Did The Shape of Water Deserve Best Picture?

The effect of watching Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri the day before watching The Shape of Water is that it will often be used as a measuring stick across this article.

Immediately, I would like to state that I think Three Billboards is the better film. It is structured better, it has better performances (but this is only because it probably has the best performances in a film in years) and it is better written.

However, to answer my own question, I think The Shape of Water winning best picture is the right outcome.

The Shape of Water is a fantasy romance (well, loosely) which follows Eliza (Sally Hawkins), a mute cleaning lady at a high-end science laboratory, which is housing a sea-creature of sorts and running tests on it. I will not say any more.

The Shape of Water is the sort of film that reminds an audience of why film is so special. Three Billboards is brilliant, yes, but what makes The Shape of Water more deserving of best picture in my eyes is its ambition. It is a film that doesn’t come around very often.

Let me get the negatives out of the way. The Shape of Water gets better as it goes along, and even though that is a positive, it does mean that the film’s first act falls behind. It isn’t that it’s not interesting, it’s just that it isn’t as interesting as it can be.

Beyond this, there is one other tiny nitpick I have that really shouldn’t count, but it’s been bugging me ever since I saw it. There is one scene transition in the film that is like a Star Wars scene transition, and it’s so out of place that I wonder why it’s even there. I’m talking, of course, about a wipe, and there is just one for no particular reason.

Moving past the nitpicking, let’s talk about what makes The Shape of Water great.

When I watch a film, I look at it two ways. One way I look at a film is considering how it’s structured, how it’s written, how it’s directed, how it looks, how well the sound is mixed, and everything of the sort. Generally for a motion picture at this level, most of those elements cannot be sub-par, so unless the sound is something exceptional (like I felt with Dunkirk) or the cinematography is extra beautiful, I usually just think about how it’s written, directed and edited. Considering those factors (except directing, in which Del Toro greatly outdoes Three Billboards’ Martin McDonagh), Three Billboards is the better film.

However, the other way I look at a film matters more to me, and it’s just how the film has an impact on me, or how much I can connect to it, or how much it stands out from other films, and other similar factors. Now, the first way is less subjective than the second, and that is an important distinction. A film connects with everyone differently, and so while I say The Shape of Water deserved its prize, a lot of people would disagree, and that’s how it should be.

The Shape of Water resonates because it showcases the worst and best of humanity. It explores the different ways we deal with things that are not familiar to us, and, at least to me, it is of utmost relevance. Yes, the film is about a fictional sea-creature, or Amphibious Man, but its message extends far beyond that, and that’s what makes it stand out.

The film is also gorgeous. One could argue that it leans a little too much into its fantasy, but to me, that only makes it better. The entire film, maybe because it’s set some time during the Cold War, has a fantastical feel to it, and it really only elevates you as a viewer.

Sally Hawkins and the rest of the cast bring stellar performances to the table, with Hawkins in particular standing out. Her character connects with the Amphibious Man in a beautiful way, and it really is the centre of the film.

This is as far as I’ll go, because I don’t want to accidentally give away anything. The Shape of Water is a film that moves you with its ambition and its magic. What’s even more surprising is that it isn’t your typical best picture winner, but it is rather nice that it is the winner anyway.

On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:

The Shape of Water: MIHIR


Trying to Review Three Billboards Almost Three Months Late

This is arguably my most challenging review ever, because Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is probably the most challenging film I’ve had to review yet.

I love when a film leaves you thinking about it for hours after you walk out, even if it is frustrating or annoying. Three Billboards, directed by Martin McDonagh, is one of those films.

I went into this film with absolutely no idea about the plot, so I will leave it as that. It made my experience better than it would have been if I did know the plot before going in.

This review, obviously, is entirely spoiler-free as my reviews always are, but for the first time my own golden rule is really holding me back. I shall, however, soldier on.

Three Billboards is not a directorial spectacle, or anything of the sorts. It is a subtle film that finds its strength two ways: its performances and its subtext.

All performances in Three Billboards are great, but two stand out far above the rest. Frances McDormand’s Academy Award-winning performance lives up to its accolades. Beyond her, however, is Sam Rockwell, who somehow manages to steal the show in a film filled with fueled, passionate performances.

The characters in Three Billboards require committed performances, because the plot is one that immediately spawns difficult characters. The effect of this is that the film can be rather difficult to watch at times. This is not a critique, but rather a compliment towards the power of the movie. There are viewers that do not like to be manipulated by a film, but I love being manipulated by what I’m watching.

The true charm of Three Billboards, however, is how it explores the complexity of our actions and how even the smallest of acts can have dire consequences. Being set in a small town, everyone’s lives are entangled, and the film does not shy away from allowing people to intertwine as much as it can. There is no good character in this movie, and it is difficult to call anyone definitely bad. Everyone is a human being, and the film treats them that way.

The only problem I found with this film is how it handles its humour, of which it actually has a surprising amount. There are two types of humour in this film, and the type which works is the satirical humour. However, the film also tends to very often undercut a serious (even devastating scene) with something humorous at the end, and it is a confusing predicament to be in as a viewer. Granted, Marvel gets a lot of criticism for the same thing, but the difference is, Marvel films are about superheroes and are nowhere near as serious as Three Billboards, and most of that Marvel humour works. With this film, however, you simply cannot laugh as a viewer because it feels out of place. The satire is great, but the throwaway humour does nothing but take away from the film.

Beyond that, however, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a film that deserves to be remembered, because what it has to say is something worth thinking about. It would have been a disaster if its performances weren’t as brilliant as they were. This is a film I hope to hear people talking about in a film class thirty years down the line.

On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: MIHIR


Game Night: The Perfect Way to Kill a Couple of Hours, But Nothing More Than That

Films can be interesting when it comes to how seriously they should be taken. There is, of course, the Schindler’s List side of the film spectrum, and on the other end, there is the Ferris Beuller’s Day Off side. Where this scale tends to damage the way we look at film, however, is when one tends to confuse the seriousness of a film with its actual quality. At least to me.

Ferris Beuller, for instance, is one of my favourite films of all time, but it certainly is not to be taken seriously. Game Night, although not nearly on Ferris Beuller’s level, is one of those films. Don’t take it seriously, and you’ll have a great time.

Game Night stars Jason Bateman, who I knew only from Juno and for being the one funny character in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, and Rachel McAdams, who needs no introduction, and follows a strange mystery that takes place on a game night. That’s all I can really say.

This film is a comedy, and, it is a good one… On most occasions. There are moments that really do not work, but those are outweighed by the moments that do work.

Game Night’s plot isn’t its strongest aspect, but it is pushed along by great performances, from actors who are already well pedigreed. The problems that come along with the plot are that at a point, it becomes tremendously confusing tonally. This is coming back to the point I was making about how serious a film is. If Game Night stuck to its less grounded self, rather than try and be a little more serious, it would have scored more points in my book. The most jarring thing is how quickly the film transitions back and forth between light and heavy.

There is also a minor side-story that is just completely unnecessary and feels rather like it’s just included because the two characters involved in it have nothing else to do in the film.

As harsh as I appear to sound, I actually did like Game Night and I had a great time. It’s funny and has great entertainment value, so, it still receives a recommendation from me. Just don’t take it too seriously.

On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:

Game Night: MIHIR

Black Panther is Marvel’s Richest Film Yet

No spoilers.

Eighteen films into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

No more to go until Infinity War.

Black Panther is the final Marvel film before the ultimate nerd extravaganza, and it has a lot riding on it. Not only does it have to try and stand out among origin films, it has to allow Marvel to gain momentum heading into May.

Picking up right where Captain America: Civil War left off (quite literally), Black Panther follows T’Challa’s journey to becoming king of Wakanda.

This is where Black Panther truly shines, and this is what I mean when I say the film is rich. Wakanda is exquisite in this film, and it’s clear that Marvel do not wish to hold back with its importance in the world. The ways and cultures of Wakanda are brought so gloriously to life that you really appreciate the detail everyone involved in this film put into it.

Black Panther also has a wonderful plot, and along with it comes one of Marvel’s best villains to date in Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger. This character is layered, and the best part is that you can completely understand his side of the tale. Aided by Jordan’s fueled performance, Killmonger will go down as one of the MCU’s most memorable villains.

On that note, the characters in this movie are a delight to see. You understand all of their roles in Wakandan society, and all of them are distinct and come with driven performances from their respective actresses and actors.

Black Panther himself is one of the best solo MCU characters to date. He is a class apart from the rest, and we’ve never really seen a character like him before.

All this, of course, seems to be describing a perfect film. That is what I thought I would end up calling this movie. However, it is a disappointment that I cannot call Black Panther perfect, and this really has to do with its final act.

There are two major contributors that take away from the film. First, it’s that the last act feels jarringly rushed. There have been reports that this film was meant to be over four hours long, and I am surprised that the only time this is evident is towards the end. But I can’t deny that you do feel it.

Black Panther’s second problem is that it shifts its tone a bit in the second half. It goes from a truly authentic film to feeling like another Marvel film. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is a shame that it could have been something more special than it is. Especially since we already see how great it can be in the first half.

That said, Black Panther is most certainly one of the better Marvel films, and it is a strong film to lead right into Infinity War. Marvel’s big hurrah comes this May. But this one is definitely worth watching too.

On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:

Black Panther: MIHIR

Revisiting The Last Jedi After Two Months

Full spoilers for Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi below.

There is a certain aura around any film. I can’t explain what it really is. But every film has one. It leaves a mark on you. It can be minuscule and almost non-existent, something to which anyone can relate. Think of an Adam Sandler film. That was probably the first time you’ve thought of an Adam Sandler film in a very long time. That’s simply because his films lack a great aura. Nobody really remembers them. They don’t leave an impact on anyone.

This isn’t to say a film’s aura comes from how much you like it. It’s simply how long it stays with you, and how much it effects you. You can hate a movie so passionately that it will not leave your thoughts for a while. The point is that it left you thinking about it.

No film I’ve ever watched has had this effect on me as much as Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I went to watch it the day it released with my friend – and you can watch our review here – and then took to the internet to see what everyone else thought of the film. That’s when the chaos arrived.

Before I get to that, however, it’s worth noting that I could not translate my thoughts for The Last Jedi into comprehensible language for quite a while after watching the film for the first time. So, really, reading what the world thought only added fuel to the fire.

Little did I expect that fire to live this long, however. Upon my second viewing, I’m writing this, as a way to let anyone who reads this (thank you) try and understand my predicament, and also to try and bury the hatchet on something that has been haunting me for far too long.


Now, the thing is, I probably wouldn’t be this caught up with myself if I didn’t care about Star Wars so much. I love Star Wars. Not so much Episodes I and II (do not kill me), but the rest, quite a lot.

I was particularly excited for The Last Jedi because Rian Johnson was at the helm, and his talent is undeniable. We’d been promised different, especially after everyone took it personally that The Force Awakens was too much like the original, and so I was excited to see what was going to be different.

The Last Jedi is tremendously bold and has balls. Rian Johnson took risks with this film and, well, they paid off. Or so thought my friend and I when we walked out of the theatre.

I stumbled onto reactions on the internet, from YouTube reviewers, and then from comment sections and other public forums.


What I found was a Batman v Superman level of divide between those that hate the film and those that love it. This being the internet, of course, one isn’t allowed to just like a film while acknowledging its flaws. That is forbidden.

And so began weeks of me questioning myself every now and again about my own abilities as someone who tries to look at films critically. I did actually understand a few of the arguments against the film (others are laughably atrocious), and The Last Jedi started to gradually slip off the pedestal I had placed it on.

Ultimately, I decided there was no point to thinking about the film endlessly, and so I watched it again. I had intended to take notes, as I do occasionally, but decided against it because I wanted to experience the film without any distractions.

One thing that is strikingly apparent that I didn’t catch the first time was that The Last Jedi is, indeed, too long. I’ll get to that later. I actually never find a film too long when I’m watching it in theatres, at least the first time, because when I’m in a theatre, I honestly don’t want the film I’m watching to end. The only time I’ve been tortured by time is when I watched Transformers: The Last Knight, and anyone with a brain can understand why.

The Last Jedi doesn’t feel too long in the sense that its run time is bloated. It’s just that there are so many stories happening side-by-side, that every time it cuts to one in particular, you want it to cut back to any of the others.

I am referring, of course, to the Finn and Rose plot. The first time I watched the film, these scenes didn’t drag because I expected a pay-off. Knowing there really isn’t one truly changes things the second time. The Finn and Rose story is jarring because it could have been done very differently. The search for the ‘only hacker who can get them into Snoke’s ship’ is sidetracked for someone completely different who can also get the job done for them. Benicio Del Toro’s character comes out of nowhere, and while I actually like him for what he represents, it’s a bit of a mess considering how he’s introduced and used. Also, Del Toro appears to have been inspired by Cosmo Kramer for his performance. Once you notice that, you can’t un-notice that.


A lot of it really feels unnecessary. There is a lot of time spent on the Casino planet (I can’t remember names. I’m sorry), and the jail time and animal chases really stray away from the focus of the film.

Rose could have just been the hacker, and the Finn and Rose story could have been about them trying to infiltrate The First Order. That would have been far more compelling, and it wouldn’t have drawn attention away so much from Rey and Luke and the rest. It also wouldn’t have been so disappointing when, ultimately, they fail.

I did not think of that. Jeremy Jahns did. Do not give me credit.

Now here’s where my understanding of a lot of complaints about the film really ends. The Last Jedi has been criticised for ‘failing its characters’ and doing things with the Force that we haven’t seen before.


First the stupid Force argument. Come on. You didn’t design the rules of the Force. It’s literally a mystical thing. That’s just a stubbornly ridiculous critique.

Moving on. Easily the most divisive aspect of The Last Jedi is its characters. Specifically, Rey, Snoke and, surprisingly, Luke Skywalker.


The one I understand most is Snoke, because he is a red herring. While I do think the completely unexpected twist of Kylo Ren killing him is great, I do feel like we could have used more information about Snoke before he died. While I am certain we will learn more about him, we could have gotten it earlier is all I’m saying.

Now here is the thing. Snoke being the big bad of Episode IX is a little similar to the Emperor being the big bag of Return of the Jedi. Kylo Ren being the centre of attention, however, is gold. It just is. Kylo Ren is a beautiful character, and he has earned everything his character has received. It’s simply more compelling than Snoke being the Supreme Leader. Supreme Leader Ren is so much better.

Rey’s parents are revealed to be irrelevant junkies who sold her. This also upset people.

Now I know this has been said before, but I will say it again. The film does not let people down when it comes to both Snoke and Rey’s parents. Everyone let themselves down. The two years between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were overflowing with so many fan theories, that eventually it felt like all of them were redundant, which they were.


Imagine this. After the original Star Wars, everyone in the whole world convinced themselves that Luke Skywalker’s father is Obi Wan Kenobi, and they decided that is the only reveal that would make them happy. I guarantee if that happened, even after witnessing the greatest reveal in cinematic history, people would have been upset that it didn’t go their way.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s unfair to a film to criticise it for not going how you wanted it to go. It’s similar to how people were upset at how little screen time Luke Skywalker received in The Force Awakens. Disney, JJ Abrams and Mark Hamill never said Luke Skywalker would have a prominent role in the film. Barring one vague shot, he was entirely absent from all trailers and promotional material, and even the poster for the film. Fans let themselves down. It’s the same problem here.

Speaking of Luke Skywalker, apparently The Last Jedi ruined the character. Anyone who says this is specifically referring to one scene, and it’s the flashback to the creation of Kylo Ren.


Yes, Luke does make an impulse decision to kill Ben Solo when he sees the darkness in him, but he immediately regrets it, even before he does anything. Just because he is a Jedi master does not mean he doesn’t have fears and he doesn’t have impulses. Luke Skywalker has always been a character to act on impulse, and the fact that he instantaneously retracts is growth in itself. And imagine this. You have saved the entire galaxy from unstoppable darkness, and right in front of you is the possible rebirth of all that darkness all over again. Would you just let it happen?

Luke is a tremendous character in The Last Jedi because his imperfections are highlighted. That’s what has always made Luke Skywalker a great character, even in the original trilogy. He can’t be all squeaky clean because he is older now. He is still Luke and he is still flawed.

The Last Jedi, also, is flawed, and I’ve mentioned why.

But ultimately, here is what makes me love this film, even with what I’ve said. The Last Jedi is bold and it is so rich in satisfaction. Everything regarding Rey and Kylo Ren is excellent, and the final scene with Kylo and Luke is unbelievable. The last act of this film is so beautiful that if I watched this film every day for the rest of my life, I will always have goosebumps and a tear will always form in the corner of my eye. Rey realising that she must carry the Jedi legacy on, Kylo Ren taking full control of the First Order and Luke Skywalker’s final moments are such gems that you really do forget the problems with the film. The breathtaking visuals, the epic score and pretty much everything else come together to make The Last Jedi stick to you.


That’s what makes The Last Jedi so special. It is not perfect, but what it does right, it does so, so right. I cannot think of this film without feeling something, and while this may ultimately stem from loving Star Wars, it’s what puts The Last Jedi up there as a wonderful film. Flaws and all.

I have no doubt that Episode IX will not be perfect, because no film really is (except perhaps The Empire Strikes Back), but when it comes to Star Wars, perfection no longer matters to me. It’s what the film makes me feel, and how it leaves an impact. The Last Jedi has stuck to me like a magnet for almost two months now, and it is not perfect. It doesn’t have to be.

We should stop striving for perfection and instead search for satisfaction. We should stop placing expectations on a film when it promises nothing at all. The Last Jedi suffered because of both those things. Remove them, and there lies a film that is, simply put, beautiful.



Spotlight: Film Analysis of the Week

I appear to have a knack for Academy Award winners with these articles, having already analysed Birdman, A Beautiful Mind and Unforgiven. What can I say? They win Best Picture for a reason.

That said, Spotlight is admittedly a little less packed with things that can be unfurled and unfolded, and so this will be a rather short article. I chose to analyse Spotlight because there are things for which the film is worth praising.



Having watched it a second time this past week, it is rather remarkable that a film of its nature has such great replay value, something you would usually associate with, say, a Captain America: Civil War or a Borat. Spotlight, set in 2001, centres around the Boston Globe team of journalists – named Spotlight – who uncovered the horrific scandals of child molestation (to put it lightly) that ran (or runs) prevalent in the Catholic Church, in Boston and around the world. This is incredibly uncomfortable, and what makes it a (pleasant?) surprise is that you can watch Spotlight a second time and love it more.

Spotlight is able to be brilliant simply because it resists the urge to be ‘Hollywood-ised’. There are very few films that come to mind, except perhaps documentaries, that are as real as Spotlight. Every performance is subtle and reserved, and there is only one moment of an outburst, which comes from Mark Ruffalo. Other than that, everyone is as real a human being as possible, and this deserves true praise. It’s one thing to act as a character. It’s a whole other thing to act as a person.

Spotlight is able to be brilliant despite this. It is so gripping and entertaining, and this is largely because it knows its subject matter does not need any further elements to be intriguing. There is no ‘inside man’ in the Church or anything of the sort, because the film doesn’t need it. It already has enough to disturb people more than any horror film can, and Tom McCarthy’s masterful fast-paced and constantly moving directing, combined with an excellent yet soft score, makes Spotlight an inviting experience.


I honestly cannot praise this realism more. Whenever a film says ‘based on a true story’, you can immediately tell that not everything is exactly based on true events, because there’s always something there to make it seem more suspenseful or interesting. Spotlight, however, never makes you think this, and yet is so engrossing because of the way it’s filmed and cut together.

It’s a shining example of how film doesn’t need to be extravagant to be special. Editing, writing and directing matter to making a film appealing, and real acting is far superior to anything even slightly over the top any day.

The fact is that Spotlight, a subtle drama which is almost a documentary in its storytelling, leaves a greater impact on you than anything that is trying too hard to have the same effect. That is why Spotlight is so special.



The Problems With Film Discussion and Criticism

2018 is upon us, and this is the beginning of my third year with The Geeky Critic. It seems like an appropriate time to take a step back and analyse what’s wrong with how we discuss film online.

You may notice that the featured image for this article comes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and that is no coincidence. The Last Jedi is a shining example of why discussing film has become borderline impossible. It is, truly, this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in that it divided everyone. More on that film in a bit. However, let’s stick to The Last Jedi, and Star Wars in general.


Star Wars is a saga that is older than forty years old now. The original (which I will refuse to call A New Hope) revolutionised film as it was known, and what came after is in the history books. The original Star Wars trilogy is so beloved that every Star Wars film that has come after has suffered greatly.

Admittedly, the prequel trilogy is not exactly on the same level of quality as the original (fans of the prequels, please refrain from insulting my intellect. You can have your opinions). They are generally criticised for being boring, too reliant on ridiculous choreography and CGI, having genuinely laughable dialogue, and they have a few abysmal performances.

Fast forward ten years after the last prequel, and in comes The Force Awakens, a film I love and many do not, and I clearly see why many do not. The Force Awakens is not perfect. While I do feel it’s still a great film with great introductions to a new set of characters, it does tend to rely too heavily on similar plot elements from Star Wars (still not A New Hope).


Enter The Last Jedi. I will admit that I like The Last Jedi more than most people appear to. But with this film, I found a whole new side to completely insane criticism, and this is the fact that the film is not ‘my vision’.

I am no expert on film criticism, but there is a difference between criticising how effectively a story is told, how compelling characters are, how natural the tone is, and a number of other aspects that make a film, and flat out saying ‘I don’t like this movie because that’s not how I wanted things to be’.

Here is my take on The Last Jedi. The story with Finn and Rose is, in a way, necessary, but the execution of that plot point is questionable. There are certainly better ways to tell that story without sucking the focus away from the rest of the film and not feeling so out of place. That is my only major issue with a film I otherwise adore.


Now, to be completely honest, my first impression of the film was more positive than that, but over time and after actually taking into consideration what other people think, I can see their side too. Beyond this, I think Rian Johnson truly made The Last Jedi his film, and it feels authentic despite seven films and Rogue One preceding it. And that’s the point. This is not anyone’s vision other than Johnson’s, and saying ‘that’s not how it’s supposed to be’ is not a fair criticism of the film.

This is no more evident than with Luke Skywalker. Yes, even Mark Hamill himself questioned Luke’s role in The Last Jedi, but assuming that Luke Skywalker will be the exact same person as he was thirty years ago is a little unreasonable. I’ve seen people critique the film for ‘spitting in the original characters’ faces’, and for those people the only acceptable thing to do is to just stop caring about Star Wars. Even if you think Rey, Kylo Ren, Poe and Finn (among others) are not as compelling as the original characters (which is fine), having an issue with the new Star Wars movies because they have newer characters in the spotlight is downright arrogant.

Alright, I’m going to move on because I’ve been on The Last Jedi long enough.


The ultimate point of this article is to reflect on how poor discourse about film is. It’s truly toxic. You can’t voice your opinion about a movie without someone calling you an idiot, or saying you have no idea what you’re talking about. This happens to me all the time. A particular instance comes to mind with my Blade Runner 2049 review, to which a number of people on social media had some strong responses.

This isn’t me saying I was hurt by any comments, it’s just me saying that there apparently doesn’t appear to be room for actual discussion anymore. I wasn’t the biggest fan of that film, and I know it’s widely beloved, which is fine. It would be a better experience if someone who disagreed with me actually expressed why they think it’s a better film than I let on, rather than immediately jumping to ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’ or ‘you’re too dumb to understand the film’.

Is it really so hard to just have engaging discussions?


As I said, I would talk about Batman v Superman, and I will use it to illustrate another point: how everyone just assumes critics are wrong/stupid.

A professional film critic is someone who is paid to critique film. They are qualified. If a film has a low critic rating, it’s for a reason.

Yes, ultimately film criticism comes down to opinion, but there are also general parameters to critique a film. Batman v Superman, for example, is consistently called ‘for the fans and not the critics’ in order to somehow say its generally low critic rating is wrong. This is, and I’m sorry if I offend anyone, stupid.

You can have your own opinion about Dawn of Justice. That’s fine. But it is still a structural mess with a number of plot holes (don’t even try ‘filling’ them) and a severely inconsistent tone. Let me be clear here. Any film critic cannot ignore things like this and just say ‘this movie is great because that eight minute fight scene was incredible!’.


A film critic is a professional, and quite frankly, saying their opinion is stupid is just… Well… Stupid. It brings me back to my original point.

There appears to be a greater desire among those in the film community to insult someone’s intellect or ability to have an opinion about a film than there is to actually have an educated, collected discussion about that film.

Everything I have said possibly comes from the fact that I generally love discussing film. I mean, I really do. It’s the whole reason I love writing on this blog so much. I’m the guy that will see any post about a film and open the comments to see what people think about it, so that I can possibly have a nice discussion or debate about it. It’s incredibly frustrating to see comment sections everywhere full of meaningless insults and nothing of substance. We’re supposed to be better than that. Maybe not extremely classy or formal, but, come on.

This is my first post of 2018, and if there is another Last Jedi this year, the only thing I hope for is that I am not labeled as ‘unqualified to have an opinion’ when I talk about it. It that really so hard?



Top 10 Films of the Year, 2017

2017 has almost drawn to a close, and even though it does seem a little early, it’s time to name my top ten films of the year. The key word is ‘my‘. Please do not kill me.

This is definitely not the objective ‘best films of the year’ list. This is my list, based on nothing but my opinion. Also, I have not watched every film this year, so, there are going to be some great ones that I’ve missed.

Honourable mentions:

The Lego Batman Movie
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

10: Wonder Woman


2017 has, by far, been the DCEU’s strongest year so far, and Wonder Woman has been its best film. Patty Jenkins’ World War I piece is an enthralling origin story that takes the character to new heights. It’s not necessarily the most original superhero film, but it is still great, and is truly DC’s shining diamond.

9: Baby Driver


Ansel Elgort proves the true versatility of his acting ability in Edgar Wright’s latest, and it helps that he’s in a really good film. Baby Driver may not be Edgar Wright’s best, but it is still one of 2017’s best, and that really speaks to Wright’s ability. There are problems with Baby Driver, particularly to do with the pacing, but it is still one of 2017’s more memorable efforts.

8: The Big Sick


The biggest surprise of the year is Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick. It truly hit me in the face, and it’s driven be real performances and great writing. It’s a touching story that is serious when it needs to be, and funny when it can be. If you haven’t watched it yet, get onto Amazon Prime and do it now.

7: Get Out


Get Out takes my spot for best horror film of the year for two reasons: I haven’t watched IT, and Get Out is not scary in the conventional sense. Get Out’s true horror is racism, and the reality of the situation is what makes Get Out a truly scary experience. Jordan Peele’s very original satire deserves to be remembered.

6: Thor: Ragnarok


I probably like Thor: Ragnarok more than most people, but, I don’t care. I love what Taika Waititi did with this film, and I love how he made it his own. It’s one of the most unique Marvel films, and it definitely earns points for that. It embraces its comedic genre, and goes all out at making you laugh. It isn’t exactly what you would imagine a Ragnarok movie being, but I’m so happy it is what it is.

5: Dunkirk


Dunkirk is paper thin, but that’s the point. It is a war film that focuses on the event it is centred around rather than the people that are experiencing the event. In doing so, it becomes a very thrilling film, and sadly one that I probably will not enjoy as much on a second viewing because it blew me away on the big screen. Dunkirk is a cinematic masterpiece, and very much the best theatre experience I had this year.

Christopher Nolan is a gift.

4: Spider-Man: Homecoming


Spider-Man: Homecoming is a film that makes me smile every single time I think about it. This is largely because Spider-Man has always been important to me, and Homecoming is able to capture the essence of Spider-Man perfectly. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is perfect. Add to this an incredible villain in Michael Keaton’s Vulture, and what you have is a movie that, at least to me, can be re-watched every single day. I cannot fully put into words what Spider-Man: Homecoming is to me, but, all that matters is that it’s good enough to be this high on this list.

3: Logan


What Fox (or, what used to be Fox) must have understood after Deadpool is that they tend to produce exceptional comic book movies when they don’t slip their slimy hands into them.

James Mangold’s Logan is special. It is a farewell to Hugh Jackman that couldn’t have been better, and even though I’m not a fan of the ‘everything has to be darker’ movement, the way Logan handles its maturity is worthy of applause. It isn’t necessarily the greatest comic book film ever, and nor does it have the greatest story, or greatest effects, or anything really. But there is no denying that Logan is one of the most courageous comic book films ever, and definitely the best one of 2017.

2: Mother!


Mother! is… Well… It is by far the strangest film I’ve watched this year. There are many that definitively do not like it, but I, on the other hand, love it.

Mother! is intentionally vague and open to interpretation, and if I’m honest, my interpretation was rather embarrassing compared to some others I’ve read. If those are to be true, then what Mother! is, really, is the deepest film of the year. I will not reveal my interpretation or any others I’ve read because I don’t want to spoil this film for anyone who hasn’t watched it.

Mother! is a film that leaves you thinking about it for a very long time. It’s the kind of film that’s a rarity, and the only reason it’s at number two on this list is personal bias.

Number one should be pretty obvious by now. Please save the death threats until after I’ve finished.

1: Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi


The Last Jedi being my favourite film of 2017 could be due to the facts that I hadn’t been anticipating a movie this year as much as this one, and that it is the film on this list that I’ve most recently watched.

Regardless, it should be known that I love The Last Jedi because it is a great Star Wars film, and I refuse to take that back. Yes, Finn’s story is a little off-putting, but other than that, The Last Jedi is raw, emotional, risk-taking and has a great number of surprises. Rian Johnson adds his stamp to the film, and the way it utilises both old and new characters is astonishing. Not only do Rey, Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker excel in The Last Jedi, Poe Dameron also shines.

The Last Jedi’s biggest strength is its ability to get people talking, and to leave an impact on people, whether that be a positive or negative one, and this is because it pushes the boundaries with its characters. Kylo Ren and Rey, thanks in large part to Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, are such compelling characters that they even make the likes of Luke Skywalker have to take a backseat to them. And Luke himself is aided by Mark Hamill’s strongest performance to date, and his character is something unexpected in this film too.

Even two days after watching The Last Jedi, it’s still hitting me in waves. I will not deny that this may be because of bias, but, when a film is great, it’s great. It isn’t perfect, but there is so much greatness in The Last Jedi that it can be excused.

As much as this seems like I want the world to be taken over by giant corporations, 2017 belongs to Disney – also for strong Marvel films – and Star Wars. Episode IX can’t come soon enough, but, until then, let’s hope 2018 is a year to remember.


The Last Jedi is among Star Wars’ Best (no spoilers)

Christmas is here, and of course, what I mean by this is that Star Wars season is here.

And as I did last year, I made my review a video review with Abhijit Vempati of The Boss Writes. This year, however, our video is scripted, edited and short.

And here it is.

Why Do So Many Fans Dislike Kylo Ren?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is almost upon us, and in trying hard to find a relevant article to write leading into it, I finally settled upon this one. I could have ranked all seven prior theatrical films, but, I didn’t feel like sitting through the prequels again. So, here we are.

What I am going to do instead is make a case for Kylo Ren, the main antagonist in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and possibly in The Last Jedi too.

Played by Adam Driver, Kylo Ren – or Ben Solo – is the son of Han Solo and Leia Skywalker. As questionably as this reveal was done, this is an interesting aspect of the character. The Skywalkers simply cannot stop shaping the entire galaxy.


Not only does this add a more personal layer to Kylo, it also becomes an intriguing plot point. How could two of the three main good guys from the original trilogy have a child that has turned bad? Furthermore, Ben was under the tutelage of the other main protagonist from the original trilogy. Without any explanation, it is rather perplexing how Ben Solo could have ended up like he did. Immediately, there’s so much to his character.

Moving on, the biggest disappointment many had with Kylo’s character is that he is nowhere near as powerful or dominating as anyone expected. He doesn’t have the authority, demeanor or… Evilness… That Darth Vader had.

But that is what makes Kylo Ren an incredible character. He isn’t one-dimensional, or without vulnerability. Yes, Darth Vader isn’t either, but think, for one second, what the world knew about Darth Vader after only the original Star Wars (which I will not call A New Hope). Don’t consider the following two films or the entire prequel trilogy. Consider all we know about Vader in the original.


Almost nothing. Yes, he is an absolute badass. He is menacing, terrifying and a force to be reckoned with (pun may have been intended). But other than the “Now I am the master” line, we know nothing at all about Vader. Even the fact that he “killed Luke’s father” doesn’t even count, although I do like the metaphor there.

In one film, we know so much about Kylo Ren, and comparing him to one film Darth Vader, there is no denying that Kylo is the better character.

I still didn’t address the issue that many have with him, though. It’s true that if one film Darth Vader went toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren, Ben Solo would be as dead as Ben Kenobi. But isn’t this what makes Kylo unique? Imagine if there was just another Darth Vader, mask and all.

That’s the beauty of Kylo Ren. Darth Vader wore the suit and mask because he had no choice. Kylo Ren chooses to wear the mask, because he is conflicted between the light and dark side, and because he tries to make himself seem a lot stronger than he really is.


In the third act of The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren murders his father, and then loses to Rey in a lightsaber battle.

These two things are what define the character. He is trying so desperately to stop being so conflicted between the light and the dark that he takes his own father’s life to try and find the answer he’s looking for.

But when it comes down to it, his inexperience shows. Ren is used to being the alpha, and not having someone stand up to him. When someone actually does, he doesn’t know how to handle it, and goes down to Rey. (This isn’t an article about Rey. Even though I love Rey and the idea that we have a female lead for a Star Wars saga, I’m not going to go into how she seemingly knows everything).

Even his own lightsaber is a metaphor for Kylo Ren. The instability represents how he is so torn inside, and the two hilts show that he is always trying to be the one with the advantage, and isn’t used to not being in control.


What baffles me is that a large chunk of the fan base doesn’t like Kylo, simply because he isn’t a definitive, authoritative bad guy. Yes, he is weaker than he lets on, he is conflicted and he even throws violent fits at times, but that’s what makes Kylo Ren stand out, and it’s what makes him so good.

The character’s strength is his complexity, and even though I was expecting a hard, no-nonsense antagonist when I walked into The Force Awakens as well, I really couldn’t have asked for a better bad guy.

The Last Jedi is very close. It has been my most anticipated film of the year, and the excitement is almost too much to bear. It’s just so close…