Tick, Tick…BOOM!  – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, Vanessa Hudgens and Joshua Henry. Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda Written by Steven Levenson (screenplay by) and Jonathan Larson (based on the musical by) Length: 115mins

Tick, Tick…BOOM is a heartfelt tribute to Broadway talent Jonathan Larson, played here by Andrew Garfield. A show written by Larson himself to tell his story and express his struggle, adapted by screenwriter Steven Levenson from Larson’s autobiographical piece that came just before Rent to tell the story of his first major musical project: a wildly ambitious futurist fantasy called Superbia that almost no one seemed to get. In short; it’s a musical about making a musical based on an autobiographical one man show…

This film is explicitly theatrical, going back and forth between Larson’s story and his one-man show of him telling that same story. This will undoubtedly not be to everyones taste, however I feel like this film was created for a certain audience; then if others enjoy it then its a bonus. It’s a true love letter to musicals and the artists that create them, with a wider scope of anyone who is grinding for a career in the arts. Tick, Tick…Boom throws its audience into the Larson’s ordeal of the quarter-life crisis, the first glimmers of approaching mortality and the realisation that options are closing down, something that particularly afflicts those approaching their 30s in the creative arts who don’t seem to be making it. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda saw Rent on his 17th birthday, he saw that musicals could be about every day people in places and situations that he understood..two years later he started writing his tony award winning show‘In The Heights’. It’s a really great to see a director take on a movie about someone who directly impacted his life – Larson was the composer who inspired his own creative awakening. Miranda, who also starred as Larson in a theatrical performance of this, directs the film with a deep understanding of the passion, struggle, and ebullience of an artist committed to an art form that requires a lot of money and a lot of other people to be brought to life.

Some people will be frustrated by Larson’s sense of his own importance and neglect of those around him. But theatre kids of all ages will appreciate that it’s not his own importance he’s excited by, so much as the importance of the stories he wants to tell, even if they are not yet awards worthy.

This film is really stylised which fits perfectly with the somewhat chaotic narrative and you can see how much heart has been put into it’s creation. As stated earlier I’m not sure it’s for everyone, but it’s an opportunity to get a glimpse of struggle demonstrated on this particular path of life. Had this film been based around another subject matter, I probably wouldn’t have connected to it to the same degree, but for what it is, I think it’s brilliant.

Jonathan Larson died at 35, just before the opening night of Rent, an almost unbearable metaphor for the backstage heartbreak of musical theatre. This film helps remember him and his creativity in a beautiful way. 

Spider-man: No Way Home – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina. Directed by Jon Watts. Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. Length: 148mins

After a Covid affected shoot and postponed release dates, the fans finally flocked to cinemas to see whether the long awaited third instalment of our present day Spider-man lived up to the hype. No Way Home seemed to have heaps of extra pressure piled onto it’s release, fired by casting rumours, teaser trailers that made the most restrained Marvel fan squeal and of course, the long wait to finally see the film released. Fear not, as per the ‘Active Spectator way’, this will be an spoiler free review, so if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s safe to continue reading…

So, the end of the second film ended with the big reveal – that Peter Parker was Spider-Man. That was the perfect springboard to start the third film with high energy, allowing the audience to focus in on what was to come. From here we see the issues that Peters fame brings, how it impacts his life and the lives of those around him, which leads to him approaching Dr Strange in the hope that he would cast a spell which would cause people to forget that he was Spider-Man. The spell doesn’t go quite to plan and we see from the trailers that some familiar villains come crashing into Peters world, and a multiversal drama ensues… 

The plot is full on. We have action, humour and heartbreak around every corner and, even if an audience member wasn’t a full blown fan, I think it would be difficult to not enjoy. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is so endearing, he’s funny and Holland does such a great job in committing to the character that he’s built. Even though he’s been Spider-Man for years now and has appeared in several films within the MCU, Holland really maintains the fresh, youthful feel of the character, which at this point in his Spider-Man career, could easily slip. This film is so full of talent, you can’t even comment on them all. Every single cast member brings it, the nostalgia of seeing the familiar faces has such a power on an audience; particularly around a film with such a committed fan base. It would be easy to allow sloppy writing when playing the nostalgia card but I don’t think that was the case, everything fit with the atmosphere that they created. 

One thing that is worth commenting on, is the ‘moment’ that a lot of audience members find themselves, known as ‘Superhero fatigue’. The feeling that we’ve just had SO many superhero films thrown at us over the last few years, taking away some of the initial excitement and wonder that the earlier films brought. If that is how you feel, then maybe you need to take a break and come back to this one. It’s full of everything you might expect and relies on an audience that has kept up to date with all of the previous films and TV series…you need to go in to this with a level of anticipation and openness for accepting what it is.

I’ll be honest, I went into this film a little bit hesitant. I was aware that so many people had such high expectations and I was nervous that it would completely miss the target. I didn’t need to worry. Spider-Man: No Way Home hits all the right notes, both as a part of the MCU as a whole, and within it’s own little Spider-Man world. Full of emotional beats, witty one liners and stellar performances, I would go as far as saying it’s one of my favourite Marvel films so far. With concerning news headlines around Covid back in the limelight, it’s a perfect opportunity to step into your imagination, escape from the real world and support your local cinemas. 

King Richard – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal, Saniyaa Sidney and Demi Singleton. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green Written by Zach Baylin Length: 144mins

King Richard follows Richard Williams, as he executes his long imagined planned for two of his daughters, Venus and Serena, to become tennis champions. The genre of this film isn’t explicitly clear – it’s sort of a sports flick, sort of a family drama, but I’m not sure it matters. The brilliance of this film is the fact that it’s based on reality, with both Venus and Serena Williams serving as executive producers on the movie which relieves concerns about the use of too much artistic licence. As well as this the flawless cast that bring the characters to life; Will Smith, a fan favourite, leads the charge and certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Smith, who is arguably the main draw of the movie, plays a man who refuses to acknowledge anything besides his own opinion, yet he is hauntingly effective when forced into silence.

The scenes where he shows Williams’ vulnerability have a damaged quality that lingers long after the moment has passed. The silence and the subtext are so powerful in this film and Smith lands them expertly, allowing the audience to capture a glimpse of the wounded man under all the bravado. While she doesn’t feature quite as predominantly as Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, matches Smith in screen presence in her portrayal as Brandi Williams. She brings a warmth and dignity as well as expressing a quiet power that she isn’t afraid to release when necessary. The scenes where she stands up to her husband, are some of the more powerful scenes in the movie and Ellis is flawless. It would be unfair to comment on the actors without a nod to Sidney and Singleton, who play Venus and Serena; they both shoulder the responsibility of mimicking two of the greatest athletes with absolute class. They do well to match the pressure on their characters against the warmth of their youth and lives within their family, it’s a pleasure to watch their work.

Reinaldo Marcus Green’s direction is wise, he clearly knew that the strength of the storytelling is in the acting, in trusting his cast to carry the story. He manages to hit the beats that you want without falling into melodrama, allowing the fact that it’s the telling of a true story to resonate with it’s audience. The most frustrating element of this movie for me, is the marketing, which is know is a bizarre aspect to comment on. I have spoken to so many regular cinema goers who haven’t even bothered to give it a look in due to the name – many people assuming that it’s Shakespeare or a period drama of some sort, while also commenting that the poster isn’t particularly eye catching. It just seems a shame to know that people are missing such a brilliant film due to relatively simple problems.

I don’t say this lightly, but I truly believe that King Richard is one of, if not, the best film released in 2021 (so far). Obviously everyone has different taste and that is to be celebrated but I really do feel that most people would enjoy; or at least take something from this film. It’s a shame that it seems to have flown somewhat under the radar but I really do encourage you to watch this film in a cinema if you can, but definitely at home once it’s been released for the ‘small screen’. 

The Harder They Fall – Review

Rating: 15 Cast: Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield and Idris Elba. Directed by Jeymes Samuel Written by Jeymes Samuel and Boaz Yakin. Length: 139mins  

When outlaw Nat Love discovers that the man who murdered his parents in front of him as a child is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to take revenge. What more could you ask for? A revenge Western packed with memorable characters played by brilliant actors, each scene and moment staged for power and authority. 

This movie caught my attention while scrolling through Netflix, mostly thanks to the big name cast. The trailer presents a very accurate snapshot of what it is, a contemporary Western, which is an interesting concept in itself. Now the plot is relatively basic, but the content is just so interesting to watch. You can see a lot of Jeymes Samuels influences within the film, it feels very Tarantino at times and is a really artistic film. The framing and the camerawork is beautiful, the colour palette is vibrant and the music is something else. While the general aesthetic is classic western,  there are quick-draws, large-scale gunfights, horse stunts, and chases, a train robbery, bank robberies, and a couple of hand-to-hand brawls with several cliches that we would expect in a Western; bottles smashed over heads, fights with pitch forks, men thrown out of windows etc…the soundtrack and fight sequences are the main elements that keep it feeling modern and fresh.

The Harder They Fall is Jeymes Samuel’s debut feature film but his CV boasts experience of working with some incredible talent. In this film he gifts his actors with precious moments where their characters are allowed to listen to each other and quietly glance at each other. It truly feels like a ‘filmmakers film’ and I can only imagine that the cast leapt at the opportunity to be a part of it. While the whole cast is strong, lead by the brilliant Jonathan Majors, there are a couple who stand out. Idris Elba, unsurprisingly, brings a cool, mysterious quiet to the high energy of the rest of the cast and Regina King who we all know delivers in every single role. King brought everything that her character required, moments of vulnerability countered with absolute brutal, no nonsense reactions.

Now the film does feel quite long, the plot isn’t particularly captivating and some of it is fairly predictable, but it’s very difficult to criticise a film that really does feel like art. Yes, it wont be to everyones taste, but it really is worth the watch for all of the heart that comes through in its presentation. While speaking to GQ, Samuel said  “I always loved Westerns, but they would always present a very narrow scope in those stories. They’d be very white male-centric. They wouldn’t even show women with any power in those stories.” and I think you can really feel his words in this movie, he explores human nature, gives voices to powerful women and explores a genre that he clearly cares so much about.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage – Review

Rating: 15 Cast: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Stephen Graham Directed by Andy Serkis Written by Kelly Marcel and Tom Hardy Length: 97mins

In Venom: Let There Be Carnage we rejoin Eddie Brock (Hardy), a struggling journalist and host to the cheeky, gravel-voiced alien ‘symbiote’, Venom, seemingly living their now entangled lives. The plot revolves around serial killer Cletus Kasady (Harrelson), who Eddie interviews in hopes to reignite his career. Throughout the action Kasady is infected with his own symbiote, Carnage, who wreaks havoc and sets his sights on destroying Venom while searching for Kasady’s mutant girlfriend.

It sounds as ridiculous as it is…but if you buy into the world then it’s definitely an easy and somewhat entertaining watch. Venom and Brock are somewhat lesser known ‘anti-heroes’ but after the success of the first film, fans were keen to jump back in and see which stories were left to tell. What I really enjoy about this film, is the lack of backstory. Serkis doesn’t feel the need for overcomplicated world-building. It seems that you either buy in, and accept what you’re being told, or you don’t and that your enjoyment will likely hinge on that level of acceptance.  Searches dispense with the detailed explanations and instead amps up the humour, leaning into the more goofy dynamic between Venom and Brock.

What is interesting about this film is the level of absolute talent interwoven. Tom Hardy really creates a wonderful character dynamic between his human character and alien counterpart, while the humour is at the forefront, there is a connection that the audience can see, he creates a brilliant emotional core that shows itself at intervals throughout the action which can’t be an easy task to undertake. Woody Harrelson jumps straight in and throws all of his energy at his part, Kasady is an interesting serial killer, if slightly predictable at times. Supporting characters including Eddie’s ex, played by Michelle Williams and Kasady’s girlfriend Frances, played by Naomie Harris don’t really get much of a look in. Harris is fun but underused, and Williams is really just brushed over. It’s a shame to have such talent in a film without really needing or using them. 

This quirky sequel is lighthearted, action packed and amusing. You’ll know if you’re going to like it, probably from just looking at the poster. It’s an easy, short watch that will allow you to escape reality if you can get behind it. If you didn’t enjoy the first film, you’re unlikely to enjoy the second. Take it as it is and it’s a fun way to spend 90 minutes but if you’re looking for stirring plot points or world changing revelation then it’s not for you.   

The Last Duel – Review

Rating: 18 Cast: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck and Alex Lawther. Directed by Ridley Scott. Written by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Length: 152mins.

Inspired by Eric Jager’s 2004 account of France’s last officially recognised duel, Ridley Scott takes on the task of telling this medieval tale broken down into three chapters and told from three perspectives. The story is one of rape-revenge focussing primarily on three characters – Jean de Carrouges (Damon), his wife Marguerite (Comer) and Jacques Le Gris, exploring the downward spiral of de Carrouges, the arrogant rise of Le Gris and the impossible choices facing Marguerite as her husbands absence is taken advantage of. 

The Last Duel gets somewhat bogged down in the mud and blood of its period; a whole mix of arrows-in-the-face type violence and war, none of which I have a problem with, but it seemed to drag the film out and distract from the main story. While it did assist somewhat in setting the scene, I didn’t feel that it was fully necessary to include so much.  Having said this, the actual storytelling was really clever and very well written. Each perspective was similar enough for the audience to know what’s happening, but with brilliantly subtle changes, contrasting tone and dialogue – right up until the rape scene which was, in line with telling the story from perspectives, a significantly different event to each character. 

This film was expertly cast. Adam Driver played his role perfectly, he is fully believable in his arrogance and aggression but allows an appealing vulnerability into his role that just keeps his Le Gris interesting, until, of course, you realise the sort of man he is. This is one of Matt Damon’s finer performances in recent years. He plays in contractions – he’s clearly a well respected, strong warrior, but he is overwhelmed and constantly trying to keep his head above water. We see a good amount of Damon’s range in this film, he really is a brilliant watch. Jodie Comer is phenomenal. Those of us who have watched her rise in the acting industry are very well aware of how brilliant she is but this film is a mighty task and she’s flawless. She fully holds her own while working with Hollywood A-Listers, she demonstrates depth, innocence and the complexities of her character and without her the film would not have such an impact.

Interestingly, many reviews are not speaking of The Last Duel too favourably. It seems that many issues from a reviewers point of view surround the fact that, though Comer is brilliant, the drama is centred on the men; the three part structure means Marguerite can only get one third of our attention. I can see what is being said here – it’s an important topic and it could seemingly pull focus. However, there were three parties involved at the centre of the story, the time period would not allow or listen to a woman making accusations without the backing of her husband and so I cannot see another way to tell this story. Also, the films title is The Last Duel – an act that could only be undertaken by the men, the duel is featured (perhaps taking a little too much screen time in my view…) and therefore the history of the two men, their perspectives and the journey that got them to the duel are important. The story is told, the impact on Marguerite is brilliantly portrayed and audiences are walking away with her story at the front of their mind. For me, that tells me that the film has done what it intended to do.

No Time To Die – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Christoph Waltz, Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge Length:163mins

 Finally – the long awaited 25th instalment of Ian Flemings well loved British agent, 007, has hit our big screens. After having it’s release postponed several times throughout the Covid:19 pandemic, the world seemed to hold it’s breath as thousands returned to the cinema. With all eyes on it’s release, No Time To Die not only wanted to end the ‘Daniel Craig as James Bond’ era with a bang; but shouldered the pressure of enticing customers back to the cinemas.

In No Time To Die Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace and quiet is short-lived when his old friend and CIA agent Felix Leiter turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology. 

While this film has been criticised for not being ‘Bond enough’, I would have to disagree. The writers have done a good job in creating a story that is fleshed out with action, relationship, humour and, of course, gadgets. There are some lovely nods to past Bond films through the use of its score, one liners and the familiar location of a private island which calls to mind 1962 release, Dr. No. It was a wise move to bring the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge into the writers room, you can certainly see her influence around the strong female characters and wit, as well as being mindful of keeping the essence of James Bond in a post #MeToo society. 

No Time To Die gives it’s audiences the chance to experience the deeper relationship between James and Madeleine, showing a more emotional side of 007, a side that we don’t usually get to see. The chemistry between the two, in my opinion, was better than it was in Spectre which made the whole relationship feel more authentic. Due to the deeper relationship and their history, it presented an opportunity for another two strong women to enter the story without being love interests. Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas didn’t disappoint. Both brought flair and humour to characters who were fiercely capable and complimentary to moving the story forward. As far as Bond villains go, this film hits the jackpot. While having two different villains does take away from the impact of one sole threat, you can’t really complain when the characters are manned by the cool, controlled calm of Christoph Waltz and countered with the somewhat wired, yet considered, Rami Malek. 

Visually this film doesn’t disappoint and is full of action. As Daniel Craig’s final Bond film it does have loose ends to tie up so the franchise can move forward. Unfortunately the length is a slight sticking point, at 2hrs43 it is quite a commitment and there are certainly moments that could have been cut, as they serve no purpose in moving the plot forward. No Time To Die is absolutely worth a watch, and on a big screen. There’s something wonderful about returning to a packed cinema to watch a film from long running franchise, with multigenerational audiences all enjoying and connecting to a character that has graced Cinema and TV screens for years. 

Those Who Wish Me Dead – Review

Rating: 15 Cast: Angelina Jolie, Finn Little, Jon Bernthal, Nicholas Hoult, Aidan Gillen and Medina Senghore. Directed by Taylor Sheridan Written by Michael Koryta, Charles Leavitt and Taylor Sheridan. Length: 100mins

Those who wish me dead is a whirlwind action thriller that boasts big stars and a big storyline that starts fairly widespread and gets significantly more narrow as the film unfolds. Angelina Jolie plays Hannah Faber, a wild and determined smoke jumper battling PTSD after she was unable to save the lives of some teenagers. The story teases Hannah’s interesting but dramatic job,  the unusual relationship she has with her ex and forces her to face her recent trauma as she finds herself responsible for a frightened teenager who is being hunted by two no nonsense hitmen. 

The storyline was really interesting to me, it feels both familiar yet original. In the first twenty minutes we’re introduced to all elements of the film in their separate locations. Hannah, her team mates, her job and recent trauma. Ethan, local law enforcement and Hannah’s ex boyfriend who clearly likes to play by the rules and his pregnant wife Allison. Connor and his dad hanging out eating breakfast until they realise that Connors dads work has placed them in danger, and Patrick and Jack, hitmen who disguise themselves and blow up the house of a local politician…it seems like a lot and spreads the audiences attention. But it doesn’t take long for the pieces to come together and I actually think it’s really interesting. One thing that I found particularly refreshing with this movie, is that they didn’t feel the need to inform its audience of all of the characters backstories. They’re happy to pick the story up where it is and just roll with it without using detailed history to inform the current situation, with the exception of Hannah’s recent trauma.

This film boasts solid performances all around, giving the audience a great mix of ‘character type’. We have the rebel, the hero, the bad guys, the vulnerable kid…all there on a base level but built upon with very human emotion and reaction to the stories events. The unexpected but much appreciated surprise came at the point you might expect to find your typical ‘damsel in distress’ character taking control of her situation and defying expectation. Though all performances were strong, the stand out was with the young Finn Little, a teenager from Australia who summons brilliantly raw, authentic emotion. Without him, the film wouldn’t resonate in quite the same way.

In my opinion, Those Who Wish Me Dead is a decent watch. It’s entertaining and exciting but without the need to get deeply invested. It’s a shame that it moved quietly through it’s cinematic release, just as the country was released from lockdown but it’s definitely one to look out for when it releases to the smaller screen. It’s quite a random standalone film, it has set up loosely for the opportunity to make another but I have no real idea where that would go. Unfortunately feels like generally it will be forgotten or missed but I would watch it again given the opportunity. 

Black Widow – Review

Rating: 12A Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz and Ray Winstone. Directed by Cate Shortland Written by Jac Schaeffer, Ned Benson and Eric Pearson. Length: 133mins

The greatly anticipated Black Widow ‘stand alone’ movie has finally hit our screens after several release delays due to Covid:19. We join Natasha Romanoff inbetween Captian America: Civil War and Infinity War to learn more about her past and what drove her to become the Avenger that so many know and love.

There was a lot to pack into the plot of Black Widow. We uncover more about who Natasha was as a child and her experiences, we discover relationships that the Marvel audience has never seen before which needed a bit of grit  and history in around them to be believable, we have a couple of ‘mini-missions’, the main ‘mission’ and the fact that Natasha is currently on the run from shield to remind our audience of where this film fits into the MCU timeline. I really appreciated how they introduced the new characters of Yelena (Pugh), Alexi (Harbour) and Melina (Weisz). It could have been quite jarring to just announce these characters but with a bit of backstory and intelligent dialogue we get a real essence of who they are and what they do, without requiring a whole load of new introductory movies. The writers managed to acknowledge the world that this film exists in without dwelling on or focussing on the action of the other MCU films, it wasn’t too intense, but gave an appropriate nod to well known characters and situations when necessary. It’s an easy, entertaining watch, scattered with plenty of humour delivered wonderfully by the immovable Florence Pugh and brilliant David Harbour.

In true MCU fashion, this isn’t a short film. As previously stated they do cram a lot in and there were no moments that I found myself checking my watch but, for me, there were certain scenes that seemed unnecessarily long which was frustrating as there are other elements that might have served the story in a different, more impactful way. There was a lot of ‘falling through the sky’, which, although impressive started to get a bit boring after a while. Dare I say it, some of the more ‘explosive’ scenes towards the end of the film, felt like they were trying to match other films rather than embrace their own direction. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Black Widow, and would absolutely watch it again. Obviously, it’s great to have a female hero in this universe and this story will only enhance peoples love for Natasha Romanov. She’s human, she’s flawed, but she’s fierce, strong and passionate and fights for what is right. What else do we want as a role model for children? One thing I would say, as cinemas are still fighting to survive after the massive blow of being shut for over a year, social distancing and limited capacity, please, go and watch this on the big screen. It was made for cinematic release and although some may find it easier to stream and watch it at home, I don’t think you’ll regret the cinematic experience for this movie. 

Oh, and don’t forget to stay until the end of the credits…

In the Heights – Review

Rating: PG Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera and Olga Merediz. Directed by Jon M. Chu Written by Quiara Alegria Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda Length: 143mins

Lin Manuel Miranda’s first, deeply personal, broadway musical explodes onto our screens, full of passion, exuberance and joy. In the Heights, directed by Jon M. Chu and led by the formidable Anthony Ramos, is finally hitting the big screen after it’s initial release date in summer 2020 was pushed due to Covid 19, and this is definitely a great film to return to if you haven’t been to the cinema since they’ve reopened.

The story is somewhat three pronged; our leading man, Usnavi, navigating rising costs and running his bodega in Washington Heights with his young cousin as he dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic to spark life into the beach side bar his father owned before coming to New York. Nina, the brilliant student returning from Stanford facing the pressure of being the ‘one who made it out’ and representing her community in an environment that doesn’t treat her with any kind of respect and Vanessa, the girl with big dreams who is itching to get started. All three stories intertwine with one connecting factor. Community.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know to expect fireworks. This film is big, it’s colourful, its loud and it’s unashamedly a translation from stage to screen. Chu hasn’t tried to mould this musical into a hard hitting movie. It manages to carry the energy that was something that made the Broadway show so incredible and drop it into our cinemas letting the fun of musical theatre to do it’s thing all while bringing attention to the themes of unity, representation, community and love to the forefront. Now if you’ve seen or heard any of Miranda’s songwriting then you’ll be aware that his style doesn’t fall into a classic ‘razzle dazzle’, jazz hands musical theatre genre. He uses rap as much as ballad and I’m aware that this might put people off but I highly recommend that you give it a go. The first 10 minutes of the film take a bit of adjusting, your thrown into quite a long rap, a few location jumps, actors looking down the camera lens…it’s quite a lot. But if you allow yourself to settle down, accept what is on your screens and get to know the characters and the stories in front of you then you’re likely to find yourself deeply invested as well as shimmying in your seats. 

Now as a film, it’s not perfect. It’s a long movie which is fine if you can buy into the world but I appreciate that the 2hrs23mins run time might be somewhat off putting. There’s very little character development which I think is part of the transition from stage to screen, it requires it’s audience to take it at face value and just hop on with the situation as it is. Had this not been a musical, you can see where film makers might explore the backstories of some focal characters; I personally didn’t mind the lack of deep characterisation but again, appreciate that others might find it a little jarring.

This feels like an important film. Not only is it bringing attention to an under represented group of highly skilled, brilliant people from the Latinx community, but it is a film for the dreamers. There’s been a lot of discussion around representation within this film, on which I am not really the right person to be commenting, but one thing that I think is so important in this movie is that it highlights people. It highlights community. It highlights friendships. It highlights family. It represents the dreamers. The bottom line is that the style of this film will not be to everyones taste, but, it speaks to more than ‘taste’. If you watch it with an open heart I truly believe that there is something that everyone can take from it.

“With patience and faith we remain unafraid”