February was, as always, a busy month, with the remainder of the Oscar hopefuls getting a release in the UK. That means there are 8 films in this month’s fight.
First up, The Lego Batman Movie tries to take one of the funnier side characters from The Lego Movie and see if he works on his own. While a few jokes get run into the ground, it mostly works. It’s pretty much what you’d expect: enjoyable, silly, fun, with a take on Batman that revels in all of the character’s ridiculous history. Worth seeing, with some decent jokes for older viewers. (See my The Lego Batman Movie Twitter review)
Fences sees Denzel Washington direct himself and Viola Davis in an adaptation of a play about the struggles of an African-American family. The lead performances are excellent, rightly gaining Oscar nominations (and a win for Davis) for their well-delivered, wordy, weightiness. While the film feels very much like the stage adaptation that it is, that never detracts: the tension rises to keep the audience captivated throughout. Intense, and gripping. (See my Fences Twitter review)
After the over-the-top silly action of the original, John Wick: Chapter 2 is exactly what we wanted: a story crafted around fantastic action set-pieces, in the weird assassin ridden world to which we’ve been introduced. The opening set-up is overlong, but you’ll quickly forget that as we see sequences like the silent subway gun battle. Dumb, but fun. (See my John Wick: Chapter 2 Twitter review)
Though I saw it before the ceremony, Moonlight, we now know, won the Best Film Oscar this year, so there’s some pressure on the movie. It starts strongly, following a young, poor, African-American boy struggle with a drug-addict mother, and finding a surrogate father. As the film jumps to various point in the lead’s life, we see him struggle to accept himself in circumstances we don’t often see on film. It’s a good character study, with powerful moments throughout, but is perhaps a little muted and slow in places. Worth seeing. (See my Moonlight Twitter review)
The Founder is the fairly straight-forward telling of how, thanks to one man’s vision and greed, McDonalds went from a single restaurant to the behemoth it is today. Michael Keaton puts in a fantastic lead performance, with a solid cast around him. The story is well-told, but not spectacular. Decent. (See my The Founder Twitter review)
Netflix are seriously upping their Original movies game with several coming out every month that are of note: I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore is no different. It’s a strange indie film: a mix of oddball characters dealing with some serious events (and some not-so-serious), filled with dark humour and bloody violence. Well-paced, well-shot, and a lot of fun. Definitely worth seeing. (See my I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore Twitter review)
Imperial Dreams is the heart-breaking story of a young father struggling to escape his upbringing and poverty, while making sure his young son is okay. At times devastating, the film (and John Boyega’s performance) does a fantastic job of making you feel the awful pressure on the lead. Great. (See my Imperial Dreams Twitter review)
Finally, A Cure For Wellness is horror schlock. It’s overlong, and ridden with as many cliches as they could cram in. That said, it works reasonably well: by always going over-the-top, we can’t do anything but go along with the characters as they do increasingly bizarre things in almost surreal circumstances. Okay. (See my A Cure For Wellness Twitter review)
The winner for February is Fences, as nothing else comes close to the dramatic tension in the scenes of family struggle in this movie.