A Christmas Carol (2019): Drama / Fantasy

On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge gets three visits from spirits that show him the error of his ways.

Unarguably, the darkest adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale to date. Right off the bat, poisonous truths are coming out of Ebenezer’s mouth, almost impossible to argue with. Why be nice to each other only once a year, indeed… But its darkness doesn’t solely lie in the writing’s truths. It lies in the acting, and above all, the haunting photography. A constant darkness from the opening sequence to the end credits. Keep these elements in mind for what comes next.

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes him on a journey that leaves some… eerie details to the imagination. Excellent storytelling that will get your undivided attention in an attempt to process if the story you’ve read and watched repeatedly in the past is currently taking the direction you suspect it does. And it does, indeed.

The Ghost of Christmas Present shows him the consequences of that past; a past that seems ostensibly irredeemable. It picks on nineteenth century’s socioeconomic problems that could not be a better fit for the present day (massively pounding on capitalism!). The emphasis on that family’s love and what he had been deprived of, and consequently never knew it existed, smoothly shape Ebenezer to what the spirits hope he will become.

The Ghost of Christmas Future is meant to be the real treat; the relentless. But here, unfortunately, the TV adaptation starts losing ground and the role of the Ghost of Christmas Future is cut short. The mini-series becomes too explanatory for an audience that is by now clear is not kids. Thus, certain explanations are not needed, but they are given nonetheless. Then, everything happens too fast as if the filmmakers suddenly realised that the mini-series’ runtime is coming to an end and they must hurry. But then, more explanations are given, forgetting the “show, don’t tell” rule. Furthermore, in the end, the story feels incomplete as the denouement does not address certain issues, i.e., “redemption” from his nephew or the coal miners’ families.

Guy Pearce, Andy Serkis, Stephen Graham, Jason Flemyng, Johnny Harris, and Charlotte Riley are but a few of Britain’s finest actors who perform brilliantly in front of the camera. Joe Alwyn and Vinette Robinson make excellent additions to that cast and play a significant role to the story’s development. Behind the camera. Steven Night, Ridley Scott, and Tom Hardy, among others, put on the producer’s hat and – in my humble opinion – must have done some serious pitching to the BBC to take on such distribution. I guess, if you are about to adapt a classic that has been adapted numerous times before, you may as well do it in a way that it has never been done before.

Stay safe and… Merry Christmas!!!

Bloodshot (2020): Action / Drama / Sci-Fi

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A soldier comes back from a mission, gets murdered, but is brought back to life with superpowers and now he seeks revenge.

I’m not going to slay it. The film suffered irreparable damage from the pandemic but was not going to perform well anyway. Director Dave Wilson is a VFX director and it showed straight away on his feature debut. The film’s narrative doesn’t flow and the editing, probably for production reasons, is trying to pick up the pieces and put them together. It didn’t even mimic or attempt to better the à la The Edge of Tomorrow (2014) repeat mode part to enhance and engage the audience with Bloodshot’s “nightmare”. Toby Kebbell’s and Guy Pearce’s charisma didn’t get the chance to shine at all as, once again, the narrative didn’t do anyone any favours.

Films like Bloodshot work as reminders that even if the original source is a best selling graphic novel (Valiant’s in this instance), this merely means that the respective film will be as successful. “Don’t judge a book by its film”, I read somewhere. It’s a shame, the film was doomed to take a big hit either way.

I would like to conclude by taking my hat off to the VFX department as they couldn’t have done it better and the result of their work is highly impressive.

The Rover (2014): Action / Crime / Drama

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Wipe Hollywood completely out of Mad Max, and you get David Michôd’s post-apocalyptic Rover. This desolated Australia manages to crawl under every antihero’s skin and plant the seed of isolation and fear of their already existing despair.

In this endless pitch-black tunnel, a light shines upon the most unlikely friendship between furious Eric (Guy Pearce) and mentally vulnerable Rey (Robert Pattinson). A light that comes from the abyss of their soul, indicating that, even though everything has gone awry, the tide can still change.

Australian cinema is relentless as much as it is beautiful. And with producer/writer / director David Michôd and writer Joel Edgerton you know that it can only be relentlessly beautiful. Guy Pearce has always been spectacular which leaves us at the end with…

Robert Pattinson! A script has a main philosophy: Show, don’t tell! Robert Pattinson doesn’t say a word. He shows, having nothing to prove, that he is an actor. As if “Remember Me” (2010) was not evident enough, “The Rover” rubs it in haters’ faces.

You can find it here: https://amzn.to/2StRHj1

Animal Kingdom (2010): Crime / Drama

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A cinematic achievement from writer/director David Michôd that will keep you engaged from the opening scene to the end credits. In front of the camera, Detective Guy Pearce and the not so beloved and highly dysfunctional Cody family, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Jackie Weaver, James Frecheville, Luke Ford, and Sullivan Stapleton, perform magic and take us back to some of the Melbourne crime scenes of the ’80s.

“Animal Kingdom”, a realistic crime/drama, straight out of the genuine Australian film school that always appeals to the deepest human emotions, is true to its genres and honest to its execution. A film that earned its stripes, gave prominence to actors and crew, got nominations all over the world and, unarguably, dominated at the AFI.

You can find it here: https://amzn.to/2tMRNYu