The Girl on the Train Movie Review

Films adapted from books are always going to be disappointing. They go too fast, too slow, the lead actor isn’t who you’d wanted and the finale is a let down or there’s a tagged on bit. Of course words on paper are cheap and film is expensive so compromises are inevitable. 

The Girl on the Train, adapted from Paula Hawkins’ best seller is transplanted from Blighty to the US fairly effectively, though in doing so it now feels more cinematic but less credible. There’s less claustrophobia inherent in British suburbia. The mechanics are the same Rear Window on a commuter train with Emily Blunt’s alcoholic voyeur Rachel obsessing over the seemingly perfect couple, a possible affair and disappearance. 

The second act drags like a wet weekend and though faithful to the book, the finale feels like a let down. 


Blunt is as mesmerising as ever as the troubled protagonist. Light years from the book’s dowdy lush Rachel, but she has the power to sustain the attention though out. Rebecca Ferguson is equally watchable, while Luke Evans is okay as the missing woman’s other half. 

Due to the nature of the story, most of the characters come across as broken, brutal or unlikeable, but it’s a good watch for the most part even if the finale is reminiscent of James Dearden’s 1991 remake of A Kiss Before Dying. 

Advertisements

The Huntsman: Winter’s War/Midnight Special reviews

 
 I all but slept through 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, partly because I’d been to the midnight screening of Prometheus a few hours earlier and partly because it was so dull. 

The fact it starred Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, two of my favourite thesps and still made me nod of was an indication of how mediocre it was. 

So four years later I was far from desperate to see the prequel/sequel, and given the woeful reviews, went in expecting another two hours of dullness. 

However, with Hemsworth, Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon and Sheridan Smith on board, there was plenty of high calibre talent involved. And to my surprise turned out to be a fun, engaging pantomime with a touch of Frozen filtered through the lens of The Lord of the Rings. 

  
Starting with a prequel to SWATH, we fast forward past events from that movie and the meat of the film which sees the eponymous warrior and his mission to usurp the evil ice queen (Blunt) and retrieve the magic mirror from film one. 

The gags are funny, the set design impressive and though the action scenes a little too frenetic, it knits together well. 

The CGI effects are annoying, clearly rendered by an army of uninspired keyboard wizards. But it scarcely matters. 

  
While no fantasy classic, there are enough lavish set pieces to make it worthwhile. 
Midnight Special

Imagine a road movie with a Close Encounters vibe but all the cast had been told their best friend had just died. That’s the tone of Midnight Special, a slow, sombre, occasionally annoying Twilight Zone-style adventure which sets out an intriguing Akira-like premise (gifted lad on the run with a few guardians) but drags through a yawnsome second act. Okay there is one shock moment that wakes you up, and a great scene at a gas station, but on the whole it attracts more Zs than a dictionary-compiler’s final chapter. 

  
Yet the likes of Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edgerton ensured I stayed with it the whole time the trio in front of me were checking their phones and discussing every scene. 

By the third act I was craving the ’special’ element, fearing I had been sold a dud, and remarkably it was something to wow at. I’ll not reveal it here, but safe to say it pays off. 

A great score helped but the whole thing was so earnest it hurt. Nice to see Adam Driver adding a little levity, but it needed more to work. Great punchline but the set up was a trial. 

Had I seen it at the eponymous time I’d have been asleep after half an hour. 

  
Jaeden Lieberher is quite rightly the star of the show as the young lad at the heart of the drama, but at 1hr 52, this is a good 20 mins too long. There’s just not enough story to justify the running time. 

Sicario – A Review

Sicario is one of the best films of 2015, a taut, compelling, beautifully lensed thriller about the hunt for a crimelord.
That’s it. Though for the first half it seems to be so much more. It’s also a Trojan horse of a movie, making you believe that Emily Blunt’s FBI officer heroine Kate Mercer is the main character when in fact it’s Benicio Del Toro’s duplicitous protagonist or antagonist that knits the movie together. 

Josh Brolin is terrific as the government agent who acts as a bridge between Blunt and DelToro, while Harry Enfield’s old colleague Daniel Kaluuya is on fine form as Blunt’s colleague. 

  

The ominous score by Johann Johansson is filled with slow building menace, while Roger Deakins’ photography is stunning. 

See it on a big screen and then wait for the obligatory Golden Globe nods. 

One of the best things about it is the fact it’s a real drama, not some advert for a video game, or a franchise launching adventure. Nor is it a vanity project. It has meat on its bones and sustains the interest from start to end. 

On the strength of this, director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2 cannot come soon enough. Given the fact his work on Prisoners was outstanding, it’s good to see him go from strength to strength. 

The Edge of Tomorrow – The Review

For 30 years I’ve loved The Twilight Zone, a passion rekindled recently with the Blu ray box set.
Those relatively cheap black and white dramas, many penned by Rod Serling, were either 30 or 60 minute ’what if?’ dramas. They created great premises for broader canvases, bigger budget, big screen offerings, some of which (Real Steel) were turned into A-list epics.

The Edge of Tomorrow could have been another of Serling’s mini masterpieces, the ’what if’ tale of a soldier resurrected to fight an alien war on Earth.

In this case Tom Cruise is William Cage, the cocky PR man railroaded to fight against an extra-terrestrial enemy. However, his unit is decimated in a Saving Private Ryan-style attack in Normandy, and Cage wakes up a few hours earlier to live the day over and hopefully glean enough information to defeat the enemy.

Yes, it’s a video game-style premise with Cage’s seemingly unlimited lives a handy perk as he tries to level up.
He’s helped by Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), the poster girl warrior who may or may not know more about Cage’s condition than he first thinks.
What follows, for the first two thirds at least, is a snappily paced mix of Groundhog Day, Starship Troopers, Aliens and The Matrix, as our heroes fight whizzing, murderous creatures with the aid of clunky exo-suits.

At one point Cage’s automated metal skeleton runs out of energy and powers down. He steps from it and leaves it standing, an empty shell. And for me that is the third act.

Whatever wonderful ’story battery’ powered this multi-million dollar vehicle simply runs out of energy and becomes a generic, by-the-numbers adventure, hampered by the same murky, digitally graded darkness that plagued X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Hunger Games 2.
I’m so bored of action scenes taking place in darkness, especially when the antagonists are so abstract.

Through it all, Cruise is his usual committed self, but Blunt steals the show as the fearless posh trooper, who lights up every scene she’s in.

In a nice nod to Aliens, Bill Paxton is the gruff Sergeant Farell, commanding his drop ship troops. The scope of the movie is impressive, and director Doug Liman handles the action with flair, but the ghosts of Mr and Mrs Smith and Jumper’s humdrum finales return to haunt us.

Whether by design or accident there is a feeling we’ve been here before with Tom’s earlier work, notably Minority Report (outwitting the enemy with pre-emptive moves) or last year’s elegant but sterile Oblivion (hero attempts to destroy big alien brain intelligence thing and wipe out enemy forces in one fell swoop. Smart move, but yawnsomely predictable.)

Sadly the final scenes are also a let down, as are the closing titles. Recent Marvel offerings Iron Man, Avengers Assemble and Thor: The Dark World have offered stylish, engaging credits, but EOT looks like it was created a decade ago with a generic closing song and a feeling that the budget had all been spent by the time those last bits had to be tagged on.

I really wanted to like Tom’s latest. I adore his positivity and enthusiasm for big crowd pleasers like this, but feel that when you strip away the shell of the movie, you’re left with a sub-standard Twilight Zone episode with a rubbish pay-off.
A real shame.