Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Young Ones
Young Ones is an unusual futuristic/post-apocalyptic film about a family desperately trying to survive in a global drought. Michael Shannon plays Ernest, the father of Kodi Smit-McPhee and Elle Fanning. Ernest, a recovering alcoholic, struggles to make ends meet by serving as a goods transporter among colonies of people. Flem (Nicholas Hoult), a rebellious youth with a motorcycle, wants to court Elle Fanning’s character, but Ernest is having nothing of it. After a fateful encounter between Ernest and Flem, the family finds themselves in more dire straits than ever. Young Ones has a very interesting setting, combining the Mad Max-esque desert wasteland with small futuristic touches like worker robots, but the film as a whole failed to gel for me, because ultimately the setting doesn’t really matter. They could have very easily made this a western with no changes to the script, and while that’s not really a complaint, the problem is that the most intriguing thing in the movie – the setting – doesn’t have any bearing on the story. In the end, Young Ones is a fine movie. It didn’t blow my mind, but it had enough good ideas to be inspiring.
3 out of 5

Song of the Sea
Director Tomm Moore has become my favourite director of animated films thanks to Song of the Sea. His previous film The Secret of Kells was absolutely gorgeous, with an art style that made the movie feel like a series of animated illustrations from a story book. That same style is employed in Song of the Sea, and to magnficent effect. This is the kind of animation that fills me with wonder, and if I’m being honest, makes me feel a swell of emotion just looking at it. Moore’s art style is beautiful, so very, very beautiful. Song of the Sea follows a family that is torn apart when the mother dies giving birth to her daughter – the youngest of her two children. Years later, her son Ben discovers that his mother didn’t die after all, but was in fact a selkie (a kind of water spirit that takes human and seal forms). Before Ben can unravel the mystery of his mother’s disappearance, he and his sister Saorsie are whisked away to the big city by their grandmother. Shortly after their arrival, Ben and Saorsie encounter a group of fairy folk who are trying to find Saorsie because she too might be a selkie. Much like The Secret of Kells, this is the perfect kind of animated movie to watch with people of all ages. Song of the Sea harkens back to a time when not all animated films were computer generated, not all animation was in three dimensions, and not all animated movies had to constantly feature winking meta-humour and different jokes for the children and adults. I’ll say it again: Tomm Moore is my favourite director of animated films, and I urge everyone to watch his movies.
4.5 out of 5

The Maze Runner
Another entry in the long list of recent movie franchises based on young adult novels, The Maze Runner is easy to pitch: it’s Lord of the Flies meets Cube. Thomas, a truly generic white male in his late teens, wakes up with no memories in a strange glade, surrounded by other boys of similar ages. The group informs him that the glade is in the middle of an enormous, ever-changing maze, and after dark, weird creatures stalk the corridors. What’s outside the maze? Why are boys being dropped in the middle of it? Can they ever escape? These are the big questions that drive the plot forward, and the answers…well, don’t always make sense. If you can overlook the leaps of logic The Maze Runner throws at you, though, you’ll find one of the better YA adaptations in some time. The actors playing the lead handful of boys are all pretty good. Maybe not Dylan O’Brien, whose Thomas is an utter blank slate, but Thomas Brodie-Sangster (who you’d know from Game of Thrones) and Will Poulter (Son of Rambow and Voyage of the Dawn Treader) are both top notch, and I feel as though they will go on to be the next big movie stars of their generation. Don’t look for anything deep in The Maze Runner. It’s pretty laughable at times. But if you want a fluffy sci-fi action-adventure film, it’s surprisingly enjoyable.
3.25 out of 5

See you next Sunday for more thrilling short reviews!

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