Chris has written 13 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • Peterloo

    Peterloo

    ★★½

    I really appreciate Mike Leigh's passionate determination to capture every facet surrounding the 1819 Peterloo Massacre to convey the true injustice of the event and how he manages to provide a strikingly detailed recreation of the era where the restlessness is palpable, but I just don't think his approach is the ideal one.

    The structure is the biggest hinderance since the titular incident doesn't occur until literally the final section; so we're left with 2 whole hours of build-up, most…

  • The Lady from Shanghai

    The Lady from Shanghai

    ★★½

    Starting to think that I'm just not a big fan of Orson Welles because I found this to be mildly diverting fluff in all honesty. Reading that his original vision was butchered in post-production comes as no surprise (it's basically his directorial trademark, sadly) as the entire narrative feels jumbled in a way that doesn't evoke the kind of mystery or tension that was probably intended. It's packed with the types of twists and double-crosses that you'd expect from the…

  • Train to Busan

    Train to Busan

    ★★½

    Given how well worn this type of material is, I feel that Train to Busan plays things a little too safe to leave much of an impression. I could forgive the lack of inventiveness on concepts we've seen many times before such as quick zombies or action on transportation if the characters were strong, but they're all so rigidly cliched that I struggled to get invested in their plight which deadened most of the emotional impact. It also doesn't help…

  • The Searchers

    The Searchers

    ★★½

    So I revisited this in the hope that it would finally click with me, but I still can't help but find it overly mediocre. It pains me because I can almost see why it's held in such high regard. There's no doubt that John Ford is a fantastic visual director because the manner in which he captures the vastness of the vistas is really striking and some of the shot compositions are truly remarkable (the ending in particular); the world…

  • 2046

    2046

    ★★½

    Although 2046 contains all of the visual splendour and poetic romanticism that you'd expect from a Wong Kar-wai film, I'm surprised by how hollow it left me feeling. It's effectively the spiritual companion to In the Mood for Love, presenting a sort of alternative look at Tony Leung's character as he slides into cynicism because he cannot accept anyone who doesn't live up to his idealised image of the love that he lost. It plays with the idea of living…

  • Hard Eight

    Hard Eight

    ★★½

    For a debut film it is notable how many of Paul Thomas Anderson's early career trademarks are firmly in place with the dynamic direction, vibrant cinematography, propulsive score and focus on volatile characters. There is a lot of confidence present here. The issue is that Hard Eight can't quite hide its short film origins. It starts and ends strong, but the bulk of it feels like a number of situations awkwardly strung together with oddly low stakes and PTA's wizardry…

  • Happiest Season

    Happiest Season

    ★★½

    This is one of those movies that concentrates on the wrong storyline. Kristen Stewart and Aubrey Plaza are both supremely charming, their characters are layered and I was actually invested in the relationship that was developing between them. Instead we spend most of the running time watching Stewart's character going through emotional turmoil caused by the gaslighting actions of her girlfriend, to the point where the eventual resolution didn't sit right with me. Mackenzie Davis has all the charisma of…

  • A Christmas Carol

    A Christmas Carol

    ★★½

    For a story all about emotional and ideological transformation, I'm confused by how stifled this adaptation is. It's as if Zemeckis wanted to stay loyal to the source material but also give it a bombastic update which results in a lot of tonal whiplash and a lack of resonance. Every genuinely atmospheric or creepy moment is undercut by something excessively ludicrous or goofy, to the point where you're left wondering who this is even aimed at. I don't know anyone…

  • Mank

    Mank

    ★★½

    It pains me that a film by David Fincher could leave me feeling so indifferent. Mank gets by solely on its technical proficiency; the direction, photography, score and acting are all as good as you'd expect. The writing is where it really struggles because very little of it works as intended. The flashback structure undercuts momentum, the overlapping dialogue is stilted and the attempts to examine the studio politics of the time feel half-baked. It's not really about the writing…

  • Frozen II

    Frozen II

    ★★½

    Frozen II is just about passable but it is yet another belated sequel that struggles to justify its existence. The animation is beautiful, the songs are catchy and I will give it props that it builds on the world that was previously established.

    Yet the narrative structure is messy and so much of the storytelling involves bland fantasy rigmarole that gets tiresome quickly. Elsa is the only character to get any development as everyone else is reduced to one trait…

  • Ready Player One

    Ready Player One

    ★★½

    Fine as a fun spectacle but struggles to really resonate or leave a lasting impression. Steven Spielberg's visual flair is as strong as ever and the talented cast play their parts well, yet the overly conventional narrative holds it back. It follows too many cliches without adding anything of note and the engaging ideas lingering below the surface (about the legacy we leave behind and how the capitalist hell of modern life forces us to look for meaning in virtual…

  • Batman Forever

    Batman Forever

    ★★½

    Since Batman Returns terrified kids and baffled most adults, the gothic tones of Tim Burton were swapped out for the gaudy dynamism of Joel Schumacher. As a result Batman Forever exists in a strange middle ground, as if Schumacher wanted to make a vividly campy comic book come to life but couldn't quite shake the inherent darkness of the previous works. So what we end up with is a film that, like one of it's antagonists, is in two minds…