Sunday, 25 June 2017

#53 GIFTED


Starring Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer. Written by Tom Flynn. Directed by Marc Webb. Running time 101 minutes. Budget $7 million. Certificate 12a.

In a small town near Tampa, boat mechanic, Frank Adler (Chris Evans) is bringing up his 7-year old niece Mary (McKenna Grace) all on his own following the suicide of his sister a maths genius, whose tragic death is slowly revealed over the course of the movie. Together with a one-eyed cat called Fred and a neighbour, Robeta Taylor (Octavia Spencer), Frank tries to bring up Mary, a fantastically gifted maths genius like her mother, in as normal as possible life. But when Mary's gift is spotted by her teacher, Jenny Slate, it triggers a series of events that sees Frank's mother, Eveyln (Lindsay Duncan) re-enter Frank's life and launch a lawsuit to take full custody of her granddaughter, forcing Frank to make a decision that has a devastating effect on both him and his young charge's life.

A nothing special, straight-forword and rather touching family drama. It's ending is never in doubt, but the cast is so relaxed and believable in their roles that the whole film rolls out in an enjoyable and positively uplifting way, which, thankfully, isn't as emotionally manipulative as one feared. Chris Evans once again proves he's a very likeable actor with far more range than his roles as various superheroes has allowed him. Young Mckenna Grace is excellent as the young maths genius and the rest of the supporting cast are equally as plausible and great in their roles. Marc Webb proves he's far better at this sort of thing and 500 Days of Summer than those wretched Spider-Man movies he spewed up.

This is sweet, funny and uplifting story with just the right amount of string pulling, featuring a great cast and one killer revelation from Frank about his dead sister's final wishes.

8/10

#52 TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST SHITE


Starring Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Hopkins, Isabela Moner and Laura Haddock. 'Written', in the loosest terms possible by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan, from a story by Akiva Goldsman, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan. Directed by Michael Bay. Certificate 12. Running time 149 mind-numbing minutes far too long. Budget between $216 - 260 million dollars.

The plot matters not one jot to the two hours and 29 minutes of your life that you will never get back if you decide to go and sit through this ugly, hateful, bloated, piece-of-vile, hideous cinematic-shit. Not only does it not matter, neither do any of the words that the bored actors scream-vomit from the holes in their faces.

But since all my reviews include a brief synopsis, here's Transformers: the Last Knight.

Back in the days of King Arthur, Merlin (Stanley Tucci) begs a buried spaceship's worth of GIANT Transfuckers to help him and King Arfur win a war against some unnamed barbarian horde. The Transfuckers unleash a GIANT  robotic, three-headed dragon and give Merlin a staff of unimaginable power. Merlin is told that the staff will be a really important plot device later on in the movie and to make sure he - "hides it somewhere easy to find so the third act showdown can happen." Seriously those are the actual words used. I know, I've seen the film and you haven't.

Anyway, cut to the present. And a battle scarred world, who now hate the Transfuckers on sight, because they've now sat through four of these terrible films, have set up a team of bad-ass military bad-asses to hunt down the Transfuckers and kill every single one of them with extreme prejudice. "Great", I thought, "at last someone to root for in these films!" and I assumed they'd be our heroes and the film would now follow them as they hunt down every last single mother-fucking Transfucker on the planet, until they get to the 'Last Knight' of the title and then we, the audience, would rise as one and cheer as that last stinking piece of shit metal giant robot is executed with repeated blows from a massive baseball bat to the back of his stupid metal head.

But I was wrong.

Instead I had to sit through 2 hours and 29 minutes of shouting and screaming and things exploding while I think the 'plot' played out, sorry spewed out. Robots hit other robots while shouting and things exploded, humans shouted at each other humans while things exploded, girls cried while shouting and things exploded and other things exploded, sometimes with no apparent reason.

On and then it's discovered the Earth is actually a gigantic unicorn, or something and the Transfuckers world is run by a robotic bint in a metal flowery dress.

Meanwhile Mark Wahlberg teams up with both of the only two women in this film, one acts as his surrogate, sassy, wise-cracking 'daughter' and the other as his 'sexual reward' for ultimately winning the day. Oh yes and Sir Anthony Hopkins is a Lord who guards the Secret World of the Transfuckers, but spends the entire film telling everyone he meets about them. He's actually the only person who doesn't shout in the entire film and infact he is the single reason this film actually manages to avoid a score of zero. Thanks to a fantastic scene where he tells off the British Prime Minister.

God almighty, I'm trying to synopses this film, and it's going to take me as long to do that as it did to sit through the film in the first place. Fuck me.

Megantron then turns up and strikes a deal with the Transfuckers hunting humans force and that bloke from some of the other films who's in the army and puts together a team of bad Transfuckers who can act as cannon fodder for later in the film.

Alright, so then our heroes run around, and shout, did I mention the shouting cos I think that's important? The good guys find the staff and the bad Transfuckers steal it, and the robotic bint who's called Quintessa crashes her planet, Cybertron into the Earth (Bloody women drivers) and then the good guys have to do halo jumps out of exploding airplanes and then they steal the staff, but the bad Transfuckers steal it back. Oh yes and that big red truck one from all the films, who seems to spend each film getting beaten up and killed, you know, Sybilltron or is it Cybelltron well, he's went off to find god, but Quintessa made him go bad and now he's a baddy, until the yellow Transfuckers Bumbumbee talks for the first time with his own voice and so Sybilltron is a goodie again. Then he steals the staff, but Megantron steals it off him and then the old Transfuckers from King Arthur beat him up and then Marky Wahlberg stops that. And then Quintessa sticks the staff in something and the world starts exploding, not too sure, but lots of things started crashing. Then the second female character, the one who's a direct descendant of Merlin and also an Oxford Archeologist Professor pulls out the staff before it reaches the vinegar strokes and the human's win, just before the 249 minute mark, which is very lucky, cos that's when the film ends.


Oh shit, I think I should have prefixed that with "CAUTION, MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS" Oh well, too late now.

Then there's some a bit after the first bit of the credits when a lady who seems to be a robot in disguise we've never seen before turns up somewhere in a desert and says something that sets up another film.

Please god. Don't let that happen. Please make it stop. Please. Pretty please with sugar on top. What if I say Uncle, will you stop it then?

Please.

Add to that a total disregard for logic, geography, subtly, acting, or anything resembling entertainment.

But I'll tell you one thing this film isn't, it isn't boring. It's not, honestly, it's not boring. But then on the other hand I have no idea what it is, it's certainly not entertaining, or fun, or enjoyable. It doesn't have a script that's worth mentioning, or any performances of merit, apart from Hopkins, who is seriously slumming it in this piece-of-shit crap-fest.  Nothing really makes any sense. I think Michael Bay actually shot a film twice as long as this but then he just removed every other minute, so jarring does it feel. Sometimes you find yourself momentarily confused, not too sure where you are, or why the shot you're watching seems to bear to relationship to the one we've just seen seen, even though  both shots are in the same scene and features the same actors talking. Locations change depending on what Bay thinks looks good and not one single shot doesn't feature something explode. Not one.

I could go on, but I'm too old for this shit.

This was a putrid, ugly, abomination of a film made not with an scintilla of artistic integrity, made out of pure, unadulterated greed and an almost palatable hatred and contempt for the audience.

The only good thing I can say about this film is that Michael Bay has declared this will be his last Transfuckers movie. But frankly that's just too little, far too late.

Seriously, just don't bother. I squandered two hours and 29 minutes of my miserable life so that you don't have to, I've taken one for the team, so please don't sully my noble sacrifice by seeing if this is truly as bad as I say it is. Honestly, with my hand on my heart it truly, truly is.

1/10



Tuesday, 20 June 2017

#51 BABY DRIVER


Starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, LIly James, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx. Written and directed by Edgar Wright. Running time 113 minutes. Certificate 15.

Ansel Elgort is Baby, the fabulous getaway driver with an exceptional talent behind the wheel,  tinnitus and world's greatest selection of mix tapes. Kevin Spacey is Doc, the criminal mastermind behind a spate of bank robberies with a strange hold over Baby. Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Eiza Gonzalez are the bank robbing crew Baby drives to and from work each and every day and Lily James is Deborah, the waitress who offers Baby a shot at redemption and a new life, if only he can live long enough and drive fast enough to achieve it.

This is an utterly exhilarating and, at times, breath-taking bank robbery thriller that hearkens back to the glory days of 1970s crime films like The Driver, The Outfit and Charley Varrick but with a glorious dose of high-octane adrenaline pumped into the heart of it. Edgar Wright's camera never stops and yet never falls victim to the Paul Greengrass school of motion sickness inducing direction. The glorious opening credits alone are a thing of beauty, when the lyrics you're listening to appear subtly in the background. Indeed the whole film is cut so well to the musical beats that this is like watching a 113 minute music video. But that's not meant as a criticism because it's the music that fuels this movie. Every track, from The Damned to Queen via Jonathan Richman, Beck, T.Rex and Danger Mouse is FANTASTIC! And none of them seem chosen by committee, every song has a reason to be there. it's like everything else in this movie, perfectly structured and edited together into an exceptionally enjoyable, action packed treat. And while at its heart this is a sweet little love story between kindred spirits it never feels generic or twee.

This film so very nearly scores a 10, but for the fact it feels as if Wright lets his foot off the accelerator as the film coasts into it's obligatory 3rd act. But that's not a terrible crime because it manages to provide a more than satisfactory final boss level showdown.

Wright shows that as a director of action he is a force to be reckoned with and this film, which he also wrote is just a delight. He claims that what we watch is devoid of CGI trickery and green screen and I tend to believe him, the stunts have all the weight of reality to them that leaves the physics ignoring shenanigans of the Fast and Furious franchise choking in its exhaust.

Where this film feels uncomfortable is in trying to distance Baby's character from the brutal violence of his chosen career as the camera slides away from the actions of Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez's more savage escapades. It's almost as if Wright is trying to convince us that Baby isn't a willing participant in the robbery part of the job, just the driving and as such we should forgive him, he's like Leon in that respect, with his ridiculous assassins code of 'No women no kids' rule. Still, it's only a minor quibble, cos I had a grin on my face for the whole 113 minute ride.

I found this as breath-taking refreshing as the first John Wick movie in terms of re-inventing a tired genre and breathing new life into it. Never boring, never slow and with a fabulous soundtrack to boot! Indeed, this might very well be the movie soundtrack of the summer, if not the movie of the summer.

9/10

Sunday, 11 June 2017

#49 THE MUMMY


Starring TOM CRUISE, Annabelle Wallis, Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance and Russell Crowe. Screenplay by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman. Based on story by Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet. Directed by Alex Kurtzman. Running time 107 minutes (minutes TOM CRUISE spends running in this film 100). Budget $125 million. Certificate 15.

An utterly unnecessary remake of the vastly superior Brendan Fraser 1999 effort starring Hollywood's fastest 100 metre sprinter,  TOM CRUISE. Directed by Alex Kurtzman, a director with just one previous movie to his name and that was a romantic comedy plus a clutch of writing credits including Hawaii Five-O, Fringe and Star Shit: Into Drek, so what could possibly go wrong?

Well, in a word, THIS.

First off, welcome to the Dark Universe, Universal's attempt to kick start a brand new franchise based on very old legendary back catalogue of classic movie monsters that include Count Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Werewolf, The Invisible Man, The Creature From the Black Lagoon and of course The Mummy. Because, as I'm sure Universal must have reasoned, if Marvel and DC can have a universe, why can't we?

From the word go, you know somethings off with this film, with not one but two ancient-history prologues, one that features a secret Knights Templar funeral and a mysterious blood red ruby during the second Crusades and the other set in Ancient Egypt, which quickly gets our villainess, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) and a dagger with a mysterious blood red ruby up to no good and running before burying her alive in a mercury filled sarcophagus hundreds of feet underground for all eternity.

That is until 5,000 years later when Nick Morton (TOM CRUISE) and his sidekick Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) a pair of fast running, freelance treasure-stealing marines accidentally rediscovers her tomb leading to the transportation of said Sarcophagus to a mysterious secure location hidden deep beneath the Natural History Museum in London run by a certain Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe). That is until half way into the flight when Mick, Chris and Jenny Halset (Annabel Wallis) Mick's one-night stand and leading Egyptologist, suffer a catastrophic plane crash, which Ahmanet stages with the aid of a mass Murder of black crows. And before you can say, this all seems oddly familiar, the rather vengeful, utterly evil and mummified undead corpse of Ahmanet is once again loose and raising an army of desicated zombies to do her bidding, which in this case means the ultimate sacrifice of the re-incarnation of her dead boyfriend, TOM CRUISE with an ancient supernatural dagger and a certain myserious blood-red ruby so that the Ancient Egyptian god of death, Set can be reborn in human form so he and her can remake the world and rule it, like all good demonic baddies.

After that it's mad dash race through various plot points and co-incidences leading to the showdown between Ahmanet and TOM CRUISE, where rather surprisingly, TOM CRUISE decides the best way to defeat Ahmanet is to, hmm actually complete her ambition and stab himself to death with the dagger so that, err Set can possess him. And then you realise that this whole sorry piece of shit has just been one very long 107 minute Nick Morton origin story setting him up to be the ultimate super hero in this new Dark Unverse.

And when that particular penny finally drops you realise you've just wasted the last one hour and 47 minutes of your life and that the desiccated zombies in this plodding dreary mess got off lucky.

The other thing wrong with this movie is TOM CRUISE, or at least his performance. Because while everyone else involved act as if they're in a serious movie, TOM CRUISE approaches it as if he's  doing panto. Oh no he doesn't! Oh yes he bloody does, I mean I seriously expected him to turn to the camera and wink at various points in this film so over-the-top was he as he mugged and gurned through every scene stopping just short of doing a full Frankie Howard and nudge-nudging at us while going 'ooooh'!

Realising that perhaps 95% of the target audience of this sort of decaffeinated horror film won't have seen any horror film made before 2002, Univerasal, Kurtzman and the five other writers of this lifeless corpse of a movie see nothing at all wrong in stealing ideas wholesale from far better horror films, like American Werewolf in London, Near Dark and Lifeforce and even The Mummy (1995).

Added to that is Russell Crowe's Dr. Jeykll who's hiding a secret so staggeringly bleedin' obvious that within a minute of meeting him we're introduced to not only his alter-ego but also Crowe's incredible  cockney accent.

It's not all shit, well that's a lie but a big thumbs up anyway to Sofia Boutella who gives it her all and proves she's got spirit, thank fuck someone has.

And that's it. Yet another shit film, oh, it must be Summer. Perhaps that's the last shit film of the blockbuster season cos I'm betting Transformers 5 must be good, because you know, the law of averages says even Michael Bay has to be able to make one decent movie, doesn't he? I mean it's not as if he's Zack Synder is it? Although that said, I've never seen the pair of them in the same room together so who knows...

Anyway, I digress.

This isn't the mother of all bombs, but it's still a mother-fucking piece of shit and scores a feeble 4/10 for being quite entertaining at times especially if you like watching TOM CRUISE run. That said, I'd still say do yourselves a favour and go and see Wonder Woman instead even if you've already seen it.


Thursday, 1 June 2017

#48 & 50 WONDER WOMAN


Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Said Taghmaouri, Ewen Bremmer, Eugene Brave Rock and Lucy Davis. Written by Allan Heinberg from a story by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs. Directed by Patty Jenkins. Budget $149 million. Running time 141 minutes. Certificate 12A.

Well, here it is – the cure for cancer, the Holy Grail and the first functioning perpetual motion machine all wrapped up in a single film, well according to the whole of Geekdom, or Fandom or Nerdville if you prefer. Who, all seemed to sigh a huge collective sigh that this wasn't as bad as DC's last three efforts, much in the same way that the Star Wars nerds all agreed that Revenge of the Pissed wasn't as terrible as either The Phantom Dennis, or Attack of the Clowns.

Apparently, according to Wikipedia, this is the fourth installment in the DC Extended Universe after the very disappointing Man of Steel, the dreadfully woeful Batman vs Superman and the frankly fucking awful Suicide Squad and properly introduces us to William Moulton Marston's character Wonder Woman, whom he created way back in 1941.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is Diana Prince, the demo-god daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta raised on the secret, magically-hidden, male-free island paradise of Themyscira; that is until American spy, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane into the island's tranquil waters and brings the true horrors of the First World War to the idyllic Amazonian island paradise and sends Diana and Steve on a break-neck speed chase across Europe in search of Ares, the God of War in a bid to end the 'War to end all wars'. The film, bookended by the present, is squarely set at the tail end of the First World War and sees Diana a world-naive immortal young woman set out on a journey of self–discovery in the complex, confusing and paradoxical world of mankind as she tries to hunt down her Uncle Ares, the God of War whom she believes is responsible for the war, but where or more importantly who is he? Meanwhile German General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his psychotic, hideoulsy disfigured sidekick, Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) are creating a new poison gas and doing their best to prevent peace from breaking out.

Meanwhile back in Blighty, Diana is barrelling through polite society with wanton disregard of the rules of polite society while Steve does his best to reign her in and his boss, Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis) offers to help her in her quest to vanquish Ares, which all leads up to the obligatory showdown between uncle and niece. Along the way we get some glorious action, some nice chemistry between the rapidly expanding cast, especially the two leads and some well-directed, good looking set pieces, including the superb sequence where we get to see WW in all her glory for the first time on the battle fields of WWI, it's a long time coming, boy is it an exciting and thrilling moment.

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of BVS was its decision not to give Wonder Woman an origin story but just have her leap into action, however for this, her first ever big screen outing, we're given the whole nine yards of her origin story from precocious 9-year old, action-hungry wild-child to the greatest warrior princess e-ver! And what a good decision that is, for this is sequence perfectly creates a heroine we find ourselves rooting for right from the off. She's someone we can relate to, you know, she's not some insanely rich orphan, grimly fighting crime dressed as a bat, or super strong orphan from an alien world wearing his underpants on the outside of his tights, she's the kickass warrior princess and daughter of a god! You know, someone we can all identify with, hell yeah! Plus, she's the first proper female superhero of the 21st Century and it's about bloody time!

This was a well directed, well cast and very well art-directed action film with a good sense of humour and a lightness of touch sadly missing from all the previous DC universe films and it stands along the best that Marvel can do. Special mention too of the direction by Patty Jenkins, best known for the 2003 film Monster.Overall, a solid, satisfying and entertaining action movie, marred by some occasionally ropy special effects and a bum-numbing running time.

8/10

Saturday, 27 May 2017

#47 PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN 5: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES


Starring Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally and Geoffrey Rush and Paul McCartney. Written by Jeff Nathanson. Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg. Budget $230 million! Running time 129 minutes. Certificate 12a

Hateful sac of shit, tied up with string and run over by a truck carrying liquid shit to a vomiting convention.

This is the fifth of these stupid, bloated cinematic equivalents of an all-you-can-eat-buffet. The first one, as I remember was a delight, so different and packed with great ideas and freshness, after that the series rapidly started floundering and by the last one I think we all signed a collective sigh of relief that we'd seen the last of Captain Jack Sparrow.

But sadly not. Cos here comes the fifth attempt to squeeze yet more money out of the corpse of a  creatively dead franchise. Johnny Depp is Captain Jack Sparrow, Javier Bardem is Salazar, the cursed baddy, Brenton Thwaites is the son of Orlando Blooms cursed character and Kaya Scodelario is a female astronomer, looking for her father and Geoffrey Rush is Captain thingie and they're all looking for the mythical Trident of Poseidon, which can break any curse. That's the plot, in a nutshell.

What follows is a dull, plod where characters are introduced to either progress the plot along or die, so the regular ones don't. For example, we're introduced to an interesting tattooed witch who then disappears never to be mentioned or seen again. And all the while Johnny Depp shows us what a fantastic actor he is by pretending to be drunk in every scene. And the awesome power of the CGI pixels are spewed across the screen in wave after wave of bloated excess, cos, as Hollywood knows, as long as the effects are special we don't care about anything else. And if you find the Fast and Furious franchise a little fast and easy with the laws of physics you ain't seen nothing yet. This film has so many logical holes it's infuriating! Can anyone explain how the pirates manage to lift a one tonne safe onto their ship - for example. Or, for that matter, why anyone would think that buildings when they are built can be ripped away from their foundations and dragged by horses through the streets?

Dead men Tell No Tales is a staggering banal film saved only by the superb special effects on Javier Bardem and the zombie sharks.

And that's it. I hated this film and hope I never see it again.

2/10

#46 BAYWATCH



Starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexndra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyaka Chopra, Jon Bas and Ilfenesh Hadera. Written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, from a story by Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. Directed by Seth Gordon. Budget $69 million. Running time 119 minutes. Cert 15.

Crap.

A laugh free, exercise is the laziest film making I have ever seen. With not one iota to recommend it to anyone. Seriously do not go and see this, it is truly dreadful. The Rock, usually so dependable is on auto pilot and cruise control at the same time, and still phones his performance in from a secret location while he's counting his fee. Meanwhile, walking muscle, Zac Efron decides the best way to act is with his super-hot bod and so he spends 99% of the film with his guns, pecs and abs out and boy that does that get boring quick. In fact, he's so toned that it actually starts to look ugly. He plays a 2-Gold Medal Olympic swimmer who signs up for Baywatch after he botched the relay race in the Olympics. You see, he's so arrogant he can't think of others, only himself.

The generic plot that was brought off the peg from the bargain bucket in an old run-down  Script-R-Us shop is so banal it genuinely beggars belief. It sees a ruthless female drug lord, who actually says during the film, "I'm not a Bond villain, well not yet." aim to flood the Baywatch area with a designer drug from her new beach front exclusive club. In the meantime, Dwayne and Zac bond but only after they've gone through the whole 3 stage Bro-romance thang. You know,  first enemies, then grudging respect finally best brahs.

I have to say I walked out after an hour. I laughed once, and that was out of embarrassment when the token fat kid (he's on the right of the poster) gets an erection and jumps on a slated sunbed thus trapping his meat and two veg between the slats. Laugh, well yes, but then as the scene progressed and all the Central Casting bikini babes and hot bros started mocking him and filming it for YouTube the jokes soon became uncomfortable. In fact all of the jokes in this film soon become uncomfortable and ugly, like the morgue scene and the dripping 'fat-people fat'.

The thing that finally did for me and caused me to say, out loud, 'Right, that's me. I'm done.' and then walk out of the preview screening was a terrible fight scene in a child's bedroom that saw the Rock dump a full diaper bin over the head of a baddie and then punch him out of the window into the family pool, where he floats, bin on head and full nappies all around him. Looking down from the shattered window, the Rock bellows, "Take a bath, shit-head!"

I don't know if it suddenly got better from there on, I doubt it.

I know I only have myself to blame, no one forced me to see this piece of shit, but frankly if that's the best Hollywood can do then I think they should just stop making films. I have a friend, a movie producer who told me recently that no film maker sets out to make a bad film and they all do the best job they can.

Well, I'm sorry to say that if this is the best job that Dwayne, Zac, Seth Gordon and the six writers it took to make this $65 million dollar piece of sorry shit then they should fucking ashamed of themselves, and if they're not then I am on their behalf.

0/10