American communities. N.W.A played a large part in igniting the fuse to a long dormant bomb through one of their most shocking songs, “F**k tha Police.” “Straight Outta Compton” does the moment justice, building up the context, raising the stakes, then delivering a stinging punchline. The song became an anthem for the 1991 riots, ones which are depicted in the film as total chaos, yet for some reasons seem to be relatively short compared to the rest of the film. For a film that spends its first half making a case for social injustice, “Straight Outta Compton” seems to turn in a completely opposite direction just as events were coming to a head. It feels as if the events were obligatory to include, but the film fundamentally wasn’t as interested in the riots as it was in the characters.


A feature film only has a certain amount of minutes to go around, and it’s not an enviable task to juggle around an ensemble cast like this in such a short time but the characters of DJ Yella and MC Ren seem to get shunted to the side, making token appearances every twenty minutes or so the remind the audience that they were part of the group too. Instead, “Straight Outta Compton” opts to focus the most on Eazy-E who is a genuinely engaging character. He is by no means your typical biopic protagonist and he is our window into this world. Jason Mitchell performs remarkably in the role, relaying a man whose rise and fall from fame genuinely affects his psyche.

“Straight Outta Compton” is a musical biopic so naturally the music doesn’t disappoint. The majority of the soundtrack is dominated by late 80’s/early 90’s hip hop, setting the tone and context of the times perfectly. It’s not just N.W.A music either, tracks from other hip hop legends, 2-Pac and Snoop Dogg also drift in and out, no doubt sending ripples of nostalgia through many viewer’s spines. Any fan of the genre won’t be disappointed in the music score.


Ultimately though, “Straight Outta Compton” is the biopic with a hard outer shell, but an emotionally mature centre. The trailers would have you believe that, “Straight Outta Compton” depicts the group’s struggles against the social times when in fact it is more about the relationships between the members of the group, and how money and fame can come between great art, for better or for worse. Despite a lack of focus in the middle, “Straight Outta Compton” delivers where it matters providing a memorable biopic, not quite reaching the heights of the greats of the genre, but nevertheless standing proud on its own.


By Alex Reid

The Gift: The Thriller That Isn’t

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The Gift is a strange beast indeed. Directed by Joel Edgerton and starring Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and Joel Edgerton himself, The Gift stands among the surprise sleeper hits of the year as one of the more surprising and unconventional films to come out.

If you were to watch any trailer for it, you’d think it’s just another run of the mill horror/thriller. This is by no means the case. The Gift is in essence about a man from a couple’s past trying desperately to reconnect with them by any means necessary.

The Gift’s first act primarily sticks to the conventions of thriller movies like this, but as it moves into it’s second and third acts the three main characters become measured and ultimately flawed people, haunted by mistakes and tragedies from their past. It becomes less about the cheap scares and more about the characters themselves. The Gift functions far better as a character study than it does a thriller.

The characters are what the audience are drawn to, and it is in no small part due to the acting of the three main leads, particularly Joel Edgerton as Gordo and Jason Bateman as Simon. Joel Edgerton could have very easily oversold his performance, and the role would have allowed for him to do that, but he kept it subdued and nuanced, with just enough menace to keep the audience on their feet.


The cinematography and lighting in The Gift are also incredibly admirable, especially some of the dark scenes with car lights illuminating the characters faces and the warm yellow glow of the house at night. Very slow tracking and wide shots draw us in, ramping up the tension and keeping the audiences eyes exactly where Joel Edgerton wants them.

All of these elements add up to the sum of their parts into a fantastic character study and examination as to how the past can affect the future, and small actions, no matter how insignificant we think they are can have wide-reaching impacts. There’s a whole world of pain behind Gordo’s eyes, making him not just the cut and paste antagonist of many other thriller, but one who is measured, realistic and utterly terrifying.


Unfortunately, with a character study film like this, it’s not entirely unreasonable to assume that some audience members will become bored. Several scenes around the middle seem to simply fill time, and the pace becomes that of a slow meander through the cinematic beats, but for those that are invested in the characters, the pace shouldn’t prove to be too much of a problem.

All the small conversations, subtle clues and foreshadowing culminates in a climax that is heavily reminiscent of Oldboy (2003), and as the final credits role, you feel just as dirty as you did then. The Gift lets the audience think for themselves, but even now as I write this I feel like I need to take a shower. It’s a memorable and well-earned outcome.


Review by Alex Reid

Ronda Rousey Campaigns For Captain Marvel Role

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Ronda Rousey, the undefeated MMA fighter, has been campaigning via social media, primarily Instagram, to try to nab the role of Captain Marvel in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is one of the first times crowd requests could push an actor through to playing a specific role in the cinematic universe.

The campaign came after a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) where Rousey said that she would love to play the titular character of the upcoming Marvel film. Soon after she received fan art of her in the iconic suit. Taking to Instagram she said,

“Since the Reddit AMA I’ve received so many bad-ass Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel edits! There were so many cool ones I couldn’t pick just one to share – here’s 1 series of 2 Big thank you to contributing artists: @bosslogix (two on right) and @salman.artworks (left).”

She then went on to share two more pictures, writing, “Big thank you to the contributing artists: @alexmurilloart (right) and Hugo Dourado (left).”


The character Rousey would play, Ms. Marvel a.k.a Carol Denvers, was a member of the United States Airforce who gained super-human powers — not too dissimilar to those of Superman — after an accident in which her DNA mixed with that of Captain Marvel.

By Alex Reid

D23 Holds Heaps Of Info For Avid Film Fans

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The annual Disney conference has been held over the past two days, and seeing how Disney possesses an ever-expanding reach over entertainment, from Pixar to Marvel to Star Wars, heaps of news has been seeping out over the past 48 hours.

For Star Wars fans, a brand new poster designed by Dru Strutzan, the original artist for the art of the first three Star Wars films, has debuted. The poster shows characters both new and old, our heroes Finn, Rey and Han Solo as well as the villainous Kylo Ren. Most notably, Finn is seen holding a light sabre, something that was heavily rumoured for months but never confirmed until this poster was released. Speculation is also avid that the main female lead Rey, played by newcomer Daisy Ridley, will be a character stuck between both the light and dark side.

Significantly, the director of the recently released Jurassic World, Colin Trevorrow has been confirmed to helm and direct Star Wars Episode 9, the final film in the new trilogy. Fan reactions are mixed to the announcement due to Colin Trevorrow’s lack of a large filmography and so far proving to direct films that have been critically mediocre.

D23 also had tonnes of new for Pixar fans, with footage for The Good Dinosaur as well as the official posters dropping for The Incredibles 2, Cars 3, Toy Story 4 and Finding Dory, the sequel to Finding Nemo. This marks a shift in Pixar’s mission statement, returning to old properties to expand on their worlds and  characters, a tactic not yet tested on such a wide scale in Pixar’s history


For the Marvel fans, D23 showed the first footage of the upcoming, “Captain America: Civil War.” Civil War chronicles a split in the main Avengers as they face the direct repercussions of previous excursions. One one side, Tony Stark, on the other, Captain America. The footage shown was a quick sizzle reel of tightly choreographed action sequences, fighting between the Avengers and our very first look at the Black Panther. The film is set to come out in early 2016.

The final piece of note-worthy news to come out of D23 is the Jungle Book footage, directed by Jon Favreau, which has been universally praised for its astounding depiction of the animals through technology similar to that used in the Life of Pi. The full cast was also announced, Bill Murray as Baloo, Scarlett Johnasson as Kaa, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera and Christopher Walken as King Louie. Remarks have also been made about newcomer Neel Sethi, who is playing Mowgli, and his incredibly acting skill for a complete newcomer.


D23 has begun to wrap up, but if any significant news surfaces as the conference draws to a close you can be sure I’ll be back to report on it.

By Alex Reid

Inside Out Is An Emotional Rollercoaster

Inside Out
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In my mind, Pixar is a total bastion of creativity and originality in the film industry, which many are saying is becoming less and less creative as the days go on. Every year Pixar release a project that is endlessly creative and inventive when it comes to the settings of the film. However, with the recent announcement at last year’s Disney Conference that Pixar will be releasing a whole host of sequels over the next few years, fears were, and to an extent still are, quite high that their originality is being stamped out in favour of a more business friendly cash cow.

It’s my absolute pleasure then to write that Inside Out is, undoubtedly, one of the most unique projects Pixar have developed in the last few years, perhaps since Wall-E. Our main character is Riley, and eleven year old girl who is going through life changing events in her life. Rather than watch the action play out from her perspective though, we instead see it from the wholly unique perspective of her five chief emotions, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, Fear and the main emotion, Joy.

Inside Out can be seen as one large extended metaphor, but its core message is heartfelt and relatable. Inside Out is a great romp through the mind of an eleven year old girl, cracking wise about concepts like Déjà vu and the imagination, but in the end, the overarching theme is more mature than what I personally could have ever expected from a Pixar movie. It’s a change from form, and a greatly heartfelt one at that.

Joy (Amy Poehler) is our guide through the world of the mind, and it’s through her that we understand the world which has been set up. One of the main stumbling blocks Inside Out could have tripped up on could have been the complex way the world has set up. Save for a large exposition dump near the start of the film, director Pete Docter lets the audience learn about this world through the experiences of our characters. Concepts like long and short term memory, personality and the sub conscious are all creatively manipulated to make it more than accessible to all audiences, both young and old.

It’s more than worth mentioning then that the voice actors are absolutely vivacious and full of life. I won’t spoil anything, but is a character introduced in the second act that absolutely steals the show. The voices breathe life into these potentially one note characters, and contrary to what trailers may have you believe, each of the emotions do experience other emotions that aren’t their own name-sake.

Unfortunately, as much as the setting of Inside Out is very creative and intuitive, the plot is not. If you’ve seen any conventional blockbuster in the last year, you know how the plot of Inside out is going to turn out. The Three-Act Structure is adhered to with frightening strictness making the plot anything but unexpected. In fact, many have pointed out that the story of Inside Out is one that follows almost the exact same beats the Pixar classics such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Up. Of course this won’t be an issue, nor a concern for children or in fact most adults who watch this film, it’s just a troubling feature in many of Pixar’s films that is worth pointing out.

That being said though, the resolution to the plot is one that I honestly wasn’t expecting, and the overall theme wasn’t something akin to, “Happiness is the best and you should always be happy,” but something far more emotionally complex and in the end, emotionally rewarding.

Inside Out is a pleasant film, one that defies the convention of the normal themes that are employed by animated kid’s movies, but strictly adheres to the predictable and ultimately inconsequential plot points. If you’re looking for something in the cinema this weekend that is fun and accessible, then Inside Out will have you covered.

By Alex Reid

The Not So Fantastic Four, What Caused It, And Can It Be Stopped?

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The new Fantastic Four movie arriving by way of 20th Century Fox has hit our cinema screens to a fair amount of vitriol from fans and critics alike. An Inexplicable plot, blatantly obvious reshoots and trouble behind the camera all seem to have contributed to what has now become the prime example of the superhero movie gone bad. But the question remains, why has Fantastic Four ended up this way, and more importantly, can it be prevented in the future?

Fantastic Four had a troubled development, and as it was being filmed whatever information leaked out was met by fan backlash. At one point it was outed that the main antagonist Dr. Doom was going to be a blogger instead of a scientist, igniting the collective fuses of every comic fan on earth. This was changed in the final cut of the film, but that’s not the only thing that seemed to be different from the original vision. It’s been pointed out by many keen eyed observers that a whole host of shots from the trailers never made it into the film, and Sue Storm’s (Kate Mara) blonde hair changing shades dramatically throughout the film has become an infamous way to tell which scenes were reshot.

Reports also leaked about director Josh Trank’s behaviour and mannerisms on set. Stories of how he trashed residential areas on shooting and being in a generally foul mood the entire time hasn’t curried any favour among the film fan crowd. However, it seems that even Josh Trank himself didn’t want to have anything to do with the final film, saying that, “We had a great cut of this film a year ago” on twitter near the release of the film.

This raises the question, why did the film change. The internet and the movie industry seems to have placed the blame solely on studio interference with the final film. The theory goes that Josh Trank had a more unique, and perhaps more horror Cronenberg-esque film cooked up before the studio interfered with re shoots to try and build a universe so they could emulate the success of comic book movie juggernaut Marvel.

Although this is a theory that has legs, it is nothing more than a theory. The studio is an easy target, and in the end, we’ll never really know what happened behind the scenes of the Fantastic Four. If it does come to light studio interference was the reason the abomination that is out in cinemas now exists, then that will be a cow that will be milked by creatives for years and years to come. Studio interference seems like an inherently troubling practice, but unfortunately, we’ll never know what in the final cut was the stamp of Josh Trank, and what was the stamp of the studio.

By Alex Reid