Tag Archives: Lily James

Baby Driver (2017) – Movie Review

From writer/director Edgar Wright, comes one of the most original and exciting action movies this year. Baby Driver is the story of a young man, Baby (Ansel Elgort), who is the best getaway driver in Atlanta. His iPod playlist is his inspiration for getting and staying ahead in any chase situation.

Release Date: June 30, 2017
Writer: Edgar Wright
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx

In hopes of paying off his debt to the crime lord, Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby drives criminal passengers to and from Doc’s target, mostly banks.

Baby Driver shines in three ways. One, the action is amazing. While the Fast and the Furious is a testament to what CGI can do with car races, Baby Driver is all real driving frame to frame. The sequences are like puzzles; Wright carefully places the pieces down to create a stunning chase sequence in cars and even on foot.

Two, the movie’s soundtrack drives the action. The film starts with the song “Bellbottoms” by Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The song creates the Baby’s required intensity in the preparation of the chase and soon explodes into the actual chase through the streets of Atlanta. Then we shift to “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl, which Baby uses to get the coffee for his criminal compatriots. “Harlem Shuffle” is a visually gorgeous one-shot title sequence.

Third is the story of our young hero Baby. Soon the movie sets us that final heist, which will seemingly payoff his debt to Doc. Unfortunately, he is forced to team with Bats (Jamie Foxx), who is BAT-S*** crazy. Clearly uncomfortable with the unpredictably violent nature of Bats, Baby knows he’s just one job away from freedom.

Soon things get complicated when Baby becomes enamored with the cute waitress Debora (Lily James), who works the late shift at Bo’s Diner. Debora dreams of getting out of town with just her car and her music. Baby dreams of being the one who can make that dream come true.

Baby Driver is a film with amazing chase sequences and an equally solid story to support it. The love story between Baby and Debora is sweet and of course involved music. It is the love story that ratchets up the tension as Baby’s escape from his criminal life stays just out of reach.

Baby Driver’s success also falls on its supporting characters. Kevin Spacey manages to play the bad guy perfectly holding freedom over the head of Baby. As the irredeemable Bats, Jamie Foxx just makes you feel uncomfortable every time he is on screen. Jon Hamm and Eliza Gonzalez play Buddy and Darling. This criminal duo is spicy together and almost become brother and sister to Baby. Then there’s Joseph (CJ Jones) playing Baby’s deaf and elderly foster father. Not wanting to know what Baby does at night, Joseph is the only moral compass that Baby has left in the world.

While Baby Driver is not a perfect movie, it is a great movie. The key to any action movie is tension. Tension escalates when Baby’s world is exposed when our gang stumbles into Bo’s diner and they realize that Baby and Debora know each other. Baby Driver is fun to watch and will have you on the edge of your seat. Wright also changes things up with an unexpected U-turn to start the second act and an ending that ties up loose ends in Baby’s life.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Movie Review

I did not see the original Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly back in 2005. Mainly because I was not interested in seeing it. Nor have I read the Jane Austin book, because I was not interested in seeing it. Now, throw in a few zombies and I’m in. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a mash-up between 19th-century romance and the Night of the Living Dead.

Release Date: February 5, 2016
Writer: Burr Steers
Director: Burr Steers
Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Charles Dance, Lena Headley, Matt Smith

If you’re familiar with Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, you know it is about the Bennet family. The aging patriarch, Mr. Bennet (Charles Dance) cannot pass his estate on to any of his five his unmarried daughters unless wed. The story becomes the interweaving tale of manners and matrimony of the Bennet sisters.

Jane Bennet (Bella Heathcote) is in love with Mr. Bingley (Douglas Booth), but they cannot marry because Bingley’s childhood friend, Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) does not get along with the Bennet’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth (Lily James). Elizabeth manages to strike Darcy in all the wrong way because she is a strong woman. Darcy in return cannot stand her presence because she does not act like a proper woman. Elizabeth soon begins to fall for Darcy’s estranged adopted brother, Mr. Wickham (Jack Huston). But Elizabeth has also been promised to her cousin, Parson Collins (Matt Smith).

Oh, let us not forget the zombies. A plague has flooded all of England, turning its people into the living-dead, hungry only for the brains of humans. On the edge, Mr. Bennet trained his daughters to not only defend themselves when confronted by a horde of zombies but to attack and permanently kill one without flinching.

The movie begins at a Bridge party. The local constable, Mr. Darcy has arrived because he believes one of the guests is infected with the zombie plagues. Using flies which are attracted to dead flesh, Darcy discovers and dispatches the head of the undead guest.

My one complaint is that the rules of zombies are always rewritten from film-to-film to accommodate the larger story. It tends to weaken, in small ways, the ferociousness of zombies altogether. But then again, you have to tell a story. In this film, infected humans are dead, but their full conversion to brain eaters happen over time. As the flesh decays and wounds go unhealed, they can still act like people, which is often used as a trap to ensure the healthy ones. Eventually, the human mind will ultimately die, and the person becomes mindless brain eaters.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies succeeds because it introduced me to the fascinating world of Jane Austin. The film manages to tell a true Austin story while at the same time mix a horror element. The movie stays true to Austin-era England while weaving in not only the existence of zombies but also the imminent zombie threat.

What makes the movie work is it takes itself seriously. There are comic moments that help ease the tension. At no time do the actors wink at the camera to make sure in on the joke. The actors take their roles seriously and ultimately makes the absurd tale worth watching.

Lily James is memorizing as Elizabeth Bennet. She is beautiful and deadly. She is a woman who stands her ground and not allowing any man change it; not her father and certainly not Mr. Darcy. Sam Riley is equally likable and unlikable as Mr. Darcy and his unflinching view of the world around him. Matt Smith shines as the comedic Parson Collins, in search of a wife that he can rule over and a wife that can protect him from the undead.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a fun, action-filled movie for people who do not know the world of Jane Austin. I have a feeling the Austonians may find the film distasteful, possible because they are against tampering with the source material.

Cinderella – Movie Review

Cinderella is a faithful live-action remake of Disney’s classic animated feature from 1950. Director Kenneth Branagh manages to bring a real fairy tale to life on the big screen.

Release Date: March 13, 2015
Rated PG
Writer: Chris Weitz
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Lily James, Cate Blancett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Stellan Skarsgard

The beauty of Branaugh’s final work is his hard work to take the original animated feature and give it texture. Story-wise writer Chris Weitz fills in the gaps that may have been questioned by fans. Visually filmmakers create a larger than life, a true “fairy tale” about a orphaned girl who must stay strong to her character and herself.

At the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to Ella and her mother and father. Although her father often travels, Ella’s mother instills in her heart her code of life, “Have courage and be kind.” Then her mother dies. This is where the story runs parallel to the animated classic as Ella’s father remarries, is placed in the custody of her step-mother and bullied by her step-sisters. The king of the land knows that he can not rule forever and forces his son to find a bride quickly.

After escaping into the forest, the prince stumbles upon Ella and is enamored. He poses as the son of a servant; Ella falls for the prince as well. Then we have a ball, fairy Godmother, alliances with another country, a conspiracy and a glass slipper.

Cinderella has everything going for it. A well-thought out story by writer Chris Weitz. A fairy tale with beautiful over-the-top backgrounds and costuming. The acting is top notch from newcomers Lilly James and Richard Madden and veterans Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. The story does tend to drag a little and there are moments you wish the action moves faster.

Kenneth Branagh manages to give much-needed texture to the original 2D animated feature. The additions and detail do not feel heavy- handed, and the final product is a real life fairy tale very much in the tradition of Disney. Cinderella will reach the levels of Disney classic as the original animated feature did.

Other thoughts: It appears that there is a mysterious disease roaming this land that causes people to die suddenly for no apparent reason, including Ella’s mother and the King.