Sunday, 13 August 2017

#62 ATOMIC BLONDE


Starring Charlize Theron, James McAvoy,  John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Sofia Boutella and James Faulkner. Written by Kurt Johnstad (based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart). Directed by David Leitch. Running time: 115 minutes. Budget $30 million.

The plot sees Charlize Theron’s Lorraine Broughton running round East and West Berlin, willy-nilly in those heady, pre-collapse days of 1989 in the company of ‘gone native’ MI6 agent David Percival (James McAvoy) in search of yet another list of every single allied agent in the world, e-VER, which has been hidden in a mirco dot hidden inside a watch that was worn by her now-dead lover, James Gasciogne who was killed by the KGB. Now everybody on both sides of the wall wants that list and are willing to beat, bribe, bully, bludgeon or just plain kill anyone who gets in their way. But Lorraine has more reason that most, she wants revenge and find the mole in MI6 who’s been leaking classified secrets to the enemy.

After that it’s a dizzying sprint through the streets of Berlin accompanied by a smorgasbord of classic 80s hits as our blonde bombshell dispatches anyone and everyone, be it by fist, foot, high-heeled stiletto, pistol or snog. And the good news is, if you’ve seen the trailer than you’ve not seen the whole film, just most of it!

This is a stylish and exceedingly well fight-choreographed orgy of violence and style over content, that is sadly undone by its utterly poe-faced lead, who cracks a smile only once throughout the whole thing. Now, I wasn’t expecting a laugh riot, but a sense of humour, even a black one, would have made this a much more enjoyable romp, as would giving us, the audience, a little bit more to work with. All the way through this we get the sense that Lorraine is 4 steps ahead of us and everyone else for that matter and after a while that becomes a little tedious and you soon find yourself just coasting along waiting for the next bone jarring fight or car chase, which oddly enough isn’t that often. Although the highlight of which is a blistering ‘one-shot, one take’ stairwell fight between Charlize and at least 4 KGB agents that is simply, and staggeringly superb.

The film barrels along, ticking off all the spy film bingo boxes and never missing a beat as we discover who the mole, codenamed Satchel really is. Although by the end of this you might, like me, be a bit confused. Theron is excellent, this is obviously a project she was very committed to, in fact all the cast are great, although poor old Sofia Boutella perhaps deserved better.

And yet oddly enough despite a kick-ass premise, some superb action and fight scenes, some raunchy moments and some great violence, this never really went off for me. It was alright but I never really engaged with it.

I was hoping for more, maybe the beginning of a female John Wick franchise and maybe that was my downfall because ultimately this was intended to be more, a mix of the classic spy drama, like Tinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy and Bourne, but without the vomit-inducing shaky-cam bollox. It's directed by David Leitch, who was the uncredited co-directed John Wick and he's clearly showing he has an extraordinary talent for hi-octane, hard-hitting action flicks and long may he reign!

The trailer promised far more than the end product could deliver but this was still an entertaining and satisfying action romp and proves that Charlize Theron is one kick-ass action heroine!

7/10

Sunday, 23 July 2017

#60 DUNKIRK


Starring Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Gillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy. Music by Hans Zimmer, Written, produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. Budget £150 million. Running time 106 minutes.

Told from three different perspectives, the land (port of Mole, where unnamed private, Fionn Whitehead fights to survive), the sea (Mark Rylance pilots his small boat to Dunkirk) and the air, (where RAF pilot Tom Hardy fights and flies for his life) this is a superbly directed and intense film made even more so by Hans Zimmer's sound track that utilises a ticking clock to add extra pressure.

Watching Whitehead's repeated attempts to get off the beach becomes almost unbearable, as does each of the three story arcs that finally collide with dramatic effect in a nail-biting finale.

Nolan directs with real aplomb and his staging of the action is fantastic, as is his ability to ratchet up the tension. However this is a strange, almost alien film. The streets of Dunkirk are utterly empty, naturally apart from the 300,000 stranded Tommies standing on the beaches, obediently queuing to be rescued. The cast apart from a few token female nurses is 100% male and most jarring there are no German soldiers to be seen and indeed for most of the film they are only referred to as 'the enemy', we never see the face of a single German solider, nor do we see a British soldier actually do any fighting. It's also a war film that is oddly devoid of blood or violence, nor gruesome battlefield gore, rest assured this is no Saving Private Ryan. And yet despite all of that, the impending sense of death pervades every frame of this film, the sense of guilt of the survivors, the uncomfortable awkwardness of the living towards the corpses of comrades that wash in with the tide, I've never seen a film that so makes you so fear for the living. Ultimately the film does feel a little too clean, everything spic and span, everything art-directed to perfection and everything too 'otherworldly' despite its slavish devotion to period detail.

I've read that this film has been critised for not having a plot or a story, but I beg to differ, just because a film doesn't have an 'arc' for its characters to follow doesn't mean it doesn't have a story. For me, just watching our groups of characters trying to survive and get off the goddam beach was more than story enough.

I breathed a sigh of relief when this was over, I was moved and involved, the 107 minutes flew by and I was left emotionally shaken.

9/10

#59 & 61 VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND WORLDS


Starring Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Haweke, Herbie Handcock, Kris Wu and Rutger Hauer. Written and Directed by Luc Besson. Budget £197 million. Running time 137 minutes long.

It literally breaks my heart to write these words, indeed the ambulance is on its way as I type them, but this isn't the triumph I was praying for, although what it is is the most beautiful, inventive and spectacular looking science fiction film I've seen since... 5th Element. In fact, in terms of visual mastery and inventiveness this is nothing less than utterly extraordinary. And if I was scoring the film purely on creativity and its look I would have no qualms of scoring it 10/10.

Unfortunately it's like looking at the world's most fantastic supercar and lifting the lid to discover it's just a shell, that there's nothing going on under the hood. It's like a huge stick of candy floss and a box of toffee coated popcorn after the dazzling, tantalizing burst of all that sugary goodness there's nothing to fill you up.

The plot sees Valerian (Dane DeHann) and the object of his, rather creepy, love obsession Laureline (Cara Delevingne) stumble from one plot point to the next by taking turns to be captured and rescued by the other, while Valerian grooms Laureline into letting him shag her. Then it's off to the City of a Thousand Worlds in search of the big plot reveal that somehow links into the beautiful opening scene, a very angry general (Clive Owen) a cute, long-snouted pearl-shitting alien matter convertor and an insane menagerie of assorted alien lifeforms who are all after something or other, oh and Rihanna as Bubble the shape-changing cabaret singer. And at the center of all that is a tale that is nothing. The main plot device is the repetitive rescuing of each of the main characters, in turn. Besson has obviously spent all his time on the visuals and nothing on the plot, characters, script or serious lack of one or all of those parts.

Sadly there's also the lack of not one iota of chemistry between the two leads. That said, Cara Delevinge is unbelievably beautiful and both the camera and Besson clearly love her as her face dominates the screen for large portions of the film. She's an interesting actresses and once she gets past eye rolling and sneering as her default acting setting she has real potential. DeHann is way too slight and weedy to carry the lead role.

But, regardless this is still a delightful movie, it deserves to be seen up on the big screen, just not in 3D, the opening 20 minutes are genuinely wonderful as we watch the birth of the City of a Thousand Worlds, and a day-in-the-life of a strange alien race whose fate subsequently powers the plot of the whole film. And if the film had managed to sustain this early promise, I would be weeping tears of joy and proclaiming this the second coming. But it didn't and I'm not. I just wish Luc had worked with a script writer who could have knocked some sense, or story into the proceedings, because ultimately this does become somewhat tiresome.

I love the comics, which this film is based on, I love Cara Delevingne and I think Luc Besson is a visionary but alas this was was the perfect example of style over substance.

Story: 3/10
Visuals: 10/10
Average Score: 6/10
Cara Deleingne +1
Final score 7/10

#57 DESPICABLE ME 3


Starring Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Miranda Cosgrove, Steve Coogan, Jenny Slate, Dana Gaier and Julie Andrews. Written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda. Budget $80 million, running time 90 minutes long.

Gru (Steve Carell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are sacked from the Anti-Villain League for failing to capture Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a former 1980s child actor who's grown up to become a super-villain after he steals a big diamond for his own nefarious purposes, well actually for the third act and final showdown macguffin. Added to that double-dose of adult-life doo-doo comes the surprising news that Gru isn't the only child he was led to believe he was, indeed he has an identical twin brother called Dru (also Steve Carell) who was brought up by his father. We learn that both parents took one of the twins and raised them oblivious to the other. Then the Minions, apart from three, quit cos Gru has turned good and promptly get arrested and thrown into jail. Meanwhile, Balthazar is off on a mission of destruction with the big diamond (see told you) and something even bigger! Lucy (utterly wasted in this film) goes shopping and tries to bond with the three girls. Oh, and talking of them, the youngest daughter wants a real-life, honest-to-goodness unicorn, before the status-quo is returned to normal in time for the next instalment. Blimey, talk about 'never rains but it pours.'

There's a serious amount of plot and story to cram into, DM3's relatively brief, running time of 90 minutes, indeed there's too much because ultimately the film suffers from it. You never truly get a chance to engage with the film or one of the many different plot points before another takes over and that sadly lessens the impact of the film. It starts off wonderfully and very funny and the bits between Gru and Dru are delightful and very funny, as are the bits with the unicorn hunt, and the bits with the Minions, and the bits with Bratt building up to his big third-act macguffin thingie, and... and well with every thing, but sadly it's as a whole that the film comes apart. There's too much of everything and not enough time to do any of it any justice. Plus there's a real sense that when the first 70 minutes of the film was first screened someone pointed out the film makers had lost the plot and so the third act gets shoe-horned into proceedings. Plus since that showdown is extremely reminiscent of the exact same Macguffin in the Minnions Movie it feels neither fresh, or that funny. Just loud and flashy.

The bottom line is this, cos I'm waffling and this damn review has taken me over a week to write and if I wait any longer it'll be the first review I've written that'll come out after the release of the film.

The animation is superb, the inventiveness is a delight  and it looks wonderful thanks to the French studio what made it. And It's very funny movie in parts, Carell and indeed Carell are both very funny as Gru and Dru, as is Trey Parker. But it's a case of the unlearned lesson of 'less is more'. Yes, you'll have a good time but the 3rd act is just too generic and obvious and it weakens what has gone on before.

Gru and now Dru are great characters, as are Lucy, the daughters and the Minions. They deserve better, or atleast something less formulaic next time please. Plus bring back Balthazar, he's awesome!

7/10

Saturday, 15 July 2017

#56 & 63 WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES


Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Terry Notary, Karin Konoval, Michael Adamthwaite, Amiah Miller and Steve Zahn. Written by Mark Bomback and Matt Reeves. Directed by Matt Reeves. Budget $150 million. Running time 140 minutes. Cert 12A.

Another simply superb summer blockbuster brings the new 're-imagined' Planet of the Apes trilogy to a meaty, satisfying and dramatic ending. Featuring another exceptional performance from Andy Serkis and what is simply the most staggeringly impressive, natural-looking special effects you've ever seen. Seriously, if you thought the ape effects were good in the first two films, Rise and Dawn, then you ain't seen nothing yet! You will marvel at all realistic these apes look.

The story takes place five or so years after the previous film where we learn that Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his ever-growing family of intelligent apes are being hunted to extinct by a group of soldiers called the Alpha-Omega from 'up North' who are on the revenge trail following the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. All Caesar wants to do is live away from humans in peace and quiet, but sadly the humans lead by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) have other ideas. Following a brutal night-time assault on the secret base of the Apes, Caesar heads out for brutal, bloody revenge with Maurice, Luca and Rocket along for the ride and some company. It isn't long before our band of bare-back riding apes have adopted a mute young girl who they name Nova (Amiah Miller) and a self-speaking-taught ape (Steve Zahn) there mainly to offer light comedy moments to an otherwise relentlessly sombre and serious movie. The ever-growing band of Ape warriors finally track down The Colonel to his mountain lair, although not in the way that Caesar intended and we discover the War of the title is more than just a conflict between humans and apes...

I have to say that when the first of this trilogy first came out in 2011 I wasn't expecting it to be any good, the memories and mental scarring of the horrific Tim Burton abomination starring Marky, Mark Walhberg from 2001 still seemed too fresh and yet that 2011 film proved to be a stunning re-invention that totally kick started this staggering franchise. I was blown away by Serkis as Caesar and over the three films, I've thoroughly enjoyed watching his character, mature and age, it's not often you get to see that across three films. Similarly how delightful to know that in 6 months time I'll be able to sit down and watch all three films back-to-back and enjoy a solid 8 hours of drama.

This film does an amazing job of also subtly referencing the original 1968 classic original Planet of the Apes movie starring Charlton Heston with several brilliant nods.

With a solid cast, a tight script and some excellent action this provided a deeply satisfying and powerful conclusion to the trilogy. Hats off to Matt Reeves for delivering such a superb film and to Andy Serkis who brings such a powerful and believable performance.

9/10

Thursday, 29 June 2017

#54 & 55 SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING


Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. Written by Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, from a story by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. Directed by Jon Watts. Running time 133 minutes. Budget $175 million. Cert 12A.

CONTAINS NO PLOT SPOILERS


On my sweet, mother funking lord, how is this possible? How is it that a franchise now into its sixth movie, a series slowly murderised over the past three outings, and offering us yet another iteration and origin of its lead character, in a painfully short history suddenly be so, so utterly...
  
GOODMAN FUCKING BRILLIANT!

I mean, hand-on-heart, no bull-shit. This is arguably, not only, the single best Spider-Man film ever made, it's also one of the best super-hero movies EVER made! The only down side is, I seriously doubt we're ever going to see a better Spider-Man film than this, I fear it's going to be downhill from now! I mean I loved the very first two movies, the ones starring Tobey Maguire and directed by Sam Raimi. The second of which was my favourite Spider-Man film right up until this last night when I saw this.

Seriously, EVERYTHING about this movie is note perfect, from the casting, the script, the plot, the structure of the movie, the final showdown, everything! The portrayal of Peter Parker (Tom Holland – who has just secured himself a glittering career), his life at school, his relationship with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), his relationship with Ned, his best friend (Jacob Batalon) who had the potential to be annoying but isn't, Christ I could list everyone, but it's not fair to single out any one performance, because EVERY ONE in this film are great! Including Michael Keaton who doesn't overwhelm the movie, he brings such a languid, depth to this with a performance of real balance. GOD I LOVED THIS FILM, LOVED IT!!!!

At one point the audience erupted into spontaneous applause at a plot reveal that was so surprising, so unexpected and so fantastically handled and the last time that happened was during Saving Private Ryan when Vin Dissel got shot.

Look, no word of a lie, this was just fantastic! Honestly, I can't fault it. Doing away with a huge global, spinning vortex of doom, seen in very nearly every-single super hero film ever made, doing away with a massive dude showdown and instead just focusing on character, plot and story. I mean, who'd have thunked it that just focusing on those three simple elements you could get a film this great? Even Spider-Man's origin is dealt with in this film, but only if you're listening, it's revealed in a conversation and takes up two sentences. This was everything that the two wretched Marc Webb abominations weren't. And I'm willing to bet that the morning after this opens, DC are going to start crying and tearing their hair out in desperation as they stare at the mess of a movie that Justice League is going to be. It could be argued that someone at Marvel, possibly Kevin Feige sold his soul to the devil?

I could go on and on, pouring praise on this movie, but the thing is, I don't want to. I want you to go and see it, without as little knowledge as possible, so I'm not going to talk about the plot, I'm not going to describe anything about particular scenes or any of that stuff. I went in blind and it was great. I would, hand-on-heart, recommend this even to a man lying on his death bed with only two hours and 20 minutes of life left.

I thought Wonder Woman would be the best super hero film of the year, but I'm sorry to say that its reign has ended after only three weeks, cos this new Spider-Man film will now be the new benchmark by which we rate every subsequent super hero films!

If you've ever wanted to know what it would be like to be a 15-year old superhero with great power, then this is the film for you.

Honestly go and see it, be first in line. This is a joyous, exhilerating and utterly delightful superhero film, that not only stands head and shoulders above any of its predecessors, but also as one of the single best superhero films ever made.

A perfect 10/10.

Second time round, it's still a solid 10/10. My only problem is whether to describe this movie as amazingly spectacular or just spectacularly amazing.



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 & 58 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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

#45 COLOSSAL


Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell and Tim Blake Nelson. Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo. Budget $15 million. Running time 110 minutes. Certificate 15.

Boarder line alcoholic Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is an unemployed writer, mooching off her frustrated, soon to be ex-boyfriend Tim ( Dan Stevens) and about retreat back to her empty family home in Mainhead after one too many nights out with her worthless friends.
With no income and no hopes, she returns to her old home town where she bumps into an old school friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who happens to run the local bar. It soon transpires that he has something of a crush on her, but more because she made something of her life, or at least managed to escape to the Big Apple. And while she's come home feeling she's failed and has nothing to show for her time in NY, He feels the same because he stayed behind and has nothing to show for his life except for a huge amount of clutter and emotional baggage that fills his home.

He quickly offers her a part time job at his bar and slowly the two of them begin to relax and open up to each other and she makes friends with Oscar's two bar chums, Joel And Garth. Together the four of them spend their evenings drinking in the bar, and their nights drinking until dawn, that is until one day when Gloria wakes up to discover that the previous night a giant monster materialised in the middle of Seoul and went on a drunken rampage. She is even more shocked to discover that the monster and her are somehow linked and that its actions mimic hers. But how is this possible?

Things then take a turn for the worse when Gloria and Joel's relationship becomes romantic, and Oscar reveals a hidden side to his personality that becomes progressively more aggressive and ultimately dangerous. The situation only becomes worse when Tim arrives in town and tries to rekindle his relationship with Gloria. 

So far, so small indie film about failed relationships and second chances, but what makes Colossal so unique and different is the addition of, at first, the giant monster who is soon joined by an equally giant robot. Both materialise in Seoul one night and then every night at precisely the same time, inadvertently wrecking havoc. But what are their connections to Gloria and Jason and a nearby children's play ground?

This is a genuinely fascinating and extremely entertaining movie, well written and very well acted, particularly from Hathaway and Sudeikis. In fact Sudeikis in particular reveals a serious side to his usual comedy schtick that is a revelation.

None of the men come out of this film well and it's a delight that Hathaway as our heroine is never rescued by any of the men and is left to resolve that situation in an utterly satisfying way.

While this isn't a broad comedy that is suggested by the trailer or the poster, it is still a thoroughly entertaining, satisfying and unexpected movie.

8/10

Sunday, 14 May 2017

#44 MISS SLOANE


Starring Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alison Pill, Jake Lacy, Sam Waterston and John Lithgow. Written by Jonathan Perera and directed by John Madden.
Budget $13 million. Running time 132 minutes.

Set in the world of the Washington political lobbyists, the films follows career lobbyist Miss Sloane (Jessica Chastain) as she takes on the impossible task of securing a win against the gun lobby on a controversial imminent gun control vote. Defecting from a powerful right-wing lobbying group, Sloane is headhunted by Mark Strong's Rodolfo Schmidt to help him and his left-wing lobbying company secure enough support to win the vote - she has 70 odd days to win the votes of 45 floating Senators. Sloane is an obsessed and utterly driven career woman who has a laser-like drive that forces her to succeed at any cost, and that's exactly what she does here. She has no family, no friends and pays for the services of a male escort. Plus she suffers from insomnia and pops pills to stay awake.

The film is beautifully written and powerfully acted by all, but most noticeably by Jessica Chastain, who is in every single scene, and Mark Strong who both give a masterclass in acting. They are a total delight to watch and once again prove they are superb actors of real quality and class.

The film is a behind the scenes glimpse of the world of political manipulation and lobbying and it's utterly engrossing, right up to the bit when it stops being a serious political drama and becomes something totally different than what the preceding 128 minutes had lead us to believe. And that includes a fantastic sequence where Sloane reveals a secret about one of her colleagues during a live TV debate that is genuinely shocking and shows us the true depth of her obsession to succeed.

However, what this story twist, so late in the day does, is to dramatically lessen the drama of the entire story as it dumps the glorious political intrigue for a classic, 'under-dog' type story where our hero beats the big bad man with a cunningly plan of incredible complexity, which when it is revealed in the final court room showdown just drags what could have been a solid 10/10 down to an 8/10. And it also stops this film from ever becoming considered a modern classic. Still it's an odd thing to say that a film that gets an 8/10 could be considered to have failed.

Entertaining, intriguing and dramatic but sadly hamstrung by the need to make this like a John Grisham novel adaptation and have a last minute court-room revelation that frankly stretches credulity.

8/10

#42 & 43: ALIEN COVENANT


Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir. Written by John Logan and Dante Harper. Directed by Ridley Scott. Running time 123 minutes. Budget $111 million. Cert 15.

Flushing the foul taste of Alien Prometheus into the cold vacuum of space comes this, Alien Covenant, the 6th official film in the Alien franchise, the third to be directed by Ridley Scott and the second in the proposed Alien prequel series.

Learning his lessons from Alien Prometheus, well almost, Ridley has cleverly given us what we want, more xenomorphs more, scares, more gore and more action. Also by doing away with the writing 'skills' of Damon Lindelof in favour of John Logan and Dante Harper, Ridley is able to deliver a far more satisfying and vastly less stupid movie than its predecessor. That said, it still seems that in 100 years time, humans are far more stoopider than they are now, since they do insist on doing really stoopid things on alien planets, of which more later.

The plot, set ten years after the Prometheus mission went missing, joins android Walter as he pilots and maintains the colony ship Covenant on its long seven year journey to a distant planet with a crew of over 2000 sleeping colonists and crew members. When a freak interstellar neutrino flare sees the ship damaged and its hibernating captain incinerated Walter is forced to revive the flight crew to help him repair the ship. And it's while reparing the ship, one of the crew members, Tennison intercepts a
strange distress call and the ship decides to investigate the signal which leads them to explore a massive type M planet within weeks of their location rather than the seven years of their proposed target planet. And so the ship, now under the captaincy of Billy Crudup decides to investigate.

The new planet is swiftly reached and an expedition team dispatched. It's there on that strange, utterly silent planet (no animals, birds or insects exist on the storm lashed planet) that the shit finally hits the fan, over and over again and a survivor from the Prometheus is discovered living alone on the alien world, that we soon discover is the home planet of the Engineers. But why is it now silent, what happened to the population and just what the hell are those giant egg things down in the dank basement..?

Damn Ridley Scott is a satisfying director, his skill at framing shots, establishing tension and directing action is almost peerless, it's a shame he seems less concerned about his scripts. And while this is a vastly superior movie to Prometheus, it's still has supposedly intelligent characters doing stupid things to push the plot along.

But this is nit-picking and as I'm loathed to say endlessly about other films, this isn't real and it certainly isn't a fly on the wall documentary. It's a bloody satisfying and entertaining science fiction action/horror film that delivers a thoroughly entertaining, stylish and well-directed slice of schlock that doesn't skim on the monsters or gore. while also giving us some fascinating interplay between Michael Fassbender's Walter and the sole survivor of the Prometheus that form the core of the movie. The other human characters take a back seat to their shenanigans but that isn't a bad thing. Apart from the aliens, the androids are far more entertaining than the human characters.

This is a very obvious sequel with nods to all your favourite bits plundered from earlier films while new twists on old tricks are wheeled out to some gruesome effect.

Not half bad! 8/10




Friday, 12 May 2017

#41 KING ARFUR: LEDGE OF THE SWORD

Starring Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Berges-Frisby, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law, Eric Bana and David Beckenham. Written by Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram and Joby Harold. Directed by Guy Ritchie. Budget $175 million. Running time 126 minutes.

Well, it was bound to happen sooner than later. Obviously inspired by the notion of fusion cuisine, you know those restaurants that mix up different foods from around the world, like Thai and cheese fondue, well top-geezer Guy Ritchie has only gorn and created Fusion Flicks, ain't 'e? That's right, guvnor. Good old Guy ('e's a card) Richtie 'as mixed British gangster flicks from the 1990s and the Hobbit to create this - the first part of his planned six movie saga based on diamond top bloke, King Arfur, 'e what beat the Saxons, 'eralded in the age of chivalry and inspired the vastly superior Monty Python's The Holy Grail.

So, if you've wondered what Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels crossed with Game of Thrones without the nudity and sadism looks like? Well look no further, cos your man, Guy Ritchie 'as done it!

The story, as old as time, sees Arfur, the young son of King Uthar, orphaned one night by his uncle, who's turned to the dark side, which in this case means the weird octopus lady living in his basement. Poor Arfur is sent down the river, Moses like, to be found and bought up by a gang of loveable tarts wiv 'earts and brought up in their bridge brothel.There he stays for the next 20 years until he's grown up to be Charlie Hunnam and been trained to fight by the local mixed martial arts Kung Fu master who just so happens to be running his dojo next door to the huge colosseum built in the heart of London. Then Excalibur resurfaces, all men of a certain age are brought to try and pull it free, and Arfur is 'rescued/recruited' by the rebels to fight. Naturally, he's reluctant (cos all heroes have to spend 2/3rd of a movie saying they're not the hero everyone else tells them they are) before finally, in the third act, he stop fighting, picks up the sword for the showdown with his uncle, Jude Law. Then there's just time for Arfur to get crowned king of England,  knight all his mates and sets the table (round) for the next film. God help us all.

Filled with all of Guy Ritchie's favourite little camera tricks and story telling tropes, like rewinding the film to rewatch a scene, multiple times, irritating voice overs, cockney actors giving it all that and a host of other things makes for a somewhat jarring experience. He also does himself no favours by rendering all the fight scenes totally unwatchable thanks to violent camera shakes, oh and there's also a 3D version, but whatever you do. Do NOT see this in 3D, never have I ever seen a more useless 3D movie than this.

Best bits are the beginning and the very end. In between we spend a vast length of time with a lead character who refuses to accept his fate, which is bloody infuriating since we know that he's going to finally do the right thing, so why waste time watching him go 'oh no, not me' over and over again. That coupled with all the scenes where someone says they're not going to do that, before we cut to the next scene where they're doing what they just said they wouldn't.

Whilst never boring, this is nevertheless utterly un-engaging, mostly down to the fact that film isn't interested in the plot or story, all it wants to do is feature a band of cockney wideboys getting one over on the baddies. Poor Jude Law, who is always on the verge of being awesome spends the entire film just waiting for the showdown with his nephew. The film doesn't seem interested in developing a plot or should I say spending time with the plot and it seems to be there just so we can barrel along to the next action beat.

Rather than creating a cinematic version of fusion cuisine, Richie has instead taken two genres and done a Cut and Shut job, as he badly welds together two utterly different genres together to create something genuinely clunky. That said, this isn't a total disaster, due mostly to the cast who give it their all, but their efforts are rendered useless because Richie is determined to throw everything he's got up there too and doesn't seem to have any restraint.

5/10

#40 UNLOCKED

Starring Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, John Malkovich and Toni Collette. Written by Peter O'Brien and directed by Michael Apted. Running time 98 minutes.

Noomi Rapace is Alice Racine an ex-CIA interrogator taking a time out following a terrible terrorist attack in Paris she was unable to prevent that's left her somewhat broken. She's now working, undercover for MI5 boss, Toni Collette in the local council housing department, that is until a plot to unleash an imminent biological attack in London against an American target is uncovered. Naturally, cos Alice used to be the 'best' at that sort of thing, she finds herself forcibly re-recruited back to the ranks of the  CIA to interrogate an 'redacted' courier who might just have important information that could save the day. What follows is your usual frantic, chase/race against the clock to save the day while every spy thriller cliche is ticked off the bingo card, herrings are painted red and plots, counter-plots and conspiracies are unearthed quicker then you can shake a stick at and far too many crosses are doubled. Along for the ride is an cast of excellent supporting actors and Orlando Bloom. Michael Douglas turns up as Alice's ex-CIA Section Head and surrogate father-figure, Eric Lasch, John Malkovich plays permanently angry CIA boss Bob Hunter and Orlando Bloom, sporting an cockney accent worthy of Dick Van Dyke plays Jack Alcott, an ex-marine burglar path crosses with our plucky, oddly accented, CIA heroine. But which one of these talented actors, and Orlando Bloom isn't what they say they are and what is really going on...

Not a bad film, certainly entertaining, despite Apted's best efforts to render each and every action sequence almost unwatchable with his dreary, patented technique of shaking the camera violently whenever there's an action scene. A word to wise, THIS DOESN'T MAKE US THINK WE'RE WATCHING A FUCKING FLY ON THE WALL DOCUMENTARY! IT JUST JERKS US OUT OF THE MOVIE AND MAKES US FEEL A LITTLE NAUSEOUS.

Apart from that, always good to see a kick-ass heroine, kicking ass and taking names. This was a nice bit of fun that was pleasantly reminiscent of Spooks and its London location made for a nice change from the usual gritty streets of New York city. Rapace, Douglas and Malkovich are always good value for money and best of all its blissfully brief running time means it doesn't outstay its welcome.

7/10

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

#39: SLEEPLESS


Starring Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour, T.I, Gabrielle Union, Scoot McNairy. Written by Andrew Berloff. Directed by Baran bo Odar. 95 very long minutes. Budget $30 million.

I really don't know if I can be bothered. I mean, I've seen some shit films in my time, I mean really shit, films that leave you angry by their utter ineptitude. Then there are those shit films that become good because they are so bad and then there are just those films that are shit, with a lower case 's', those films that boring, which in my opinion is the worst crime a film can commit. 

And this is one of those films, a pointless, dreary, dull and staggeringly boring crime film that leaves no crime cliche unchecked. Do you want your hero to be an undercover cop, pretending to be bad? CHECK! Do you want him to have an ex-wife who's on the verge of moving her new boyfriend into the marital home? CHECK! How about the hard-boiled female cop with a chip on her shoulder determined to prove she's just as hard-boiled as the men? CHECK! Did you want to have the 'which member of Internal Affairs is crooked'? CHECK! If you asked for an estranged teenage son then don't worry cos there's one of those in this too. In fact if you can spot a single new idea in this film you're a better man than I, Gunga Din.

The plot sees Jamie Foxx's character, I can't be arsed to name him, and his partner, T.I (who in his spare time is a drug mule for the baddie, Scott McNairy accidentally rob the wrong man of his 25 kilos of drugs. In revenge the 'wrong man', Dermort Mulroney kidnaps Foxx's son and demands the return of the drugs or his son will die. Meanwhile Michelle Monaghan disfigured by a horrific 5mm scar on her face is the angry Internal Affairs agent who is convinced that Foxx is corrupt and just won't let it lie, while her partner, David Harbour is far too helpful and nice for his own good. I bet he's up to no good.

So then all these stupid characters arrive at Dermot's casino, some of them punch each other, some of the shoot each other, Foxx's son gets kidnapped and rescued three or four times. One of them reveals themselves to be corrupt, while another isn't and our hero can survive being stabbed, shot and beaten up with nothing more serious than a gently bleeding wound that only inhibits our hero when he remembers. And then it's just time for the ex-wife, a nurse with a gun to arrive in the casino's multi-story car park just in time to save her ex husband in yet another pointless shoot-out.

Oh then, in a act so desperate it actually beggers belief the really big baddie behind everything, a man only name-checked but never seen is shoe-horned into an end coda that actually begs for a sequel, I mean seriously. But it's a pathetic effort and does nothing to drag this film out of the rancid pool of shit that it wallows in. This has nothing of any merit to recommend this shit fest. Seriously,  not one single goddam thing. It's just a great big 95 minute experiment in lazy, tedium. The director who starts off ripping off Se7en, seems to get just as bored as us and gives up. God, I wish I had.

A veritable shit sandwich, with a shit pattie and two slices of shit as bread with a sprinkling of shit pretending to be salad and served with a dollop of liquid poo.

2/10 but I can't think of why this isn't lower, maybe cos I didn't hate it.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

#37: THE BELKO EXPERIMENT


Starring John Gallagher Jnr, Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, JKosh Brener, Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn Written by James Gunn. Directed by Greg McLean. Budget $5 million and running time 88 minutes.

Typical you wait ages for a film written by James Gunn and starring Micheal Rooker and Sean Gunn to turn up and then two turn up in the same week.

One day, in Bogata the 80 odd employees of the mysterious Belko corporation find themselves locked inside their hi-rise office block built in the middle of the country side and told to start killing each other by a voice over the tannoy. What follows is an incredibly gory and violent little flick that doesn't skimp on the details in the very brutal and bloody horror film. It starts off fantastically well and the first hour is superb in setting the scene and building the tension, however the second half can't quite match the pace set and it finally descends into the bloodiest show down I've seen in an absolute age. It's hardly surprising this is an 18 cert film. As the film fragments into factions who fight to survive, it's hard to work out who'll make it to the end and just what the hell is going on, although the ending can be guessed before it happens.

It offers up some interesting ideas and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not perfect, a little cliched at times but still a bloody intriguing and satisfying night out that have you laughing out loud in shock.

8/10

#36 THEIR FINEST






Starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill NIghy, Jack Huston, Helen McCrory, Eddie Marsan, Jake Lacy, Rachael Stirling and Richard E. Grant. Written by Gaby Chiappe. Direted by Lone Scherfig. Running time 117 minutes long. Budge £30 million.

It's 1940s London and the war is taking its toil on the plucky inhabitants. nightly bombed, the Londoners carry on with their lives with their typical grit and stiff upper lips, sweeping up the debris of the shattered buildings and just moving on. Into this world comes Welsh valley girl Catrin Cole, a writer of comic strips who is snapped up by the propaganda film unit to do the 'slop' (women's dialogue). She's married to an artist who would much rather she didn't work for their living, thus causing tension at home, while her boss, Sam Calflin's Tom Buckley who is initially rather contemptuous of her slowly warms to her and has to come to terms with his own romantic feelings for her. What follows is a good looking film that tackles the sexism of the day and shows a young woman fighting against the establishment to get a film made about two young women who stole their bullying father's boat to set sail for Dunkirk to rescue retreating British soilders. The film is most successful as we watch the film within a film take shape as the crew set up on location and bond as a unit, even while they struggle with the overblown ego of Bill Nighy's Ambrose Hillard, a past his prime matinee actor with ideas of grandeur. In fact all of the behind the scenes bits and the making of are extremely satisfying to watch. It's just the romantic guff that left me cold.

Quite fun but scuppered by a late act 3 plot device that arrives with all the subtly of an air strike and totally derails the film. However, despite being mortally injured, the film valiantly tries to get back on track but it's too late and it lurches to an unsatisfying end that feels too trite and too twee.

This is quite a fine movie, with a good cast and a nice heart. 7/10

#35 & 38: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2.


Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gun, Sylvester Stallone, Vin Dissel and Kurt Russell.

Written and directed by James Gunn. Running time 136 minutes. Budget n/a

Set a few months after the first film, this sees the Guardians on a mission for a bunch of golden, horribly arrogant aliens called the Sovereign who hire the Guardians to protect a bunch of batteries. Anyway, it ALL goes pear shaped and before long the Guardian's beautiful spaceship, the Milano is shot to shit and forced down on an alien planet while every brigand and pirate in the galaxy, lead by Michael Rooker's Yonda is unleashed to claim the bounty placed on the band of heroes by the Sovereign.

Meanwhile Chris Pratt's Peter Quill is stunned to be rescued by Kurt Russell's Ego who claims to be Quill's father, but is he everything he says he is or is he something more, much much more?

This is a thoroughly enjoyable movie and a great sequel, which while not being as fresh or different as the first film is still fantastically entertaining! It's bloody good fun, with a real sense of humour and a real heart and manages to dazzle you with some superb special effects and some rather touching character development and lots and lots of daddy issues and sibling rivalry. This also cleverly adds new characters to the mix and manages to be more than just a mindless super hero movie. Plus did I mention it's bloody funny? Particularly any scene with Groot and a running gag between Dave Bautista's Drax and Pom Klementieff's Mantis along with the very much welcome return of Karen Gillan's Nebula who this time gets to do a lot more than last time.

I've seen this twice already and I have to say, both times were an absolute treat! Go on treat yourselves to one of the best summer blockbusters we're going to see this year.

9/10

#34: THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS #8



Starring Vin Dissel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Schott Eastwood, Mathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Kurt Russell and Charlize Theron. Written by Chris Morgan. Directed by F. Gary Gary. Budget $250 million. Running time 136 minutes.

So the plot. Jesus H. Pigging Christ, that's an ask. Vin Dissel's Dom Toretto goes 'rogue' when Charlize Theron big baddie cyber-terrorist Cipher black mails him with a single photo and sets him off on a globe trotting mission to steal various macguffins to build something really bad, probably to do with technology and stuff. Anyways, this makes him a wanted man by Kurt Russell's Mr. Nobody who brings the rest of Ding Dom's 'family' together to catch him. To do this he gives them an unlimited budget and any car they want and off they go driving around the world, causing a terrible amount of collateral damage to property and innocent human lives. He also gives them Jason Statham and Scott Eastwood to fill out the numbers. Cue utterly ridiculous action sequences including a chase with a submarine and loads and loads and loads and loads and loads of car chases. This isn't the best Fast and Furious film, that's still number 5, the one in Brazil. But that said, it's still a stupidly silly action flick with lots of stunts and close up of young woman's bottoms dance in slow motion.

Ignoring some odd issues and decisions and continuity problems, and old grievances this offering has nothing new to offer and nothing as spectacular as the triple building jump number 6 or the safe chase in number 5. Still it's alright, just not that fast nor furious. Best thing in this is Dwayne and Statham who deserve their own spin off movie.

Sorry, I can't let this lie, that sub chase featured in the poster and the trailer. It just doesn't work. Top speed of a nuclear sub is 65 kmh or 40 mph. Those cars could outrun the sub in first gear. Or, just turn around. Oh and don't get me started on the remote control cars, like 'who's steering them?' Or the bit where Dim Weasel rolls out of a burning car at over a 100 mph and suffers a somewhat scuffed elbow, or the bit with the wrecking ball or the fact our 'heroes' murder so many people without any apparent guilt, or kicking a torpedo out of the way, or...


6/10

THE FILMS OF MARCH 2017 FILMS 29 - 33 - GET OUT. POWER RANGERS. LIFE. GHOST AND THE SHELL. GOING IN STYLE.

April has been a jolly busy month for me and I've found myself too busy drawing up my next Psycho Gran strip to have  time to update this blog and as a result I have reviews for 11 films to post. Since some of these have already been and gone I've decided to group them all together for the purposes of speed.

So, here we go.

#29: GET OUT

A brilliantly subversive little horror film that surprises, delights and horrorfies in equal measure right up till the reveal when it's let down by some genuinely stupid conceits and a hero who resorts to very brutal measures that seem, to me, a little out of character. But it's a minor quibble because this was a very satisfying and entertaining movie. Please don't spoil it with a sequel.

The film sees young black photographer, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) set off for the weekend break and his white girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) to meet her liberal parents for the first time at an annual big family and friends gathering. But Chris begins to realise there might be something rather sinister lurking beneath the surface of this family of well off, white, liberal, Obama-loving professionals who seem almost too good to be true.

Written and directed by Jordan Peele. Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener, Allison Williams, Lil Rel Howery, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landrey Jones and Stephen Root. Budget $4.5 million. Box office to date a justly deserved $190 million!

Catch it on disc or catch up if you can.  8/10

#30: POWER RANGERS



A group of teenagers including a bully hating jock, a boy on the autism spectrum, a lesbian, a kung fu fighting Chinese student and a girl who posts revenge porn photos of her ex-boyfriends new girlfriend come together at detention club, stumble across a bunch of coloured crystals, find a buried spaceship become the Power Rangers and then have to learn how to love themselves and fight as a team in time to defeat the evil Rita with the help of some big robot animals.

Starring a group of look alikes, Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston. Written by John Gatins and directed by Dean Israelite. This is a 124 minutes, $100 million budgeted, rather boring, cinematic dirge and once over is utterly forgotten, guaranteed to not be remembered by anyone in 20 years time with any fondness or nostalgia. Filled with oddly jarring characters and desperate to be both relevant and meaningful but seemingly forgetting to come up with anything new. Go and see Kong in stead, it's much better than this powerless rubbish. 3/10

#31: LIFE
 Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare and Olga Dihovichanaya. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and direted by Daniel Espinosa. Running time a merciful 103 minutes, budget $58 million.

A bunch of stupid scientists onboard the orbiting International Space Station lose all reason and professional training when they recover evidence of life from a returning Mars probe and proceed to let it loose in Zero Gee while they float around and act like a bunch of fucking idiots. Trust me, you'll root for the creature whom them name Calvin cos a school girl won a national competition to name it.

This starts out well, if you ignore Jake Gyllenhaal's fantastically annoying character, as the single cell Martian is brought back to life and experimented on, but once it becomes a Monster on the Loose movie it becomes staggeringly dreary and utterly generic, like one of those awful Sci Fi channel movies they keep showing.

Don't check out Life, it's lifeless. A very disappointing experience full of stupid characters floating about in zero G being stupid and featuring a monster that's completely unstoppable, unkillable and insanely intelligent. It starts well, the lengthy sequence you've already seen is the best, however once it gets loose it's game over man for everybody. It also plays cliche bingo with every trope every devised for a sci-fi horror film. This is Gravity crossed with Last Days on Mars, with some Alien spewed into the mix.

Only good thing, is the monster but then that evolves, or grows and develops a face which really ruins its uniqueness.  3/10

#32: GHOST IN THE SHELL


Starring Scarlett Johansson, Michael Carmen Pitt, Pilou Asbaek, Chin Han, Juliette Binoche and Beat Takeshi. Written by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger. Based on the movie Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow. Directed by Rupert Sanders. Running time 106 minutes. Budget $110 million.

An utterly unnecessary live action remake of a much loved, though god knows why, anime. This looks stunning and features my future wife, Scarlett Johansson in a skin-tight body suit kicking ass and the special effects look superb. However in this bizarre future Japan, there is a distinct lack of people living in the vast sprawling metropolis which is incredibly jarring.

The story set in the future (no shit, Sherlock) and sees Major (Johansson) wake up after a terrorist attack inside the body of a kick-ass cyborg and working for Sector 9 - an anti-terrorist task force ( where she dishes out some major bottom-whopping on a sinister terrorist cell run by a mysterious cyborg called Kuze who knows stuff about Major's origin that threatens to expose a terrible conspiracy and the truth about her past and the sinister Hanka robotics industry.

Cue action, lots of serious and earnest frowning and less laughs than a Krankies set. 4/10 (and two of those points are due to Scarlett's impressive attributes as an actresses.

#33: GOING IN STYLE


Starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Joewy King, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd and Ann-Margaret. Written by Theodor Melfi. Directed by Zach Braff. Running time 96 minutes. Budget $25 million.

Three old friends, all well into retirement age discover that the company they've worked for the past 30 years have robbed them of their pensions and left them penniless. With nothing to lose the friends decide to rob the bank that owns the company for the money that was robbed off them and retire. Cue an entertaining wish-fulfillment movie as Freeman, Caine and Arkin find a new lease of life, love and romance and even a new kidney while Matt Dillon tries to catch them.

I love a good heist movie so this was a no brainer. Thoroughly silly but still very enjoyable and always great to see the superbly gifted cast, plus I loved Alan Arkin ever since I first saw him in Freebie and the Bean!

Not a classic but still a good night out or in, if you've missed it at the cinema. 7/10








Saturday, 18 March 2017

#26 FREE FIRE



Starring Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Babou Ceesay, Enzo Cilenti, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley and Noah Taylor. Written by Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley. Directed by Ben Wheatley. Running time 90 minutes. Budget $10 million. Certificate 15.

A group of IRA men, lead by Cillian Murphy's Chris meet up with a shady South African gun runner, Sharlto Copley in a disused warehouse for a gun deal organised by Brie Larson's Justine and Armie Hammer's Ord. But the deal goes south after an unrelated altercation and then mayhem ensues and the bullets start flying in all directions. Allegiances are made, crosses are doubled and everyone takes a bullet or two. Or three, if not more.

This is a very black, very funny, very chaotic movie directed with real aplomb by Ben Wheatley who keeps showing movie, after movie that he has a genuine and distinct voice. Set in the 1970s, gives this a movie a glorious soundtrack and some nice plot points, like a distant ringing telephone to the outside world. The characters are all very distinct and each brings something different to the proceedings.

However, this isn't perfect, the main failing being that once a human being gets shot they tend to lie down, meaning that for most of its running time, the talented cast are crawling around on their bellies or lying down and the continuous gun battle can get a little confusing, plus there's a distinct lack of bloody flying around. But these are minor quibbles. Cos the humour is gloriously black and the cast is excellent. The film is filled with an almost endless supply of quotable lines including my favourite line of the whole film, and one I wish I'd written, "As a child he was mistakenly diagnosed as a child genius."

A funny, violent romp. 8/10