The Commuter / No Delays Here

After being tasked by a mysterious woman to track down a specific person on an evening commuter train, Michael MacCauley (Nesson) is in a race against time to unravel this conspiracy, or risk danger not just to himself, but his family as well.

Liam Neeson and low budget action movies always prove to be an enjoyable time. You pretty know what you will get, what to expect, and how the story will pan out. Neeson has already wreaked havoc on a plane in 2014’s Non-Stop, this time, his kicking ass and speaking intensely on phones (it’s a trend in his films!) on a train, in The Commuter.

The Commuter is a perfectly satisfactory feature length movie. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who had also taken charge of the aforementioned, Non-Stop and The Shallows, a thrilling shark attack film. Pretty much the entire story take place on the train, and the film can be divided into two parts. The opening and middle chapters are more focused on the mystery of who he must find, tracking down various clues to help him locate the target. It’s a nice concept, and considering it’s a busy New York commute, the train is packed with a range of people, all of which could be who he must find. It’s a nice change of pace, from the action packed finale, and even has the audience constantly guessing who it may be.

In my opinion, the deduction parts of The Commuter, are its strongest moments, you do have the occasional action and fights, but they are really just there to stop it getting a bit to mellow for a Neeson movie! The finale is a lot of the typical over the top action and CGI fest that you would expect, the intensity is ramped up by a hundred, and it gets pretty messy at times. Though Neeson is still pretty adept at looking far more dangerous than most people at the age of 65, the special effects are pretty obvious. The train crash from the trailers still looks as laughably bad in the final cut!

Liam Neeson obviously holds this movie together, but Vera Farmiga as the calculating Joanna, who is pulling the strings on board, and Patrick Wilson, as Michael’s colleague, Murph. Both add a bit of shine to the film. And it’s always good to see Jonathan Banks, of Breaking Bad fame making an appearance too!

The Commuter is a straight forward movie, it’s not amazing, nor is it awfully bad. If you’re a fan of the Neeson style thrills and dangers than The Commuter won’t leave you feeling short changed. At under 2 hours, it doesn’t drag on either. If you got nothing to do, and want to catch a decent film, this is worth a watch, otherwise, just wait for it to come out on demand!

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!

Spidey Spins A Web of Laughs

One of the surprises in Captain America: Civil War last year was the addition of Spiderman in the superhero melee, following the character being lost in the corporate purgatory between Sony and Marvel. Fans were finally treated to seeing the webslinger make his long awaited debut in the MCU, and now, we have his first solo MCU outing, Spiderman: Homecoming.

Spiderman has seen several reincarnations within the last decade or so! So comparisons will be made, will it live up to the charming Sam Raimi trilogy (well first two anyway, the less said about 3!) or will Homecoming be more like the divisive Amazing reboots of the early 2010’s?

As the title suggests, Homecoming is set during high school, and the run up to homecoming dance (spoiler alert!). There is no origin story in this film, which is great, every Spidey fan knows about that, and it would be wasted time. We really don’t need to see Uncle Ben die for a third time! The film picks up pretty much right after his antics in Civil War (with his own personal videos from his travels to Germany!), we follow Peter Parker, as he gets to grasp with his entire new found suit and his social struggles at home & school.

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Homecoming thankfully is another fine notch in the ever-growing MCU repertoire. Homecoming gives the audience a plucky young Peter to root for, supported by a mentoring Tony Stark (and Happy Hogan!), and for the first time in a long while, a villain which feels fleshed out and threatening. This makes a nice change from the villains who are bad because……….they are bad.

Tom Holland is excellent as Peter, as well as Tobey Maguire & Andrew Garfield were, they were both well into their 20s when playing the role. So it always felt a bit awkward seeing them play high schoolers. Holland is 21, so looks far more convincing as a young teen, and has the acting chops to pull it off too. The appearance of Ironman has been well publicized in this film, and Robert Downey Jr. is as always awesome in the scenes that he has. I was a bit worried beforehand that the film may have too much Ironman in it, taking away Spidey’s time to shine, but luckily it’s not overdone. The moments that he does appear, are pretty much already revealed in the trailers, which is a shame.

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The real stars of the supporting cast are Ned (Jacob Batalon), Parker’s best friend, the enthusiastic best man, who is more than happy to just be involved with Spiderman and be ‘the guy in the chair’, and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), the long standing right hand man of Tony Stark (his been there since the very start!) who has to reluctantly be the chaperone of the eager Parker. Both are always a welcoming presence to any scene they are in.

Michael Keaton as The Vulture is superb as a character, you understand his motivations for his actions, and he isn’t simply a maniacal villain. He is conflicted by his actions, but well aware he has to do it for personal reasons. He also has wonderfully intense scene with Peter in the final act, which was great to watch! It also has a nice tie in to the events following Avengers Assemble.

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The film is downright hilarious. Peter’s interactions with Ned & Happy always bring a few laughs. The fact the new Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) is attractive is mentioned on numerous occasions throughout the film.  Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), Peter’s rival at school, who was the type cast cocky jock, is now more of a smug rich kid. His smugness while annoying, works well at gaining sympathy for Parker, while also having a chuckle on both their behalves!  Michelle (Zandaya), one of Peter’s reclusive and enigmatic classmates randomly pops up every now and again, to drop a sarcastic one liner, which could have been cheesy, but actually fits in rather well. There’s also an appearance from actor/rapper/funny guy Donald Glover, fans of his work will revel in his cameo! Peter also has some witty exchanges with his suits AI, who he names Karen. One of the jokes the film makes at itself is regarding what happens when there aren’t any high rises for Spidey to swing between? Well, he just has to run on foot!

The movie has it’s fair share of action set pieces. with the highlight being the ferry scene. This does though feel like a very poor imitation of the train scene in Spiderman 2, and just doesn’t feel as momentous. The scenes in the Washington Monument may be a little less chaotic, but feels far more fresh and original.

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What did let the film down for me was the frankly generic final showdown. It becomes somewhat of a CGI mess, involving a chaotic battle outside a plane, then a flaming beach. It feels somewhat numbing and just too much is happening to really take it in properly. It doesn’t help the scenes take place at night! The main love interest Liz (Laura Harrier), is also particularly bland, her only characteristic is being one of the popular girls at school and a plot device. Another bugbear in the run up to this movie was the sheer amount of material released in the trailers and other clips in the run up. I was already aware of several key scenes. A franchise like Spiderman doesn’t need to release so much material to get the anticipation up, just a personal annoyance, but that’s more to do with the marketing and studios, and not the movie itself!

Homecoming spins a web of fun, and if you’re a fan of the hero, or just enjoy an enjoyable superhero film, will love the characters, cast and humour.  Personally, I still believe Spiderman 2 is still the most best movie out of the collection, but Homecoming does a stellar job is reintroducing the character and getting him entwined in the Avengers saga! Though I still can’t forgive Marvel for that horrendous Homecoming poster with near every character thrown onto it! :/

 

 

The Mummy, Should Have Stay Buried

The Dark Universe, which is looking to rely on Universal Studios back catalogue of classical Horror icons such as Frankenstein, Dracula & The Phantom of The Opera to name a few. In order for this to succeed, it is crucial that the first instalment entices the audience for future releases! In this case, it’s the freshly rebooted The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella & Russell Crowe, which has been given the job of getting the franchise to hit the ground running.

So this time around, we have Nick Morton (Cruise), a US military officer who with his close friend Sergeant Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), use their military duties as a cover to ransack ancient temples in order to sell onto the black market. After one operation goes wrong in Iraq, they end up uncovering an Egyptian burial site, with the assistance of archaeologist Jennifer (Annabelle Wallace). Things quickly go downhill as they end up releasing vengeful soul of Princess Ahmanet (Boutella) into the modern world,

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If it was the role of The Mummy to get the audiences enticed, than unfortunately, it’s failed spectacularly. What we end up with a story, which is all over the place, where The Mummy ends up playing somewhat of a support role! Universal Studios seemed way too keen to start setting up its future movies during the entire middle 3rd of the film, with character reveals and plot details for the future. The film had a total of 6 different screenwriters that can explain the lack of cohesion in the plot. The Mummy opens pretty well, with the initial burial site discovery and the dramatic airplane crash scene, which featured prominently in the trailers, is by far the best scene in the entire movie.

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Ahmanet is set up as a menacing foe, with the power to revive the dead and literally suck the life from anyone it touches. The plot for Ahmanet also seems very archaic, after the inspiring Wonder Women, here, Ahmanet’s main goal, to find her chosen one. We end up with the Mummy playing second fiddle as the film decides to explain the appearance of other characters, and loads of dialogue. It’s here where the film sadly loses its momentum. If it had continued the action packed opening half hour, we could have ended up with an entertaining ride, but the film screeches to a halt, and never really picks up again.

The cast are a mixed bag. Tom Cruise is of course box office, but his character here is arrogant and unlikable, which isn’t a bad thing, but his character arc never goes anywhere, and pretty much stays the same throughout. His action scenes of as always, great, so it’s a shame the film really didn’t have more action packed set pieces. Although Cruise is a huge name, even then, it feels like the movie is so focused on him, it feels like Tom Cruise ft. The Mummy!

Jennifer is pretty much just there to get into trouble, and be the love interest for Nick. The problem is, the two never show any kind of interest in one another, nor do you ever really care what happens between them. You barely see them have any meaningful dialogue, bar a few scenes. A very forgettable & bland  persona.  Boutella is by far the best of the bunch, following her captivating roles in Star Trek & Kingsman, she is proving to be a well accomplished star. Russel Crowe’s character is purely there for the sake of future movies, and really could have been cut out entirely, or be reduced to a post credit scene if needs must.

The film does try to include a lot of comedy, mainly with the interactions between Nick & Chris. These scenes don’t ever feel comfortable here, as this movie is much darker than the 1999 version. It really felt like a move to follow the banter that Marvel movies seem to revel in.

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The scenes that show the full mercy of The Mummy across London, makes you expect an action packed finale across the London backdrop, but instead, it all concludes in a dark, underground cavern. Taking away the awe factor of what could have been a far more dramatic conclusion.

To sum it all up, The Mummy is simply boring. The sad thing is, the Egyptian lore and backstory has great material to work with, and if the film was solely about The Mummy v our hero for the entire runtime, that probably would have worked better. What we get is 3 stories attempting to be told at once, with The Mummy barely featuring in a turgid middle act, removing the most interesting part, in an effort to try and get us interested for what may come.

With big names like Johnny Depp & Javier Bardem already signed up for future Dark Universe movies, it is unlikely the franchise will be affected by the lukewarm reviews to The Mummy, but it has a lot of work to do in the run up to the next planned release in 2019, Bride of Frankenstein.

Covenant, Lacks Any Fear

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The 6th instalment of the iconic Alien franchise has landed in cinemas, Alien: Covenant. Picking up following the developments from 2012’s Prometheus, is Covenant a throwback to the original horror, or a follow on from the lore heavy Prometheus.

Covenant, is the story of the Covenant, a vessel travelling to a far flung planet, its mission, to find an alternate planet for colonisation. Each ship is overlooked by an android assistant, while the human crew are in deep sleep. The android maintaining the Covenant is Walter (Fassbender), but due to an emergency, the crew are forced to wake up. Following the loss of a fellow crew member, and with the reluctance to get back inside the pods, our team decide to respond to a distress call, from another potential viable planet for life, which is far more closer to get to then the remaining 7 years left to reach their original destination.

Upon landing on the new planet, things inevitable unravel and the blood starts flowing! You don’t really need to watch Prometheus to enjoy Covenant; the movie does refer back to the prequel, and does a good job in doing enough explanation to not leave anyone who hasn’t watched Prometheus, totally out of the loop.

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Director Ridley Scott has been accuse of losing his magic in recent times, but The Martian showed that he still has the ability to deliver great work.  Covanent follows that up with another strong showing here. By far the best aspect of the movie is the performance of Fassbender, who performs a dual role here. As already mentioned, he plays Walter, on board the Covenant, and also David, the older version of himself that was abroad the previous Prometheus mission. There are several scenes which involve both characters on screen at the same time, and he pulls it off with great intensity. He also plays the role of a synthetic being well enough to not sound completely wooden, which is a trap many who play robots fall into.

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The human crew on-board though, are a very mixed bag, and a majority of them come off as pretty unlikable. Katherine Waterston is Daniels AKA New Ripley, but she simply doesn’t have the presence to play a role such as this, she looks lost and confused for large parts of the movie, and being the supposed lead human, is overshadowed by Fassbender’s presence. The captain of the crew, Oram (Billy Crudup) is written to be somewhat antagonistic, and his traits are very dis-likeable, not even allowing his crew to mourn the loss of a colleague! It was strange to make him somewhat of a secondary antagonist, as the aliens are enough of a threat as it is. Everyone else of the team is largely bland or unremarkable, and make several stupid decisions throughout the film! The only real endearing figure is Tennessee (Danny McBride) as the pilot of the Covenant, surprising, as McBride isn’t usually known for these kind of roles!

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It’s down on the planet where the film really shines though, the opening 3rd seems to drag on for a long time, before we get into the nitty gritty, the Aliens! One thing to understand, is as this is a prequel to the original, this is the story of how the fiends known as the Xenomorphs came into existence, so the threats don’t look like what you expect them too! The film does not hold back on the violence and blood! It’s not just the chest the aliens surprise us from, and some of the deaths our crew suffer are pretty graphic. It may be slightly over the top, but it also empathises how destructive these creatures are. One of the criticisms of Prometheus was that it was very dialogue heavy, and didn’t have enough Xenomorph action, fair enough; as they are the main reason we go to watch these movies! Having watched Prometheus may help you enjoy the film more, but not watching it won’t ruin the experience. The alien saga is explained with careful detail, and it does get us curious in seeing where the next movie goes with all the revelations unearthed here.

The film though does lack the feel of the originals, there isn’t that build up that tension, that feeling of being alone and trapped. The film is very linear in that regards. It is very obvious which character will bite the dust, and the twist reveal at the end is so, so predictable, that it disappointed me they actually went ahead at did it! Also, the trailer pretty much revealed all the set pieces, a damaging habit most trailers seem to fall into nowadays. . It’s a shame that the movie just isn’t as scary as it could have been, as it’s all so telegraphed in its story. Yes some of the scenes can be rather brutal, but is it scary? Not really.

Covenant is no way a bad movie, if you’re a fan of the Alien franchise, or Sci-Fi is generally, it’s an entertaining ride, which gives more plot into how the Xenomorphs came to be, and has the usual Alien tropes. On the other hand there’s isn’t anything new and original to shout about. The film does have some homage to the original movies, but it very much feels like a part of the new trilogy, and not the old.

 

 

 

Throwback : The Other Guys

Comedy is always subjective to the individual watching, so you can never really have a movie that is almost universally hilarious to everyone. For me though, The Other Guys, featuring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg has to be one of the wittiest comedies around!

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Right off the bat, the film starts off at 100%, with the high octane pursuits & action of Officers Highland & Danson, the wonderfully arrogant duo played by Samuel L Jack & Dwayne Johnson. They are the pride & joy of the department, solving crimes, winning accolades, getting all the money & women! But after their confidence gets the best of them (“Aim for the bushes”), the force is left with vast gap in their task-force. The perfect chance for some other guys to fill in that Alpha position. The other guys in this case, being disgraced cop Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who craves to get back into the big time after being demoted following a mishap, and his desk happy accountant partner, Gamble (Will Ferrell).

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What make the film so amusing is the interactions between our two heroes. Most successful buddy cop movies require the partners to clash, be polar opposites, and it’s done perfectly here. Mark Wahlberg absolutely nails it as the constantly angry and frustrated cop, who would rather be out in the field, than stuck behind a computer. Gamble on the other hand, is more than happy to do paperwork and excel sheets, and as you can imagine, this does not go well his agitated colleague!

Some of the exchanges they have are comic genius! The ‘Lion v Tuna’ (“If I was a Lion, and you were a tuna, I would go outside my food chain to eat you!”) argument that they have will you in stitches, and of course, it ends with hot coffee being thrown, as Gamble systematically dismantles a frankly ridiculous argument of how a tuna would beat a lion in a fight! The general disdain Hoitz has for Gamble is plain to see, such as when he nonchalantly throws a gift out the car window, or his random insults like “The sound off your piss hitting the urinal……it sounds feminine!”

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The supporting cast are also on form! Eva Mendes plays the role of Gamble’s surprisingly attractive wife, to the hilarious dismay of the jealous Hoitz. Not only is Gamble oblivious to the fact someone as uninteresting & dull as himself, has ended up with a stunning wife, but he also talks down to her constantly, making Marky Mark even more annoyed at the situation!

Micheal Keaton shines as the dreary precinct captain, having to hold down 2 jobs to make ends meet, his character is constantly dropping in TLC lyrics mid convo, to the amusement of the audience. The silent fight during the funeral is another gem of a scene, where out duo end up in a fist fight with a rival pair of cops, also aiming to take over as the other guys! The scene is just so stupid, but seems to work so well!! The cops even pause mid fight, as some grieving mourners walk past!

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Steve Coogan features as the cowardly millionaire, who is clearly up to no good. The scene where he is consistently distracting our heroes with bribes is great, and eventually, no amount of free mineral water with cucumber can put our cops off the trial!!

The film simply has several moments that will stick to anyone who enjoys this movie. There’s the whole ‘GATOR!!!’ revelation, Gamble’s crazy hot Ex, the Toyota Pruis constantly getting roasted, the ‘desk-pop’ among other things!

The plot isn’t the most memorable or unique, cops who no one trusts or respects end up uncovering a hidden scam, end up the heroes. But it’s the presence of our two protagonists that make this such rollicking fun!

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!

 

 

 

Retro Rewind : Commando (1985)

There are always gems hidden away on Netflix, and browsing through it the other day, I came across one of my favourite movies from way back in the days! Commando was the very definition of prime Schwarzenegger!! The one man army, the puns, the cheesy dialogue, Commando had it all! At only 90 minutes, it’s a fun way to pass some time!

 

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This is how the film starts! 

The plot is so very simple. Retired special ops agent John Matrix (Arnold) is living the quite life out in the forests, with his daughter Jenny (A young Alyssa Milano!). The intro to the movie is a serene, joyful sequence, showing the loving father & daughter living the good life, spending quality family time together, having ice cream etc. Maybe this was done intentionally, as the rest of the film is anything but like this! It does raise a chuckle knowing what lies ahead! It’s not long until their cosy life is interrupted by a figure from Matrix’s’ past. It appears that all of his members from his old team are being murdered, and he is the last one left. Even with the warning, this doesn’t stop the villain, a ridiculously over the top, pantomime bad guy, Bennett from kidnapping Jenny, and blackmailing our hero to carry out an assassination mission for them. Matrix manages to escape the plane he is forced to board for his mission, and it’s a race against time to find his daughter before the plane arrives on the other side!

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Not the smartest of moves…….

So as mentioned earlier, this film is as ‘Arnold’ as you can get! This came out around the time he hit his box office prime, with successes such as The Running Man, Predator, Total Recall and of course, The Terminator. Commando is known for 2 things among its cult fan base. The one man army troupe and the one liner. So many one-liners!!

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You’re a funny guy Sully……….

The film is crammed full with memorable lines that fans still quote today! Where do you start? There’s the “Please don’t disturb my friend, he is dead tired’’ after nonchalantly snapping the neck of his guard on the plane. We can’t forget the infamous combo of “You’re a funny guy Sully, I like you, that’s why I’ll kill you last’’, followed later on with “Remember when I said I would kill you last? I lied” the deadpan delivery, with the fact he makes such remarks after killing someone is just comedic! And we cannot forget the final one-liner in the movie, after he inevitably wins at the end……..’’Let off some steam Bennett’, after casually impaling him with a pole in the boiler room! It’s all done tongue in cheek, so the lines never really ruin the movie, only adding to the spectacle!

Don’t be expecting any intricate story lines or stellar acting performances here! Cindy, our female accomplice for Matrix, is far too casual and mellow about being dragged into something as dangerous as this, and goes from ‘help, I’ve been kidnapped’ to ‘OK, I’ll help you take down a militia” rather too easily! Sully, the creepy & annoying henchmen is brilliantly irritating, and when you see his eventual demise, it’s great! As said, the acting is pretty much what you expect for an Arnold movie! In one scene, he crashes the car he is driving in pursuit of Sully into a tree. Literally right after the crash, he immediately checks on Cindy. There is literally no reaction from him to the crash at all! It’s so bad, it’s good! You would at least expect a brief moment of shock, but nope! Nothing here!

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The final 3rd of the movie is pretty much The Expendables, with one guy, though that guy is 1980s Schwarzenegger, so, more than enough firepower! In all reality, he wouldn’t even get past the first guards he encounters, but here, in Commando, he is taking an entire army, on his own, without a sweat! With any other actor, even back then, would seem improbable, but with Schwarzenegger, it feels perfect! This was his gimmick, a gimmick only he (and probably Stallone) could pull off flawlessly. There’s a video on Youtube that tallies up his kill count, and it’s defiantly worth a check! (102 kills, according to this!)

Nowadays, a film like this, would rarely succeed, though movies such as John Wick could compare well to this, one man, on a mission, kills EVERYONE! If you love a mindless action movie, with the star power of Arnold is his absolute peak then watch this! If you already have, watch it again! 😀 This is always one of those movies I could always go back to watching! I’ll be back, Bennett……………….

Podcast – Episode 14!

Here’s the podcast for the latest episode, you can listen to it on the player below. We hope to have this all up on iTunes soon as well! On the agenda this show, Fast 8 storms to the top, the controversial Ghost in the Shell, and another Disney behemoth, Beauty & The Beast.

Life Thrills!

Life, follows a star studded cast, as a group of astronauts on the International Space Station. who happen to bring on a surprise visitor, who happens to be a lot more sinister than first presumed!

The crew on the ISS manage to recover a capsule, containing various samples from a recent Martian mission. Amongst all the specimen of rocks is one curious sample, it turns out that the crew have managed to successfully find life on Mars! With the news relayed back to Earth, they honour the new organism with the name Calvin, which seems innocent enough, before Calvin wakes up from his slumber!

 

On board, we have Dr Miranda North (Ferguson) & Dr David Jordan (Gyllenhaal) as the medical officers of the station, and also the main  characters the movie follows. Also on the team is Adams (Reynolds) the ISS pilot, Derry (Bakare) the stations British biologist. Murakami, the teams Japanese engineer and Golovkina, the Russian commander. It’s only fair the International Space Station has an International cast!

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It’s our biologist that develops a close affinity with Calvin, and it’s his curiosity that ultimately leads our Martian friend on its warpath! After some mild experiments to monitor the growth of Calvin, it’s the electrical stimulation that sets off its survival instincts, and from that point on, the movie becomes an intense thriller!

Calvin is most certainly the highlight of this well-made space chiller, as the film progresses, it gets more and more advanced, not just physically, but also its intelligence. Our astronauts have to get more tactical against its threat, as the crew gradually starts to get taken out. Speaking of the deaths, the film is pretty graphic at times, as our alien fiend starts absorbing its prey in various gory methods. It does feel a bit over the top at times, but it does well in showing how weak our crew is, up against this relentless threat. Could there be a greater fear than drowning…in Space?!

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As with most recent films set in Space, such as Interstellar, Gravity & The Martian, Life is incredibly beautiful,  the shots of Earth, the Sun, and various other scene out of the station are gorgeous, and makes the whole movie look so much more polished. If the CGI looks bad in a Space movie, it would have a hugely negative effect on the whole project.

It’s clear that the film takes a lot of inspiration from Alien, which is no way a bad thing! Daniel Espinosa directs a wonderfully eerie set piece. Where the movie excels, is in the stalking aspects of the film. As Calvin slips away, all our crew can hear is the various thuds as our predator crawls around the metallic interiors of the station. This is extremely well executed when Calvin is in its earlier phases, as its smaller body allows it to sneak around in all manner of places, and jumping out from the smallest of gaps! As it grows, it does get a bit more comical, as it grows a face and limbs, along with a cheesy ‘monster vision’ scene.

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So how do our crew preform here? Reynolds is obviously the most charismatic, with his jovial nature and comic relief. Upcoming British actor Ariyon Bakare is great as the Scientist who develops an almost family like affinity to his new discovery, his character also has a disability which plays well into the story-line.  Our two medical officers don’t’ really have much to shout about. Gyllenhaal’s character hates life back on Earth, and prefers the solitude of Space, though they don’t really go into too much detail on why this really is. His pretty much grumpy throughout the movie, where a bit more emotion would have been better, considering the situation they found themselves in. Rebecca Ferguson character is fairly bland, and probably shouldn’t have been the main focus of the film, her role in Rogue Nation was far superior.

As a whole, the movie succeeds in what it attempts to do, Calvin steals the show wherever it appears, the sheer terror the crew faces every time they are confronted with it is well captured. The nature of the deaths also makes the audience feel nervous and uncomfortable, which only helps build the suspense. The dull nature of of main protagonists does hold back the movie from being a truly memorable, and the utterly predictable twist at the end is so expectant, it’s almost funny when it happens! Life isn’t the perfect space thriller,  but it’s definitely worth checking out if you love Space movies, especially ones containing savage aliens on board!

Kong : Slightly Dull Island

With the release of Godzilla in 2014, the Monsterverse was created; with the concept of fellow monster alumni such as King Kong getting involved in future crossovers. With that idea in mind, we have Kong: Skull Island hitting the screens, setting up the imminent showdown between the two!

Peter Jackson’s King Kong was the last major appearance of Kong on the silver screen, it was a 3 hour epic, which retold the story were all familiar with Kong. Skull Island goes in a different direction, a far more action orientated movie. Jordan Vogt-Roberts directs an adrenaline pumped version, filled with guns, military and brutal deaths! It’s a smart way to go, rather than rehashing the same story about taking Kong back to NYC for his journey up the Empire State!

 

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“We’re going to need a bigger helicopter………”

So Skull Island takes place soon after the Vietnam War, and the film plays various homages to that period of time. The helicopters, the jungle shots, the sunsets! All the clichés! Bill Randa (Goodman) leads an expedition team to the mysterious Skull Island, which he believes is hiding a dark secret. Joining him on the mission is Conrad (Hiddlestone), former British military and survival expert, Lt Packard (Jackson), a frustrated US army leader, and Weaver (Larson), a war photographer & pacifist.

 

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“If it bleeds……..we can kill it”

It doesn’t take long for the film to get into top gear. Once were done with the obligatory introductions, the mission is pretty much is doomed before it barely begins! Unlike King Kong, there isn’t much build up or suspense; it’s straight off the bat! Kong makes his mark right away, swatting away helicopters like nothing, and pretty much laying waste to half the team! This leads to our group of survivors attempting to reach the rescue point, and make it off this monstrosity of an island.

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The monsters make up all the great parts of the film! Obviously our main gorilla, Kong steals the show whenever he pops up, but the island is crawling with all sorts of wonders. The bamboo spider sets up one of the more memorable scenes in the movie. You also have ancient pterodactyls, reigning terror upon our desperate survivors.  Though these monsters are not exactly evil, more a case of humans wondering into their territory, it’s the threatening Skull Crawlers, which provide the real threat, a race of ravenous beasts that were subdued by Kong, are now free to wreak havoc.

 

It’s the scenes with the human characters where the film starts to stumble. They frankly, are just not that interesting. Hiddleston may have the charisma, but his role is something any actor could pull off. He doesn’t really do much, and apparently, he has expert samurai sword skills! Sure he walks around all confident and talks the talk, but the film never really shows us why he was worth bringing into the mission. Brie Larson is just there. As a war photographer, you think she would be used to the horrors, and still be able to take the pictures she was there to take. Any photographer on somewhere like Skull Island would be taking photos non-stop, to the point of annoyance!

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The characters worth screen time would be the delirious Lt Packard, who is so driven by the deaths of his men; he vows to take down Kong, regardless of the consequences. Even though he should be aware, Kong was just defending his island, the Lt. is driven to the edge, and he does bring some degree of motivation to the script. He is more than aware he may not survive confronting Kong, by he just doesn’t care! The other bright spark is Marlow (John C Reiily), a lone survivor who crash landed back in WW2, and has gone slightly crazy to say the least! Though his character, as fun as it is, feels very much out of place here, and would have fit better if the film followed another tone. He is pretty much just the exposition guy, just there to fill in all the plot details.

 

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”Oh no, one of our colleagues got ripped apart……OK moving on…….”

Most of the cast lack any real emotion, which really hurts the movie. One scene sees a survivor get torn to shreds, limbs being ripped off. After the initial shock, the characters just continue to move on, just brushing off what they just saw. It would take more than just ‘’oh his gone now’’ for anyone to accept what they just saw, especially for any of the non-military characters! During the confrontation in the graveyard, toxic fumes fill up the area, yet the characters barely seem affected by it, apart from some coughing! There also is an abundance of characters that really aren’t needed, such as Lin (Jing Tian), who seems to have been solely added for the Chinese market, and contributes pretty much nothing, which is a shame.

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But let’s be honest, we’re here to see the monsters, the final showdown between Kong and the lead Skull Crawler is a joy. The battles between our survivors and the beasts are thrilling. The graveyard scene is pure popcorn fodder. It is stupidly over-dramatic, but that’s the vibe this film wants to set. If the film focused a lot less of the dull characters, and more on the dangers of what lurks on the island, the film would be up there with the likes of Pacific Rim, an over the top monster movie. One thing Pacific Rim had going, was some character motivation and development. If Skull Island wanted to focus more of the humans, they should have been written to be far more interesting, as opposed to the bland persona that were created. The film though, does enough to set up Kong as a valiant hero, and his inevitable duel with Godzilla should be a thrill to see!

 

Logan Reigns Supreme

 

There are some roles which are so perfect for an actor; they become synonymous with that persona. Think Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, or Christopher Reeve as Superman. But there is no role as closely associated with actor & role than Hugh Jackman and Wolverine. Downey Jr. has been playing Stark for 9 years; Jackman has been reprising his role for 17 years! Reeve appeared as the Man of Steel on 4 occasions, for Jackman, he has 9 appearances under his belt. In what will most likely be his last act as Weapon X, he has saved the best, for last, as Logan hits the screens this month.

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The Wolverine trilogy hasn’t exactly been anything special. Origins was panned by critics and fans alike. The second movie The Wolverine was a far better movie, but the final act pretty much ruined what was a decent film. Logan though, finally gives our hero the movie he deserves, a dark, gritty and violent interpretation. Following on from the success of the Rated R mercenary, Deadpool. Logan also embraces the classification, and it works like a charm! This movie works more in the same vibe as Jessica Jones & Daredevil, than it does with the mainstream MCU movies.

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 Hugh Jackman stars as Logan/Wolverine in LOGAN. Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein.

The X-Men franchise is mighty complicated; the consequence of Days of Future Past resulted in the possibility of split timelines, so it can be hard to keep up with what’s occurring.  In this timeline, Logan (Jackman) has retreated over the Mexican border, caring for an elderly and senile Charles Xavier (Stewert), with the help of one of the last remaining mutants, Caliban (Merchant).  It’s the year 2029, and the numbers of mutants are down to near extinction, and the X-Men are all dead, barring our rugged anti-hero. A deteriorating Xavier now suffers seizures which cause mass chaos; Logan now runs errands to save up enough money to live out their lives in peace, on a luxury yacht, out in the isolation of the ocean. These plans are thrown out the window after the sudden appearance of Laura (Keen), a young mutant possessing a familiar set of abilities.

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The X-Men franchise has always been a bit timid when it comes to the violence on display, especially with a character like Logan. This film pretty much off the bat sets the tone for the movie, it’s violent, it’s bloody, and this is most certainly not a movie for the kids, maybe even some teens! Limbs go flying off; even the odd head gets decapitated. Though the violence isn’t done for the sake of the R rating, this is how Wolverine should be, considering his main weapons are a set of razor sharp claws! The fighting here is brutal, Logan isn’t in his peak, this isn’t the cocky, young Wolverine from X-2, and this is a beaten down, battle weary, alcoholic Logan. His healing factor isn’t working as efficiently as it used to, and his adamantium skeleton in having an adverse effect on his body. This gives Logan a far more vulnerable character, being invincible in his previous movies took away that drama, as you knew he would pretty much survive anything thrown at him. His mental and physical vulnerabilities gives us a far for interesting character to follow.

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The film’s 3 acts are pretty distinctive. The opening and closing act is all out action, swearing and gore. It’s the middle act where the film really develops its own personality. The focus of this film is on family. Logan is down to his last connection, Xavier. Everyone else is dead. Xavier isn’t the polished, well-spoken mastermind of previous films, he is sick and delirious. The father-son interactions between the two are insightful and beautiful. Both actors really impressing with their outstanding acting abilities. Logan also gets to develop a father-daughter bond that he never got to experience, with the introduction of Laura/X-23 into the fold. As the film progresses, their relationship blossoms, and finally gives Logan a true reason to live. That aside, they both make a kickass combination when they team up to attack!

Director James Mangold takes his inspiration from the Old Man Logan comic books, and manages to interpret it well onto the big screen, Mangold was in charge of The Wolverine too, whereas The Wolverine was a warm up, he most certainly goes the whole distance in Logan. Violence is a key element of the Wolverine character, and it’s implemented well here. The final scenes involving a pumped up Wolverine serves as a nice finale to his rage fueled chronicles, and one last time to see Jackson go all out attack!

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Where the film does drop a bit is in the predictability, all the major plot lines are pretty straight forward, and when they do happen, it’s as expected. It also leaves a few things open. Such as where is Magneto is all of this? Surely his too powerful to simply die of like the other X-Men, and with his great friend in such dire straits, it wouldn’t be a surprise to have him involved somehow. But I suppose they wanted to keep the movie all about the central 3, and it doesn’t really hurt the movie much, but it does make you wonder! Also, the main villains (Dr Zander Rice & Pierce), never provide much of a threat; essentially they are just there to give the plot some direction. The middle act can feel a bit dialogue intense, the action slows down to a walking pace, and it does add on a bit of filler on the already extended 2hr 20 running time.

Is it the best superhero movie ever? As some are claiming it to be? Well personally the film is abit to miserable for a superhero movie, personally I would put The Winter Soldier above it, but that’s just my opinion. It’s still a majestic piece of art, and you’ll for sure feel emotional at times, and valiant send off for this literation of Wolverine.

 

 

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