An update to this. After the release of the novel and film below, the Yemen had sadly been consumed in civil war for some years when I wrote this; I decided not to make reference to it at the time, because it’s not relevant to the story and also because it’s all too often true that countries like the Yemen only get attention because of bad news stories, which is a trap that this story doesn’t fall into, and I wanted to reflect that. I decided to go with the writer’s intention, which was to highlight aspects of life in Yemen that rarely receive attention in the West. But in respect of the many victims of that conflict, I’ve now decided to put these comments in as well. Civil wars are always tragic and even more so when they’re being fought as proxy wars by other powerful countries. Our condolences go out to everyone who has been affected by this conflict, and I hope that the article below may help to re-present this troubled country in a better light once more. (more…)
We go into the Oasis to see what Steven Spielberg’s latest sci-fi action flick really has to offer… First Look: ready player one review by Jamie White.
I’m sure there’s a lot to like about READY PLAYER ONE. The adrenaline pumping action scenes, the unique and intriguing concept about virtual reality video gaming, the discourse it has about our current culture and gaming. The skepticism about how advanced technology can just take over our lives, and even give us an outlet to create a new life. I, however, did NOT enjoy this. At all.
You may hear that a producer will only read the first 10-20 pages of a script – all the busy people we would be pitching to, rely on a great first ten pages to convince them a script is worth reading. This script would not (or should not have) made the cut.
The constant, highly expository voice-overs from the main characters, lazily doing the heavy lifting (the world building). It was infuriating. And oh boy did the voice-over not end there. Dear God… I could go on and on about how the script let this film down, but I’m sure I won’t waste too much of your time, so here’s a quick list.
- That exposition throughout the first ten minutes. Then when the title card finally hit I thought “Oh thank ****! The actual film can start.” What was the first thing you hear next? That’s right – another voice-over. Man, oh man, did they overuse voice-overs in this film.
- The dialogue was incredibly cringey. Anyone could’ve written the dialogue for this.
- Certain “twists” or reveals were uninspiring and predictable. (People’s real-life identities, for example).
- There was no sense of time in this film – it really felt like everything happened within 2-3 hours.
- Character relationships were rushed, and, you guessed t, incredibly conventional and stereotypical. The romantic subplot advanced to “I love you” within 5 interactions between the love interests. I mean, c’mon.
I’ll stop there before I get too frustrated, but I do just want to add on one small thing. This film was set in 2040, but there was nothing to suggest that (other than the massive virtual reality world). Every reference or cameo was to something that was made over 20 years prior. Anything from Overwatch to Sonic to Asteroids was used – but we didn’t get any notion of what 2040 pop culture was like. Maybe it’s a criticism of the huge focus on franchises, but it still felt very jarring. As was the very 80s centric soundtrack – I get why they went that route, but it felt so wrong – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY pulled it off perfectly, READY PLAYER ONE did not. If you wanna have the 80s culture play such an integral part have the protagonist be an 80s freak – it otherwise just felt out of place.
Phew! OK, so there’s my little rant. I didn’t wholly dislike the film, but there was much in there that took me out of the experience, and that’s what killed it for me.
What did you think of READY PLAYER ONE? I hope you enjoyed more than I did!
FIRST LOOK: Molly’s Game Review (2017)
|View the Molly’s Game film trailer from the FRESH Movie Trailers YouTube channel here.|
Article by guest author Jonathan Wiggins.
Prolific writer Aaron Sorkin has built his career on finding intensely creative ways to explore the fascinating and complicated stories of real-life contemporary figures. He’s done this with The Social Network, Charlie Wilson’s War, and Steve Jobs. But this year, Sorkin has taken on his first female heroine in Molly’s Game, which explores the life and times of the phenomenally savvy woman who went from competing as a skier for the US National Team to running an exclusive high stakes illegal poker den for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by the FBI.
Sorkin’s overdue directorial debut is an electrifying adaptation of the titular Molly Bloom’s 2013 memoir of the same name, starring an equally exhilarating Jessica Chastain as Bloom and a compelling Idris Elba as her lawyer. The film has already won a handful of awards in the international circuit ahead of its mainstream premiere on Christmas Day, and is expected to fascinate and intrigue audiences for years to come.
A thrilling hand
The film revolves around the titular Molly Bloom, who suffers a career-stopping accident at a national skiing contest at the beginning of the film. The Hollywood Reporter explains that this life-derailing incident sends her down a drastically different path – which starts with law school ambitions and ultimately ends in pleading guilty to running a high-end illegal gambling ring.
Overloaded with lines and monologues of razor sharp wit (a testament, of course, to Sorkin’s love of the written word), Molly’s Game shows Bloom teaching herself about poker and the vices of rich men, first as an assistant to an arrogant real estate agent and gambling host Dean (Jeremy Strong), and later on by herself, after having cut Dean loose. She saunters through her exclusive gambling den full of the biggest names in Hollywood, riveting and unimpressed, before moving on to higher stakes and clients in New York.
Over there, the buy-in is at $250,000, and the games are twice a day, six days a week. On top of Hollywood A-Listers, her clients included rich Russians and mobsters from the criminal underworld, and as her fortune increased, so did the attentions of the authorities. An illegal gambling den as grand and as lucrative as hers couldn’t be kept a secret for long, Bloom business implodes and she is forced to face the legal consequences of her actions. The storytelling is fast-paced and tight, never failing to entertain, even at two hours long.
As Sorkin’s first-time directorial effort, Molly’s Game is well executed, thrilling, and visually intense. Fluid camera movement, clever cuts, and excellent visualization worked to add nail-biting excitement to what many consider an un-filmable sport, arguably putting Molly’s Game a step ahead of the likes of Rounders (1998) and The Cincinnati Kid (1965), which have been listed by PartyPoker as some of the greatest gambling films of all time. In fact, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich has gone on to suggest that Molly’s Game is “the first great poker movie,” commending Sorkin’s direction, which he finds is much like his writing – crisp, fast, and just a tiny bit too blunt. Chastain’s cool, cynical voiceover makes the film great as a poker procedural. However, it is Bloom’s understanding of her clients, as well as the ebb and flow of the game itself, that makes the film luxuriously entertaining, regardless of whether or not you are a poker fan.
Chastain powers her way through rapid-fire dialogue and monologues, and is a force majeure in a world full of men. She bulldozes through the role with a confidence and energy that is intoxicating to watch. The real-life Molly Bloom told the BBC that she loved Chastain’s extraordinary performance, making the entire experience of watching the film a cathartic and emotional one for Bloom.
Filmmaking, like poker, is a game that all boils down to stakes. In Molly’s Game, Sorkin is finally cashing in his chips, and we’re all excited to see his next thrilling hand.
Take a look at other reviews right here: https://writemovies.com/category/writing-insights/movie-reviews-tv-reviews/
A BEAUTY AND THE BEAST review from Susan Wloszczyna at rogerebert.com. How does the live action remake compare to the beloved animation?
Top movie review website rogerebert.com has recently looked over the new BEAUTY AND THE BEAST remake… adaptation… whatever you want to call it. It’s an intellectual and intriguing review for a film that somehow managed to balance skepticism and enthusiasm before its release. (more…)
From the WriteMovies archives, a SHADOWBOXER film review. A film starring Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. Take your chance to get equally insightful feedback on your script with our Script Consultancies right HERE. A review article from the WriteMovies archive first published November 2006 by Brett Buckalew.