Eye in the Sky – Gavin Hood

Eye in the Sky starring Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, and Aaron Paul. Photo Credit:

Eye in the Sky starring Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, and Aaron Paul.
Photo Credit: Keith Bernstein/Bleecker Street

To strike or not to strike, that is the big question. Eye in the Sky is a thriller that puts both the characters and the audience in an uncomfortable position regarding a seemingly simple drone strike. A group of well-known terrorists are meeting in a house in an inaccessible area and are gearing up for an activity that involves a couple suicide vests, the answer here is easy – take them out.

The colonel in charge of setting up the mission in the friendly country of Kenya (Helen Mirren) has been tracking a British born terrorist for years and finally has the ability to take her out, along with a group of other terrorists, including a new American recruit. When the mission takes an unexpected turn from “capture” to “kill”, things get a little more complicated when a young girl wanders into the kill zone. The film shows the various government officials and their advisers (Alan Rickman, Iain Glen), the drone pilot (Aaron Paul), and the local ground team (Barkhad Abdi) struggling with the decision to risk the little girl’s life for the greater good.

For the American government and the British colonel, the presence of the little girl does not change anything; the suicide bombers are likely going to endanger or kill a much larger population in the very near future, so it is best to fire the missile and contain the situation. The others are more worried about the moral and political consequences of murdering a little girl in a friendly country. Eye in the Sky works you into a panic because time is constantly running out, the decision has to be made; the trouble is, no one wants to be the one to make the decision. It is undoubtedly a dark subject, but echoes of Kubrick’s satirical Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb work their way in as frustrations and the passing of the buck border on ridiculous. It is a nail-biting, frustrating, and darkly amusing film that most people would enjoy, as long as they are prepared to feel drained and little guilty afterwards.

Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman (in his final performance before his death) are the veterans, their characters know what needs to be done and they struggle to stress the need for urgency. Their combined talent as actors help to convey the utter  preposterousness of the situation, which often results in a few snickers from the audience. Aaron Paul delivers a great performance as the drone pilot faced with potentially killing an innocent bystander, and ultimately the one who will have to live with the blood on his hands – even though he is safe in Las Vegas, thousands of miles away from the target. Eye in the Sky is Barkhad Abdi’s first movie after his oscar-nominated performance in Captain Phillips and he nails the small-but-important role as the critical man on the ground in Nairobi.

It is a pretty tense 102 minutes and Eye in the Sky takes advantage of every one of them. It is ultimately the perfect length for a movie like this and Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) should be applauded for smoothly showing the story from multiple points of view. You will not leave satisfied with the end result, but that is the whole point. Eye in the Sky should spark a much bigger discussion: What would you do?

Drone strikes are  certainly the future of modern warfare and have already been used successfully (and unsuccessfully) overseas. There’s always the debate of the ethicality of being able to  wage war from the comfort and darkness of our military bases and boardrooms, and killing multiple people by the push of a button thousands of miles away. Light and reality are conveniently always on the other side of the door. In the end, Eye in the Sky makes this connection with precision.

Eye in the Sky was released in theatres April 1, 2016 and showtimes can still be found in a select few theatres in many cities.

Watch the official trailer here:

The Jungle Book (2016) – Jon Favreau

The Jungle Book (2016) starring Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, and Ben Kingsley.
Photo Credit: Disney

The Jungle Book will make you feel like a kid again and make you believe in the fantastical, even if just for a couple of hours. You will see talking animals and will never think twice, you will see a young boy running through the jungle, hopping through trees, and you will never balk.  Nothing could be more real.

Despite what your eyes and heart may think, Jon Favreau‘s big budget Disney movie was filmed entirely in an L.A. studio. The only “real” element of The Jungle Book is Mowgli, played by newcomer Neel Sethi in his Hollywood debut. And what a debut! The fact that he was interacting with hand puppets and a blue screen most of the time is simply astonishing, especially for a 12-year old with no acting experience. He certainly holds his own as the star of the movie and looks every bit the part of Mowgli, the young boy raised by wolves in the thick of the jungle.

The all-star cast providing the voices for the animals includes: Bill Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Christopher Walken (King Louie), Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha), and Scarlett Johansson (Kaa). Each actor was absolutely perfect for their character and brought them, literally, to life in such a way that did justice to the original movie. You might be one of the lucky ones who giggles like a child when Bill Murray breaks into a subdued version of “The Bare Necessities” and Christopher Walken sings “I Wanna Be Like You” in his universally recognizable voice. It was a necessary risk to add a couple of the original musical numbers and it paid off, especially for the adults who were hoping to hear at least a couple notes.

There’s no doubt that The Jungle Book will appeal to almost everybody, from young to old; from a child who has never seen The Jungle Book (1967) to the adult who remembers seeing it in theatres. The only warning is that some scenes might be too intense or scary for really young children, and if you’re terrified of snakes you might want to close your eyes when you hear Scarlett Johansson’s husky voice.

One thing is for certain, Jon Favreau has an immense appreciation and respect for both the 1967 Disney classic and Rudyard Kipling’s stories; and it shows. The Jungle Book is 21st century magic.

The Jungle Book has grossed nearly $800M worldwide since it’s release on April 15, 2016.

Watch the official trailer here:

Watch this truly remarkable behind the scenes featurette:

10 Cloverfield Lane – Dan Trachtenberg

10 Cloverfield Lane starring John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Photo Credit: Michele K. Short / Paramount Pictures

10 Cloverfield Lane starring John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Photo Credit: Michele K. Short / Paramount Pictures

10 Cloverfield Lane may have nothing to do with J.J Abram’s original Cloverfield (2008), but it is one hell of a movie just the same.  It was released in March 2016 with virtually no build-up and no press. Produced by J.J Abrams (Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Directed by the unknown Dan Trachtenberg, and marketed as a “blood relative” to Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane has received a lot of praise so far and is definitely a good start to 2016.

There are three characters in this movie and the whole thing takes place in an elaborate underground bunker. While this may not sound exciting, the whole atmosphere and the constant state of anxiety will have your stomach in knots for just over an hour and 45 minutes. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up after a bad accident and finds herself locked in a bunker with no idea how she got there and why she is seemingly being held against her will. Howard (John Goodman) is the man keeping her there. He is quick to anger and his motives aren’t quite clear; there’s just something “off” about him and you know he can’t be trusted. Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) is the third person in the bunker and is thankfully a little more light-hearted. As the movie progresses you find out a bit more about why they’re in the bunker, but you never really know until the very end. It’s an intense ride and a unique type of thriller that doesn’t come around very often. Avoid spoilers at all costs.

John Goodman’s performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane is superb and possibly a career best. He is easily the most terrifying part of the movie, which is certainly out of the ordinary for the man best known for The Big Lebowski and Rosanne. Some of his scenes will leave you wide-eyed in shock. The underlying sense of dread remains constant until the last few moments of the movie when all is revealed. People who are squeamish and quick to scare likely won’t enjoy themselves as much as those who prefer a good thriller. Calling 10 Cloverfield Lane a horror movie is a bit of a stretch, but there are certainly some elements of that genre present throughout the film. Thankfully the found-footage style of Cloverfield was abandoned for this movie, but it is filmed in a way that will make you feel cramped, like you’re with them breathing the same stale air in the bunker the whole time.

10 Cloverfield Lane has been in theatres for just under a month and has already racked in over $80M worldwide. Check out local listings to see it on the big screen before it’s too late.

Watch the official trailer here:

Room – Lenny Abrahamson

Room starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay.
Photo Credit: George Kraychyk/A24 Films

Lenny Abrahamson is an Irishman you’ve probably never heard of before, but you’ll be hearing a lot more of him after this year. With only 4 other feature films under his belt (none that would have played outside of film festivals), Lenny Abrahamson has done something extraordinary with Room. This little film won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and had an audience of critics and movie lovers on their feet applauding with fresh tears in their eyes. Since then, it has been one of the most talked about movies to snag three Oscars nominations for movies in 2015.

The majority of the movie is a mother and young son confined to a small room, with very minimal supplies and not much hope for a better future. Brie Larson puts in a powerful performance as the young mother who was kidnapped as a teenager and repeatedly raped by her captor while she was forced to live in a small space with a few amenities. Her son Jack, played by Canadian newcomer Jacob Tremblay, has lived his entire life without seeing the outdoors, other than through a small skylight. His reality is “Room” – the generic name they have given their tiny home; not the room, not a room, but just simply Room.

Instead of a completely devastating film, what you get with Room is a bit of a roller coaster ride. At first you just watch them live their day-to-day life and begin to understand their relationship and Jack’s lack of understanding of what life is really like outside. When they decide to escape, you hold your breath, hope they succeed, and likely hold back some tears. As expected, Jack handles their homecoming and his new reality better than his Mom, but it is a slow process as he adjusts to the other people in his life. It is difficult to watch the young mother struggle with her emotions, the unwelcome fame, and with her parents – who are also having a tough time – but the whole thing is incredibly intriguing. At the back of your mind is always the thought that this has actually happened to people, so coupling that thought with the fact that the acting is absolutely flawless, you truly feel for the characters in the movie. Supporting cast includes Joan Allen (The Bourne Series, The Upside of Anger, The Notebook) and William H. Macy (Fargo, The Lincoln Lawyer, Wild Hogs).

Brie Larson (Don Jon, 21 Jump Street) deservingly won both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Actress and it’s a real shame that Jacob Tremblay did not receive an acting nomination because he was the other half of the movie and essentially made her performance better. Seeing such range from an 8-year old is incredible and he was certainly more deserving than the winner of Best Supporting Actor category in 2016 (Mark Rylance) and at the very least on par with the other nominees (Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Mark Ruffalo, Sylvester Stallone).

Room is both unforgettable and rewarding. You may not watch it more than once, but you’ll be better for having seen it. It is based on the book “Room” by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue.

Room was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015 and was released to an increasing number of theatres in Canada and the U.S from October 2015 to January 2016.

Watch the official trailer for Room here:

Spotlight – Tom McCarthy

Spotlight starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams. Photo Credit: Kerry Hayes

Spotlight starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams.
Photo Credit: Kerry Hayes

At this point most if us know the sex abuse stories, about priests taking advantage of young, scared, impressionable children. It’s both disgusting and shocking and not really something we want to think about. Spotlight puts you at the front of the initial investigation by The Boston Globe that brought the news of this terrible cover-up by the Catholic Church to light in the early 2000’s. The investigative team for the Globe, called “Spotlight” earned the paper a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in  2003. One can only imagine how disturbing this information would have been to come across, especially knowing that the evidence and accusations against the Catholic Church had been around for decades. Spotlight introduces you to the team that was dedicated to uncovering the story and what they went through emotionally trying to piece it all together. The result is a disturbing, yet professional, film that honours the investigators and doesn’t glorify anything. It never undermines the importance of the truth and its responsibility to the audience. It’s no mistake that Spotlight has walked away with six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

Just as the investigative team works together and no one tries to outshine the other, the cast of Spotlight is so well-balanced that it’s difficult to say whose performance was better because they were all gripping. However, both Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers, Foxcatcher) and Rachel McAdams (Southpaw, About Time) showed the most emotional range and both have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscars.  Michael Keaton, who received his first Oscar nomination for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) last year is great as the veteran manager of the “Spotlight” team who just wants to “get it right”. Liev Schreiber (Salt, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) deserves some credit for his wonderful (and underplayed) portrayal of the outsider who has just stepped in as editor of The Boston Globe; he doesn’t say much, but his direct delivery can be quite amusing. Finally, Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games, Julie & Julia, The Lovely Bones) is perfection as the untrusting, but dedicated lawyer just trying to do the right thing no matter the cost.

Despite its heavy topic, Spotlight isn’t without humour; but it is completely appropriate and timed just right to help lighten the mood when it is most needed. The ending is not comforting, nor should it be, but you are left satisfied that the journalists did their jobs and that they did it right. The history of the abuse was finally public knowledge that could not, and would not, be ignored any longer.

What actor-turned-director Tom McCarthy (now with 3 Oscar nominations) has done here should be admired. Many would think it a big risk to make a movie about this delicate topic. Spotlight was perfectly unshowy and remained sensitive to the material, all while keeping the audience absorbed in the characters and their main goal. The final punch, the statistics surrounding the sex abuse, will leave you shaking your head and demanding justice. It’s exactly the reaction you should have. Spotlight has done its job.

Spotlight had a limited released in the USA and Canada in November 2015. It has been released in most other countries since January/February 2016.

Update: Spotlight won the Academy Award for BEST PICTURE

Watch the trailer here:

The Revenant – Alejandro G. Iñárritu

The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. Photo Credit: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and Domhnall Gleeson.
Photo Credit: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

This is a movie about pain – mental and physical pain.  Leonardo DiCaprio will make you feel every bit of suffering endured by his character, Hugh Glass, in The Revenant, Alejandro Iñárritu‘s latest 156 min tour de force. If gore and death make you at all squeamish, this is not the movie for you. Arrows cutting through flesh, burning bodies, claws ripping through skin and crushing bone, the disembowelment of a horse, these are just a few things that might turn a lot of people off. But if you can handle it, you’re in for a film experience that doesn’t come around very often.

Fresh off of his Best Picture and Best Director win at the Oscars last year for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Alejandro Iñárritu has directed and written yet another masterpiece, although arguably less, shall we say, odd. The Revenant takes place in the early 19th century American wilderness and tells the (embellished) true story of Hugh Glass, a renowned fur-trapper who was left for dead by the men he was guiding after he was viciously mauled by a bear. The majority of the movie is watching him struggle to survive and watching him try to make his way back to the camp to face the man who ultimately made the decision to leave him (Tom Hardy).

From the group’s first ambush by natives, it’s clear that there will be a significant amount of violence throughout the movie. The scene with the bear is by far the most gruesome and realistic attack by a wild animal ever to be shown on screen; it just proves that there is absolutely no holding back in The Revenant. The horror stories from the set, from the freezing temperatures to the struggles to find the right setting and only being able to shoot an hour a day in order to get the ideal natural lighting, shows the director’s passion and desire to get things perfect. Whether or not you can stomach the brutal violence, there is no denying the fact that it is a visually stunning film. It’s as real as it’s going to get for a movie filmed in this age of technology.

There are incredibly strong performances in The Revenant, led of course by Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his most outstanding immersions into a character to date. This is what acting is. Every moment is a struggle for Hugh Glass and Leo makes sure the audience struggles with him every step of the way. Even though they aren’t getting as much credit as Leo, Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson are just as convincing, albeit with smaller roles (Tom Hardy also has a nomination for Best Supporting Actor). For a movie just over 2.5 hours, there isn’t much dialogue (especially for Leo) but nature and the subtle soundtrack play such strong parts that it doesn’t really matter. What Alejandro Iñárritu has done with this film is nothing short of spectacular. To get the audience to actually feel cold (and a little sore) when leaving the theatre is not an easy feat, and he certainly did his job with the help of the cast.

Nominated for 12 (of 14) Oscars, The Revenant will certainly walk away with a number of wins on February 29th – and it would be an utter travesty if Leonardo DiCaprio did not win Best Actor.

The Revenant saw a limited release in the U.S. at the end of December 2015 and has had a steady theatrical rollout from January 2016 through to the end of February 2016.

Update: The Revenant won Academy Awards for BEST ACTOR, BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY,  and BEST DIRECTOR

Water the official trailer here:

Carol – Todd Haynes

Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Photo credit: Wilson Webb/The Weinstein Company

If all you’re looking for is a nice, sleepy, Oscar-nominated musical score by the guy who does all the Coen Brothers’ movies and some slick production design, then Carol is the movie for you. To say this movie starts out slow is an understatement; and to some, the entire two-hours of this 1950’s love story will be torture to watch. The sad reality of Carol is that it will not appeal to everyone, but those who live for the Oscar categories of costume design, cinematography, and production design will be completely engaged. For this movie to captivate you, you need to be very patient and you need to be the type to appreciate the art of film-making and film direction.

Based on the novel “The Price of Salt”, Carol tells the story of two women – a young one (Rooney Mara) who doesn’t yet know who she is, and the older, unhappy one (Cate Blanchett) who she falls head over heels in love with. It’s the 1950’s, so lesbian love is not something that is widely accepted or tolerated to a great degree. The main point of drama is the fact that Carol’s husband (from whom she is separated) is trying to get their daughter taken away from her because of her pattern of “inappropriate behaviour” with women – which also doubles as a silly attempt to “get her back” because if he can’t have her, no one else should, especially not a woman.

The reviews from both critics and viewers have been very positive, but it truly takes a certain type of movie-watcher to appreciate the subtleties of the performances and the artistry of the film-making. It won’t knock your socks off unless this is the only thing you look for in a movie experience. It’s unfortunate, but the general population just won’t see the tragic beauty in Carol and the love story will be lost among the countless scenes of silence, frustratingly long gazes, and the general lack of climax.

Cate Blanchett’s performance is good, there is no question, but compared to her other Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated performances (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator, Notes on a Scandal, I’m Not There, Elizabeth, etc.), this is nothing special and certainly not something the masses can get behind. Aside from one steamy lesbian love-making scene, there are only a couple other scenes that stand out. Like Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett could be nominated every time because she’s just that good, but maybe the standards should have been set a little higher for her this time. All in all, Carol is walking away with two acting nominations (Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress), and four others for its cinematography, musical score, costume design, and screenplay (adapted).

The many accolades it has received from prestigious film festivals proves that, in a way, Carol is just like poetry – a select few find it beautiful, powerful, and deep, and most others will just be bored and unimpressed.

Carol opened in limited release in the USA in November 2015 and Canada in December 2015. Worldwide gross is only $29M to date and it can still be found playing in some theatres leading up to the Oscars on February 28, 2016.

Watch the official trailer here:

The Big Short – Adam McKay

The Big Short starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.

The Big Short starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.
Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures

Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. Could you ask for a better cast? If the answer is yes, then add Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo,  Hamish Linklater, and Jeremy Strong and you’ve got The Big Short.  Between six of the lead actors, there are 6 Oscars and 9 Oscar nominations, so it’s not surprising that this movie has already done very well. We’re well into awards season now, and although The Big Short did not walk away a winner, it was nominated for 4 Golden Globes in the two male acting categories, adapted screenplay, and best picture. It still has another chance in late February with its 5 Academy Award nominations (Editing, Screenplay, Actor, Directing, and Best Picture).

This movie takes a very complex topic – the 2008 financial crisis – and attempts to explain it in a way that the average adult can understand. There are so many moving parts and economics isn’t everyone’s strong suit, so it does it’s best (complete with various celebrities trying to dumb it down for us) and mostly succeeds.  Regardless of whether you understand all the intricacies and terminology or not, you’ll still walk away from it feeling sick and cheated – and that’s the whole point.

The movie is centralized around three different groups of men who notice something no one else did – that the U.S housing market was built on a bubble, and that bubble was going to burst. Michael Burry, the one guy who discovered it all is played by Christian Bale. His quick actions sparked the interest of the other teams, who quickly began doing their own investigations. These teams included FrontPoint Partners, lead by Mark Baum (an amazing performance by Steve Carell) and two young guys with a hedge fund start up. They all go about finding a way to make money off of the greed, corruption, and general stupidity of the banks – they bet against the housing market.

The Big Short is filmed in a bit of a quirky way that may annoy you in the first 10 minutes but you’ll quickly get over it and later recognize it for its brilliance. It’s like you’re watching real life unfold in front of you, except you know what’s going to happen. Quick flashes of real images and video serve as a reminder of how things changed so quickly. The script is nothing short of genius and the dialogue is quick-witted and blunt. The fourth wall is broken a number of times, but it works in every case and doesn’t affect the fluidity of the film, in fact, it makes it more real. Steve Carell outshines everyone else and it is likely one of the best performances of his career to date. Unfortunately his performance was not acknowledged by The Academy and Christian Bale was nominated for Best Actor instead. He won’t win, but it’s still a nice nod in his direction. Considering Adam McKay’s previous claims to fame included Anchorman and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, the Best Director nomination is a big step in the right direction for him.

It’s definitely worth a watch, but the target audience for this movie is likely 25+… make that 40+ in order to really identify with what the collapse of the U.S. housing market did to the world. The younger generations will find the fast dialogue amusing, the topic informative, and the forecast for the future slightly troubling, but they won’t have the same appreciation for the utter stupidity that ended up costing tons of people their jobs and their life savings.

The Big Short is still playing in some theatres but is mostly gone from the rotation. It still managed to pull in over $100M (worldwide) since its release in December 2015.

Watch the official trailer here:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – J.J. Abrams

Star Wars: The Force Awakens starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Harrison Ford.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Harrison Ford.

The force of nostalgia is strong with this one. It could possibly be the one time parents and grandparents appreciate a sci-fi film more than the kids; because it’s not just about the action, it’s about the feeling you get from seeing old friends again after spending more than 30 years apart. Although it’s true that Star Wars never really went away (since the 70’s it’s been an almost constant thing in our lives – the merchandise, the toys, the digital remastering, the re-releases, and of course the prequels), this new movie feels like a real homecoming.

People will be, and have been, flocking to Star Wars: The Force Awakens in droves since it was released in theatres on December 18, 2015. It’s everything that fans, both young and old, were waiting for. We can finally let go of Episodes I, II, and III and pretend they never happened at all; they have been replaced with a reboot that we all deserved and waited so long to see. All it took was a new director, producer, writer, a (mostly) new cast, better technology, and a couple hundred million dollars.

The newcomers to the series need to be applauded because they essentially carry the movie. Their lead roles in the film were kept secret (even from their parents) and the end result was pleasantly surprising. Both Daisy Ridley (Rey) and John Boyega (Finn) had not done anything of consequence up until this point and are well on their way to becoming stars. Their acting abilities are so far beyond anything that had been seen in Star Wars previously and it’s certainly a breath of very fresh air for the series that struggled in that department in the past. Other supporting actors like Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Domhnall Gleeson (About Time), and Adam Driver (This Is Where I Leave You) are all slightly more recognizable and accomplished actors and played their parts perfectly, especially the two villains. Oh, and you’ll fall in love with the new droid BB-8; it doesn’t say anything but it’s amazing how much can be conveyed with a few beeps and bops and a slight tilt of the head. Bringing back R2-D2, C-3PO, Chewbacca, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) was icing on the cake and probably the best thing that J.J Abrams was able to accomplish early on with Episode VII.

The plot of the film isn’t overly complicated and thankfully doesn’t involve any council meetings or a senate. It is focused on finding the location of Luke Skywalker and defeating the evil Empire (once again) who have created yet another planet-destroying weapon. There are a few other side-plots where it helps to have seen Episodes IV to VI, but it remains something that can still be enjoyed by strangers to the galaxy.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the reason why people watch movies: entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. It simply doesn’t stop! At the end of the 135 minute runtime, you’ll likely find you didn’t want it to end at all. Lucky for you though, the next movie is already filming.

With all the terrible things going on in the world today and with tragic headlines only a click away, Star Wars: The Force Awakens offers the chance to escape to a galaxy far, far away. It won’t change anything, but it’ll help you forget as you’re immersed in a world where evil is literally black and white and the good guys always win.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now playing in theatres everywhere.

Watch the official trailer here:

The Martian – Ridley Scott

The Martian starring Matt Damon.

The Martian starring Matt Damon.
Photo credit: Aidan Monaghan/20th Century Fox

The words “Ridley Scott” and “comedy” are not often seen together in the same sentence, but in the case of The Martian, many reviews have made the exception. Director and Producer Ridley Scott is best known for films such as Blade Runner, Alien, Gladiator, and Prometheus – all great movies, but all with little-to-no humour. The Martian is something different altogether and definitely appeals to a much larger audience than the other films.

The Martian was adapted by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, World War Z) from Andy Weir’s book of the same name. With a lot of heavy involvement from NASA as well as other space experts, the science behind The Martian strikes a balance between fiction and fact. Unlike the other movies it has been compared to, namely Interstellar and Gravity, almost everything in the book and the movie is said to be accurate or at least “possible”. The humour from the book was kept alive by Matt Damon, who plays the lead character Mark Watney who is left behind on Mars for a long, long time. With limited food and supplies, he is forced to use his NASA training and botany background to “science the shit” out of everything in order to survive.

The majority of the movie is a one-man show, and Matt Damon is absolutely hilarious. His character uses a video diary to capture his thoughts and document his time on Mars and despite his dire situation, he keeps his spirits up by staying active and seeing the humour in everything that happens. Jeff Daniels, who plays the Director of NASA, is also seen channelling his Newsroom character and is fun to watch. Other actors in supporting roles include: Kristen Wiig, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, and Michael Peña.

The movie has everything – laughs, tears, action, and edge-of-your-seat sequences that will have you holding your breath. It is a story about science, exploration, adventure, and problem solving and how it can bring people together. The Martian was conveniently released around the same time as the discovery of water on Mars and hopefully it will bring some interest back to NASA and help it become what it used to be in the 60’s – exciting!

The Martian was released on October 2, 2015 and is now playing in theatres everywhere.

Watch the official trailer here: