The Spectacular Now - Review




Directed by James Ponsoldt

Starring Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley and Kyle Chandler 

Sutter Keely is a popular high school senior. He loves to party, has a job, a car, a drink in his hand and a pretty girlfriend who thinks he's hysterical. Aimee Finecky is a sweet girl who loves sci-fi and doesn't think any guy would like her. Although she has ideas and aspirations for the future, he appears to be content living for each day, in the spectacular now.

As a project The Spectacular Now had come to be without much fanfare and hard sell. Its limited release and lack of marketing in the UK particularly meant no preconceptions or expectations as to the films quality; taking a film at face value, independent of hype, is rare. It was however certifiably fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, doing well on metacritic and at a strong 7.2 on IMDb. And rightly so, because The Spectacular Now is wonderful.

It is a coming-of-age romantic comedy but it is far more subtle and sincere than expected. Films of this ilk are perennial and often if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. Yet The Spectacular Now does accurately embody the attitude of young adults and shows how much a strongly held attitude towards life can change as a result of who you meet. It's soulful, authentic and captures that age where you are on the cusp of shaping yourself and it could go any which way. The dialogue and set up is so unembellished and normal that it becomes something very special. Especially by comparison to the overtly sexed up, stilted and formulaic foolishness such as The First Time (and to a certain extent Project X, which however is good, but for entirely different reasons.)

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are a delight to watch: charming, realistic and natural. There was some lovely long takes with exchanges between the two that are so well scripted and executed. The late and great Roger Ebert said that 'being young is a solemn business when you really care about someone' and I couldn't put it any better. Both Sutter and Aimee are wonderful characters because they are funny and likeable, multifaceted but also flawed. Under all of Sutter's bravado is someone who isn't quite sure what he wants and perhaps isn't that confident after all. The Spectacular Now is gripping and engrossing but in a non flashy way. It's not showy and gaudy, it's restrained and venerable. 

Rating: 7

Into The Storm - Review




Directed by Steven Quale 

Starring Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies and Matt Walsh

As far as disaster movies go, Into The Storm was undeniably disastrous. The film chronicled the impact a storm of epic proportion made on the inhabitants of the town Silverton and its visiting storm chasers.

Into The Storm firstly falls flat where the cast is concerned. The actors are grappling with exceeding stereotypical characters: the Dad who is so consumed with his work he doesn't see how wonderful his two teenage boys are, the weather analyst who is that dedicated to her work she has not seen her young girl in three months, and the storm fanatic who will risk it all just to be in the 'eye of the storm.' You can probably tell where all this is going... It's predictable, a little bit cliché and formulaic.

The special effects weren't polished enough to be truly believable and breathtaking. Given the modern standard of CGI it could have been a great deal more immersive - though presumably with a few more million pounds thrown at the project. The found footage element was also half baked and not executed fully. You've either got to go the whole hog (a la Chronicle and Cloverfield) where every single shot is from the perspective of handheld or CCTV, or just shoot normally because the constant transition was a bit jarring. There's definitely a market for documentary style movies, I'm just not sure whether Into The Storm was best served by it because it merely covered the familiar ground of the likes of Twister.

And yet there's something guilty pleasure about it, because as much as I rolled my eyes ultimately I must have been invested because there were some edge-of-your-seat, heart pounding, stressful moments. It was interesting having essentially an action blockbuster with the weather as the villain as opposed to a person or some sci-fi creature, that made it genuinely unsettling thinking 'what would I actually do.' However, the occasional breathless scenes aren't enough to push this rating up to a solid 5.

Rating - 3/10