Get Out


Full disclaimer, before you read my review of a horror movie: this is the first and only horror film I’ve ever seen. Call me crazy, but being scared is not something I enjoy choosing to do, and to me, films that get inside your head are even worse than jump scares. I tend to stew on movies, like to think about them for days after, and I definitely lost some sleep the night after I saw this. So I may not know my genre, but I know a good movie when I see one, and Get Out certainly was a good movie.

Get Out follows Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American man visiting his girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) parents for the first time, but things take a turn for the creepy when their annual family party seems to be a cover up for something much more sinister. To say anything more than that would be doing disservice to Jordan Peele’s masterful storytelling; he so cleverly layers small reveals and clues throughout the entire film, so much so that the end reveal is enormous, the perfect mixture of surprising and satisfying, and definitely horrifying, building slowly from discomfort to gore. Maintaining a palpable level of tension and unease the entire way through, with even the opening scenes making you uncomfortable in anticipation, Peele laces the perfect amount of comedy through his racially charged thriller, serving both as relief in the moments where it’s desperately needed, and to heighten the tension it so effectively foils against.

Not that you would expect anything less than brilliant humour from the latter half of Key and Peele, but Get Out is by no means a comedy. In his directorial debut, Jordan Peele shows incredible skill and control in his subtle storytelling, paying homage to the genre with his classic, Psycho-esque score, but making Get Out stand out through not just its gripping mystery, but also its racial commentary. The film explores the modern African-American experience in what feels like a period setting, mashing tradition and modernity together through horror and filmmaking tropes to suggest that racism hasn’t really changed over the last 50 years, or even longer.


From Get Out’s relatively indie cast comes Daniel Kaluuya as an absolute breakout as Chris Washington, driving the tension and discomfort as well as being an incredibly memorable horror main character. Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford and Caleb Landry Jones are incredibly intense as the super creepy Armitages, taking Meet the Parents to an entirely new level, and Lil Rel Howery is a scene stealer as Rod, Chris’ TSA-working best friend. But the film’s strongest voice is its director, and with Key and Peele (sadly) no longer doing their comedy show, we can only hope for more films from Jordan Peele.

Thought Get Out doesn’t make me want to go out and watch every single horror movie that’s released in theatres, it does interest me in finding some of cinema’s greater horror films and finally giving them a try. But this was because it was so good, and successful at scaring me, that I wonder if any others will either be a disappointment or make me that uncomfortable again. Its gripping story, brilliant cast and twisted visuals made for an enthralling experience, and if all horror films were as good as this, maybe I’d watch a few more.


After seeing Get Out, I have decided to try out the horror genre! So here is five classic/seminal horror films I’m going to try my hand out:

  1. Alien
  2. Psycho
  3. The Blair Witch Project
  4. Scream
  5. Lights Out

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


The Marvel sequel machine is always a gamble: some, like Winter Soldier and Civil War, are even better than their predecessor, and widely regarded some of Marvel’s best films. Others, like Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World, are stuck at the very bottom of the rank, merely pieces in the larger Avengers’ puzzle. And now comes their latest sequel, to their most beloved film – Guardians of the Galaxy. It has the jokes, it has the soundtrack, but does Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 have what it takes to sit up the top with the best of the best?


In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, our Guardians, now working as heroes for hire, are trying to figure out how to work as a team and function as a family when they run into trouble with the Sovereign Race – but not before Peter’s (Chris Pratt) real family starts causing trouble as well, with the sudden reappearance of his long-lost father, Ego the Living Planet (a perfectly cast Kurt Russell). Vol. 2 is an unabashed family drama, allowing the film to pack in a huge amount of emotional drama by really fleshing out the relationships of characters both new and old. Peter is reconnecting with his biological father Ego and learning about his family history both on Earth and in space, and here director James Gunn is really exploring very moving ideas about what it means to be a father by bringing back into the fold Yondu (Michael Rooker), the Ravager who took Peter in when he was a kid. As the emotional core of the story, Peter’s arc takes you on a heartbreaking and compelling journey that, whilst being so satisfying and devastating, doesn’t leave much room elsewhere for the rest of the film’s arcs.


Because Vol. 2 also attempts to introduce a second layer to the strained sisterly relationship between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), daughters of Thanos (and presumably the Guardians’ tie to Infinity War); but surprisingly this story took a backseat, instead rehashing much of what was already explored in Vol. 1. Similarly, the overarching plotline of the Guardians themselves becoming a makeshift family was also underdeveloped: the beginning of the film sees the Guardians starting to take on roles in their little family (Peter as father, Gamora as mother, Baby Groot as a child, Drax and Rocket the drunk uncle and older brother), but once the team splits in two early on in the film, this entire dynamic all but disappears, sidelining what seemed to be the film’s most promising idea and making the smaller Rocket and Groot storyline with the Ravagers pale in comparison to Peter’s relationship with Ego. Combine this with the inclusions of both Ravager politics AND the Sovereign as a secondary antagonist, and Vol. 2 is just trying to do too much, with few sections really making an impact.


But despite its crowded plot, Vol. 2 succeeds because of its irreverent, fun tone, its gorgeous visuals and its commitment to its characters, having so much fun itself that you can’t help but have fun too. From the gold-clad Sovereign ships to the stunning colours of Planet Ego, James Gunn has made Vol. 2 a must-see on the biggest screen you can find, an epic, colourful spectacular that really must be commended for its beauty. Flying fast and furious, the film’s jokes and banter were hilarious and utterly quotable, though some were a bit repetitive, and allowed the film’s newer characters such as Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Yondu to become standouts.

In every frame of this film you can feel Gunn’s love for the Guardians and their source material, with each character making an emotional impact that really endears them to your heart, both old and new, allowing the actors’ performances to really shine. Chris Pratt and Kurt Russell had such charisma and chemistry together, as did Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillan, who have always been able to perfectly translate the ups and downs of sisterhood to the screen. Of course, Rocket and Baby Groot were brilliant and adorable, but the film’s standouts were definitely Pom Klementieff and Dave Bautista as Mantis and Drax, whose sweet and funny friendship was wonderful to watch unfold. And, as I said earlier, Michael Rooker’s heartfelt performance was a highlight of the movie, adding a surprising but perfect layer to the film’s family drama.


So, where does this film sit in terms of sequels? Certainly better than Thor: The Dark World, that’s for sure. Whilst it doesn’t reach the heights of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, which was such a compact, intimate story, Vol. 2 is a completely different film to the first, in terms of scale and in story, and, since it’s a completely different viewing experience, should be treated as such. Its epic nature, deep family drama and total sincerity makes it such a heartfelt and heart-wrenching film that you can’t help but enjoy.


I love the Guardians cast so much, and here are my top five favourite films starring the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:

  1. Parks and Recreation – Chris Pratt
  2. Doctor Who – Karen Gillan
  3. Gilmore Girls – Sean Gunn
  4. Man from U.N.C.L.E – Elizabeth Debicki
  5. This Is Us – Chris Sullivan

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from

Their Finest


With so many big event movies coming out these days (read: every Marvel, DC or Disney movie that brings the big bucks), sometimes you don’t want every movie going experience to be this big budgeted, epic scale action movie. Middle cinema is in a major decline, leaving us only with great indies, that don’t often get a wide (or international) release, which means most cinemas are packed full of huge sci-fi, bawdy comedy, or cars jumping from building to building. But when a movie slips through the wall of blockbusters that’s not too big, or too small, it’s the perfect opportunity to go to the cinemas and escape into someone else’s life.

Their Finest is a great example of this: when Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton), a former secretary, is hired as a scriptwriter at the Ministry of Information – Film Division during WWII, to write the women’s lines for propagandist films, she thinks it will only be a stop-gap until the war is over. But as she falls more and more in love with the business and the people she works with, Catrin begins to discover her true calling.


As a romantic dramedy, Their Finest comes from the Downton Abbey school of fiction in that it is a period melodrama, full of dramatic twists and shocks that, whilst not completely enriching the story for the better, do pull your heart along for an emotional ride. The characters’ motivations and likability are as unpredictable as the war they live in, a factor which obviously means that not everyone will survive. What does endure throughout, however, is your love of main character Catrin Cole: her growth throughout the film from doting housewife to successful screenwriter, especially given the time period, is endearing and motivational, particularly as the film reflects the screen industry, whose male domination is still notorious today.

For it was this brief glimpse into the film industry of the time that proved to be the most fun aspect of this often melodramatic film; the cheesy propaganda ads before the features, hilariously crudely shot action scenes, specific writers for women’s lines and collapsing set pieces run amok in this film, all off which add together to recreate the magical mess of showbiz. It might be different nowadays, but it hasn’t changed that much.


This wonderful world also introduces us to an eclectic cast of characters, played by an equally acclaimed cast. Sam Claflin is charmingly smarmy as Mr Buckley; Bill Nighy’s haughty actor Ambrose Hilliard is full of heart, too; Helen McCrory is hilarious as Hilliard’s brutally honest German agent, Sophie; Jake Lacy is a wonderful addition as an American soldier who can’t act – even Jeremy Irons make a brief appearance! – and all of this is held together by Gemma Arterton as the effortlessly likable Catrin.

Sometimes you just need to experience someone else’s emotional rollercoaster; sometimes you just need to step out of your life and into someone else’s for an hour or two. Despite its melodrama, Their Finest will have you invest in its characters no matter how cheesy, and is a great film for when you just need to escape.


It’s a great ensemble, so here’s my top five favourite other films starring the cast of Their Finest:

  1. Me Before You – Sam Claflin
  2. About Time – Bill Nighy
  3. The Office – Jake Lacy
  4. The Harry Potter series – Helen McCrory
  5. The Lion King – Jeremy Irons

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Kong: Skull Island


When it comes to action movies, I’m not your go-to-girl. And that’s okay, since I don’t really want to be. I don’t watch that many of them, I can’t always follow intense action sequences, and I much prefer story-led films that take you on a journey that way instead. So if I’ve enjoyed an action movie, for the action sequences, nonetheless, that’s when you should sit up and listen. And this is one of those times.

In Kong: Skull Island, a team of scientists discover an uncharted island in the Pacific, but when they take a mission group of soldiers and scientists to explore and document their discover, they uncover more than they bargained for: a whole island of monsters, ruled by the biggest one of all – King Kong.


Kong: Skull Island is not a perfect movie, but what makes it work is that it knows what kind of movie it is. It’s a creature feature, monster movie, and rarely does it try to be anything more than that; the focus is on Kong himself, his history, his motivations, and most importantly, his fights, and that’s what makes the movie as much fun as it is. Very rarely is it the action, not the characters, that captures me more than anything, but I was on the edge of my seat! Jump scares and body horror abound, and every single fight scene was epic and very high stakes, with Kong’s introduction scene a spectacular way to set up the tone of the film, taking helicopters down and splattering blood. Every scene from then on, whether it’s Kong’s big final fight, or the smaller ones with one of the many inventive monsters on the island, had me captivated and thriller.


Because Kong isn’t afraid to take lives – again, it focuses on the monsters over the people, also the people are pretty much replaceable – and in doing that, director John Vogt-Roberts has managed to build out this crazy island, full of giant spiders and “skull-crawlers”, and have us invest in the monsters over all else. Aside from a small few characters, we don’t want to see the humans come out on top: this is the monsters’ island, and when the humans decide to come in and mess with that, we side with the victims. The monsters are the stars of the show, and Kong is king, as usual.

Of course, that means that the story and human characters fall flat, which is the film’s biggest drawback. With the exception of John C. Reilly (and your subconscious desire to root for lead characters no matter how boring), every character in Kong: Skull Island is either poorly written, stereotypical, or literally just there, serving only as pickings for the monsters. Samuel L. Jackson’s Colonel Packard was simple enough to understand, but no more than that, and Tom Hiddleston’s ex-Captain James Conrad and Brie Larson’s war photographer Mason Weaver were given very little to do, as much fun as they were to watch together. John Goodman, Jason Mitchell, Thomas Mann and Toby Kebbell were also in this movie; that’s really all you can say about them, since their roles are pretty forgettable.


This made room for John C. Reilly, however, to steal the show as Lieutenant Hank Marlow, a WWII vet who has been marooned on Skull Island for nearly thirty years. Full of humour and heart, delivering almost all of the emotional moments of the film, and basically carrying the story by himself, he was also our entry into much of the mythology and history behind Kong and this mysterious, uncharted island, which, if the after credits scene has anything to say about it, will come in handy later on.


Whilst I will always rate films out of ten upon an equal scale, not all movies are meant to be enjoyed in the same way. Kong: Skull Island walked a fine line in that it was definitely a big, dumb action movie, but not too dumb, with the character stuff being JUST good enough to justify it being there in the first place. In this way, it allowed itself to become a great creature feature: the fights were spectacular, the thrills made me gasp several times throughout the movie, and it allowed itself to have stakes and kill a few major characters, something which so many action movies, even the good ones, don’t allow themselves to do. These big moments, combined with its skilful direction and the epic scale of the fight scenes, makes Kong: Skull Island a great theatre going, popcorn-crunching, big-screen experience.


For such terrible human characters, Kong: Skull Island has a really impressive cast! Here’s my top five favourite films starring the cast of Kong:

  1. Room – Brie Larson
  2. The Avengers – Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L Jackson
  3. Kingsman: The Secret Service – Samuel L Jackson
  4. The Emperor’s New Groove – John Goodman
  5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Thomas Mann

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from

Top Five: Matthew Vaughn


There are many directors I admire – Steven Spielberg, Denis Villeneuve, Ridley Scott – but probably my absolute favourite is Matthew Vaughn. Though not quite so prolific as the aforementioned names, Matthew Vaughn has been a strong stylistic voice on the scene since the 90s, forming a strong relationship with Guy Ritchie as a recurring producer before forging his own path as a director. I’ve seen all of his films, which isn’t exactly a mean feat – there’s only five of them – but each of them have a very individual genre and tone, whilst still obviously part of one filmmaker’s specific canon. From fairy-tales to crime films, superheroes and spies, all of Matthew Vaughn’s might be adaptations of graphic novels or books; but all have such a creative take on the source material and genre features that it feels like specifically his vision, which is why I love them so much. You never know what he’s going to take on next.

Except we do: his next film is a sequel to his most recent outing, Kingsman: The Secret Service, but even his interviews on the film suggest an entirely different film, focusing on Americana as a theme rather than class relations. So, as an appreciation post for one of my favourite filmmakers, as well as a channel for my excitement for his next film, here is my top five favourite films directed by Matthew Vaughn (in order of release):

  1. Layer Cake (2004) (AKA His First):


Layer Cake was Vaughn’s directorial debut, establishing a style which really put him on the map: a hyper-violent, oh-so-cool London lad film about a middle man on the drug-ring scene, played by Daniel Craig, who is just about to retire comfortably when his last job gets very messy. Layer Cake allowed Vaughn to showcase his filmic roots in a film that, while reflecting his collaboration with Guy Ritchie, with its brash British characters and gritty tone, was inventive in that it placed entirely new characters in a crime film, such as the middle class XXXX (Daniel Craig’s character in the film is unnamed, which is so much fun). Whilst not my favourite Matthew Vaughn movie (crime movies are not my forte), the large, brilliant cast, including Sienna Miller, George Harris and Michael Gambon, highlights the faith the film industry had in this first time director.

  1. Stardust (2007) (AKA My Guilty Pleasure)


Maybe it’s the pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox with pirate hair, or a campy Robert De Niro, a long-haired Mark Strong, or just a love of fairy-tales, but Stardust is one of my absolute favourite films, and very high on the list of Vaughn films for me. Adapted from the Neil Gaiman book of the same name, Stardust is about a poor boy named Tristan (Charlie Cox) from the small town of Wall who, in order to win the affection of his crush Victoria (Sienna Miller), ventures over the fence into a magical neighbouring town to collect a fallen star, who appears in the form of Yvaine (Claire Danes). As they trek back home, they encounter all sorts of obstacles and villains, such as Prince Septimus (Mark Strong) and the witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), and new friends too, and it’s all narrated so wonderfully by Ian McKellen that I can’t help but be enchanted every time. Even though it’s ridiculously cheesy and very camp, I fall in love every time I watch it; it’s full of great little cameos, fun scenes, and an incredibly heart-warming will-they-won’t-they love story, and you can really see the world-building that both Gaiman and Vaughn have contributed to, since the fairy-tale itself stands up quite well. It may be Vaughn’s least-known movie, but it holds a special place in my heart.

  1. Kick-Ass (2010) (AKA Everyone’s Favourite)


When I was in high school, my friends would not shut up about Kick-Ass! And when I finally watched it, many years too late, I completely realised why: it does what Matthew Vaughn does best by taking genre tropes, in this case superhero tropes, and uses them lovingly, whilst also making them baudy and sending them up. In this case, bored, comic-reading teenager Dave Lizewski (a fresh-faced Aaron Taylor-Johnson) decides to become the superhero Kick-Ass after a car accident leaves him with the inability to feel pain, catching the attention of crime boss Frank D’Amico (a barely recognisable Mark Strong) and two other superheroes, daddy-daughter duo Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (Nicolas Cage and Chloe Moretz). It’s big, and bold, and incredibly funny, creating careers for Taylor-Johnson and Moretz as well as revitalising Cage’s, and in the beginning of an age of superhero films, it managed to be a precursor to the lower budget superhero movies that are making a comeback (Chronicle, even Deadpool), focusing on story and characters instead of meeting marks. Its sequel might not hold up, but that’s not directed by Vaughn, and Kick-Ass works so well on its own.

  1. X-Men: First Class (2011) (AKA My First)


Even my favourite X-Men film is a Matthew Vaughn movie! X-Men: First Class not only started my love of Matthew Vaughn movies, but it started my love and interest of the X-Men franchise, and superhero movies as a whole genre. This prequel to the original X-trilogy, which sees a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) discovering their powers and meeting for the first time in the 1960s, is very much a departure from his regular, almost parody-like genre films, but is still so reflective of his own visual tone – strong 60s style, star-studded cast (albeit American this time), and a story that focuses on the characters’ relationships, not their battle scenes. Though he’d firs been tapped to direct X-Men: The Last Stand, no-one could have saved that sinking ship, and First Class was the perfect vehicle that allowed Vaughn to work on even bigger projects, like his next one, which is my absolute favourite.

  1. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) (AKA My Love)


There is not a single thing I don’t like about this movie. For those of you reading this who have ever suffered a conversation with me about this film, please forgive me, but this is the part where I sing the praises of one of my favourite movies ever. A classic tale of working class man becomes upper class gentleman, Kingsman tells the story of Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton), a young man who is taken under the wing of gentleman spy Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and joins the secret spy agency Kingsman, just as tech billionaire Richmond Valentine (a lispy Samuel L. Jackson), whose radical environmental beliefs are much, much more sinister than they seem, sets his plan into action. Kingsman pays homage to the over-the-top classic spy movies of the 60s with its larger than life villain, crazy technology and gentlemanly affairs, whilst also forging its own path entirely, using its filthy humour, outrageous violence and great mixture of talented veterans and exciting newcomers to set itself apart and make it one of the most loved and successful films of 2015, especially for a heavily rated film. I love the cast; I love the soundtrack; I love the themes; the story, the humour, and even the gory action. It is peak Matthew Vaughn, and I love it.

If you haven’t seen a Matthew Vaughn film, please do! I would recommend any of these films feverishly, because, if nothing else, you’re going to have a seriously fun two hours. And if you’ve seen these films, tell me what your favourite is in the comments!

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from

Two Years of In Film, As In Life!

Two years ago, I was a first year university student with no idea. With very little background knowledge and no idea how to achieve it, I dreamed of being a film critic, driven by my passion for film and my keen interest in reading about them. So when my best friend told me about how she’d started a blog, I thought, I could do that! And thus, my passion project and love for the last two years was started in the form of In Film, As In Life.

In Film, As In Life changed my own life from then: it inspired me to watch more films, both in cinema and on DVD; it allowed me to develop my own opinions and ideas about movies, and taught me how to express them; it also encouraged me to have faith in my own opinions about film (just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong). It even gave me the opportunity to do internships with magazines I admire and love; I even got to write for Empire Magazine, my original inspiration for becoming a film critic, and I’m still working for FilmInk, a movie magazine which pushes my love of indie cinema. And don’t get me wrong, not all of my reviews of been perfect or flawless or even well-written – I cringe reading back my older reviews – but it’s all been a learning process, and boy, have I learned a few things. 

But one of the most surprising things I’ve learned is that some people actually read my reviews, people I know, and people I don’t. I would do this even if nobody was reading (and not many people, if any at all, were reading for a very long time), but one of the wonderful things this blog has allowed me to do is interact with people who love movies just as much as I do. I feel a sense of pride every time I press post on a new review, but that’s nothing in comparison to the excitement I get reading comments and interacting with this community. So to all you readers out there, thank you. 

While I’m here, I may as well thank a few more people (since this is already a very indulgent personal post): thank you to everyone who reads these posts, I love hearing your thoughts and talking to you about my favourite things. Thank you to my friends who put up with my writer’s block, who read through my reviews and help me keep going. Thank you to my family, who have always given me constructive criticism and pushed me to do my best, and thank you to all of my friends who go to the movies with me; you make every cinema trip so much more fun. 

But the most important acknowledgement here is all the movies I’ve seen over the last two years. This website has inspired me to watch as many things as I can, and I have seen well over a hundred films in the last two years at the movies alone, and infinitely more DVDs. While not all of those movies have been good, I have enjoyed going to see each and every one, all for different reasons. Some made me laugh, many made me cry, a lot made me think, and they were all such different viewing experiences that they were all worth the money (sometimes, my mum makes me tally up how much money I’ve spent on DVDs or movie tickets; I’m always more impressed than depressed). 

So to celebrate the last two wonderful, fascinating, exciting years, I want to share with you my five favourite movie-related experiences from the last two years: they may not have all been 5 star films, but I had the most amazing time. So here is my celebratory top five:

1. Mad Max: Fury Road – In Conversation
After the phenomenon that was Mad Max: Fury Road, my friends and I scored tickets to a panel with George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris, who shared concept art, videos and storyboards of the mind-blowing film. It was so interesting to get their insight into the deep themes of the film; an action blockbuster on the surface, the feminist themes and human values were fascinating in discussion with some of Hollywood’s most successful filmmakers. 

2. The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood

In 2015 I was lucky enough to be able to visit the US and spend a fabulous day in Hollywood, soaking in the sunshine and the history of Tinseltown. I saw the Dolby Theatre and all its Oscar history (they have columns engraved with the names of each of the Best Picture winners dating back to the 1920s!!); I got to see some of my favourite names, Julie Andrews and Harrison Ford on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and then got to measure my hands against my heroes at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Tom Hanks, RDJ, Gregory Peck, Marilyn Monroe, and the brilliant Robin Williams, it was a pretty inspiring place, topped off with lunch at the Hard Rock. It was only one day, but it made the whole trip. 

3. Star Wars: the Force Awakens, in Midnight Release

For the first Star Wars release in over ten years, my friends and I ventured to our local cinema to bask in the neediness and fandom that is a Star Wars midnight release. The adrenaline was pumping late at night, the lines were full of people dressed as stormtroopers, Jedi and Darth Vader, and even with all that coolness, nothing compared to the excitement of seeing that opening crawl for the very first time. A perfect night for a great film. 

4. Spotlight and Deadpool: Double Movie Day 

With my great movie friend Sam, we embarked on a mission of epic proportions: two movies, one amazing day. We started with Spotlight early in the morning, and its deep, emotional themes moved us before we got to cleanse our palettes with one of the biggest comedies of 2016 – Deadpool. They were surprisingly complimentary films, one to make you think and one to follow as an upper, and we’ve been trying to one-up ourselves ever since. 

5. The Founder – My First Press Screening 

My first glamorous introduction into the wonderful world of film criticism, I ventured into the city to see Michael Keaton’s the Founder in a private screening. Signing embargoes, checking my phone at the door; my friend Marina and I drank in the corporate atmosphere before walking all the way back to the office (a longer walk than imaginable), stopping only for dumplings on the way. 

Happy Two Years for In Film, As In Life, and here’s to many more! 

Talk soon, 

Jessica x

The LEGO Batman Movie


Franchise films can still be full of surprises: Sony and Marvel are working together with Spider-Man, apparently we’re getting a Warner Bros. Extended Monster Universe (where King Kong, Godzilla and a bunch of retro baddies will fight it out), and one of the best DC films of recent years is now a LEGO movie. Like I said, full of surprises.

But it’s not that surprising for anyone who loved the original LEGO Movie, as the new LEGO Batman Movie takes the standout character from that epic adventure, Will Arnett’s Batman, and gives him his own standalone film to make jokes about abs, lobster Thermidor, and other less successful DC movies.

Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) seems to have it all: fancy house, infinite money, super-secret identity – everything except a family to share it with. But when the new Gotham police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) announces that she wants to team up with Batman, the Dark Knight must work together with his new friends to foil the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) secret plot to the down the city with an army of the world’s greatest villains.


Just like the LEGO Movie before it, the LEGO Batman Movie is a joyride from start to finish, taking the world’s most iconic sour-faced superhero and giving him a lot of heart and laughs. LEGO Batman takes all the central themes to the other Batman films – isolation, grief, guilt – and boils them down to make them the relatable and real emotions of a human being, not just the weight to bear for a billionaire, layering them through the simple story to give it more depth and making it stand out from the Batman films before it. We feel Batman’s trepidation to get close to people again, with his too-cool act with newly adopted son Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), Barbara, and even the Joker, allowing us our first look at a really insecure Bruce Wayne – here, he hides behind the mask because it’s easier than being Bruce (we only see Bruce himself twice in the film, his chiselled LEGO features uncanny to those of Christian Bale). And if this all sounds way too dark for a kids’ movie, you’re right; where Nolan’s Batman trilogy was grounded in a darker world, McKay’s Batman puts the dark in the Dark Knight himself.


The rest of the movie makes up for this, though, keeping very much in line with the LEGO Movie’s colourful world and off-the-wall humour. With the Joker’s plot to gain entry to the fantastical, top secret prison The Phantom Zone, and unleash every Warner Bros. villain dating back to the golden age of cinema, a lot of fun and jokes are to be had, with the Joker and Harley Quinn (Jenny Slate) riffing off everyone from Voldemort to the Wicked Witch of the West. And with Batman basically being an overdramatic child, complete with super cool gadgets and all, his competence is always questionable but fun, swinging from expert Master Builder to being babysat by Arthur (Ralph Fiennes) on a dime. Then there’s the new take on Batman and Joker’s relationship, playing it out like a troubled relationship, creating by far one of the most entertaining and interesting Batman relationships to date. It’s all a little silly, but so earnest and in good spirit that you can’t help but smile throughout the whole film.


Because despite all the darkness, LEGO Batman is very much a kids movie, with most of Batman’s humour aimed at a younger audience. Regardless, there are still many jokes that will delight adult viewers, like meta-references to Batman’s history and the current DCEU, and a very well placed Dick Grayson joke that steals the whole show. Combine this with the most extensive voice cast ever assembled, from Channing Tatum to Eddie Izzard, Billy Dee Williams, Mariah Carey and even Siri, plus Will Arnett’s impossibly gravelly Batman tying it all together, and there’s certainly fun to be had for older Batman and film fans.

It’s hard to not compare superhero films sometimes: Civil War is better than BvS, Suicide Squad couldn’t quite pull off what Guardians did a few years before, and so far, little LEGO Batman has a better track record than dark and gritty live action Batfleck. But none of these comparisons are ever to say that DC is a failure, because we all want DC to succeed, to take note that audiences don’t just want a highlights reel of superheroes, but an interesting, individualistic story that does justice to the characters. So if there’s anything for DC to take away from LEGO Batman, perhaps it’s that Batman doesn’t always have to be gritty, and neither do all their other films: audiences respond to humour, and heart, and that’s what makes LEGO Batman so damn enjoyable.


It’s such a huge cast, this is probably the easiest top five list I’ve ever written, so here’s my top five favourite films and TV shows starring the cast of The LEGO Batman movie:

  1. Daredevil – Rosario Dawson
  2. Arrested Development – Will Arnett and Michael Cera
  3. Parks and Recreation – Jenny Slate and Will Arnett (in one episode)
  4. The Whole Harry Potter Series – Ralph Fiennes
  5. 21 Jump Street – Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill

Talk soon,

Jessica x

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