When I first heard about iBoy, I was quietly optimistic. I thought a British take on the superhero genre would give it a breath of fresh air it desperately needed. It certainly gave it a valiant effort and the film is OK but its highs are high and its lows are oh so low.
Starting with what worked well, the story doesn’t take its time to get going. The origin story, although vital to any superhero, more often than not drags on and takes away from the actual ‘superhero’ portion. iBoy avoids this by getting all the necessary establishment of characters out of the way within the first 10/15 minutes. Our main character Tom, gets the ability to control all electronic devices because parts of his phone get lodged in his brain. The film doesn’t even attempt to justify how ridiculous this is and probably for the better. It becomes an easy out for the writers when they need him to hack a phone or escape a sticky situation. They just revert to “oh yeah his super power includes blowing up other phones now” but never stop to explain how.
This wouldn’t have been so bad if the film was a comedy, but instead it tries to hard to be both a comedy and a gritty British film rather than committing one way or another. Makes the film very confused in that remark. iBoy also suffers in that iBoy himself is not very likable. I didn’t have many reasons (if any at all) to root for him. Similarly the villains seemed to lack any motivation at all beyond just being bad people for the sake of being bad people. The whole ordeal is very personal, it all takes place within a small subsection of a London apartment block and yet I didn’t feel a personal attachment to anyone bar maybe Maisie Williams character Lucy.
Lucy just so happens to be the best part of iBoy. Either she got the best standard of writing dedicated to her, or Williams does a great job in making her character stand out among an average crowd. She just so happens to be the bravest character and the biggest hero in the entire story, which is laughable considering Tom or iBoy is the title character.
I can’t help but feel iBoy had a lot of wasted potential. It’s okay but very flawed. It takes a lot to suspend disbelief and go with the flow. Even then when you see a progress bar for hacking a phone you feel like face palming really, really hard.
[I don’t have any 4.8’s to compare, but I gave Spider-man 2 (2004) and The Incredible Hulk (2008) both 5.0/10]
Anti-hero might be the wrong word for Abel Morales. But he is a man who finds himself somewhat close to that label by turning his unrelenting need for business progression into a fight. A fight with an enemy he doesn’t know nor can he find. So his anger has no target. Anger which finds its way towards the wrong people.
It’s a unique problem and the narrative for A Most Violent Year is not one driven by action. Rather it is driven by the actions and reactions of the characters to the unravelling scenario they find themselves in. Our main character Abel is one of integrity. He has always done things by the books. And it would take a brave man to question that. But his ambition is so strong that it might just get the better of him. Mix in a financial struggle, a large increase in crime and family trouble and Abel becomes a lot less emotionally intact quickly.
If 1981 New York could be personified it would probably be Abel. The off white/orange tone with blue highlights sets the mood of NYC at pessimistic and keeps it there throughout. Just the intensity of events it homes ramps up as the story progresses into an uncontrollable state of affairs. As NYC gets worse as does Abel. And this downwards spiral is enthralling to watch.
As a thriller I believe J. C. Chandor has done a good job. Outstanding? Maybe not but I was entertained non the less. The performances were great throughout and the writing created three dimensional and varied characters. Which more than made up for the slow pacing early on and truly made me connect with and understand each individual character and the decisions they made. I won’t spoil the film but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending. Which I feel left a little to be desired. But it was not enough for me to dislike the film at all.
I’ll certainly have to check out Chandor’s other work to see if it’s of similar quality. A Most Violent Year is not the greatest film ever made. But it’s a good, well developed, thriller. Which just so happens to be my favourite genre.
[other 6.8’s include Focus (2015) and Gangster Squad (2013)]
I find it weird saying I enjoyed a film like The Revenant. When all it is is 2 and a half hours of watching Di Caprio’s character Hugh Glass go through some of the worst torture imaginable. But there’s something very human about the efforts he goes through in order to survive, as a kind of ‘Glass Vs. Natural Selection’ movie. It certainly reaffirmed to me that there isn’t a lot I nor anyone else wouldn’t do in order to hold onto life.
The performances throughout the film were all top notch, and I found it surprising that I remember people saying it was Di Caprio’s least Oscar deserving performance. Maybe it was the fact that he was flanked by equally outstanding performances from Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson. But just because he didn’t steal the show doesn’t make the performance any less Oscar worthy. Every ounce of pain, anger and desperation is conveyed excellently and at no point did I find myself questing what was shown on screen as illegitimate. To suspend my disbelief is all I can ask for from the cast, and they did so well.
What also caught my eye was the action set pieces, of which there are many, that are shot in a particular way that it stood out from the dozens of action films I have seen before The Revenant. The scenes don rely on shaky cam footage, hyper-cutting from shot to shot in order to crank up the intensity. Rather the camera moves calmly and intimately around the action. Moving in and out of trees, to and from characters going through hell on earth showing every detail possible. Highlighting the monstrosity of human nature so we can see exactly what is going on rather than having to guess because the film refuses to show us explicitly. I found this a breathe of fresh air and I can only compliment the director cinematographer for making a choice that I found to work far better in making an impact.
If there was anything I’d nit-pick about it would be the run-time, which I hear is a common complaint among critics. I found that in between dialogue and action were a lot of, although very pretty, ultimately pointless shots that made Act 2 seem to go very slow. Maybe if these shots were cut it would take away from the scenes where things are actually happening and turn the film back into every other thriller you’ve ever seen but without seeing that cut of the film I cannot make judgement. So I can’t really knock the film too hard because of it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film and would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it already. But I would give it a miss if you aren’t good with gore, blood or violence. Cause there it’s in this film in abundance.
[other 9.1’s include 50/50 (2011) and Whiplash (2014)]