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Film Review: Hanna

Hanna is the most distinct and refreshing film to hit the multiplexes this year. Known for his period dramas like Atonement, director Joe Wright has created something very ambitious

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Hanna is the most distinct and refreshing film to hit the multiplexes this year. Known for his period dramas like Atonement, director Joe Wright has created something very ambitious; a breathtaking art-house action film with enough Bourne, Bond and Nikita to please the masses.

Hanna, an average looking young adolescent, played by a mesmerising Saoirse Ronan has been secluded from the world her entire life. Her father Erik (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA operative, has kept her in isolation, training her as a cold killer in preparation for the real world. A world where her father knows Hanna will be hunted and imprisoned as an asset by the CIA and specifically one callous agent Marissa Weigler (Cate Blanchett). Not only is it clear that Marissa has a special interest in Hanna but it is also apparent that Hanna is not your average young girl nor Hanna your average action movie.

Set across breathtaking white snowy Finnish landscapes, Hannastarts with an innocent yet ominous tone not unlike the titular character herself. Ronan, with her white complexion and hair to match, disappears into the scenery in these early scenes but always commands the audience’s attention. Ronan captures the vulnerability and menace of Hanna perfectly. We are never sure what to expect or when to put our guard down. Hanna is a great character, a highly trained killer but still a curious young girl torn between her heart and her instinct. She is unsure of the world outside the facts and figures taught to her by her father and more importantly for Hanna she is unsure of who she is and how she fits. Her father may have prepared her to snap a man’s neck but not for interacting with the world let alone children her own age.

When the chase begins Hanna becomes an unrelenting and exhilarating ride set to a thumping and very fitting Chemical Brothers soundtrack. On the run from Marissa and her goons, one of which is an especially memorable Tom Hollander, Hanna is able to utilise all the skills and knowledge that has been taught to her in order to survive and act out her father’s mission. Similarly Wright is able to use all his skills to masterfully keep the audience glued to their seats. Wright, not known for his high adrenaline scenes approaches the chase with great style and originality. Memorable scenes are filled with great rhythmic editing and stylised shots that compliment the soundtrack wonderfully. While on the flip side Wright also knows when to prolong a scene with no editing building great tension, suspense and realism.

Although overshadowed by Ronan, Bana and Blanchett both give excellent performances as Hanna’s protector and pursuer, albeit very different ones. Bana’s Erik is very reserved but calculated, he is endearing as Hanna’s father and defender even when he probably shouldn’t be, a credit to Bana. While Bana’s performance is noticeably subtle Blanchett’s is not as Marissa the cold hearted ‘wicked witch’ as Hanna describes her. Blanchett’s over the top (with southern accent to match) villain is a perfect mix of obsessive-compulsive, wickedness and a little bit of vulnerability. So good is Blanchett that at times the audience will wonder who is chasing whom, but not for long as Marissa’s ruthlessness is never in doubt.

Once the chase and all its great characters converge in Berlin for the final showdown all the elements that have made Hanna great up to this point come together to produce a heart stopping climax. Wrights amazing imagery, The Chemical Brothers awesome soundtrack and Ronan’s incredible performance all come together to make what is a relatively weak script into a must see film of 2011 for film buffs and action junkies a like.

Verdict: See this.

Joe Wright emerges from the conservative Pride and Prejudice and Atonement and brings the multiplex audience an original stylised action feast that along with a Chemical Brothers soundtrack and an amazing performance by Saoirse Ronan they will not soon forget.

Directed by: Joe Wright
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander
Run Time: 111 minutes

Film Reviews

Spider-Man: Far From Home is a splendid coda to the Avengers

Save the world, save the girl?

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Spider-Man

Where do you go after Avengers: Endgame? The finale to an 11-year journey was always going to be a heavy exhale. But with much of the story finding conclusion, it was only natural that the next chapter would be something a little lighter, less fraught but still tense with importance. The question of responsibility and the burden of carrying it has been a fundamental principle of being a superhero in this universe, a burden that only continues in the final film of this phase. So where does the Marvel Cinematic Universe go after Endgame? Well, on holiday of course. Spider-Man: Far From Home is not only a splendid film but a nice coda to the biggest cinematic undertaking we’ve seen in recent history.

You can find Spider-Man: Far From Home nestled in the cinematic landscape somewhere between Iron Man 3 and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Peter Parker (Tom Holland, really solidifying himself as this generation’s best Spider-Man) is Clark Griswolding himself across Europe to chase the heart of MJ (Zendaya). As a bumbling 16-year-old who only wants to find the girl, his romance is cut a little short by the expected Marvel cinematic tomfoolery we’ve come to expect from our arachnid hero. Jake Gyllenhaal’s turn as Mysterio is a concerted effort; a cross between Tony Stark’s wise but too cool tutelage and Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin (take that how you will). As the carnage across Europe unfolds, the film becomes a well-balanced juxtapositioning of the kind of humor we’ve found appealing within in the MCU and action and adventure that doesn’t become overly burdensome or heavy. Far From Home keeps things light and breezy, but you never forget the stakes or think that this is just a tacked on fling after the events of Endgame.

The cast are well rounded and the addition of Marvel players we’ve come to love (Jon Favreau’s Happy Hogan, Spider-Man sidekick Ned, and both Nick Fury and Maria Hill) makes it hit with almost the same gravitas as the previous films. But more importantly, they never make the film feel like an overstuffed mess that plagued outings like Age of Ultron. The pace is engaging, and as the story unfolds amongst the smoke and mirrors, you can’t help but feel a kind of comic book happiness that you felt through Homecoming. It’s charming, it’s earnest, it’s funny, and at times, doesn’t take itself too seriously (Spider-Man video game in-joke included!). Plus it has those little moments that while may have been written for fans, will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good laugh, a touching moment, and good filmmaking. While the death of Tony Stark looms large within the narrative of the film, it doesn’t become baggage- but rather the catalyst for growth within Parker and helps propel the story to its conclusion.

However, one can’t help but feel that the continued presence of Tony Stark, and the reminder that he is gone, really does give this universe a sense of finality. If you stay for the end-credits (both scenes), you’ll know that Marvel has plans both big and small in the coming years. Far From Home is both the end and the beginning in a sense. It’s a nice coda to Endgame, and for some, probably a good place to step away from the past 11 years. Far From Home is also continued proof that heart and the desire to do good doesn’t always have to follow the same tired script. Save the world, lose the girl? Maybe not this time.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is in cinemas now.

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
Directed by: Jon Watts
Written by: Erik Sommers, Chris McKenna
Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, Colbie Smulders, Marisa Tomei
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Run time: 129 minutes

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Film Reviews

Film Review: Murder Mystery

Murder Mystery is a pretty crap film.

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Murder Mystery is the next film in the long line of terrible Adam Sandler films distributed by Netflix. At this point we’re not sure that Netflix actually watches these movies before they put them on their service but here we are. Murder Mystery, like many of the recent Sandler-helmed flicks, seem less like movies than they do lavish holidays that Adam Sandler and friends go on where filming of random skits tied together loosely by some semblance of narrative occurs. Much of the film is slapped together with the kind of duct-tape storytelling you’d find in all those mediocre SNL movies.

There is star quality though. Jennifer Aniston is back, after working alongside Sandler in 2011’s equally terrible Just Go With It, and they’ve roped in some pretty prominent names, including Luke Evans (Fast & Furious series, The Hobbit), Gemma Arterton, and a happily cashing in his check Terrence Stamp. What happens can be best described as stupid Cluedo, or more blatantly, a dumb Murder On the Orient Express where Sandler and Aniston’s characters, a bumbling New York cop and hair dresser, stumble upon a high-stakes inheritance-grab murder mystery where absurd things happen. It never makes much sense but the biggest problems with these movies are not so much the cartoony skits (Sandler’s cop is so bad at shooting his gun that when he does, it’s a cartoon-like hail of bullets missing their target), but just the insanely unbelievable characters that fill these movies. It’s OK to suspend belief, but at this point, you don’t believe for one second any of the characters would exist in real life or that any of them act like actual humans do. There is also no shortage of cartoon bozos: Fat New York cop sidekick? Check. Buffoony Inspector Clouseau French detective? Check. Overly Spanish Spanish guy? Check. Ali G Indian guy? Check. Even Gemma Arterton’s Jessica Rabbit-esque character would make Jessica Rabbit shake her head in disbelief. At least Rob Schneider isn’t in it.

Is it funny? No, but there are actually some moments worth a chuckle. And that’s already better than Sandler’s previous Netflix outings. Murder Mystery’s jokes are mostly at the expense of the exaggerated caricatures and Sandler’s goofy self, but for the most part, its pretty bereft of humor. To make matters worse, the film has that cheap Netflix sheen to it that makes it even more of a TV movie than it already is. In the end, the movie is such a blatant Murder on the Orient Express rip-off that the end scene literally shows the Orient Express train. Unironically too.

Netflix’s has a serious movie problem- one that we’ve talked about before. Murder Mystery, is no different. You can’t fault Sandler for continuing down this path. Same goes for Aniston. Both have more than established their craft over the years that at times, you can’t help but feel envious of the position they’re in. So what if they just want to put their feet up, cash in a nice pay check, and enjoy the nice sights? Who wouldn’t?

Murder Mystery is a pretty crap film, but it’s what happens when we’ve given this much clout to Netflix. Spielberg had a point when he said Netflix movies shouldn’t be competing for Oscars. It is not only because they eschew theatrical traditions, but it should also be because they’re crap. And not even in the Spielberg Artificial Intelligence sense of being an average movie- but in the Lifetime channel level of crap. So really, when you think about, Murder Mystery is all our fault.

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