Sci-Fi

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

Writer & Director / Luc Besson (LUCY, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, LÉON: THE PROFESSIONAL)
Stars/ Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Sam Spruell, Ethan Hawke and Rihanna

Costing as much as €197.47 million (U.S $210 million) to produce, most of which was personally funded by director Luc Besson, VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is easily the most expensive film ever to be made in France.

Based on the French Science-Fiction Comic Book Series “Valerian and Laureline” written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, the plot for VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is loosely based on the sixth album in the series.

It is the 28th century in Alpha, a space station where millions of species, including humans, from a thousand planets all peacefully coexist. Special agents Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), who belong to the human division, are assigned a new task by Commander Filitt (Clive Owen), who has identified a dangerous and dark presence within the space station. Valerian and Laureline must travel to this section of the station and stop the unknown force from spreading before it threatens to cause harm to Alpha’s entire population.

Valerian_Pic#11
Truth be told, VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS isn’t at all difficult to like.

Its intentionally broadly accessible plot and structure will understandably be labelled as unoriginal. And sure, this aspect of the film is surprise-free. Visually however, there can be no arguing that Besson’s film is attention-diverting at the least and unique at its best. How could it not be? In total, there are 2,734 special effects shots and 200 alien species! Luc Besson was inspired by what was achieved by James Cameron in AVATAR. Although this science-fiction action-adventure movie is never really magical to witness as Cameron’s epic film was for many, there are other means to credible entertainment constantly on offer. Take the film’s temperament for instance, which is often light-hearted and incorporates a sufficient supply of sometimes lame, albeit funnier moments. Legendary music composer Alexandre Desplat’s score for the film is customarily brilliant and DeHaan & Delevingne, who share solid chemistry, work surprisingly well together.

This entry-level sci-fi/fantasy flick finds the right balance for a varied audience. The straightforward storytelling and mainstream characterisation won’t make any newcomers to the genre feel too out of this world. As for genre aficionados, although these aspects of the movie certainly won’t blow them out of this world, the more specific details and the cosmic aura of the film is likely to compensate for any lack of imagination in storytelling that is detected.

3 stars

Valerian_Pic#08

Viewer Discretion/ M (Science-fiction violence) 

Trailer / VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS

Moviedoc thanks entertainment One for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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COLOSSAL

Director / Nacho Vigalondo (TIMECRIMES, OPEN WINDOWS)
Stars/ Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens and Austin Stowell

An original concept created by Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, COLOSSAL poses an outlandish quest for its lead character – how is the sudden appearance of a giant monster somehow connected to the mental meltdown she is having!?

Succumbing to the hands of financial hardship after being kicked out of her boyfriend’s New York apartment, Gloria (Hathaway) reluctantly returns to the town that she grew up in. Soon after, she reacquaints with an old friend from elementary school, Oscar (Sudeikis) who provides Gloria with some much needed emotional and financial support. As the days pass by, Gloria must discover how her psychological state is linked to the actions of a Kaiju that is demolishing the city of Seoul, South Korea.

 

CL_03957 Colossal.jpg


COLOSSAL is a playfully original film that for the first two thirds stages its odd premise and develops its characters and plot in very amusing style. In the final act of the film, a noticeably darker tone is adopted as the film’s key points are illustrated.

This science-fiction faux comedy deliberately draws in plenty of curiosity and sets an early climax that provokes questions to be answered with great anticipation: What is this connection exactly? How will it be explained? The far-fetched fantasy is captured with as much realism as it can reach, making for a winsome movie experience that often evokes laughter before it reveals its honest nature. And although there is limited monster action for those who may be craving it, this monster is used more in a metaphorical sense.

Once the tonal shift of COLOSSAL is made, its transition and sharpness could test the endurance of some viewers who were previously enjoying what they were seeing. This is one example of a few points of execution that this movie just doesn’t quite nail. Another is the satisfaction level gained from the script’s explanation to support its connections and actions. Just how firmly COLOSSAL will hold up against your expectations, which the movie itself sets up, will depend largely on these aspects explored in the latter half. Refreshing and original without being revolutionary, it is the best of what COLOSSAL has to offer that far outweighs all else.

3 ½ stars

Colossal

 

Viewer Discretion/ M (mature themes, violence and coarse language)

Trailer / COLOSSAL

Moviedoc thanks Transmission Films and The Backlot Studios for the invite to this film screening.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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GHOST IN THE SHELL

Director / Rupert Sanders (SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN)
Stars/ Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt, Peter Ferdinando and Pilou Asbæk

GHOST IN THE SHELL may be an original adaptation for Hollywood, but it is certainly not original material. The source material dates back to 1989 when a seinen manga (youth comic) series was first published in Japan. From that time, GHOST IN THE SHELL has produced various media adaptations starting with a feature film in 1995, followed by a PlayStation video game in 1997 and finally the TV Series in 2002. There is evidently enough popularity for this Japanese media franchise outside of its own country for Hollywood to produce its very first version, of likely several.

Set in the near future, a horrific accident has granted the films protagonist, known as The Major (Johansson), a rare opportunity to be the first of her kind. Hanka Robotics, a Japanese artificial intelligence technological company, has used cyber-enhancement works to her body in order to save her life. Still in possession of certain human components, Hanka officials recognise unlimited potential in their new specimen and place The Major in the role of a soldier to take down the deadliest criminals in the city.

“I don’t think of her as a machine. She’s a weapon.” #GhostInTheShell 03.31.17

The most reliable source of truth in assessing Hollywood’s version of GHOST IN THE SHELL will be from this franchise’s true blue aficionados. Critiquing it from the perspective of an outsider to all previous works, I left the cinema impressed by not only how visually and aurally immersive this science-fiction film is, but also by the sustainability of the storyline. 

This is a consistently entertaining and very solid film from Rupert Sanders, whose career as a director is beginning to take flight after his previous movie, the visually strong SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN. Filmed in parts of China and New Zealand, it is a dazzling display of visual aura accompanied by a mostly electronic score that enriches the atmosphere. This futuristic and grim looking city of skyscrapers is artistically and vividly illuminated as though a permanent Melbourne White Night or Vivid Sydney were in force! Pleasingly and surprisingly though, these facets of the film are closely matched in competency by the accessible journey undertaken by its lead character. This equally important constituent of GHOST IN THE SHELL is able to maintain momentum courtesy of its well-judged pacing, by resisting any temptation to be overly complex and the integration of a formidable adversary to The Major (the antagonist from the second season of the TV Series).

And with the controversy of whitewashing in its casting earning more popularity than it deserves for GHOST IN THE SHELL, Scarlett Johansson helps to sweep these aside with a very sturdy lead performance. At the very least, see before you judge. 

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ M (science fiction themes, violence and stylised nudity)

Trailer / GHOST IN THE SHELL

Moviedoc thanks Paramount Pictures and Village Cinemas, Crown for the invite to this film screening.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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KONG: SKULL ISLAND

Director / Jordan Vogt-Roberts (THE KINGS OF SUMMER)
Stars / Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly and Corey Hawkins

In 2005, a one-hour wait into the three-hour epic film KING KONG was required until the titular character was unleashed. Some lost their patience during times others knew that the best was yet to come from an already superb movie. That masterful remake by LORD OF THE RINGS filmmaker Peter Jackson is one of the rare films to score a perfect five star rating from Moviedoc! In this 2017 reboot, barely a minute has passed before Kong of Skull Island makes his first appearance.

An origin story of sorts for King Kong, the story behind this action/adventure movie is set in the year 1973. Skull Island, a remote destination somewhere in the Pacific is almost impossible to enter. A powerful storm cell surrounds the island, clearly acting as a force field of sorts for any who dares to enter it. Those that do dare to enter are a group of explorers and military personnel who are in search of its secrets, and to find proof of the mythical Kong that inhabits this land. Unknown to them, Skull Island is also home to huge monsters.

The second instalment of Legendary’s MonsterVerse, following the passable 2014 release of GODZILLA, KONG: SKULL ISLAND is a hopelessly lame and unashamedly ridiculous monster movie that doesn’t hit the pass mark. Having said that, those of you with an ability to embrace its intentional and unapologetic nonsense will have some fun with this. 

Finding various forms of silliness on screen in KONG: SKULL ISLAND is about as challenging as finding food at a buffet restaurant. There is a smorgasbord of illogical developments and genuine disappointments that should have been left on the cutting room floor and pile up, respectively. As for the comedic character played by John C. Reilly, well, he takes the cake. The explanation behind his current existence on the island and several other details pertaining to this character, who resides with an island tribe, may not be intended to be taken too seriously, yet are seriously stupid.

Moving along now to those other monsters. When they’re given their turn to play on the big screen, this $190 million blockbuster movie is at its best, which is mildly cool. This is when KONG: SKULL ISLAND is showing a sign of the creativity that it beholds. However, its eagerness to unveil all of its secrets in the first half of the film is partly to blame for its undoing. With any chances of excitement quickly being extinguished by several failed attempts at being forcibly funny, the lack of imagination and a complete absence of characterisation out-muscles even the fantastic beast that rules this film. Ultimately, what this film has not seized upon is where it lets down the most.

Last but not least, KONG: SKULL ISLAND completely wastes a talented ensemble cast. A perfect example is that of last year’s Oscar winner Brie Larson, playing an anti-war photographer that spends almost the entire film taking photos and running.

2 stars



Viewer Discretion/ M 
(sustained threat, action violence and coarse language)

Trailer / KONG: SKULL ISLAND

Moviedoc thanks Village Roadshow and Village Cinemas, Crown Casino for the invite to this event and film screening.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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PASSENGERS

Director / Morten Tyldum (THE IMITATION GAME, HEADHUNTERS)
Stars / Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen

Before it even begins, PASSENGERS is healthy in supplies to suggest a superior and original science-fiction filmmaking voyage is ready for take-off. Exciting and versatile Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum directs, who previously made my personal best film released in 2015 – THE IMITATION GAME and 2011’s ripper thriller HEADHUNTERS. Writer John Spaihts (screenplay writer behind DOCTOR STRANGE & PROMETHEUS) has penned this screenplay, which was featured in the 2007 Blacklist of “most liked” unmade scripts. Add to that, a quite original premise that has an open door to innovation, a $120 million dollar budget to support that innovation and the two headlining stars, who are both hot property right now.

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt (who replaced Keanu Reeves) play those titular PASSENGERS, who awaken 90 years before they’re due to arrive at their destination – a distant colony planet – after a spacecraft malfunction occurs.

The release of PASSENGERS in Australia, just one day into the New Year, may be remembered at years end as the one of the most disappointing films that has potential for so much more than what it settles for.

The opening is pretty much perfect and immediately takes audiences on an unexpected voyage that provokes some big questions. Especially worthy of praise is the script’s deliciously satirical attitude toward the advancements of computerised technology and its governance over human ways. Look out for this throughout the opening act of the film if you watch PASSENGERS!

Aside from one compelling theme which won’t be mentioned here, any further plot developments that travel to uncharted, yet accessible storytelling dimensions are fleeting at most. Instead, PASSENGERS merely mellows out and makes the error of judgement in believing that its digestible, yet unfulfilling themes pertaining to human connection are satisfying enough on their own. The script also avoids providing explanations to some obvious and logical questions that arise throughout. By the end, only a minuscule mark in cinematic scale is left by PASSENGERS, after it set itself up to be a game-changer for the science-fiction genre, similar to the recent and more superior ARRIVAL.

3 stars

 

Viewer Discretion / M (Mature Themes, also contains some action/peril, sexuality and nudity)


Trailer / PASSENGERS

 Moviedoc thanks Village Roadshow and Village Cinemas Jam Factory Gold Class for the screening invite to this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc 

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2016 – The Best Films, The Worst and More ! !

 Hello everyone

Firstly, a huge thank you for every review you have read, liked, shared, commented on and even chatted to me about in person. Thanks to you and your incredible support, I had the most productive and enjoyable year of film watching and reviewing yet! 

In total, I got to see & review 126 films released in 2016 alone! Of these, more than 30 received a 4 out of 5 rating from me, the most in any year since I first started reviewing! As such, I have compiled a ‘Top 30’ list this year and ‘Bottom 5’ only.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading my thoughts and verdict below. I also hope you take away a handful of films to see that you’ve never previously heard of or watched!
As always, please get in touch to share your views and best & worst movies. I look forward to your continued support and interaction in what will be an even bigger and busier year of film watching & reviewing in 2017!

Moviedoc 🙂

Moviedoc’s Top 30 Movies of 2016

30

VICTORIA
(4 out of 5)

The star attraction of this German suspense/drama is its cinematography – VICTORIA is shot as one single continuous take. It’s a stunning feature of this arthouse film that continually impresses, especially when you consider the key events executed throughout. The titular character, a young Spanish woman in Berlin, meets a German man and his friends at a club. As the night out progresses and Victoria leaves the club with the men, she learns of some dangerous secrets. Watch VICTORIA and experience real-time suspense unlike any others. Unpredictable and hugely tense!

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

29

ME BEFORE YOU 
(4 out of 5)

It may not be Moviedoc’s number one romantic drama of the year, but ME BEFORE YOU is easily the best “crying movie” of 2016. Some of its themes caused an unnecessary revolt during its cinematic run here in Melbourne. But this surprisingly quality romantic drama will be remembered for being heartbreaking on so many levels. Stars GOT’s Emilia Clarke too guys, just sayin’ 😉

Full Review – ME BEFORE YOU

28

HELL OR HIGH WATER
(4 out of 5)

In many film critics top 5, HELL OR HIGH WATER is a gritty and absorbing crime drama about two brothers who turn to crime in order to pay off a debt and the Texas ranger hunting them down, who is due for his retirement. Has depth, genuine tension and the best performance we’ve seen from Jeff Bridges since 2010’s TRUE GRIT. 

Full Review – HELL OR HIGH WATER


27

JULIETA 
(4 out of 5)

As mainstream as a Pedro Almódovar film gets. This Spanish drama, like any Almódovar film, features a layered story with full-bodied, richly-drawn characters. It is about how a chance encounter triggers a broken-hearted woman’s search for answers. An important lesson is unearthed during its excellent finale.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

26

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
(4 out of 5)

You wouldn’t pick it by the poster, but KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is an American production. The best animated film of 2016 has a very accessible plot for kids – a young boy named Kubo who must find a magical suit of armour to fight an evil spirit from the past – and exceptionally creative, dazzling animation that is guaranteed to immerse adults into the story. 

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

25

THE REVENANT
(4 out of 5)

A forgotten film of 2016, it seems. But how could anyone forget the movie that finally saw gold statuette in hand of Leonardo DiCaprio? What the poor guy has to go through in order to win his first Oscar brings out the most uncompromisingly tough performance we’ve seen from the star. The film is pretty darn good too! Brutal and slow-moving, yet an utterly engrossing and remarkable story of vengeance. The Academy Award winning cinematography is outstanding too.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦


24

HAIL, CAESAR! 
(4 out of 5)

This Coen-brothers film is an intelligent and original comedy that will especially appeal to fans of Wes Anderson. Set during the 1950’s at a Hollywood film production, a “fixer” addresses several complications and conundrums both on-set and in his personal life. Great cast and great fun! 

Full Review – HAIL, CAESAR


23

Microbe & Gasoline 
(4 out of 5)

One of the rare gems of 2016, and I bet you’ve never heard of it! This French feel-good comedy has an irresistible sense of adventure and is about two teenage guys who build a makeshift motorhome and take-off, fleeing their mundane and depressing suburban lives. An affectionate, heart-warming and crowd-pleasing journey not to be missed! 

Film Review – MICROBE & GASOLINE

22

ZERO DAYS 
(4 out of 5)

This documentary will easily be the most misjudged film of the year. What ostensibly begins as a film merely documenting a malicious computer superbug emphatically ends as one powerful cautionary tale. A film you would think has nothing to do with you, then by the end, has everything to do with you. ZERO DAYS is an awakening from master director Alex Gibney (GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF). 

Full Review – ZERO DAYS

21

BROOKLYN 
(4 out of 5)

This is an Oscar-nominated tale about an Irish immigrant that finds love in New York, then is left with a tough decision to make when her past catches up with her. A romantic drama told with real warmth and beauty led by a confident performance from its A-grade star, Saoirse Ronan. 

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

20

LA LA LAND
(4 out of 5)

Unlike so many others, LA LA LAND is not my best film of 2016. That does not mean it is a let down by any means either. This music-driven film released on Boxing Day throughout Australia is packed full of effortless and endless creativity & striking originality that is utterly delightful to be in the presence of. Go and enjoy Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling play lovers for a third time in a feature film! (Hook up in real-life already!)

Full Review – LA LA LAND

19

ELLE
(4 out of 5)


My personal runner-up for best foreign language film of 2016 is an utterly engrossing film consisting of several separate sub-plots, all of which are connected to the lead character of ELLE, Michèle (a brave performance in a demanding role from Isabelle Huppert) who hunts for a man who has physically assaulted her. Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven’s French language erotic drama/thriller is an unmissable film for viewers who appreciate a psychologically complex work of profound characterisation and layered storytelling.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

18

THE HATEFUL EIGHT 
(4 out of 5)

Like THE REVENANT, THE HATEFUL EIGHT feels forgotten about. Bound to test the patience of even the most ardent Tarantino fans, this ultra-violent Western flick earns its place well inside my Top 30, courtesy of a near-faultless screenplay as we experience the masterful work of our famed director unwrapping the layers of tension and mystery, one layer at a time, in a magnificently methodical and meticulous manner.

Full Review – THE HATEFUL EIGHT

17

I, DANIEL BLAKE
(4 out of 5)

The famous proverb “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” is honestly and realistically exemplified in a film about a 59 year-old carpenter who is forced to turn to welfare support, as a result of a workplace incident. This is one of those films that is so true to life, it’s as close to watching a documentary a feature film can get. A truly involving and utterly valuable Irish drama.

Full Review – I, DANIEL BLAKE

16

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
(4 out of 5)

Ricky Baker is a name you won’t be forgetting any time soon. Nor is Julian Dennison, the young actor playing Ricky, in a breakthrough performance. This clever and triumphant smash-hit Kiwi comedy proved a winner with critics and audiences alike earlier in the year. If you somehow missed it, get onto this “majestical” film pronto, bro. 

Full Review – HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

15

ARRIVAL 
(4 out of 5)

The mostly tired and often repetitive alien-invasion genre experiences an invasion of originality and innovation in ARRIVAL. This suspenseful drama is about an expert linguist who attempts to communicate with extra-terrestrial forces that have landed several spacecraft throughout the world. Watch this superior film over the upcoming PASSENGERS and ten times before you attempt INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. 

Full Review – ARRIVAL

14

EYE IN THE SKY 
(4 out of 5)

The opposite of escapism. That is what EYE IN THE SKY is, a gripping and strongly immersive motion picture about an operation to catch a group of terrorists in Kenya, before their next attack. But the team are about to be thrown their toughest conundrum yet when an unforeseen move takes place. EYE IN THE SKY gives the viewer a two-sided story that forces you to question what you would do in this scenario. A seriously compelling and thought-provoking dramatic thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Full Review – EYE IN THE SKY

13

SPOTLIGHT 
(4 out of 5)

This year’s Best Picture Oscar winner handles its controversial and sensitive subject matter (child molestation within the Catholic Church) with utmost professionalism and sincerity. As a production, SPOTLIGHT is unshowy, honest and never sensationalised. A very deserving winner at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Full review – SPOTLIGHT

12

TRUMBO 
(4 out of 5)

Bryan Cranston stars as Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenplay writer during the 1940’s who is believed to be a communist by a US agency. Based on a true story, this highly engaging and exceedingly informative film is bolstered by its surprising humour and Cranston’s astonishing work in the lead role. 

Full Review – TRUMBO

11

MUSTANG
(4 out of 5)

A French, German & Turkish co-production which was nominated for best foreign language film at 2016’s Oscars is a most profound experience chronicling the lives of 5 orphaned, close-knit sisters. Growing up in ultra-conservative surroundings, their lives are changed forever after an innocent encounter. Based on the director’s real-life experiences, this foreign tale contains a message of utmost significance to anywhere in the world. This is the best foreign film of 2016.

Full review – MUSTANG


10

SING STREET
(4 out of 5)

Another rare gem of 2016. This small Irish comedy/drama with a big heart is viewed from the eyes of a teenage male who doesn’t know how to impress the girl he wants, so he starts his own rock band! Aside from its wonderfully endearing nature, this terrific movie features a stunning soundtrack as well as original music written and performed for the film. I guarantee you’ll have a great time watching SING STREET.

Full review – SING STREET

9

CHASING ASYLUM
(4.5 out of 5)

It is difficult to think of a more pertinent film to see right now than this. CHASING ASYLUM is a documentary that uses real footage secretly filmed to expose the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. A film which acknowledges that the Australian Government has succeeded in stopping the boats and claiming lives have been saved by doing so, but at what cost? A must watch, especially for people who value truth and humanity.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not review this film ;(

8

THE NEON DEMON 
(4.5 out of 5)

When I first watched THE NEON DEMON, I absolutely loved the first two-thirds, then hated the last third. Since then, this sick, twisted and absolutely brilliant film has grown and grown on me. So much so, it is the number one film of 2016 that I cannot stop thinking or talking about. This is Nicolas Winding Refn’s (DRIVE, ONLY GOD FORGIVES) deliciously exaggerated and darkly comical take on a group of supermodels who will stop at nothing to achieve their dreams. You will either love or loathe what is the strangest film of 2016. But do be warned – Beauty doesn’t get uglier than this! Unforgettable and Unmissable for horror and arthouse cinema fans.

Full review – THE NEON DEMON

7

THE DANISH GIRL 
(4.5 out of 5)

THE DANISH GIRL is a deeply empathetic and stunningly rendered production about an artist couple living in 1920’s Copenhagen whose relationship together begins to evolve and be challenged when Einar (played beautifully by Eddie Redmayne) decides to become a woman. An open-minded audience will be rewarded with breathtaking acting, studious direction from Tom Hooper (THE KINGS SPEECH) and a beautifully told story of love, sexual identity and self-discovery. Has been one of this year’s best films all year. 

Full review – THE DANISH GIRL

6

EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT 
(4.5 out of 5)

The most authentic movie of the year is also the first film in over 30 years to be filmed on location in the Amazonian jungle and Amazon River. Filmed in beautiful black and white, EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT is the story of two Scientists searching for a rare flower known for its healing powers. For those of you who value a complete immersion into a foreign world, way of life and have a genuine appreciation towards culture in all its forms, one of the most memorable and grandest films of the year awaits.

Full review – EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT

5

ROOM 
(4.5 out of 5)

Based on the popular novel of the same name, this deceptively layered, subtly powerful and poignant drama is about a Mother (Oscar winner Brie Larson) and her young son (an astonishing Jacob Tremblay) who survive inside the tiny confines of what they refer to as “ROOM”. With their only visible access to the outside world coming via a skylight, curiosity and determination sees them hatch a dangerous plan to escape. The end result is a brilliantly bold, psychologically complex and a deeply rational film. 

Full review – ROOM

4

CAROL 
(4.5 out of 5)

CAROL, a wholly absorbing and completely transfixing film set in the 1950’s which focuses on an intimate relationship being formed between the titular character and a young aspiring photographer. The greatest romantic drama of 2016 is an outstanding production in every aspect (costume, set design, you name it) and is led by two truly immaculate acting performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. 

Full review – CAROL

3

HACKSAW RIDGE
(4.5 out of 5)

There haven’t been many Australian-made films this year that have pushed a three-star rating, sadly. Well then, aren’t we lucky that good old trusty Mel Gibson brought this American story to our shores for production! Desmond T. Doss, a medic who served in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, never used a weapon while on the front lines, saving many lives in the process. Quite simply, this is one of the greatest (anti) war films of the 21st Century. While you experience some of the most impacting scenes ever filmed on the battle grounds, Gibson’s superior handling of HACKSAW RIDGE and Andrew Garfield’s career-best performance ensure sight is never lost of why we’re even here. A stunning film.

Full review – HACKSAW RIDGE

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC
(4.5 out of 5)

Not a superhero film, but it is a super film. Taken from the personal experiences of writer/director Matt Ross, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is about a Father who is raising his six children in the forest of the Pacific Northwest. This family live a very unorthodox and secluded life, so when the need to travel beyond arises, will they be ready for the confronting journey that lies ahead? Best described as an amalgamation of ROOM and the 2006 road movie LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, yet very much its own film. What truly stands-out about this comedy/drama is the humour which is extracted from the most unconventional of places and an extremely thought-provoking screenplay. A true highlight of 2016, don’t underestimate just how brilliant this movie is. It made second place for good reason 😉

Full review – CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

1

45 YEARS 
(4.5 out of 5)

Even I am surprised by my choice of number one ranking this year! Truth be told, no film came closer to receiving the perfect score in 2016 from me. And no film, as a whole, hit me harder than the story of an elderly couple, almost 45 years married to one another, who receive shattering news that threatens to change the rest of their lives. And maybe even everything before this day. There is a valuable life lesson to be learned for ears willing to listen. A subtle, yet powerful message from the older to the younger. The carefully considered writing, sophisticated handling of all proceedings and impeccable acting work from leads Charlotte Rampling (who was Oscar nominated earlier in the year) and Tom Courtenay catapult this extraordinary film to the top of my list

Full review – 45 YEARS

That was quite a read! Now, something short and sweet. Here are the worst movies of 2016!

Moviedoc’s Bottom 5 Movies of 2016

5

HIGH-RISE
(1.5 out of 5)

Life for residents in a tower block begins to run out of control. This dystopian dark comedy starring Tom Hiddleston certainly has appealing elements. But this highly obscure film remains a mystery to me above all else. It becomes too irritating and off-putting to continue caring about. See, I don’t like all weird movies!

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

4

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 
(1.5 out of 5)

A magic film, without any magic. This sequel is a careless whisper of the intrigue and alluring mystery summoned from the previous outing. Do not bother.

Full review – NOW YOU SEE ME 2

3

BACKTRACK
(1.5 out of 5)

You have probably never heard of this misfiring Australian mystery drama/horror starring Sam Neill and Oscar-winner Adrian Brody, who plays a psychologist experiencing a few issues of his own. Good, let’s backtrack then and keep it that way!

Full review – BACKTRACK

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INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
(1 out of 5)

20 years. That is how long it has been since the original INDEPENDENCE DAY premiered on our big screens. 20 years on, and this sequel doesn’t just fail to bring something new to the alien invasion genre, it just fails. Miserably. It only has the film below to thank for not being named the worst movie of 2016.

Full Review – INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

1

BLAIR WITCH
(0.5 out of 5)

The most frightening aspect of BLAIR WITCH, is just how bad it actually is! Should only be shown to severely misbehaving children for disciplinary reasons by responsible adults. If you get through this once, as I somehow did, you’ll never want to see another minute of it again. 

Full review – BLAIR WITCH

While there have been countless acting performances of the highest quality, here are my top female and male performers of 2016

Actress of the Year
Alicia Vikander
(THE DANISH GIRL & THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS)

Actor of the Year
Bryan Cranston
(TRUMBO & THE INFILTRATOR)

And finally, to some additional bits and pieces. These films did not make my Top 30 or Bottom 5. 

Top 5 Most Underrated and/or Under the Radar Films

AMERICAN HONEY (4 out of 5)
ROSALIE BLUM (3.5 out of 5)
ANOMALISA (3.5 out of 5)
BRIDGET JONES’S BABY (3.5 out of 5)
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (3.5 out of 5)

Top 5 Most Overrated and/or Overly Hyped Films

SULLY (2.5 out of 5)
RED DOG: TRUE BLUE (2 out of 5)
THE LADY IN THE VAN (2 out of 5)
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (2 out of 5)
THE BIG SHORT (2 out of 5)


Add These 5 Films To Your Watch List

A UNITED KINGDOM (3.5 out of 5)
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT 
(3.5 out of 5)
SWISS ARMY MAN 
(3.5 out of 5)
THE FENCER 
(3 out of 5)
NERVE 
(3 out of 5)

These are some films that deserve a mention and ought to be watched, depending on your taste

ALLIED (3.5 out of 5)
DEADPOOL (3.5 out of 5)
DOCTOR STRANGE (3.5 out of 5)
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (3.5 out of 5)
WAR DOGS (3.5 out of 5)
SON OF SAUL  (3.5 out of 5)
THE SHALLOWS (3 out of 5)
THE FOUNDER (3 out of 5)

Best Horror Film 
DON’T BREATHE 
(3.5 out of 5)

Best Prequel/Sequel
THE CONJURING 2 (3.5 out of 5)

Best Remake
THE JUNGLE BOOK (3.5 out of 5)

Highest Grossing Film – Worldwide
FINDING DORY ($1.027 Billion)

Highest Grossing Film – In Australia
FINDING DORY ($36.1 Million)

Compiled by Moviedoc
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FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

133 minutes, Fantasy/Adventure 

For the lesser minority who may not already know, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is no prequel, nor is it a sequel to the ever-popular Harry Potter franchise. Although keen Potter aficionados will testify that Harry did possess a textbook titled as such, this spin-off film follows the adventures of the author of this text book, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who has traveled from London to New York in 1926. Written, of course, by the same author – J.K. Rowling, the events within FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM takes place seventy years prior to those from the Potter Universe and marks her first foray into screenplay writing. Something which she will be doing for all of the five movies planned for the franchise!

Directed by David Yates, filmmaker behind the last four Harry Potter films, it’s almost impossible to imagine that any genuine fan of this genre, and in particular of the Harry Potter films, could leave the cinema in any way unsatisfied by what they’ll be seeing throughout FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM. This is a truly entertaining and visually captivating fantasy fable that boasts a plot which summons an opportunity for endless visual creativity, in which it flourishes, and features several first-class filmmaking attributes.

Completely filmed in the United Kingdom, the production design, visual effects and special effects combined succeed brilliantly in transporting the audience to this world of wonder. The cause for much of the enchantment being experienced is also arguably the most outstanding quality of FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM – the creation, design and execution of this magical world and its inhabitants. While these aspects of the film could very well leave you in awe, the storyline trajectory won’t be wowing as many people. Nor will Eddie Redmayne’s occasional mumbling of his lines, but that isn’t how you’re going to be remembering your FANTASTIC BEASTS experience. And it shouldn’t be, for this fantasy/adventure movie which is guaranteed to entertain its all-ages audience, is positively deserving of your ticket purchase at as large a cinema screen as you can find!

3.5 out of 5 

Trailer
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Viewer Discretion
M – Fantasy Themes and Violence 

Moviedoc wishes to thank Jesse from Roadshow Films, Roadshow Films and Hoyts Chadstone for the invitation to the Australian Premiere of FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM.

Review by Moviedoc 
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