Movie Review – Captain America: Civil War

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Director :   Anthony + Joe Russo
Year Of Release :   2016
Principal Cast :  Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Bruhl, John Slattery, Martin Freeman, Alfre Woodard, Marisa Tomei, Hope Davis, Jim Rash.
Approx Running Time :  146 Minutes
Synopsis:  Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.

*****

For the purposes of discussion, this review contains some spoilers for Civil War. There will be no further warning… 

Or rather, Avengers 2.5?

It’s a consensus among film critics and casual viewers alike that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the benchmark of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films to-date. At the very least, it stands with Guardians Of The Galaxy as one of the studio’s top efforts. Although their projects have rumbled the fanboy community of late as being somewhat risk averse, almost production-line, cookie-cutter stuff that’s entertaining but hardly revolutionary, The Winter Soldier’s game-changing twists and turns continue to be a callback by fans as what Marvel could achieve if they were willing to take a gamble. Winter Soldier co-directors, siblings Anthony and Joe Russo, were subsequently handed the keys to Marvel’s kingdom as a result, given the task of cobbling the comic-book story Civil War into a film version that would deliver similar acclaim and box-office, propel the Avengers story into a different direction (hinted at by the simmering tensions of Age of Ultron) and prepare us for the eventual Infinity War event – a dual-film project the Russo Brothers take on now that Civil War has arrived in cinemas.

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Movie Review – Jumanji

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Director :  Joe Johnston
Year Of Release :   1995
Principal Cast :  Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, David Alan Grier, Jonathan Hyde, Bebe Neuwirth, Adam Hann-Byrd, Malcolm Stewart, Patricia Clarkson, Laura Bell Bundy.
Approx Running Time :   104 Minutes
Synopsis:   When two kids find and play a magical board game, they release a man trapped for decades in it and a host of dangers that can only be stopped by finishing the game.

*****

Following the “birth” of modern Cg visual effects in 1993’s Jurassic Park (and to an extent Terminator 2 the year before), the mid-90’s saw a boom crash opera of computerised visual effects supplanting traditional film-making techniques, often to the detriment of the film. Jumanji, released in the middle of our white-hot fascination with the then-nascent digital artform, has not aged terribly well, no sir. In terms of its story and characters, sure, the film remains an enjoyable romp and a largely monotonous essaying of Robin Williams’ less obnoxious personalities, but with its over-use of digital effects through the film’s effect-heavy latter half the movie kinda crumbles into a pixel-laden heap.

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Movie Review – Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

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Director :   Hironobu Sakaguchi
Year Of Release :   2001
Principal Cast :  Ming-Na, Alec Baldwin, James Woods, Donald Sutherland, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Peri Gilpin.
Approx Running Time :   108 Minutes
Synopsis:   A scientist makes a last stand on Earth with the help of a ragtag team of soldiers against an invasion of alien phantoms.

*********

A mind blowing assault on the senses (for mostly the wrong reasons), Final Fantasy came to the big screen in 2001 with the perception of (finally) photo-realistic CG-rendered human beings that were as close to the real thing as we’re ever likely to get. Sadly, while the visuals were indeed superlative, the story, character and complexity of combining Western aesthetics with a throghouly Eastern theological underpinning blows a hole in this film as a work of fiction to large you could drive an 8-bit Pac Man through.

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Movie Review – U-571

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Director :   Jonathan Mostow
Year Of Release :  2000
Principal Cast :  Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi, David Keith, Jake Weber, Jack Noseworthy, Tom Guiry, Will Estes, TC Carson, Erik Palladino, Dave Power, Derk Cheetwood, Matthew Seele, Thomas Kretschmann.
Approx Running Time :   116 Minutes
Synopsis:   A German submarine is boarded by disguised American submariners trying to capture their Enigma cipher machine.

****

America! F@ck yeah!

U571 is one of those films that suffers badly under the spotlight of history. Not our history so much, morseo Hollywood’s history; in telling its Action Film Plot about how America managed to obtain the secret codes for the Nazi Enigma Machine (which wasn’t the case – Britain got there first) via a stolen Nazi U-boat (but the real U-571 wasn’t even in the same location at the time the film is set, not to mention her fate here is nonsensical compared to that of the actual craft) it subverts historical record for the sake of dramatic license and effectively becomes the most authentically un-authentic depiction of naval combat seen on the big screen.

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Movie Review – Cast Away

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Director : Robert Zemeckis
Year Of Release :   2000
Principal Cast :  Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Jenifer Lewis, Chris Noth, Lari White, Vince Martin, Geoffrey Blake, Michael Forest, Jay Acovone.
Approx Running Time :  143 Minutes
Synopsis:   A FedEx executive must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island.

********

Wiiiiiilllsoooooooon!

For a film with about as much product placement could possibly stand, Cast Away remains one of those “gee, I hope this never happens to me” cautionary tales about survival against all odds that only gets better with age. Distilled to its essentials, it’s Tom-Hanks-On-An-Island-For-Two-Hours and it doesn’t really deviate from that at all, save for bookending back to the world plotting that either sets up Hank’s eponymous FedEx employee, or bogs him down in overly weighty emotional histrionics. Hanks’ leading performance is the kind of thing the Academy Awards were designed for, and he did see himself nominiated for a Best Actor gong (didn’t win), but moreso than even Hanks work is the direction of still-in-live-action nuance by Robert Zemeckis.

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Trailer Trash! – X-Men: Apocalypse

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The final trailer for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse has landed, and it’s chock full of brand new footage. Now, some of it could be considered quite spoilery (unless you’ve been following the film’s production closely, that is) so if you want to remain relatively “fresh” before seeing the film, perhaps it’s best if you just skip over this one and check out some of the other content we have here at Fernby Films™. For the rest of us: check out the latest trailer after the jump!

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Movie Review – Crocodile Dundee

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Director :   Peter Faiman
Year Of Release :   1986
Principal Cast :  Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, John Meillon, David Gulpilil, Mark Blum, Michael Lombard, Reginald VelJohnson, Terry Gill, Steve Rackman, Caitlin Clarke, Nancy Mette, John Snyder. 
Approx Running Time :   104 Minutes
Synopsis:   An American reporter goes to the Australian outback to meet an eccentric crocodile poacher and invites him to New York City.

*******

Seminal Australian comedy, and our first international “blockbuster”, Crocodile Dundee remains the gold standard of what larrakin humour and laid-back, utterly ocker characterisation can achieve. Made for under $10m in 1986, Crocodile Dundee would go on to sweep the globe at the box-office, becoming the second-highest grossing film that year, and still one of the most profitable Aussie films of all time. Following years of local television comedy programming, Paul Hogan, together with long-time producer Paul Faiman, set out to make what they hoped would be Australia’s first mainstream hit, featuring a picture-postcard look at the Outback, a likeable, swarthy-yet-charming leading man, and the classic fish-out-of-water storyline that would allow international audiences an “in” on the plot. Although confident as to their product, there’s no likelihood they could have seen the cultural impact the film would have, not only within Australia, but externally as well, cultivating a love for the land Down Under that has never really abated.

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Trailer Trash! – Independence Day: Resurgence

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The mother of all Earthly destruction looks set to continue from the original 1996 film’s blockbusting visual effects and wry, patriot-infused humour, as those pesky aliens once more do battle with Jeff Goldblum and the mighty armed forces of the world (but mainly Goldblum, amiright?) in this latest trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence. Featuring even more landmarks being flattened (those that survived the first go-round) and a grab-bag of CG landscapes flooded with explosive eye candy, Resurgence looks let to trade in on nostalgia for our collective love of the original – not a bad thing by any stretch – and if nothing else, it gives us a chance to enjoy Bill Pullman’s astonishing facial hair. Check out the trailer after the jump!

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Movie Review – Dressmaker, The (2015)

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Director :  Jocelyn Moorhouse
Year Of Release :   2015
Principal Cast :  Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook, Sacha Horler, Caroline Goodall, James Mackay, Rebecca Gibney, Shane Bourne, Alison Whyte, Barry Otto, Julia Blake, Kerry Fox, Gyton Grantley, Genevieve Lemon, Shane Jacobson, Tracy Harvey, Terry Norris, Stan Leman, Rory Potter, Darcey Wilson, Lucy Moir.
Approx Running Time :   118 Minutes
Synopsis:   A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.

*******

Boasting a star-studded Australian cast, and featuring a terrific turn by Kate Winslet (sporting a flawless Australian accent!), The Dressmaker is at turns a heartbreaking tragic drama, a hilarious comedic enterprise, and an altogether luxuriously eclectic venture into the Australian outback. A tale of death, sadness, revenge and haute couture, The Dressmaker features not only some excellent writing and performances, but a solid, beautifully aching directorial turn from Jocelyn Moorhouse, who gives the film a vibrant sense of place and time amid the pernickity gossip and suppressed animosity between the townfolk. Based on Rosalie Ham’s 2000 novel of the same name, The Dressmaker’s remarkable intuitive sense of irony, humour and period attitudes provides a complex tapestry of not only cultural taboos and esoteric Aussie subtext but also a wry, at times melancholy depiction of 1950’s rural country life that’s as iconic as it is culturally cringeworthy.

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