London Has Fallen – Nonsense

Olympus Has Fallen had a certain charm. You know…when the likeable protagonist dispatches multiple bad guys by stabbing them in the cranium…that kind of charm. London Has Fallen doesn’t have any of that. What it does have though is a nonsensical premise underpinned by superfluous on-screen graphics informing the audience who’s who on the “we don’t care” list. All this plus questions, oh so many questions. I’ll start with:

Why would the German Chancellor want to watch the changing of the guard before a funeral?

Does the French President need to be sitting on a boat on the Thames just to be fashionably late?

If you were the Japanese Prime Minister would you really want to take Hammersmith Bridge to get to St. Pauls?

Are we to assume every Italian Prime Minister needs to be with his mistress on top of Westminster Abbey?

Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling the plot, just demonstrating Hollywood’s need for shonkey geography to fit a purpose. Then, of course, we have the depiction of our own simpering Premier cowering in St. Pauls leaving the dear old Pres – “leader of the free world” – to go all gung-ho-Smokin’-Joe on the terrorist’s asses. Ably supported by Gerard Butler of course. And let’s not even get started on Morgan Freeman dialling in a performance.

Still, on the upside…it’s no Blackhat.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Advertisements

10 Cloverfield Lane – Tense

I don’t think anybody expected to see a follow up to 2008’s Cloverfield and in fairness, despite the name connection there’s little else to draw on. But that’s not a bad thing. Cloverfield put Matt Reeves fairly and squarely on the map, demonstrating his directing chops and inducing all kinds of motion-sickness in the process. Of course, Mr Reeves has gone on to cement his reputation with the outstanding Let Me In and the franchise-busting Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, with Cloverfield being a slightly smaller footnote to his burgeoning career.

10 Cloverfield Lane surfaced with barely a whisper just a few weeks before release and is poles apart from its progenitor. There have been indications from its producer – none other than J J Abrams, who was also a producer for Cloverfield – that further instalments may come our way, so an overarching narrative pulling all the strands together could clear the muddied waters “connecting” these two films.

It’s always a pleasure to see John Goodman on screen and 10 Cloverfield Lane provides the rare opportunity for Mr Goodman to take a leading role. While his stature may allow him to physically dominate any film – even with smaller roles (see The Gambler) – this extended screen time allows us to bask in his obvious talents. His character, Howard, is an interesting creation, struggling to cope with the interlopers within his sanctum, a person with inner turmoil who must exhibit restraint to survive.

Said “interlopers” are Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and Emmet, played by John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom). Michelle provides the audience with a focal point, asking the type of questions we hope we would, while Emmet is just thankful to have been “rescued”. This three-hander, played out in a single environment, manages to rack up the tension and stay half a step ahead of the viewer. It’s an intriguing premise played out over 103 minutes and deserves to succeed. I don’t wish to say any more about 10 Cloverfield Lane as it should be seen fresh, without any preconceived notions or knowledge of plot points. Suffice to say, Dan Trachtenberg has created a very nice piece of cinema on his directorial debut – it’s well worth your while taking a trip to the flix to see it.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Admirable

There’s a lot of hate out there for Zack Synder and I’m a bit mystified to be honest. Apart from the misstep that was Sucker Punch, I think his body of work to date has been of good quality. Maybe it’s because the first film he helmed was a darling with the horror fashionistas and remaking a “classic” where the zombies can run really fast put their noses out of joint. While some may point to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead as a fascinating treatise on modern society – the zombification of the masses so-to-speak – I’ve watched it again recently and would describe it as “of its time”. The difference between the original and the remake? The remake is a lot more fun.

Batman Vs Superman Worlds Finest

Anyway, he started off on the wrong foot as far as the “geek brigade” were concerned and never recovered. An admirable adaptation of Watchmen was equally derided, so the perceived foundations of a director who adapts established material and produces sub-standard fayre was set.

Which brings us to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice by way of Man of Steel. I loved Mr Synder’s Man of Steel and love this follow up. Henry Cavill is perfect in the role of Kal-El, while casting Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/ Batman seemed somewhat left-field, but is a triumph. Words such as “boring” or “failure” or even just plain “bad” have been bandied about but BvS:DoJ is none of those things. And let’s not get into the Marvel vs DC argument – that would be like comparing apples with oranges.

Warner/DC are clearly trying to tap into the level of gravitas lent to the superhero world by way of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, in an attempt to distance themselves from the nudge-nudge-wink-wink world of Marvel – and that’s not a dig either. I’m as much of a Marvel fan as I am DC. The accountability issue of such heroes fighting for the greater good but causing so much collateral damage is clearly valid and one which will also be addressed by Captain America: Civil War – but with more superheroes involved. Substitute Toy Stark and his “team” for Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch and her oversight committee and parallels can surely be drawn.

But this isn’t about “my Dad’s better than your Dad“. Like I said, apples and oranges. Where Marvel got to test the waters with The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man – arguably two lesser characters on a roster of more well known and established offerings – Warner/DC are creating a DC cinematic universe with their two heavy hitters, so there’s a lot more at stake with the fan base. For me, it all worked. Any film which has to deal with giving enough time to a lot of important characters will need to jump around a bit to “please the most people” and BvS handles this with dexterity. I liked the use of musical cues as well – the Man of Steel refrain being a personal highlight – and if I were being ultra-critical I’d have liked to see more of Superman, but once again that’s just a personal thing.

Jessie Eisenberg seems to the relish the role of Lex Luthor Jr., playing him with a nice unhinged edge, while Gal Gadot establishes a good starting point for Wonder Woman and sets us up nicely to look forward to a standalone film in the “near” future (23 June 2017 to be precise). Jeremy Irons lends a sardonic tone to his Alfred Pennyworth – a servant to the Wayne family and “father figure” to Bruce Wayne – and is as close to a moral compass as Batman will encounter in a world of polemics. With Lois Lane getting down-and-dirty, Amy Adams’ diminutive stature belies stoical character traits that just as easily support Clark Kent/ Superman as he does the entire world. This ensemble cast of great talent – including Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane – provide genuine portrayals, ingraining the narrative progression with believability and genuine warmth to the characters they inhabit.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice provides us with the foundations on which this new DC Comics Extended Universe will be built. The jumping-off point for cinematic outings for the likes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman (27th June 2018) and The Flash (16th March 2018), together with a full-blown Justice League film (17th November 2017), we are well on the way to enjoying a superhero universe to (hopefully) rival Marvel’s high quality and well established output. In addition, the prospect of a Ben Affleck directed Batman film, with him in the title role is a mouth-watering one. Don’t be put of by the mainly negative press. This film delivers on a number of levels and is another quality production from Zack Synder, with Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill working admirably at the centre of it all.

Thank you for reading 🙂

High-Rise posters

I first came across Ben Wheatley when my wife kindly gave me the Kill List blu-ray as a surprise present (she’s very nice like that). I’d never heard of it and was intrigued. The subsequent viewing left me somewhat baffled as to what I’d just watched, but in a good way. Suffice to say, I’ve been a Mr Wheatley fan ever since.

The subsequent years have given us the excellent Sightseers and A Field in England as well as two very good Doctor Who episodes.

Now we High-Rise to look forward to, with a March 18th release date here in the UK, while the US will have to wait until April 28th for it to be available online. To keep you going, here’s some nice one-sheets to look at, as well as some delightful character posters.

 

Thank you for reading 🙂

Goosebumps – Diverting

In all fairness, there’s nothing really motivating me to write a review of Goosebumps. It was one of those rare occasions when my wife, teenage daughter and myself found we had the time to go to the cinema together. We liked the look of the trailer – there seemed to be a little “spooky” edge to the movie – and we all like Jack Black. At 103 minutes, it’s not exactly taxing when it comes to the run time and I found the pacing of the narrative pleasant enough. I was invested in the characters, all were played with assurance and I especially liked Champ – the somewhat “geeky looking” comic aside, played with fervour by Ryan Lee.

The CGI used to create the myriad of monsters, ghosts and ghouls was effective and the overall appearance and presentation of the film reminded me of a more wholesome era of movie-making. Unfortunately, all this was not enough for my better half, who expressed a level of disappointment with the movie akin to “Meh!” She was hoping for something better, something befitting the rarity of the family-outing-to-the-cinema occasion. Which was a shame. Personally, I enjoyed it, but in retrospect, I can see where my wife was coming from. It’s taken me 3 days to muster up the enthusiasm to write this review, so perhaps therein lies the problem. For all its “of the moment” enjoyment, Goosebumps is quickly forgotten. I suppose it’s a bit like ordering a lemonade float. The excitement and wonder of watching all that froth explode into life as the dollop of ice cream is plonked into the glass of fizzy pop is soon forgotten and all you’re left with is a glass of carbonated drink mixed with melted gelato.

Goosebumps is an entirely enjoyable film and if you find yourself at a loose end, by all means, go and see it. Just don’t expect the memory to last.

Thank you for reading 🙂

SW Ep VIII – it’s started!

So, with a warm and fuzzy feeling encapsulating most of the planet with regards the excellent Episode VII, it’s now time to crank up the anticipation for Rian Johnson’s take on the Star Wars universe.

We’ve had announcement trailers for trailer releases (which I don’t really get), now we’ve got announcement trailers for the beginning of principle photography. Yeah, I know, it’s sad, but I’ve been sucked in like the Millennium Falcon on a Death Star tractor beam with this one!

There’s just something about that beginning – the sound, the music, Skellig Island, the sight of an older Luke. I have faith in Mr Johnson. He’s writing and directing this one and he wrote and directed Looper, which was mind-blowing! We’ll have to wait until 15th December 2017, so it’s not  too long! Oh…hold on…

Thank you for reading 🙂

A Ghostbusters remake? With women?!?

Goodness gracious me. You’d have thought some kind of atrocity had been committed! To think that a studio has the gall the remake a classic!?! And not only that, but to recast the principles with an all-women line-up!?! That’s it! My childhood has been destroyed!

What. Utter. Tosh!!!

1984 was a water-shed year for my 14-year-old self when it came to cinema-going and Ghostbusters was right up there. Do I feel like my childhood has been defiled? Of course not! If you’re one of those people who do, you really do need to get out more. There’s a whole world out there don’t you know?

-1

Paul Feig is a good film maker. Bridesmaids, Heat, Spy, they’re all fun films and he clearly likes working with Melissa McCarthy, who I like very much. Along with Kristen Wiig and Chris Hemsworth, there’s a lot going right for this remake in the casting department. It’s also got a few returning actors in the shape of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Sigourney Weaver as well as Annie Potts and Enrie Hudson, so it’s ticking a fair few boxes as far as I’m concerned. So let’s just wait until it’s actually been released before we make a judgement, shall we?

Now, I’m not one to trumpet announcement trailers. You know? The little “clips” telling us when the actual trailer is going to be released, but the thing about this one is the 5 note refrain at the end of the piece. It made it worth the watch! Take a gander…

So there you have it. We’re going to have to wait until next month to get a good look at how this particular production is shaping up. But with a 15th July 2016 release date, not too long after that to form an actual opinion.

Thank you for reading 🙂