Sci-Fi

BEST & WORST MOVIES OF 2017 including the highlights and some low-lights

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 a very productive year of film watching and reviewing!

In total, I got to see and review 141 films officially released in 2017 alone, which is 15 more than I was able to see at this same time in 2016! Of these, more than 25 movies received a 4 star rating from me, so I have compiled a ‘Best 25’ list this year as well as a ‘Worst 5’.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading this post. 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 2018, where I hope to review a monthly classic and bring a review or two fresh from my attendance at film festivals!

Moviedoc 🙂

Moviedoc’s Best 25 Movies of 2017

25
WONDER
4 stars

A beautiful and meaningful story featuring a great cast that will make you cry a little but feel plenty of joy

24
PADDINGTON 2
4 stars

As sweet as marmalade itself and a sequel that’s every bit as good, if not better, than the first film. Paddington is no one-trick teddy bear!

23
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
4 stars

Arguably and in my opinion, this is the best rendition of Batman, ever! Utterly hilarious at times and scores Moviedoc’s #1 spot (just!) for best family film of 2017!

22
INGRID GOES WEST 
4 stars

All at once, this is an uncomfortably funny, dreadfully saddening and downright frightening exposé of just how far a social media addiction and obsession can take a person. Highly recommended!

21
GIFTED
4 stars

A splendid drama! One of the most underrated films of 2017! If you haven’t already, it is time to unwrap this true gift of a film.

20
THE BIG SICK
4 stars

A broadly appealing and wholly accessible romantic comedy-drama that’s not only based on a true story but even stars one of the real-life subjects; stand-up comedian, actor and writer, Kumail Nanjiani

19
BABY DRIVER
4 stars

It’s been a solid year for heist movies and this is the best of them. Flawless car chase sequences and an outstanding music score drive this slick and unique heist film. Hopefully BABY DRIVER won’t lose popularity due to co-starring Kevin Spacey, for it absolutely deserves to be seen.

18
MISS SLOANE
4 stars

Enthralling! I’ve been told those who are into TV Series “House of Cards” will want to see this. Sorry for making another connection to Kevin Spacey!

17
FENCES

4 stars

Can be a challenge to watch, especially during the first half. However, Denzel Washington’s Oscar-nominated performance playing a character he’s portrayed on Broadway 114 times before and Viola Davis’s Oscar-winning acting are so stellar in a movie that becomes absolutely riveting

16
THE BEGUILED
4 stars

Beautifully filmed and impeccably acted by one of the stand-out ensemble casts of the year. An excellent film from director Sofia Coppola.

15
MOONLIGHT
4 stars

You haven’t seen a story quite like the one told in MOONLIGHT before. This is the Best Picture Winner at the 2017 Academy Awards earlier this year. Brave and heartfelt storytelling.

14
MOUNTAIN
4 stars

A majestic and breathtaking cinematic experience. The Australian-made MOUNTAIN is 2017’s best documentary feature.

13
THE SALESMAN
4 stars

This is acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s (THE PAST, A SEPARATION) latest feature film. An immaculately devised and strongly executed domestic drama with a gripping finale.

12
DUNKIRK
4 stars

A minimalist war film that draws maximum anxiety and exacts a claustrophobic stranglehold over its viewers from start to end thanks largely to the ever-present score by Oscar-winning film composer, Hans Zimmer

11
HOUNDS OF LOVE
4 stars

A similar breed of film to 2011’s SNOWTOWN, HOUNDS OF LOVE is an unnerving and tense dramatic thriller that showcases an outstanding music score, cinematography and acting. The best Australian film of 2017.

10
LAND OF MINE
4 stars

An Oscar-nominated foreign film taking place after WWII, which depicts a group of very young German POWs sent to Denmark to clear thousands of hidden land mines. Stomach-turning tension is guaranteed.

9
LOVING VINCENT
4½ stars

The first-ever oil painted feature film about Vincent van Gogh is never solely limited to its visual capabilities. A sublime film.

8
SILENCE
4½ stars

Martin Scorsese’s passion project and three-hour epic is a bravely written piece that is expertly penned toward the most religiously devout. A near-masterpiece.

7
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
4½ stars

The PLANET OF THE APES film series is now officially one of my favourites, if not my absolute favourite film franchise. Combines mesmerising CGI and cinematography with a powerful and relevant story that has a strong message for humankind. I just love it!

6
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
4½ stars

The storytelling structure, its well-studied account of key themes and the honesty of its writing and character depiction achieves MANCHESTER BY THE SEA A-grade status.

5
PERFECT STRANGERS
4½ stars

What happens when a close-knit group of friends meet for dinner and share every text message, email and phone call received with one another? You will want to find out! Italian comedy PERFECT STRANGERS features one of the most cleverly conceived and carefully-considered screenplay’s of the year.

4
GET OUT
4½ stars

Movies as genius as this are few and far between. Masterfully and studiously crafted, intelligently written and flawlessly executed, GET OUT is a broadly appealing and accessible horror film at heart that functions as a menacing mystery invite to all. If you haven’t already, please accept your invitation, pronto! You will not regret it.

3
LADY MACBETH
4½ stars

Witness one of the most conceivably written, daring and exciting character transitions seen in recent years. This fierce, fearless and electrifying film turns the period drama genre on its head in near flawless fashion and is the breakout film for its star, Florence Pugh, who is scintillating. Unmissable!

2
DOWNSIZING
5 stars

The last film to receive 5 stars from me was THE HUNT in 2013! Well, it had to take something very special to break that lengthy drought. Simply put, you have never seen a film quite like DOWNSIZING before. It is extraordinary. I admired its continual refusal to yield to any form of mainstream cinema convention, despite being a mainstream-friendly release. It also unearths one of the truest & most beautifully conceived and written characters I’ve seen in any film. Hong Chau (from acclaimed TV Series Big Little Lies) is just superb as Ngoc Lan Tran, in what is one of this year’s acting highlights. Absolutely amazing in every way imaginable.

THE BEST MOVIE OF 2017

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME 
5 Stars

It took me until February, 2018 to see this sensual and picturesque masterpiece. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME not only met my high expectations, it by far exceeded them. This slow-building drama set in northern Italy during a hot summer in 1983 is so precise and honest yet powerfully subtle in its articulation of the complex emotions and sensitive scenarios involving its characters. It takes some time for the forthcoming relationship to develop, yet does so organically and in complete avoidance of all stereotypes. By the time its extraordinarily moving and meaningful finale arrives, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME simply overwhelms. The ultimate meaning and key themes of this beautifully produced film earn an equal amount of appreciation as the stunning production, stand-out score and immaculate performances achieve.

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Moviedoc’s Worst 5 Movies of 2017

5
BAYWATCH
1 ½ stars

Not even the charismatic Dwayne Johnson can save BAYWATCH from drowning in its own dump.


4
CHIPS
1 ½ stars

Unfunny. Sexist. Nasty. Avoid!


3
JIGSAW
1 star

Jigsaw may do a Jesus by way of his resurrection, however he is certainly no saviour to the eternal damnation sentenced upon the viewer in this dreadful reboot. Now, please stay dead.

2
SNATCHED
1 star

Goldie Hawn should have remained in her fifteen-year movie hibernation. Terrible movie.

THE WORST MOVIE OF 2017

T H E  M U M M Y
1 star

An unacceptable first instalment in Universal’s rather forced Dark Universe film series that seemingly exists purely to rival Marvel and the like. Yet sadly, THE MUMMY still grossed $409.1 million worldwide, which means there’ll probably be more to come. A score of just 5.5 on IMDB and 16% on Rotten Tomatoes more than justifies why this utterly dreadful reboot is the worst of the 141 movies released this year I have seen.

Still with me? Good! Now we go to some highlights and low-lights of 2017

The acting stand-outs of 2017

Timothée Chalamet in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Hong Chau – DOWNSIZING
Florence Pugh – LADY MACBETH
Emma Booth and Stephen Curry – HOUNDS OF LOVE
Naomie Harris – MOONLIGHT
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis – FENCES
Aubrey Plaza – INGRID GOES WEST
Teresa Palmer – BERLIN SYNDROME
Barry Keoghan – THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
Sonia Braga – AQUARIUS
Oscar Isaac – SUBURBICON
Hugh Grant – PADDINGTON 2
John Lithgow and Salma Hayek – BEATRIZ AT DINNER
Nicole Kidman – THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER & THE BEGUILED
Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar – LION
Pierre Niney and Paula Beer – FRANTZ
Brian Cox – CHURCHILL
Jessica Rothe – HAPPY DEATH DAY
Tiffany Haddish – GIRLS TRIP
Sally Hawkins – MAUDIE
Hugo Weaving – JASPER JONES

Films to add to your watch list not in my Best 25 from 2017

PATRIOT’S DAY
LIFE
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
THEIR FINEST
A MONSTER CALLS
COLOSSAL
LION
COLLATERAL BEAUTY
SUBURBICON
THE BOSS BABY
BERLIN SYNDROME
LOGAN

Most over-rated and/or most disappointing films from 2017

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
JACKIE
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
VICTORIA & ABDUL
THINGS TO COME
THE SNOWMAN
A CURE FOR WELLNESS
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY
LOVING
A SILENT VOICE
ALONE IN BERLIN
TRESPASS AGAINST US
GOLD

The highlights in films from 2017

Hong Chau’s character in DOWNSIZING
The uniquely hand-painted visual experience in LOVING VINCENT
The extreme slo-mo’s in HOUNDS OF LOVE
The development of the relationship and the first intimate scene between Elio and Oliver in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
The atmosphere and the battle sequences staged in DUNKIRK
The real footage of a tightrope walk between two mountain peaks in MOUNTAIN
The final dinner table scene in THE BEGUILED
The car chase sequences and the music score in BABY DRIVER
A reaction from a particular water monster in THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
The birthday party sequence & guest arrivals in TONI ERDMANN
The visual and aural experience in GHOST IN THE SHELL
The dialogue and its delivery from Tiffany Haddish in GIRLS TRIP
The final action sequence on the ice in Iceland in THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

Best horror film

GET OUT
(A clear stand-out, however if that’s not scary enough for you, then try out IT COMES AT NIGHT, HAPPY DEATH DAY and IT. None of these films managed to scare me though!)

Best crying film
A MONSTER CALLS
(Even though its title suggests this belongs in the above category! Not the first time director J.A. Bayona has claimed this spot at the end of the year. THE IMPOSSIBLE was his previous movie)

Best lol film

PERFECT STRANGERS
(However, if you want something more mainstream, then try GIRLS TRIP)

Best love story or romantic film

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Most unique/strange films

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
MOTHER!

Highest Grossing Film – Worldwide

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
($1.26 Billion)

Highest Grossing Film – In Australia

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 
($36.3 Million)

Compiled by Moviedoc
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DOWNSIZING

Director
Alexander Payne
(The Descendants, Sideways, About Schmidt)

Stars
Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Udo Kier, Hong Chau and Rolf Lassgård

You have never seen a film quite like DOWNSIZING before. Perhaps it can be described as another previous Boxing Day release, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY meets HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS, but for a more adult audience (thank goodness they didn’t name this film Honey, I shrunk the bits!). Oh, and far more extraordinary too!

As the film commences, an incredible scientific breakthrough is achieved that will change the future existence of humanity. Norwegian scientist, Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen has successfully performed a procedure that will come to be known as downsizing, which reduces the height of that person to just 13 centimetres. Those who choose to “get small” are then relocated to their own specially designed miniature world, called Leisureland. With the groundbreaking, life-changing transition to shrinking gaining immense popularity, as life inside the idyllic world of Leisureland receives glowing reviews from its rapidly-growing citizenry, Paul and Audrey Safranek (Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig) decide to undergo the irreversible procedure. However, life remains full of surprises and fate cannot be changed, regardless of where you decide to live, as the Safranek’s are about to discover.


People may be shrinking, but DOWNSIZING enlarges its scale of utter brilliance at every spontaneous and consequential turn that is taken. This breathtaking adventure that you are about to embark on over the next two plus hours isn’t anything…ehm…short of being absolutely amazing. 

First and foremost, the premise that catapults the journey that is coursing throughout DOWNSIZING is internally consistent and conceivable. So too are all the capabilities and characteristics that are immaculately presented as well as the trigger that propels the very invention of downsizing and Leisureland. This entire section of the film, right up until it is time for our lead characters to bid farewell to their height, is hugely and broadly engrossing. Any hint as to where this incredible story ventures to from here ought to be kept privy to the advantage of its (hopefully sell-out) crowd. What can be safely said is that a vast array of colourful characters will acquaint you for the rest of DOWNSIZING’s duration. Many of whom are acted by recognisable Hollywood faces. Some appearances are fleeting only. Others remain more long-term. This is where DOWNSIZING unearths one of the truest & most beautifully conceived and written characters in any film of 2017. You will never forget Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau, from acclaimed TV Series Big Little Lies) who is just superb in what is one of this year’s acting highlights.

There are brief and sporadic moments in DOWNSIZING where the film appears to be in some kind of limbo. My advice – embrace the curiosity that this draws in and let go of any initial concern that this movie’s brilliance has finally come to a halt, for Oscar-winning writers Jim Taylor (SIDEWAYS) and writer/director Alexander Payne refuse to yield to any form of convention. Vanquishing all doubts that a drop in its high degree of filmmaking and entertainment is imminent, their combined writing works continually heighten the magnificent sense of adventure and rarely-achieved wonder that embodies this film.

The all-important conclusion to what’s been a most mesmerising expedition understandably amasses a considerable level of anticipation. Some may feel underwhelmed, or not even be sure how to feel, by the finale of DOWNSIZING. If that is you, then I say look to and reflect over the infectious love of life that is bursting from the screen and open your mind to the beautiful & wild ride that living life can whisk us away on. Adopting this perception, handed to you by the film, will prove that the final moments are as perfect as the film itself is.

5 stars

Viewer Discretion
(Sexual references, coarse language, drug use and nudity)

Trailer
DOWNSIZING

Moviedoc thanks Paramount Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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