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!

Flatliners

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 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.

TBT : Tropic Thunder!

If you think of 2008 & Robert Downey Jr. your first though may be Ironman, which saw the stock of the star rocket into the stratosphere! But there was another film he starred in that year, the ensemble comedy Tropic Thunder.

Tropic Thunder is personally one of my favorite comedy films, and it’s a film I can happily watch over and over again! The film packs in numerous A-Listers, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Tom Cruise & Matthew McConaughey and produce a hilarious satire of  Hollywood.

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So whats it all about? Tropic Thunder is the story of a group of actors, who are thrown together into the jungle of South East Asia to film an adaptation of the story of a Vietnam veteran. Tugg Speedmen (Stiller), our lead star, is the washed up 80s action hero. Kirk Lazarus (Downey Jr.) is the ultra intense method actor. Jeff Portnoy (Black) is the type cast comedian, who is forever associated with his toilet humour. You also have the fresh faced new actor, who none of the experienced actors take seriously, and the rapper looking to crossover into films for that extra income.

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What the film does well is how it portrays how ridiculous Hollywood can be. How some actors will go so far into character, that it’s borderline ludicrous. Which was the point of making Downey Jrs. character undergo skin pigmentation therapy to portray an African American. He even says ” I don’t drop character ’til I’ve done the DVD commentary”, just to hammer home the point! The film also makes a point on how hard it can be for a director to control highly strung actors with their diva like behavior! Or how actors will take part in cheap PR opportunities to appeal to fans .

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One surprise in the film, was the appearence of Tom Cruise as Les Grossman. The arrogant, overtly crude, and on one crazy power trip,  big shot Producer! The fact many didn’t even notice him until the end credits made the cameo even better! His expletive exchanges over the phone are by far some of the most memorable scenes his filmed! Full credit to him for trying a role which is so out of his norm, and totally nailing it!!

The movie is full of quotes that made you laugh out loud!

” I don’t read the script. The script reads me.”

”I know who I am! I’m a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude!”

”And we’ll weep for him… in the press, set up a scholarship in his name, eventually – and I’m talkin’ way, way down the road – we file an insurance claim.”

Sure there are a few more quotes, which are more explicit, so I wont share them here 😛

The film has small touches that gives it a lot of charm, such as the spoof trailers of the in film stars playing before the start of the film. Their so well done, for a moment you believe that the trailers are real!

So if you’re a fan of Ben Stiller, and the kind of humour his films usually deliver, then I would most definitely recommend you dig it up from the archives and give it a watch! You’ll love it! 😀

 

 

A Look Back @ Collateral

It’s Thursday, which means time for a throwback! So let’s go back into the archives for one of my favourite films from the vault.

Collateral will always stand out to be as the first DVD that I purchased, way back in 2004! I ended up buying it on a hunch, I hadn’t watched it before, the films box art was very slick, the plot sounded intriguing, plus it had Tom Cruise, so worth a punt! Needless to say, it was a great pick, and to this day, still stands out as one of my all-time favourite movies!

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So the film revolves around the story of Max (Jamie Foxx), a cab driver in LA, who yearns to give up his life as a cabbie, and one day, run his own private limousine firm. One unfortunate night, Max picks up a dangerous passenger, a mysterious man named Vincent (Tom Cruise), who reveals himself as a contracted hit-man. Our cab driver is taken hostage, and forced into driving our assassin around the city as Vincent goes through his list of targets.

Max: I can’t drive you around while you’re killing folks. It ain’t my job!

Vincent: Tonight it is.

The film simply oozes style. The presentation is very well polished, director Micheal Mann portrays late night LA as a wonderfully noir setting. The film has a good habit of cutting away to the late night shots of the as transition points. The bright lights provide a serene backdrop to an urgent situation. The majority of the first half takes place in the cab, and we focus on the dialect and interactions between our two characters. The verbal exchanges between the two are just as good as the action. It’s a game of cat and mouse, one trying to get the upper hand on the other. Even though Vincent is a violent person, you can see him develop some respect for Max, and his way of life. Vincent could easily kill Max if he wanted, but the two develop a compelling bond, which is displayed when they have to visit Max’s mother at hospital. The chemistry between the two is so good; they almost stand out more than the action.

If I recall, this was one of the first roles in which Cruise played a straight out villain, so that was a big discussion point in the build up to the film’s release. Vincent is truly a great character, not only does he look the part, but he is convincing as a cold hearted mercenary. The film is not overtly violent, so the times it does get intense, are remarkable. The scenes where Vincent is required to show his ‘professionalism’ are memorable, especially the situation involving his briefcase! The film makes use of real gunshot effects, and you can tell. It just adds that extra layer of realism to the movie.

The set piece of the film is the unforgettable shoot out at Club Fever. If you’ve watched John Wick, this scene will look very familiar. This was the original though, and simply cannot be beat. The entire situation is captured magnificently, the action is thrilling, the tension is palpable, and the music just caps it off, “Ready,Steady,Go” is the perfect song, and it’s now synonymous with this movie! Even if you don’t have the time to watch the entire film, I would highly recommend you find this scene on YouTube!

Max: You killed him?

Vincent: No, I shot him. Bullets and the fall killed him.

Jada Pinkett Smith plays the attorney Max meets the same night as Vincent, plays an important part in the mission that our hit man has been sent on. Mark Ruffalo is huge now, but he had one of his earlier roles here! Taking on the role of the detective, who is on the trail of Vincent’s growing body count. Javier Bardem also features, as a wiley mob boss. There is also a cameo from none other than Jason Statham (with hair!)! Keep your eyes open during the opening moments when Vincent lands at LAX!

One other thing to mention, is the excellent soundtrack, the music encapsulates the vibe of the film, reflecting the night life of the city perfectly. The director was spot on with the choice of music used here, and that only helps make the film even greater!

20 Years of Mission Impossible!


So last weekend, I decided to watch Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation again, because I was having a lazy Sunday! A wonderful film, but it got me thinking, which is the best one out of the entire franchise? Checking out the IMDB pages, I saw that it’s been 20 years since the first film came out, and that they have grossed over $2.7b in that time! (thank you http://www.boxofficemojo.com/ for that figure!). I doubt the makers behind the first film would have foreseen it still going strong two decades later! So in reverse order………..(this is just my opinion! so feel free to disagree 🙂 )


5. Mission Impossible 2 (2000)

This sequel was actually the highesb82911422229089088t grossing movie out of the original trilogy, but personally, I believe that was more down to the hype of the second film, rather than the substance. After the intense, espionage thriller that was the first film, director John Woo was bought in, and totally changed up the film. Woo is known for his over the top actions scenes, and this film had it all. Slow motion, sliding with two guns in hand, doves!  The plot was very generic, and the villain forgettable. What made the original great was its spy element, they tried to make this film more ‘Bond’ like, and it just didn’t work. For me, its the worst of the bunch!


4. Mission Impossible 3 (2006)

mission-impossible-iii-563a32076536bThere wasn’t anything seriously wrong with the 3rd installment, it was a perfectly good film, with a stellar cast, including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laurence Fishburne, and the introduction of Benji, played by Simon Pegg, who has since become a fan favorite and series regular. The movie does do well in providing a more human side to the superspy persona of Ethan Hunt, showing a much more vulnerable side to him. J.J Abrams does a solid job after the disappointment of the 2nd film, but the feeling of franchise fatigue and a straightforward betrayal story line didn’t really entice anyone, with people asking if a third installment was even required!


3. Mission Impossible (1996)
still-of-tom-cruise-and-henry-czerny-in-mission-impossible-1996The original, and probably the finest of the original 3 movies. To be honest, the CIA break-in scene alone makes the film stand tall. But it is so much more then that! Brain De Palma creates a cerebral thriller which not only had several action scenes, but also moments that required you to pay attention to a plot which could get complex, but it pays off in the end. Watching it for the first time when i was younger, the film was rather messy, but its on future viewings when you can really appreciate how all the plot points come together, and the end game is revealed. It’s startling how different this film is, compared to it’s direct sequel. There’s no slow motion, no corny action, just pure suspense!


2.  Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation (2015)

mission-impossible-rogue-nation-2015-after-credits-hqIt’s probably fair to split the franchise into 2 parts. The first 3, then the following films.  Both Rogue Nation, and Ghost Protocol have been by the biggest success of the series, and it’s not hard to see why! It’s a difficult decision in deciding which one I prefer, but personally, one scene in GP probably tips it in its favour. But make no mistake, RN is still not only one of the best MI films, but probably one of the most polished action films in recent times. The opening scene involving the plane taking off is ridiculously well done, and edge of your seat stuff. Though the scenes during the Opera at the Vienna Opera House is personally one of my favourite scenes in film. The entire scene goes perfectly with ‘Nessun Dorma’ being preformed in the background, the choreography is simply amazing.


1. Mission Impossible : Ghost Protocol (2011)

Left to right: Jeremy Renner plays Brandt and Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.
Left to right: Jeremy Renner plays Brandt and Tom Cruise plays Ethan Hunt in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL, from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

There really isn’t much to separate the top 2, but GP has the edge, solely down to the Burj Khalifa scenes. The climbing segments are by far some of the most intense stunt-work you will see in any film from Hollywood. The fact Tom Cruise did this himself, adds to the wonder of these segments. The film also does great in rebooting the franchise after the luke-warm reception of MI3. They even went as far as removing ‘4’ from the title, to make it appear as a stand alone movie. Benji returns, and has a greater role, out in the field, and the character of Brandt, played by Jeremy Renner is introduced.  If there are any low points, its the fact the movie seems to peak in it’s middle arc, and the villain is total non presence. The movie does a spectacular job in producing several memorable set pieces, from the prison escape, Kremlin break-in and of course the Dubai set piece! So for that alone, its my favourite of the entire lot!

And just because this scene is SO well done…….here it is again!

 

 

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