Competition: Win A Copy Of ‘Journey’s End’ on DVD!

Courtesy of our friends at Lionsgate UK, we have a copy of Saul Dibb’s ‘Journey’s End‘ on DVD to give away! Earlier this year Fiona reviewed the film for us and couldn’t recommend it enough, so we’re excited to have the opportunity for you to win a copy!

To enter, simply make sure you’re following us on Twitter and retweet the following tweet.

Based on RC Sherriff’s play and novel of the same name Journey’s End is set in March 1918 as C-Company, led by a war-weary Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin) arrives in northern France to take its turn in the front-line trenches. Told that a German offensive is imminent Stanhope drowns his fears in whisky whilst the officers (Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Tom Sturridge) and their cook (Toby Jones) attempt to distract themselves in their dugout with talk of food and life before war. They are joined by Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), a young new officer fresh out of training excited about his first real posting, and a chance to serve under Stanhope. Raleigh’s naivety serves as a stark contrast to the other men’s impending fear as the tension rises and the attack draws ever closer.

With an all-star British cast featuring Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games franchise), Asa Butterfield (The Space Between Us), Toby Jones (Atomic Blonde) Tom Sturridge (Mary Shelley), Stephen Graham (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) and Paul Bettany (Captain America: Civil War).

Directed by Bafta Award® nominee Saul Dibb (The Duchess). Screenplay by Simon Reade (Private Peaceful). Produced by Guy de Beaujeu and Simon Reade. Based on the novel by R.C. Sheriff and Vernon Bartlett and the play by R.C. Sheriff.

Lionsgate UK presents ‘Journey’s End’ on Digital 1st June and Blu-ray & DVD 4th June, 2018

Journey’s End

Year: 2018
Directed by: Saul Dibb
Starring: Sam Claflin, Paul Bettany, Asa Butterfield, Stephen Graham, Toby Jones

Written by Fiona Underhill

Based on the play by RC Sherriff, which will be familiar to many British school students, this film has just opened to a limited release in the US and I was lucky enough to find a showing of it. As someone who has taught WWI literature, I was keen to see what a new film adaptation of this beloved play would be like. When I heard about the cast; my interest was piqued further. Even though I am very  much the target audience for such a film, it still managed to exceed my expectations.

Sam Claflin stars as Captain Stanhope, who is dealing with the trauma of war by drinking through it. The ‘peace’ he has managed to find for himself in doing this is disrupted when an old school friend, the extremely green and naive Raleigh (Asa Butterfield) arrives and specifically requests to be assigned to Stanhope’s unit. Despite appearing to be about 15, Raleigh is an officer, so is bunked in extremely close quarters with the older, more experienced Osborne (Paul Bettany), Trotter (Stephen Graham) and Hibbert (Tom Sturridge). There, they are waited on by Mason (Toby Jones), who does what he can to turn the meagre rations into fine feasts for the officers. Almost the entire film takes place in this tiny officer’s bunk and the trench on the frontlines in 1918, giving the film a claustrophobic quality. The tedium combined with unbearable tension is skilfully conveyed by the production design and the acting, which is phenomenal.

Sam Claflin was in two of my favourite films of last year – ‘Their Finest’ (his second collaboration with director Lone Scherfig after the excellent ‘Riot Club’) and ‘My Cousin Rachel’ and he is quickly becoming an actor who can be relied upon to give interesting and layered performances. Asa Butterfield has been a child/teen actor around for some time now; in the underrated ‘Hugo’ (one of my favourite Scorcese films) and in the unfairly overlooked ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ (Burton’s 2016 film). He is perfectly cast here as Raleigh, looking like he’s just been plucked from his boarding school dorm and dropped into the hell of war; completely unprepared for what he’s about to face. Having only really seen Bettany in red make-up and a tight-fitting silver suit for the last few years (as Vision in the MCU), it is refreshing to see him getting to stretch his acting muscles again. He is sublime here, in what could be a boring, ‘good guy’ role. Osborne is the only thing keeping Stanhope from spiralling off the rails completely – his stillness centres and his steadiness grounds Stanhope, tethering him to the reality of leading his men. Stephen Graham is absolutely the best (along with Vicky McClure and Joe Gilgun) that British acting has to offer the world at the moment. Some highlights from the prolific actor are ‘Taboo’, ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and the ‘This is England’ film and TV series and he is insanely good in each one. Trotter is the only working class man in the officer’s bunk and his cheery demeanour is in stark contrast to Hibbert, who is suffering from shell-shock and on the verge of deserting.

Raleigh’s arrival on the frontlines is particularly worrying for Stanhope because his ‘sweetheart’ is Raleigh’s older sister Margaret. He is paranoid that she will get wind of what war has done to him and that he is a shell of his former self. It is slightly laughable that Claflin is supposed to be 3 years older than Butterfield (when the age-gap is in fact nearly 10 years). However, the physical contrast between the two works well to amplify the gulf between them; Raleigh is fresh-faced and Stanhope is broken. The film does an incredible job of portraying the everyday reality of war (admittedly mainly from the officers’ perspective). Their lives revolve around food, tea (even if it’s a bit oniony), cigarettes (or Osborne’s beloved pipe) and for Stanhope: whiskey. They spend their days waiting for their orders – when will they have to go on a raid, or will this finally be the day that the Germans attack? Despite his rank, Captain Stanhope has no control over the fate that will befall his men, he can only try to prepare them as best he can. As with any artwork about the First World War, futility is always going to be a main theme; something keenly felt by Hibbert. What is the point in doing anything when you are all going to die anyway and your death will have served no purpose? It is impossible not to experience anything to do with WWI and not come away feeling sick and angry about it. It goes without saying that the ending of ‘Journey’s End’ is devastating. It could end no other way.

I hope that as many people as possible in the US seek this film out on its limited release (I believe that is has pretty much left UK cinemas now). There is no doubt in mind that this film will be used widely in history and English lessons in the UK and they are fortunate to have such a good film as an educational tool. I was expecting to be interested in this movie, but not to be blown away on the level that I was. This is the film of the year so far for me and I urge you to find a way to watch it.

Fiona’s Rating: 9/10

Walk Like A Panther

Year: 2018
Directed By: Dan Cadan
Cast: Stephen Graham, Dave Johns, Stephen Tompkinson, Steve Furst

Written by Tom Sheffield

British comedy films can be rather hit and miss and in the case of ‘Walk Like A Panther’, it unfortunately looks like we have another miss on our hands despite having a promising premise and cast. 

22 years after the plug was pulled on British Wrestling on TV, a close-knit community in West Yorkshire squeeze themselves back into their spandex in order to save their local pub, the ‘Half Nelson’ – which is run by Mark Bolton (Stephen Graham) who has wanted to wrestle in the ring all his life after growing up surrounded by his Dad and his wrestling family, the ‘Panthers’.  With his pub being closed down by the brewery, Mark sets out to prove himself in the ring to make enough money to save the heart of his community and prove to his dad he has what it takes to be a Panther.

Stephen Graham is a fantastic lead and manages to make the most of a shoddy script by making some of the poor humour quite laughable with his charm and natural comedic delivery. Dave Johns plays the Panther’s leading man and Mark Bolton’s father, but the former was always more important to him than the latter. Johns is great at delivering an emotional gut punch, you only need to watch ‘I, Daniel Blake’ to see what I mean, but his performance is undermined by poorly written jokes and his character not getting the attention he deserves.

The supporting cast were all fantastic, with each of their personalities offering something different to the attempt at humour. The film also benefited from having such a big age range between its cast members, with the older Panthers getting help from some of the teens in the community who help promote the fight on social media. Stephen Tompkinson plays the villain of the piece as the manager of the region’s breweries and wants nothing more than to demolish the ‘Half Nelson’. Tompkinson plays his character as if he were a villain in a pantomime – his dialogue delivery is eccentric and purposely villainous and it’s completely jarring because it feels like his character is in the wrong film. The same could be said for Steve Furst’s character when we first meet him, but as he spends more time on screen with the other characters, it becomes less of an issue and his character becomes believable.

Michael Socha (‘Once Upon A Time’, ‘This Is England’) plays one of those dickhead-type teenagers who is always blasting their shitty music and has no dress sense.. You know the one. His character instantly gets on your nerves from the moment he’s introduced to us, but he later becomes an integral part of the story when he is shunned by his friends and becomes a sort of mentor to Mark to help him train for the big fight. I personally didn’t see this redemption arc coming, but it’s sincerity was lost on the audience with the poor attempts at humour.

Upon doing a little research I discovered this premise was originally pitched as a TV series by Dan Cadan back in 2011 but it wasn’t picked up – which is a shame because I think this idea would have worked a lot better had if we’d have gotten to know the characters more and had a better build up to the event. To rub some salt in the wound, it also looks like the majority of the cast in the film were lined up to play their respective roles in the TV show too, which would have been perfect. A little more character depth in this film would have gone a long way. 

The only thing I took away from this film was how much more I want to see of Lena Headey, who makes a criminally brief (and I mean extremely brief) cameo appearance (uncredited) as the head of the brewery. Kudos to the writers for managing to work in a ‘Game of Thrones’ related joke (my best laugh of the entire film) that didn’t come off as cheesy or feel shoehorned in.

You will undoubtedly find this film in the bargain bin of your local shop shortly after it’s home release. A lot of the jokes fail to land, and most will fly over the heads of people outside the Yorkshire border. The cast do their best with what they’re given, but even the gorgeous Yorkshire backdrop isn’t enough to draw me into a second viewing of this film.

Tom’s Rating: 3.0/10

First Trailer for Idis Elba’s Directorial Debut ‘Yardie’ Released

“Set in ’70s Kingston and ’80s Hackney, Yardie centres on the life of a young Jamaican man named D (Aml Ameen), who has never fully recovered from the murder, committed during his childhood, of his older brother Jerry Dread (Everaldo Creary). D grows up under the wing of a Kingston Don and music producer named King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd). Fox dispatches him to London, where he reconnects with his childhood sweetheart, Yvonne (Shantol Jackson), and his daughter who he’s not seen since she was a baby. He also hooks up with a soundclash crew, called High Noon. But before he can be convinced to abandon his life of crime and follow “the righteous path”, he encounters the man who shot his brother 10 years earlier, and embarks on a bloody, explosive quest for retribution – a quest which brings him into conflict with vicious London gangster Rico (Stephen Graham).”

Directed by: Idrid Elba

Starring: Aml Ameen, Sheldon Shepherd, Shantol Jackson and Stephen Graham.

Release Date: TBA

It’s Time To Step Back Into The Ring In Trailer For British Comedy ‘Walk Like A Panther’

“WALK LIKE A PANTHER revolves around a group of ‘80s wrestlers who are forced to don the lycra one last time when their beloved local pub is threatened by closure. Led by father-son duo, Mark (Stephen Graham) and Trevor Bolton (Dave Johns), this unlikely bunch of underdog heroes sets out to save their community, rekindling old friendships and family ties along the way.”

Directed By: Dan Cadan

Cast: Stephen Graham, Christopher Fairbank, Dave Johns, Jill Halfpenny, Sue Johnston, Lindsey Coulson, Julian Sands, Jason Flemyng, Stephen Tompkinson, Michael Socha, Scroobius Pip

Release Date: March 9th, 2018

Sam Claflin Leads C-Company Into The Trenches In First Trailer For ‘Journey’s End’

“March, 1918. C-company arrives to take its turn in the front-line trenches in northern France led by the war-weary Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin). A German offensive is imminent, and the officers (Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham Tom Sturridge) and their cook (Toby Jones) distract themselves in their dugout with talk of food and their past lives. Stanhope, meanwhile, soaks his fear in whisky, unable to deal with his dread of the inevitable. A young new officer, Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), has just arrived, fresh out of training and abuzz with the excitement of his first real posting – not least because he is to serve under Stanhope, his former school house monitor and the object of his sister’s affections. Each man is trapped, the days ticking by, the tension rising and the attack drawing ever closer…”

Directed by: Saul Dibb
Cast: Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield, Toby Jones, Tom Sturridge, Stephen Graham, Paul Bettany
Release Date: 2nd February 2018