The Foreigner Does Enough

Jackie Chan is not usually seen in a serious tone in his movies over here in the West. Although he may be great as a comedic actor, he is also well known for his more dramatic roles back in the East. So fans were intrigued to see that the latest Chan movie to be released here, was a shift away from the norm here, and places him in a far more melancholic surrounding.

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The Foreigner directed by Martin Campbell, is a fairly typical revenge thriller. Quan (Chan) is a worker, living a simple life in London, but following an IRA terrorist bombing, he loses his teenage daughter (Katie Lueng). Using all his military expertise from days gone past, he sets out on a relentless pursuit for answers, and to find the people responsible. This leads him to the doorstep of the deputy minister for Northern Ireland, Liam Hennessy (Brosnan).

Taken, this isn’t, but The Foreigner is still an enjoyable movie to sit down and watch. It’s far more interesting to see Chan as the broken down father figure, rather than what he  is usually type cast as, and all his scenes carry great intensity. There are several action scenes that make use of Chan, but they are not as vibrant as they usually are, it’s far more visceral and calculated. Brosnan is excellent as the charming deputy minister, bringing a strong gravitas to a film that really isn’t flooded with big names. His witty exchanges with his fellow cabinet members and staff still exude that 007 aura he had, even down to getting his hands messy if needs must.  The cat & mouse interactions between Quan & Hennessy are by far the most fascinating parts of the movie, though Hennessy insists he was not involved, Quan is adamant he must have known something, considering his powerful political position.

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Where the film struggles is the overall story arc, the entire IRA subplot really does slow down the movie, and it gets drowned in a lot of dialogue and conversations.  The plot attempts to be far more intricate and layered than it really should have been. Any scene which does not involve Chan or Brosnan really feels like a drag.  The whole affair plot line has a resolution, but even then, it feels like it could have been written in a much more captivating manner.  Also, there could have been more scenes with Chan, as that really is the film’s strongest points.  Seeing Chan take out elite soldiers in the woods is far more interesting than political power plays. Quan is almost a secondary character compared to Hennessy. As good as Hennessy is, most people would be tuning into this for Chan, and they really didn’t make the most of that factor.

Overall, the movie does seem to drown itself with its plot at times, but the star power of Chan and the charm of Brosnan has enough to make The Foreigner worth a watch.

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Jumanji Roars

When Jumanji : Welcome To The Jungle, was announced, it was met with much derision from fans. Was this really necessary? Will it ruin the fond memories of the original starring Robin Williams? Jumanji, unlike Dwayne Johnson’s previous attempt to revive some 90s nostalgia, Baywatch, Jumanji :Welcome To The Jungle is an exuberant joy ride from start till end!

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Dwayne Johnson in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

The story here has been shifted to the current millennial age,  and in order to fit this time, the Jumanji board game has become a retro video game, basically evolving to survive in a time when board games are of little interest! Our protagonists, whom are all the usual high school stereotypes, end up digging out the video game while being thrown into detention together.  The twist here though, is unlike the original, where the game came to them, here, they get sucked into the game!

To make things even more interesting, our students end up in the bodies of the avatars they selected for the game. Spencer (Alex Wolff), the nerdy gamer is now in the body of Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Johnson), a 6″5, 250lb hero, with no real weaknesses. Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), the school jock, is the diminutive Franklin “Mouse” Finbar (Hart), who is essentially Bravestone’s assistant. Bethany (Madison Iseman), the selfie obsessed cheerleader, ends up as she says ‘a middle aged fat man’ in Professor Sheldon “Shelly” Oberon (Black).  Martha, our shy, introverted teen, is now the confident & dangerous Ruby Roundhouse (Gillan).

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The story is simple, get the Jaguar’s Eye, a magical gem, back to its resting place, to save the jungle, though it’s not as east as it may seem. Each of them are limited to 3 lives, and not only is the jungle trying to kill them, but the villainous Van Pelt (Cannavale) is also in a deadly pursuit of the gem.

The body swapping angle is really what makes this film shine.  With most of our all star cast playing roles that they don’t play. The Rock, is someone who is the opposite of the charismatic mountain of muscle that he is. Jack Black is having a blast playing the bratty teen diva, and Gillan is still an insecure teenage, even though in the game she is a beautiful lady who can also kill you swiftly with her deadly martial arts skills! It’s really only Kevin Hart doing his usual routine, but even then, his interactions with Johnson is golden. Finbar, who in reality,  is the athletic, tall, confident jock,  has to come to terms that in the game, he really is none of that, and it’s in fact Spencer, who he looks down upon, who is the real hero.  All four of the cast work great, and really excels the movie to something more memorable.

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Kevin Hart stars in JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE.

The video game plot also adds plenty of laughs for all the gamers out there. From NPCs, cut scenes,  and character strength & weaknesses, there are various little details that give the film a charming gloss.  This really makes the film stand out from the original, so they really cannot be compared directly.

The only thing that really does bring the movie down, is the laughably poor villain. Van Pelt really wasn’t needed, and could have been removed from the story altogether.  All it did was extend the run time, and remove the excitement from the film whenever it cut back to whatever he was up to. The story line would have worked perfectly well if it was a simple task of going from A to B, with the jungle trying to defeat you.  The villain was just a distraction, and never really proved a threat.  Villain aside, the film doesn’t really make the most out of the 3 lives gimmick, at no point, do you ever really fear for one of the main characters biting the dust, considering the menacing environment they are in.

Jumanji : Welcome To The Jungle is amusing holiday film, with a wonderful cast, humour, and surprisingly intense action scenes, it really is a blast. Only downside to it really is the mediocre villain, who helps bloat the movie to over two hours.  Even with that, the film pretty much stands on par with its 90s counterpart.

 

 

The Worst of 2017

With 2017 coming to an end, it’s that time again to look at what films bring shame to the year! This is a list of the terrible films that I watched myself,  can’t watch every movie! So if I’ve missed anything, leave a comment! 🙂

So in no particular order…..

Rings

Somethings are better left in the past, and Rings is a perfect example of this. One of the aspects that made the original so eerie was the vintage feel of the VHS tapes, with their disturbing static images. It loses this vital aspect when the story is moved into the present time of digital media. That aside, Rings was still an appalling reboot,  riddled with all the cliches that haunt many poor horror movies. With a story that becomes a random investigation, that takes way too long during the middle act, it feels all over the place. The CGI on Samara is also overdone, making her look like a video game character, when the effects looked more chilling over a decade ago, it’s not a great sign.


Deathnote

Following on from the lamentable Ghost in the Shell remake earlier in the year, Deathnote was the latest Manga incarnation for the West, and being produced by Netflix, fans would have hoped for a respectable adaptation.  Moving the story to America may have irked some fans, but this was not the biggest problem, moving it the US would make the film more appealing to the Western market. The issues were several fold, it ruined the main protagonist, who went from a smart calculating student, to an emotional stroppy teen driven solely by his hormones.  The cerebral nature of the source, is reduced to hardly anything,  and the directors choice to make this into some sort of tribute to Final Destination, with it gory over the top deaths made this comical.


The Mummy

A film so highly panned by critics and audience alike, it’s pretty much destroyed the hopes of Universals ‘The Dark Universe’, an extended monster-verse using the likes of The Mummy, Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, before it even began! If it felt like DC were rushing their progress to The Justice League, The Mummy attempted to do everything in one movie! Even the star power of Tom Cruise could not save a film in which The Mummy is a supporting character,  the hero and his love interest have zero chemistry and a detour in the middle of the film in which the entire movie is bought to a halt, just so they can tease future movies! A shocker!


The Snowman

This was by far the most underwhelming movie of the year for me. The Snowman is almost laughably funny, for a film that’s supposed to be shrouded in the gritty Scandinavian crime noir vibe. What we end up with is a hilariously predictable  & tepid villain (seriously, they never explain why they were obsessed with snowmans), plot lines that literally go no where (oh hey there random winter Olympics bid) and characters making shockingly bad decisions for the sake of creating any sense of drama.  Though it had a strong cast in Michael Fassbender & Rebecca Ferguson, both are utterly forgettable.  Even the talented J.K Simmons is reduced to nothing here.  Hard to see the movie follow up on a sequel, that it was teasing at the end of this dire movie.

Special mention to……


Sleepless

Something about Jamie Foxx being undercover for 5 years, mixed with some scenes from Taken.  Pretty much all the time I shall give to this mundane thriller!

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Flatliners can’t decide if it’s a medical drama, thriller, teen dorm comedy or just everything! What starts off as a unique concept, becomes so corny, you just don’t care!

 

The Last Jedi, It Disappoints

The Force Awakens was a nostalgic action packed throwback, that helped the franchise get back on track, following the thoroughly underwhelming Prequel trilogy from the Early 00’s. Since then, we’ve also had the well acclaimed spin-off, Rogue One. So expectations were sky high for the latest instalment in the saga, Episode VIII, The Last Jedi.

One of the biggest criticism of TFA was the fact it stuck pretty close to its guns, and essentially, it was a rehash of the story from A New Hope, with a fresh coat of paint. In all fairness, it was a safety first approach,  but it payed off, but with the sequel, the studio would have to be brave and shake things up.  To keep this spoiler free, this review will be pretty concise!

TLJ carries on straight after the end of TFA, as Rey (Daisy Ridley) tracks down the reclusive Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). In search for the guidance she requires to help the resistance fight off the imminent threat of the First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), and a bemused Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), having suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Rey last time around.

What TLJ does right, it does supremely well.  The space battles as always are stunning to watch, the opening scenes of the resistance taking down a dreadnought,  not only shows us the underdog nature of this war, but also the morbid consequences that follow even after the battle has been won. The final act, that takes place on the salt plains of Crait is a visual treat. Star Wars is a franchise that rarely uses blood, so the red marks left on the surface of the plains makes it a great method to show the brutality of the situation without resorting to the red stuff!

The dynamic between Rey & Kylo is intriguing throughout the film, both of our characters are conflicted in their own ways,  and seeing them try to understand each others motivations adds a new layer to a story trying to play it different.  Luke is also another highlight of the show, Mark Hamill has always been the one who engages the most with his fans regarding Star Wars, even to this day he still loves the fact he is Luke Skywalker! The battle scenes are as strong as ever, though the light-saber action is a bit on the downside here, the show down in Snoke’s throne room is wonderfully choreographed and shot. There is also a surprising cameo from a well loved character from Star Wars past, which will have the fans smiling.

This movie has been controversial to say the least,  with fans having a far more scathing assessment than the largely positive critic reviews. To be honest, there are several flaws that really do effect the enjoyment of the movie. To avoid any big spoilers, these will be listed in a vague way, to avoid revealing too much of the story! The whole Finn & Rose arch feels very unnecessary, a way to simply pad out the already bloated run time. Finn is also reduced to very much a side character,  which is a shame, considering how charismatic John Boyega is.  There are several plot points from TFA that just seem to disappear,  Rian Johnson, taking over from J J Abrams, seems to have struggled to weave the two movies together seamlessly. There are also decisions made by the some characters that really make no sense,  seemingly only done to create another plot narrative, such as Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), whose peculiar decision making serves no real purpose apart from creating tension.

Overall, I found TLJ a bit disappointing, The usual Star Wars shine is there, with its outlandish characters, charm and familiarity.  TFA may have been some more of the same, but it still provided the audience with enjoyment, and a tidy plot.  TLJ is unfortunately riddled with plot holes, character motivations and frankly some bizarre scenes (to be discussed in the spoiler review!).

 

The Disaster Artist – A Beautiful Disaster

The Room is widely recognized as one of the most bizarre films ever created.  With it’s eccentric acting,  plodding story line and bizarre script,  and funded by $6m of Tommy Wiseau’s mysterious fortune. The Room is shrouded in a cloak of mystery, which has earned it a cult following of fans online!

Tommy Wiseau is the star of The Room, directing, producing and writing this surreal piece of cinema. The Disaster Artist, starring James & Dave Franco, is based of the book written by Greg Sestero, who co-starred in the 2003 cult hit, and takes a look behind the story of how The Room came to be!

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The Disaster Artist follows Greg (Dave Franco) , as a young, aspiring actor struggling to find his feet in a competitive career. He meets the outlandish Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) at a local acting class, and they both decide to go all in, move to Hollywood, and make their dreams become reality.

Though the film does show some of the scenes that took place while filming the now infamous movie, The Disaster Artist is actually a movie that does surprisingly well to show us the trials and tribulations that Tommy especially went through, in order to create this. Greg was no where the finished deal, but he was still bagging minor roles in his life in L.A. Tommy on the other hand, was seen as an outcast, with not many big names in Tinseltown wanting to associate themselves with him. It was mainly this shunning, that lead him to produce something by himself.

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You don’t have to have watched The Room to enjoy this movie, but having prior knowledge of it will exponentially improve your enjoyment of this movie. The scenes on set are by far the stand out moments of the film, capturing the frankly surreal situation the cast & crew were put under. There are stand out guests stars, such as Seth Rogan, playing the exasperated script supervisor and Zac Efron has the insanely intense extra on set! There are several scenes that are paid homage too, but seeing the chaos behind the infamous ‘I did not hit her!’ dialogue is hysterical. Oh hi Mark….

James Franco does exceptionally well in capturing the unique mannerisms of our oddball Tommy. It’s just not the comedy he does well, but you can also see the anguish on display as he see’s the initial reaction at the premier of the movie in front of a packed theater. Dave Franco is fine as Greg, but it’s Tommy that really steals the show.

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There really isn’t too much to say in regards to negativity.  You are expected to know the story behind The Disaster Artist, so unless you have utterly no idea what to expect, you really won’t be left disappointed by this eye-opening story about frankly horribly made film!

Justice League – Not Bad, Not Great

After all the anticipation, DC’s Justice League finally hits the big screen, with all the pressure of the entire DCEU on its broad shoulders, how does it preform? It is a roaring success like Wonder Woman, or more of the same, like Suicide Squad?


The Good – Wonder Woman & The Flash

Wonder Woman proved to be a monumental success in the Summer, and it’s no surprise that she is by far the most relevant & interesting member of the group. Her role in BvS was disappointing, considering the power that she wields, but here, Gal Gadot shines again as the beacon of hope. With everything she does, she could easily be the de facto leader of the team, and does put Batman in the shade.

Justice League also sees the introduction of The Flash, to the DCEU movie-verse. With Ezra Miller providing a large chunk of the films laughs and wit. Playing the social awkward Barry Allen, The Flash jumps at the opportunity to join a super team, and most of the memorable set pieces revolve around him. His reactions to most things are pretty much how the audience would react; a solo movie for him would be largely appreciated! His inability to make friends is slightly overplayed, which can be a mild irritation!


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The Bad – The Appalling CGI

For a movie that reportedly cost near $300m, the CGI here is frankly inadequate. Cyborg, who is entirely CGI, bar a part of his face looks pretty laughable at times, looking like a character model from an old PS2 game! For a character who is a major player in the story, it’s a shame he looks like a joke at times!

Then there’s the curious case of Henry Cavill, and his now infamous mustache. Due to the re-shoots that took place, following the departure of Zack Snyder from the project, Cavill was recalled to film some of his scenes, the problem though; he was contractually obliged to grow a mustache, for his upcoming role in Mission Impossible 6. With Paramount studios unwilling to break their agreement with the actor, the team at JL ended up embarrassingly having to remove the ‘stache post production. Leaving Cavill looking comically bad at times!


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The Good – The Insane Action

Among the various criticisms of BvS, the lack of action & intensity was a massive flaw. Considering the film was about two titans clashing it spent far more time dealing with the inner struggles of Superman, and the plans of an irritating Luther!  Justice League corrects that, and has far more action and fights, which is after all, what these huge movies should be about!  There is one confrontation in the middle of the film which is pretty amazing, and works well as a treat for comic fans.  There is also a spectacular sequence in Themyscira, where our villain Steppenwolf takes on a legion of Amazonian warriors, as he attempts to steal one of the motherboxes. As wave after wave of warriors try valiantly to slow down his charge.


The Bad – The Plot

This was expected, seeing as the film is essentially the work of 2 directors. Zack Snyder, who started the project, was eventually replaced by Joss Whedon, following a family tragedy. Whedon called in reshoots, after initial feedback from the movie was looking poor. Both directors have contrasting styles, with Whedon far more into the fan service and humour, as seen in Avengers Assemble. The plot revolves around our antagonist, Steppenwolf trying to gather 3 ‘Motherboxes’, which were spread across Earth, in order to take over the world, blah blah. It’s all very generic, offering nothing new or interesting. There are sporadic shifts in tone, the film will go from serious, to banter. You will have scenes such as Wonder Womans appearance in London, which went nowhere plot wise. Then you have illogical decisions, like our heroes just leaving the last Motherbox in the open, unguarded, Steppenwolf just sneaks in, and runs away with it! It’s all very abrupt. There’s also an aimless plot regarding a Russian family, which has next to no payoff!  The shift in tone is so inconsistent too, in BvS, Superman was portrayed as a threat to humans, but here, everyone cares about him and is mourning. Going off the previous film, it doesn’t really flow well.


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The Good – Humour

This is probably where Joss Whedon made the biggest changes to the DCEU formula. It’s clear to see that he bought in some of the magic he used for Avengers Assemble. There is great chemistry between all the team members. The Flash & Cyborg are great together; Cyborg & WW have their moments. Aquaman prefers to be the lone wolf of the team, but he still has his lines to bring out the laughs. BvS and Man of Steel were far too dreary and grim, JL is far more enjoyable to watch, and essentially, so much more fun. The mid-credit scene is typical Whedon, and all fans will laud it up!


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The Bad – Batman, Aquaman & Steppenwolf

Firstly, Batman, who assembles this team, is by far the most redundant member of the team. This is a vital flaw, as in the comics, Batman, Superman & WW all have pretty much equal say in the JL. Batman’s lack of physical strength, is made up for, by the intelligence and logical thinking he brings to the squad. Here, Bruce Wayne constantly gets beat up, does nothing of any importance, and could really be left out altogether! His cerebral advantage is never shown here. He is all brawn, when they should focus on his ‘best detective in the world’ trait.

Aquaman, though portrayed amazingly by Jason Mamoa, also suffers a lot as a character. His back story is summed up very quickly, so that leaves things open for his solo outing.  But his contribution to the team is pretty small, bar some moments of fun. His prime weapon is his association with water. With the battle taking place on land, he is pretty much second fiddle. He is also reduced to comic relief at times, for The Flash, this works, but for the King of the Ocean, not so much.

Steppenwolf is a major disappointment, a copy & paste villain, who at the end, is dealt with far too easily. He pretty much suffers from the same flaws the effected Ultron in Age of Ultron. A very tepid villain.


The Good – Cyborg

Unless you’re a diehard DC fan, little was known about Cyborg, played by Ray Fisher.  As it turns up, Cyborg ends up playing a vital role in the movie, without him, their plans will fail. So it’s strange that he got next to no build up.  His origin story is a curious one, thought the film doesn’t go into much detail, barring the fact he was in an accident.  He also plays off well with The Flash, and his vital role in the team makes him far more interesting than Aquaman, and even Batman.


To sum it up, Justice League is nowhere near the epic levels of Marvels superhero ensemble, but it is a vast improvement on the likes of BvS & Suicide Squad.  While the action is top notch, it inconsistent and plodding story-line, and not fully utilizing all its cast, puts Justice League in the middle of average.

Thor Ragna-rocks!

The Thor franchise has been a mixed bag, the original movie, back in 2011 wasn’t the most entralling film, rather just a set up to bring Loki into the fold for The Avengers. While The Dark World a few years later was an improvement,  it never really felt like a vital part of the MCU , with an utterly forgettable villain.  Ragnarok, the final part of the trilogy has been by far the most captivating Thor adventure yet, with the trailers building up to a far more essential chapter of the story, with an ever so vibrant cast and aesthetic.

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Ragnarok picks up a few years after Age of Ultron. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is on the search for the infinity stones, to prevent the apocalyptic visions in his dreams, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), after leaving the scene following AoU, has ended up on an alien planet, and Loki (Tom Hiddlestone) now resides as King of Asgard (be it under disguise!). Things are cranked up several notches with the appearance of the omnipotent Hela (Cate Blanchett) , who’s return signifies the arrival of Ragnarok,  the  prophecy that states the destruction of Asgard.

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Thor Ragnarok has received massive critical acclaim, currently standing at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s well deserved.  Taika Waititi has woven a wonderful tale filled with humour, colour, action & drama.  Ragnarok, of all things, is one of the funniest movies of the year so far. Up there with Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of laughs per minute ! Be it Thor’s bickering with Loki or Hulk, Loki’s nervous behavior around Hulk or Hela’s disdain to pretty much everything, the film knocks out jokes throughout it’s entire run time. The supporting cast all have their moments too, but the star of the under-card has to be Korg (played by Waititi himself!), the alien guardian of Thor’s gladiatorial prison, whose non-nonchalant one liners will have the audience in stitches. Jeff Golblum is also absurdly entertaining as the peculiar Grandmaster.

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The humour aside, Ragnarok still possesses a story line that has vast consequences on the rest of the MCU. The threat is very much real, a threat which is perfectly captured by the introduction of Hela.  One of the biggest criticisms of the Marvel movies are it’s lack of villains,  but here, Hela is one of the most foreboding villains introduced so far. Being able to easily handle both Thor & Loki, and making small work of the Asgardian army.  With the gradual turn of Loki towards the side of good, it was vital to replace him with a suitable antagonist. The removal of Jane Foster, who fans never really cared for, being replaced by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson),  was a good move. Matching Thor up with someone who feels more suitable to his personality.

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Visually, Ragnarok is gorgeous to look at.  It’s simply vivid. The promotional artwork has displayed this change of direction, but the film looks so energetic. Saarkar, the planet is which our hero is stranded on, makes up a fair portion of the movie. A planet with is full of buzz and activity.  It’s colour palette is one similar to the zesty displays of Guardians franchise. Compare is to the previous 2 films, and it feels like a totally different franchise!

Though Ragnarok can be criticized for leaning on the side of comedy a bit too much, at times, all the jokes do feel overwhelming. It’s fair to say the character of Thor is seen  pretty much as a skull headed joke to everyone.  Thor seems to be the butt of most of everyone jokes, even random strangers on the street has a dig at him! Thor has always been one of the more light hearted characters, but it does go a bit too far from time to time.

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Ragnarok is certainly one of the most fun films of the year so far,  with the addition of new characters like the impressive Valkyrie & Korg, combined with the stellar cast, constant gags (”What are you, the God of Hammers?”), entertaining cameos, and a mighty villain. This may be one of the best Marvel movies yet.

 

Caesar Reigns in Planet of The Apes

This summer has been pretty low-key in regards to well acclaimed blockbusters, can War for the Planet of the Apes (let’s just call it War from here on!) succeed where films such as The Mummy, Transformers & Baywatch stumbled?

War is the final chapter of the newly rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise, which started with Rise in 2011 and Dawn in 2014, both movies were well received by both fans and critics, so hopes were high for War.

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The final chapter sees our main protagonist, Caesar (Andy Serkis) once again lead his colony of apes, as they look to escape to terrains new, and save his people (apes!) from the ruthless clutches of Colonel (Woody Harrelson).  With the help of his close allies, Caesar puts it all on the line, to once and for all,  put an end to the plight his colonyface.

War is an enthralling adventure, and it’s a movie you can enjoy as a standalone, without having much knowledge of the prior 2 movies. I haven’t had the chance to watch either Rise or Dawn, and did worry things may not make much sense! But the movie does a great job in dropping in details of prior movies without breaking the flow of the movie, there were reference to prior characters and events, but even as someone watching without knowing the lore, you can still piece it all together.  Not seeing the other two will not affect your enjoyment in any huge way.

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By far the most fantastic aspect of the movie is the motion capture, it is frankly stunning. This series has done wonders in giving actors in motion capture the recognition they deserve. Andy Serkis has been widely praised for his performances in the Apes movies, and rightly so. It cannot be easy to act in total green screen, while moving and acting in the ways an ape would.  If you have the time, do go and look at the behind the scenes footage, to see how much work is put into motion capture! It’s also the sheer detail of the apes that is amazing. There are several close ups throughout the movie that flaunt how much attention to detail was put it, especially with Maurice. The snowy settings up in the mountains really do provide a gorgeous backdrop the the film. It really is a great to look at.

Caesar’s story arc is one of revenge, which seems him go on a mission to take down the sinister Colonel, but he is joined by a group of his closest allies. Maurice (Karin Konoval), the Orangutan, who is Caesars top adviser, and one of the more heart warming characters in a somber movie.  Luca (Micael Adamthwaite) the Gorilla, and Rocket (Terry Notary) the Chimpanzee lend the muscle, as they also join our hero on his mission. Along the way, they meet a mute girl, Nova (Amiah Miller), who a reluctant Caesar brings along, due to the protestations of Maurice. They also meet Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), the token comic relief, and a  runaway chimp who suffered after his time imprisoned at a Zoo.  Bad Ape could have gone awry,  but his fragile mentality was a good method to make him say what he does in these grim situations.

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War is an emotional ride, as several characters meet their demise, and director Matt Reeves manages to make us care and feel the struggle of a group on non human characters, which alone could have been hard to do. While there are huge epic set pieces in the film, at it’s heart, it’s a sober tale of war and suffering. You believe any one of our characters could meet their end at any moment.

The plot is rather straightforward to follow,  it’s nothing groundbreaking. But it’s the tone and execution of the film that makes it wonderful to watch. Be it the sheer panic of the battle scenes, the desperation of the prison camps or the grit shown by Caeser in the face of torture and oppression. The story weaves it all in one engrossing adventure. Be prepared to be reading loads of subtitles though, apart from Caesar, Bad Ape and the humans, the rest interact in their own language. So if you are not a fan of subtitles, you have been warned!

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Woody Harrelson does fine as our antagonist, the film gives us a reason to hate him, and his treatment of the imprisoned apes are barbaric. But, he just feels slightly rushed through. His character did not appear in any prior movies, so feels pretty dispensable. Is this guy really the one who the 3 movies lead up to?  You would think the final part of trilogy would have the long standing enemy at its core. Also, his grand plan really made no sense. Which was to build a frankly useless wall! Yes he was evil, but not really the smartest of villains,  I would have preferred a far more calculating villain, to match the astute Caesar.

The running time of almost 2:30 hours is vastly inflated. The film could have been told in a much shorter amount of time, and you do feel like it is dragging on as the film approaches its finale.

War deserves all the plaudits it’s receiving, and it provides a suitable ending to the trilogy. You really root for our heroes to succeed,  and want to rally behind them. You really grow to despise the Army, and that ticks all the boxes even at the very basic levels of story telling. The action and battle scenes are intense, and surprisingly violent! Combined with the gorgeous visuals , War is one of the films of this Summer! Apes Together Strong…….

 

 

 

Sleepless Will Make You Zzzz

There’s been lull at the cinemas recently, with the behemoth that is Guardians dominating the box office, the releases around this time of year have been pretty low profile. One movie that has ducked under the radar is Sleepless, which is in fact a remake of the well acclaimed French movie Sleepless Night.

Sleepless sees our hero, Vincent Down (Jamie Foxx), working for the Las Vegas PD, working undercover to expose a drug cartel. After an operation goes wrong with his partner (T.I), Vincent ends up upsetting the wrong people, who in retaliation kidnap his son. The deal is simple, return their drugs, we return your son. But with Internal Affairs officer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) on his case, not everything goes to plan!

Sleepless has not received the best of receptions critically, 22% & 33% are its scores on Rotten Tomatoes & Metacritic respectively. So expectations were not high going into this! It is fair to say though, while the movie may not be utterly dreadful, it is ridiculously dull. Considering the movie has corrupt cops, drug dealers, casinos and gangsters, it’s disappointing to see how tepid it ends up.

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Foxx is by far the brightest light in the film, his role may be that of a generic undercover cop (his been undercover for 2 years you know!! He never stops mentioning it!) Who has to shun his family for the greater good, but he puts in a dedicated effort to bring some vigour to the movie. The film tries to put him at a disadvantage early on, with a stab wound, which was a great way to immobilize our protagonist.  But it’s so inconsistent; the wound never acts up when his in a confrontation, but always magically flares up when he is being pursued. Fighting viciously in the kitchen? That’s fine, running down the stairs, wound says no!

The film also does a slick job with the filming, the Las Vegas sky line offers the film several moments to capture the scenery, and it’s something Collateral did very well in, a film that Foxx also starred in! Director Baron bo Odar deserves credit in that regards, creating a visually vivid production.

But that’s pretty much all there is regarding the positives, the rest of the cast and plot is dire. Bryant, who is supposed to be the foil to Down, spends most of the movie annoyed or standing around clueless in the Casino foyer! Monaghan just spends the movie dreary eyed looking lost half the time! It’s hard to take her character seriously when she can’t even suspect her colleague, who is pretty much the ‘most obvious corrupt cop ever ®, for being involved. Working in I.A should give her some knack of noticing suspicious behaviour! Also, she just isn’t a very good officer, even one of the staff in the casino call her out on it. Rather that giving a description of who she is looking for, she just barges in yelling! Great police work there!

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The action to say the least feels like a low budget version of John Wick or as mentioned before, The Equalizer. They even have a club scene, which Collateral & John Wick executed in a far stylish way. The son, whose hand gets crippled, runs around the place like it’s all fine. A young kid who had his hand pretty much mangled should be in severe agony, but I suppose he does hold it every now and again, to show it’s injured!

The finale gets pretty nonsensical, after the mother, who is a nurse, just happens to join in with the gun toting shoot-out, which seemed so horribly out of place and rather comedic.

Scoot McNairy, as Novak, is adequate as the crazed son of a drug lord, who will torture even his own family if the situation arose, but our formulaic drug dealing casino boss Stanley Rubino, is so clichéd, you don’t care at all about what happens to him. Neither villains really stand out, and not once, feel like a real threat to our hero. The plot of the movie is so straight forwards. Summed up in ‘Where are my drugs?!’, literally that is all that happens here.

Sleepless could have worked, if the villains were fleshed out more, and the cast was given more to work with. You’re only really bothered about Jamie Foxx, and his journey throughout the film, every time it cuts away to another character, the film drastically drops any momentum it has. It’s in no ways the worst film to come out this year, but it feels like a movie that could have been released straight to DVD or Netflix!

 

 

 

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