Cinematography is an art form that can be as bold as a gong crashing after a moment of silence, or as subtle as the tide coming in. It is something that elevates a film to the heights of accolade or turns a film into a frustrating mess when it misfires.
While at the heart of cinematography is the Director of Photography or Cinematographer, to get something from the script to the final shot takes a whole team of professionals, and it is their talent that we champion today.
So without further ado, these are the moments of cinematography that took our breaths away in 2019. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banners to be taken to the full reviews.
A good Action sequence is something that is truly amazing to watch, as it can be as expansive as explosions crashing across the screen, or more intimate, like a duel between two people. This gives the best action scenes such a range and in 2019 we were given some truly amazing spectacles.
For me, the best action scenes are those that excel in every element, whether that be live actions, special effects, digital effects, or animation and bring every facet to shine. It is also the category that looks at some of the department’s people don’t often fully understand like stunt coordination or the 2nd unit.
So without further ado, these are the moments of action that awed us in 2019. Be warned that there may be some slight spoilers ahead for the films in question. Also, click on the banners to see the reviews of each film.
TL;DR – I countdown all of my top 100 films shown throughout the decade from Chappie to Roma to Paddington and more.
The end of the year is rapidly approaching and as it is also the end of the decade it means reflecting back on the past. With this in mind, I have been thinking back to the hundreds and probably thousands of films that I have watched and boy was it quite a decade. We got to see a conclusion of a twenty film franchise, solid trilogies appear, and new filmmakers explode onto the stage with unique voices. While there was also a lot of rubbish and more than a few franchise false starts today we are going to focus on the positive and explore my personal top 100 films of the decade. Now all films are subjective, so our list might look completely different than yours, also we didn’t get to see every film this decade so we may have missed some that ended up on your list. We’ll be going over the whole 100 in one list with a little blurb as to why it is there. If there is a banner picture it means that we have reviewed the film and if you click on the banner it will take you to the article.
Now without further preface let’s dive into the wonderful world of film and see if my top 10 is the same as yours?
TL;DR – It takes everything that worked in the last two films and took it up to 11
Score – 5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
One of the first reviews we ever wrote back in the day was for the first John Wick
film and since then we have really had a love affair in this world of under the
table dealings, societies in this world but out of this world, visual
storytelling, and neon rock operas. This is a world that is told in
part by creative directing, interesting stories, and also the sheer determined
strength of character that is Keanu Reeves and everyone in the whole cast and
crew that make the character of John Wick shine. Today we get to look at the
third film in the series that has John at his lowest and discovering there are
more places to fall.
So to set the scene, at the end of John
Wick Chapter 2, John found himself in a very precarious
position. Someone had Marker on John (Keanu Reeves) forcing him to do his
bidding (killing his sister) and then turned on John putting a contract out on
his life for the before mentioned killing of his sister. After fighting his way
through New York he arrived back at The Continental Hotel and though warned by
the Manager Winston (Ian McShane) John killed the man on hotel grounds one of
the few unbreakable rules in their universe. Winston gives John one hour of
life before he is excommunicated from the organisation and this is where we
open. John is running through the streets of New York as the skies bucket down
because the Gods are at war. He is trying to get to the New York Public Library
but as one of the Bowery King’s (Laurence Fishburne) henchmen calls out tick
tock, tick tock John.
TL;DR – Today we countdown my Top 10 films of all time; from towns where there are a lot of ‘accidents’, to all forms of Sci-Fi, to do you know the man with six fingers on his right hand, and everything in between.
Recently I watched the CineFix crew countdown their Top 10 films, and it had me thinking what are mine? Now it was at this point where I of course naturally spiralled as how can you reduce thousands of films that you have seen into only a Top 10. Just before I threw my hands up in resignation and chucked in the towel I happened to catch an episode of Movies with Mikey on how he determined the best sequel. With this in mind I wondered if there was a set of criteria that I could use to categorise the films into a list that I would be happy with, and after some work, I came up with the following criteria that work for me.
Films that are beautifully constructed
Films that mean something to me
Films that are always re-watchable
Films that have added to my love of the craft of cinema
With this criterion in mind I went through all the likely candidates and with a bit of a struggle I think I have been able to come to a final list, well at least until I change my mind next week, which is always a chance.
TL;DR – While not in any way revolutionary, it takes the familiar pieces and presents them in a really captivating way, anchored by a powerful performance by Denzel Washington.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
So I am going to begin this review with a confession, I have never seen the first Equaliser film, nor the TV series it is based off. Indeed I didn’t even know there was a TV series until I saw it in the credits. To add to this I was not even planning to go see The Equaliser 2 today so I didn’t have the presence to watch the first film before going in, so as I was going in I thought I should at least read through the synopsis. Just reading what happened made me truly wonder how I missed it? However, film history is full of sequels that don’t live up to the original, so let’s take a look at a world power does not protect you.
TL;DR – Takes everything that worked in the first film turns it up to 11 and then gives it real emotional stakes.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – there are two mid-credit scenes
Back in 2016, there was this little film that could that exploded out into the zeitgeist of the film world. The first Deadpool (see review) was a passion project for all involved because it took years to get it greenlit, indeed, it took test footage being leaked to finally convince the studio to start it, and even then they cut the budget drastically before shooting because they had fears about what an American R-rated film would make at the box office. Well as we know it make bank at the box office and now we get to see the fruits of that decision with Deadpool 2, well also it probably helped convince 20th Century Fox to finally let them do Logan (see review) as they really wanted, so thanks for that too. So today we are going to look at the follow up to the merc with the mouth, can they capture that same feeling that exploded out on screen both literally and metaphorically, well let’s dive in and see.
TL;DR – John Wick was the gold standard for action films and John Wick Chapter 2 continues this with brutal action, and a deeper insight into this fascinating world.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Now it should come as no surprise that I love the first John Wick film, from the action, to the world building, to the sheer commitment of Keanu Reeves put into preparing for the role. Indeed I wrote a whole article on how it sets the gold standard for Worldbuilding and Visual Storytelling. The issue is that when you love the first film it is always a bit difficult to look at a sequel with an objective lens, on the one hand, you may be blinded by rose tinted glasses, or you may judge it harshly because nothing can live up to the expectations the first film made. With this in mind, I approached John Wick 2 cautiously but I am still happy to say while it did not quite live up to the first film it is still an amazing film in its own right. Its action is still as good as the first, we delve deeper into this world they are creating, and we get to see what happens when a movie is perfectly cast.
TL;DR – John Wick is a masterpiece of balancing storytelling and worldbuilding without resorting to multiple exposition dumps or clunky dialogue exchanges.
When you are making or adapting some form of narrative medium, whether it is a book, video game, TV show, online video series, or a movie, two of the most important narrative facets are storytelling and worldbuilding, however, they can often find themselves in conflict with each other. I think we have all played that video game that is crammed full of lore, around every corner is another audio log sitting there for you to digest and thus the story gets lost in at that worldbuilding. Conversely, people fall in love with the worlds you can create, as much as people love Harry Potter, they are also enraptured with the whole Wizarding World, #HufflepuffForLife, so if you focus just on your story and don’t build the world around you, you’re going to have a shallow narrative and a missed opportunity. So how do you rectify this issue, well you could do what Snowpiercer and others have done in the past and gone with an opening newscast, or narration, or like the grandmaster of it all Star Wars, and have it all in your opening crawl. Or you could go with the Game of Thrones route and hide your exposition in sex scenes hoping that nudity will keep people engaged, and indeed you may even coin a phrase with ‘sexposition’ in the process. Or you could follow John Wick’s lead by crafting a strong narrative while also building a fascinating world. Now as we will be dissecting John Wick for this analysis, and since we will be focusing on the story, there is no way we could do that and not have any spoilers, so if you have not seen it yet, firstly go watch John Wick, but also you may not want to proceed any further, or do, I’m not your boss.
TL;DR – Somewhere in here is a good movie, unfortunately, it is smothered in poor action, the need to jump cut eight times every second, and an entirely predictable story.
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
So Hollywood has been on a bit of a bender recently bringing back franchises from the 2000s to give them another try. First, it was Underworld, then XXX, and now the granddaddy of them all (by a couple of months) Resident Evil. Now, of course, Resident Evil does have a bit more stability in its releases compared to the other two, but when in Rome, lump a bunch of stuff together to make it easier to analysis, so who am I to disagree. Honestly, I do have to say I did quite like the first two films in the series, the first Resident Evil had some iconic scenes, and the second really made the most out of its unfolding zombie apocalypse setting, you know before we got sick of that particular setting, thanks, Hollywood. However, since then the Resident Evil films have felt more like rehashes of each other, different movie, same themes, so I was actually quite excited when they named this next film ‘The Final Chapter’. I wanted to see them really go for it, take that final chapter mantra to heart, and knock it out of the park, but alas once again my optimistic nature has been dealt a blow.