Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Eagle Has Landed, and Birdman

Sorry for the late Pick. By the time our family finally settle on our film for film night, I'm usually making breakfast.


No, I shall not be reviewing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but WonkaI am finally able to say, after three years, that I am out of Sixth Form! Yes! Who would have thought the day would come?

I found it to be a pretty momentous occasion to be free from the shackles of school life, and while the lead up to final exams, results, and university daunt me, I will throw myself into the future with sheepish enthusiasm.

While I have got a special “thank-you” in mind for the leavers of 2015, I am honoured to say this Pick is dedicated to them. Thank you for making my extra year a real pleasure.


THE PLOT: Think of the real fairytale, and then imagine that after they killed the witch at the end, they decide to become professional witch-hunters. Awesome, right? Now they must deal with their latest case: child kidnappings in the small town of Augsburg. Can they save the children, and find out why they were left to die in the woods?

Well, not like that matters anyway. Those matters are meant to be taken with a pinch of salt, as is the whole film. The story acts merely as a skeleton for the actors to slash, hack, and shoot around. And you know what? I’m fine with that.

Despite its silly CGI and odd camera cuts (everytime someone is hit to the ground (which is a lot), they are back on their feet seconds later, with blood and dirt gone, and hair restyled), Hansel and Gretel somehow keeps you drawn in with all the action… okay, maybe there was a little too much action, but my point is that I think everyone involved in this movie went in with full knowledge that this wasn’t going to be a critic’s movie.

Even with the goofy action, the American-accented German characters, and mediocre story, it gives me a vibe of a modern 90s gore-fest, that you have to have fun, and not be pernickety with. But for reference, the witches’ costumes and casting were insanely creative.

VERDICT: 5/10 – E for Effort, A for Amusement.

Hansel: Revenge doesn't change the past. It won't bring our parents back. But it sure as hell feels good.

The Eagle Has Landed

THE PLOT: Towards the end of World War Two, a feasibility study is taken to see whether Winston Churchill could be kidnapped from England. What a joke, yeah? However, one man takes it seriously, and recruits Kurt Steiner (Michael Caine) and his men, IRA agent Mr Devlin (Donald Sutherland) and sleeper agent Johanna Grey (Jean Marsh) to capture Churchill and bring him back to Germany.

As soon as I started this movie, I knew there was one very important factor that had to be overcome: how are we able to sympathise with the Axis forces? Surprisingly, very easily.

Steiner’s anti-Nazi and honourable behaviour is something that outshines some of the Allied soldiers in the film. Radl, the organiser of the plan, also shows chivalry, and does not shy away from the challenge set before him… and the consequences of failing. And Mr Devlin… I think he might be one of my most favourite characters I’ve ever seen. Multi-talented, softly spoken, yet calculating, and always carrying the air that he is in control (even after being thrown out a window) he almost steals the show.

The Eagle Has Landed has its fingers in all the pies. There’s action, light comedy, suspense, romance, thriller elements, mystery… it’s a rollercoaster of affairs. While there was a bit of a slow start, with some really awkward camera angles that had me worried, the film blossoms into, well, whatever you want to make of it. Bloody or beautiful, fun or heartbreaking, it’s an unmissable watch. Oh! And watch out for that twist-ending!

VERDICT: 9/10 – Flying high.

Liam Devlin: "There is an old poem I know, which freely translated from the Irish says; I realized fear one morning, when the blare of the fox-hunters sound. When they are all chasing after the poor bloody fox, it's safer to be dressed like a hound."

Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

THE PLOT: Riggan Thomson is a Hollywood actor that is famous for playing ‘Birdman’. However, his career is washed up, and he finds his only way back into the limelight to be creating a Broadway show on Raymond Carver’s novel; What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. With Birdman’s voice taunting him and “visions” of himself performing levitation and telekinesis, the new unpredictable method actor filling in for an injury, and dealing with his family, he finds it hard to get ready for opening night.

So Birdman won four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Yeah, it was a big hit. The cinematography was awesome, making the flick feel like it was filmed in a single shot. That was pretty impressive, and didn’t come off as a gimmick. The screenplay too was very clever, as this film has more messages than Royal Mail, and they were displayed coherently, yet not throwing them away to the wind.

But somehow, the film didn’t sit right with me. Maybe it was because I had to strain to hear any word over the grisly voice of Keaton, or the fact that this movie was supposedly meant to relate to anyone, but didn’t relate to me. Yeah, I get the idea that we live in an era that we all want to be relevant and be famous and leave a legacy on this earth, but after I’ve heard it the last seventy-four times, it starts to get old. Also, these things are glaringly obvious to the main character, and he just doesn’t quit. IT’S EVEN WRITTEN ON THE MIRRIOR OF HIS DRESSING-ROOM! So my problem is that, the message kind of becomes repetitive after a while.

However, this was a pretty great film. There was some great acting from Emma Stone and Michael Keaton and Edward Norton… actually, give all the cast a round of applause; they deserve it.

But if I had to sum it all up… I call The Grand Budapest Hotel as my Pick for Best Picture. That is, until I see Whiplash.

VERDICT: 8/10 – Flying high, but expect some turbulence.

Riggan: Just find me an actor. A good actor. Give me Woody Harrelson.
Jake: He's doing the next Hunger Games.
Riggan: Michael Fassbender?
Jake: He's doing the prequel to the X-Men prequel.
Riggan: How about Jeremy Renner?
Jake: Who?
Riggan: Jeremy Renner. He was nominated. He was the Hurt Locker guy.
Vinci: Also the guy who has fun with his movies!