Just the Verdict is our on-going mini-reviews feature where we give quick takes on films we may not have had chance to do full length reviews for.
In our third entry in the series, we look at Eddie the Eagle, Fire at Sea, Lights Out, The Neon Demon, and The Take.
Eddie the Eagle
Likely to be on a few of the Fake Geeks’ Film of the Year shortlists, Eddie the Eagle is a very good semi-biographical comedy drama based on the eponymous ski jumper.
Taron Egerton is excellent in the title role, once again showing that he’s one of the most proimising talents of the generation. Support comes predominantly from Hugh Jackman, though just about everyone that’s given more than a few minutes screen time is worthy of it.
4 / 5
Fire at Sea
What could have been an excellent, affecting look at the European migrant crisis unfortunately sees its quality depreciated by a meandering narrative.
Too much focus is spent on the inhabitants of Lampedusa, and the lack of a narrator – in this instance – is detrimental, as there is often little the link the two narratives (that of the migrants to that of the residents) together.
Some scenes are, however, both incredibly moving and excellent. The stand outs include an impassioned interview with the local doctor (who sees helping the migrants as a duty to hs fellow human beings), as well as a harrowing scene where a migrant boat is boarded and the authorities try their best to save as many of their lives as possible.
3 / 5
David F. Sandberg generated some buzz back in 2013 with a short of the same title. While the feature length adaptation doesn’t quite deliver on it’s promise, there’s are some nice spots, and definitely evidence here that Sandberg could be one to watch on the horror scene for years to come.
A sequel has already been greenlit. Hopefully Sandberg et al can build upon what is a pretty solid – in not overly original – foundation. There is already a slew of ever increasingly watered down horror sequels out there = let’s hope Lights Out isn’t one of them.
3.5 / 5
The Neon Demon
The latest film from Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) received strong reviews (both positive and negative) when this debuted on the festival circuit. Ultimately, we’ve found it to warrant neither – it’s simply decent.
As you would come to expect now from a Refn film, it is visually stunning. There are a few gloriously framed shots and you could pause the film at any many, many points and have a shot that looks like one as good as from any still photo shoot you’re likely to see.
The soundtrack is also pretty darn good (though not to heady heady heights of Drive, admittedly).
Unfortunately, the the plot is a bit of a letdown, and the bonkers final act comes across as being shocking for shocking’s sake, rather than something high brow and artistic.
While slow, the first half is quite entertaining and Elle Fanning plays the ‘deer in the headlights’ nave youngster pretty well. Things go south upon her transformation towards that of the narcisists that surround her – Fanning is nowhere near as convincing in this role and we haven’t been shown enough of her story to totally believe it can happen.
There are some nice cameos, particularly from Keanu Reeves (who is a particularly convincing sleaze), and Desmond Harrington is convincing as a pretentious photographer Jack McCarther, but it’s not enough to elevate this to much more than decent.
3 / 5
Delayed and renamed (Bastille Day) due to the terrorist attacks in France, The Take arrived here in April.
While it is a fairly conventional, it’s an enjoyable 90 minute conspriacy thriller.
Idris Elba, Richard Madden and Charlotte Le Bon are all at least decent, though Madden’s American accent could use some work. There’s a few memorable scenes, including an early rooftop chase between Elba and Madden.
The plot twists are obvious, but this is a decent enough ‘watch it once on a night in’ sort of action flicks.
3 / 5
Links to our previous entries can be found below: