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Non-Review Review: Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You is striking, vibrant and vital. And essential.

Boots Riley’s directorial debut is a work of striking confidence, one that emerges almost perfectly formed with the skill and craft of a director much more experienced. Sorry to Bother You knows exactly what it is doing from one moment to the next, without any sense of hesitation of self-doubt. Sorry to Bother You is strikingly self-assured, maintaining an incredible level of high-energy across its runtime. This sustained propulsive dynamism in infectious, as the movie bounces from one big idea to the next.

Dialing up the social commentary.

The most obvious antecedents of Sorry to Bother You are the vibrant science-fiction social satires of the eighties, most notably the work of Paul Verhoeven that used a hyper-stylised aesthetic to depict the grosteque excesses of capitalism. Of course, the true horror of Sorry to Bother You lies in the sense of how the world itself has moved to close the gap over the past three decades. Although Sorry to Bother You unfolds primarily in a lightly fictionalised Oakland, the most unsettling aspect of the film is how close it feels to the modern status quo.

Sorry to Bother You is a work of bold vision.

Few satires are a patch on this.

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Non-Review Review: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters demonstrates just how lucky the Harry Potter films were when it came to casting teenage performers. As a movie series centred around the off-spring of Greek deities, the movie relies on the charisma of its leads to sell the premise. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite up to the task. While none of the performers are terrible or wooden, the film drags to a hault when the teenage actors are asked to carry a scene. As a result, a quiet boat ride in the middle of the film seems interminable, and a heart-to-heart before the climax feels overlong.

None of the cast are assisted by a script from Marc Guggenheim. Guggenheim is capable of a well-placed zinger, and the movie offers its fair share of wit, but everything about the movie feels pandering and simplistic, as if Guggenheim doesn’t trust his audience to pick up on the plot points if they aren’t painstakingly catalogued and repeatedly spelt out with cringe-worthy dialogue. Indeed, Guggenheim’s desire to slow everything down so he can repeatedly explain what’s going on only adds to the pacing issues caused by the weak leads.

It’s a shame, because the adult cast seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves, and there’s something quite charming about the idea of “demi-googling” as a means of retrieving information.

Another stab at a Percy Jackson film...

Another stab at a Percy Jackson film…

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Non-Review Review: Elysium

Elysium is good old-fashioned high-concept science-fiction. With production design alternately evoking the seventies (the upper class satellite that gives the movie its name) and eighties (the apocalyptic wasteland of future Los Angeles), Elysium feels like a conscious attempt to evoke classic genre films. Blomkamp builds in a healthy amount of social commentary, and there’s something quite satisfying in seeing a large-scale science-fiction film that isn’t afraid of big bold ideas.

However, the execution feels just a little bit muddled. The plotting is a little convoluted, and the third act becomes incredibly messy. The characters inhabiting the world never seem organic, with their motivations and behaviour prone to change rapidly to meet the rapidly-changing demands of a very messy script.

In a bit of a fix...

In a bit of a fix…

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