Saturday, 25 April 2015


#25 & 26: THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (24/4/15 & 26/4/15)

Starring (deep breath) - Robert Downey Jnr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffallo, Chris Evans, James Spader, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smuthers, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Andy Serkis, Anthony Mackie, Claudia Kim, Hayley Atwell, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston and Josh Brolin. (and breath).

Written and directed by Josh Whedon. 141 MINUTES LONG!

Imagine a 240 minute movie shoe-horned into 141 minutes. Imagine a film that takes a huge, deep breath and then doesn't take in air again for the next 2 hours and twenty minutes and you still have no idea how utterly packed with incident this second Avengers movie is. Indeed there's only one scene in the entire film when it's slows down enough for the audience to relax and try and process what's happening and sadly before you're half way through trying to play catch up you're off again, like a roller coaster, reaching the top of an insane arch before plummeting towards the ground at about a million miles an hour. What's it about? Hmmm, well Tony and Banner get their hands on that staff thing that Loki had and discover an intelligence within the gem at its centre and Stark decides it's the very thing he's been looking for to kickstart his Ultron peace-keeping program of artificial-intelligent police robots and before you can say, 'hmm, Tone, that doesn't really sound like a terribly good idea, no seriously have you really considered the pit-falls?' James Spader's Ultron turns up only to be revealed to be as bat-shit bonkers as a bag full of mentally-deranged beavers. After that it's a relentless chase around the world after Ultron as he gathers the ingredients he needs to make something really, really, stupidly dangerous to all humanity. Then it's a final push to the finish line with our band of heroes laying waste to Ultron's entire army of metal robots before the end credits and the post credit teaser. It's like a marathon run like a 100 metre sprint.

Featuring fantastic special effects but, alas a tad too much shaky cam during the fights (the best fight is the one between Iron Man: Hulk Buster and The Hulk) this is an enjoyable enough movie, but sadly not as brilliant as either last year's Captain America: Winter Solider or Guardians of the Galaxy. And while it is entertaining, well made and action packed, boy is it action packed, there's just no time to enjoy the characters before the next big fight and after a while that all becomes a little one note and poe-faced, and it lacks a sense of humour, something that made the first Avengers film so delightful.

With such a big cast it's hard to pick out any one performance but the chemistry between Johansson's Black Widow and Ruffallo's Hulk is lovely and Chris Evans powns it as Captain America, but it's Spader who has the most fun.

Big, spectacular, action-packed and the most comic-like movie ever made, but lacking a sense of humour. This is definitely enjoyable but sadly and disappointingly not better than that.

Just come back from seeing this for the second time in 48 hours and second time round I still enjoyed it, but I was aware it was all a bit sort of samey, it never peaked, I was aware of the bullet points, it felt a tad obvious and lacked the glorious spark of the first one. so, what was originally an 8/10 becomes a 7/10 second time round. 



#24 THE DUFF (18/4/15)

Starring Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Skyler Samuels and Bianca A. Santos. Story by Kody Keplinger, screenplay by Josh A. Cagan and directed by Ari Sandal. 101 minutes long.

Mae is Bianca Piper, baggy-dungaree, tartan-shirted - over iconic t-shirt -wearing, big booted, sassy, super nerd, friend to two super-hot friends who discovers she's a DUFF - Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend, goes into melt down and recruits childhood friend, super-jock, hunk, Wesley Rush, Amell Bella to help her step out of her ex-friend's shadow, girl up and bag a boyfriend of her own.

It's a sort of 'Pygmalion' type story set in an American high school, so not really an original premise. It's the generic story of girl wants boy, recruits other, hot, boy to help her, gets boy but realises he's a tool and that it's the other boy, the hot one, she really wanted and he her. Along the way, she discovers her own inner strength to stand up to bullies and reunites with ex friends and then dumps her cool, nerd look to scrub up and do a full Gok Wan (or is it Gonk?) just in time for the prom and the final kiss with the hot boy.

Fun while it lasts, not terrible, not terribly good either, just sort of existing. It'll probably give you a smile but that's about it, just ignore the huge plot clunkers and the what-the moments as characters suddenly act differently just to propel the wheezing, lumbering, ancient old plot along to the next point.


#23: CHILD 44

#23: CHILD 44 (18/4/15)

Starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Vincent Cassel, Fares Fares, Paddy Constine and Jason Clarke. Screenplay by Richard Price. Directed by Daniel Espinosa. 137 minutes long.

Good news! You don't have to have seen Child 1 thru to 43 to understand what's going on in this one.

But bad news, unlike Fast and Furious 7, which shows that some film franchises just keep getting better and better the longer they go on, this one appears to have blown a few too many cylinders!

Welcome to the Soviet Union circa the early 1950s, a world of secret policemen, grim brutality, and utterly no murder under the rule of good ole Uncle Joe Starlin. Tom Hardy plays Leo Dimadov, a war hero and lead agent of the Ministry of State Security who becomes disgraced and exiled when his investigation into the death of a child reveals the unthinkable, that a serial killer is at work in a world which believes that murder is a capitalist disease and therefore impossible. To make matters worse, Dimadov's wife is accused of being a traitor and he and his wife, Raisa (Noomi Rapace) are exiled to a desolate industrial hellhole in the middle of nowhere. And just because bad news always travels in threes, it turns out that the serial killer just so happens to be beavering away there too! Crikey, talk about bad luck. From then on, Hardy finds a reluctant ally in police chief, Gary Oldman and together they start to track down the killer before he can kill again or before the authorities catch them trying to catch the killer and kill them to silence them.

By no means a barrel of laughs, this is a bleak and gloomy thriller with a eye on attention to detail rather than action. With an impressive cast, some great acting from Hardy and much bleakness. Indeed there's no escape from the bleakness or the oppression on display and the film seems to focus so much on the subtleties and subplots of the film that it looses sight of the main plot, the hunt for a child killer and that's this film's main failing. It has no real backbone, no central sense of drama, just the drudgery of the mundane. But in detailing that aspect of life the film is quite intriguing, it's just not a very exciting film, which is a major het het in a crime thriller featuring the search for a serial killer.

Still an intriguing idea and set in a very unique world, would have worked great as a TV show set across 26 weeks but not so as a 2 hr movie.


Friday, 10 April 2015


#22 WHILE WE'RE YOUNG (09/04/15)

Starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried and Charles Grodin. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach. 97 minutes long.

Judd Aptoad could learn a thing or two from Baumbach, compare this to his vile, About 40 and see which one feels more believable, plausable and enjoyable.

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are Josh and Cornelia, a married, childless couple, in their 40's,  the only ones left in their friendship circle without children. Josh is a writer's-blocked documentary film-maker who's been struggling for the past 10 years to finish off his next film, Cornelia is a producer and the daughter of a famous documentary film maker, Leslie Breitbart, Charles Grodin, with whom Josh has issues. Into their lives comes 20-something, free-spirits Jamie and Darby, he's another another documentary film-maker, the next hottest thing, and she's his ice-cream making wife. Played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. Charming, ego-massaging, seductive and fawning, it's not long before Josh and Cornelia have fallen for their charms and reliving their youth vicariously through the antics of Jamie and Darby along the way rediscovering their own creative juices and drives and kick-starting their stalled lives. But when Josh begins to realise that Jamie's motives might be far more mercenary that he'd first suspected and that he's being used as a stepping stone by Jamie to fame and success, he struggles to come to terms with his stalled life.

A dry, slow-burn, witty and small film, this is perhaps Ben Stiller's best film since Tropic Thunder. With a lovely soundtrack and great performances this was a deeply satisfying film and thoroughly well worth watching. The easy chemistry between Stiller and Watts makes their relationship seem all too real and there's a lovely choreographed sequence as the pair get ready for bed that's so beautifully underplayed that you might not notice it, but it says more than a page of pithy dialogue could ever do, plus there's an explosive argument at a party that seems so real, I would have sworn that Noah taped one of mine.

Catch it if you still can.



#21 JOHN WICK (7/4/15)

Starring Keanu Reeves, Micheal Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Ian McShane, Willem Dafoe, John Leguizamo and Bridget Moynahan. Written by Derek Kolstad, directed by Chad Stahelski. 101 blissful minutes of pure heaven.

Keanu Reeves is John Wick, retired assassin for the mob, grieving for his dead wife who saved him from his life of evil. Now John's days are spent thrashing a beautiful vintage 69 Mustang Mach 1 muscle car around an airfield and looking after Daisy the dog a posthumous gift from his wife to help him grieve. But when the son of his old friend and boss, Russian crime boss Viggo Tarasov, and his posse of hoods, break into Wick's house one night, beat him half to death, stealing his car and unwisely killing Daisy, Wick dusts off his old killing box and heads to town for vengeance.

 Unfortunately, John Wick turns out to be, Baba Yaga (The Boogeyman), a hitman feared by all and famous for killing three men with one pencil. To protect his son, Viggo puts a bounty of 2 million dollars on his John's head and unleashes an army of killers to get him, including the enigmatic assassin, Marcus played by Willem Defoe and Miss Perkins, Adrianne Palicki, the ultimate femme fatale.

And that's the plot, more or less. What follows over the next 101 minutes is simply the best Western action film of the 21st Century so far. It is one glorious, relentless, unflinching continuous gun and fist fight for 95 fantastic minutes, from one audacious action set piece to the next, each more awe-inspiring that the last, the sequence in the night club will leave you blissfully dazed and that's just after the brilliant assault on his house by a gang of heavily armed men. But this isn't just a balls-out action film, there's also humour and great performances too, coupled to stylish direction and superb soundtrack.

Keanu Reeves gets mocked a lot for his wooden performances, but here he brings a world weariness and believability to the role. He gets beaten and takes knocks, no Arnie invincibility here. He might be the worlds most lethal killer but he's also vulnerable to blades, bullets and car crashes, of which there are many.

Simply cannot think of a reason not to love this film, it's just about the most fun I've had at the cinema in an absolute age and I loved it. Go and see it and have a blast, I just hope there's a sequel.



#20 FAST AND FURIOUS 7 (03/04/15)
Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriquez, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Lucas Black, Ronda Rousey, Tachakorn Yeerum, Kurt Russell, Dkimon Housou, Nathalie Emmanuel and Romeo Santos.

Written by Chris Morgan and Directed by James Wan. 140 minutes long.

The story, for what it's worth, Jason Statham is Owen Shaw's big bad older brother and the world's greatest government assassin and he's somewhat peeved at what Vin, and the gang did to his baby brother in the last outing.

And that's all you need to know. The rest is a glorious, relentless romp and for nearly all its running time it's an absolute hoot! oddly the film falls flat on its face just in time for the third act and then struggles to rebuild the momentum in time for the final fight between three different factions.

It looks good, the action is relentless and silly and over all it's just a blast. it's let down by too many characters and the need to not only dispense your disbelief but to have it surgically removed.

Plus there's a fight at the climax of the film between the Stath and Disel that goes on so long it becomes utterly ridiculous and, dare I say becomes pantomime. The camera cuts away for a good 5 minutes (or so it seems) to keep track of everyone else and when it comes back they're both still slugging away with giant spanners and metal pipes, and that's before the multi-storey carpark comes crashing down on their heads. The laws of Physics aren't so much ignored and over looked as positively broken and rewritten by coked up Law Lord and after awhile what starts off funny begins to become somewhat irksome.  

Who would have thought a franchise written off at number three would only really get into its stride with #5 and then just keep on getting better.

Roll on #8!



#19 SEVENTH SON (29/03/15)

Starring Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander and a brief, blink and you'll miss it, Kit Harington. Written by three people! Matt Greeenberg, Charles Leavitt and Aaron Guzikoski  and directed by Sergei Bodrov

Another attempt to turn a successful YA series (13 books so far) into a successful movie franchise and another example of the fact that Hollywood has no idea what's going to succeed and what isn't. This one wont. Same old guff, but with a boy hero for the young girl audience who won't be going to swoon over. Jeff is the last member of a, once, thousand strong league of knights sworn to hunt down and kill witches. Julianne is the witch he once loved and couldn't kill who he buried in a cell instead. Ben is the new apprentice and there's a blood moon on its way and that's it. You should be able to work out the rest of the plot yourselves, especially if you don't try to do anything new or exciting and you make sure your keyword is dull.

Not fresh, not good and not that interesting either, made worse by Jeff Bridge's awful accent and a bizarre final showdown that sees most of the villains taking themselves out without the help of our heroes who seem almost as bored as I was.
I'd suggest you avoid this one, but hopefully you already have, it's gone already.



#18 WILD CARD (27/03/15)

Starring Jason Statham, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Angarano, Stanley Tucci, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Anne Heche, Hope Davis and Jason Alexander.

Written by William Goldman, directed by Simon West. 92 minutes long.

A tired, dull remake of the 1986 movie Heat starring Burt Reynolds. This time round, Statham plays down on his luck and heel, PI and bodyguard, Nick Escalante, who goes after the sadistic son of a mob boss who rapes and brutalises a friend of his. After that it's just the usual cliched tricks as Nick wins and loses a fortune at Pontoon and works his way up the food chain until he reaches the baddie, then it's one last fight to the death in the back alley of a diner, with Nick armed only with a spoon (not the first time Jason has fought with just a spoon, he did the same in the seemly ludicrous Blitz.

Jason Statham is a grade A, action hero and the sort of fighter you genuinely believe could easily break you in half like a twig. He could do this sort of thing in his sleep and beyond bringing his faux American accent and a vicious fighting skill to the table brings nothing else.

This is just a very generic film and with a script by Goldman I kinda expecting more, much, much more.




It's part two. Same players, same earnestness, same 'EVERYTHING IS SUPER DEATH OR LIFE IMPORTANT!' Same serious frowning, same young twenty year-olds. This time, the free-running numpties hide out with the lawyers and team up with the outcasts to take on the establishment and Kate Winslet who's unearthed a mysterious cyber time capsual with a message from the past from those who built the city. Then it's lots of running, some kissing, bloodless killing and serious, earnest 20-somethings pouting and kissing earnestly.

Not nearly as horrible as was feared and not a torture, say like the Twatlight films and a whole lot better than Seventh Son. But really why is all YA fiction so obsessed with post apocalyptic worlds filled with young people killing each other?



#16 THE VOICES (21/3/15)

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, Gemma Arterton and Jacki Weaver. Written by Michael R. Perry and directed by Marjane Satrapi. 104 minutes long.

Ryan Reynolds is Jerry Hickfang, a sad, lonely man struggling with mental illness who lives above a disused bowling alley and works for a bathroom factory operating a pallet lifter. He visits his counsellor daily and he's not taking his medication, which is having an impact on his mental health. His only friends are his dog, Bosco and his cat, Mr. Whiskers who talk to him endlessly, Bosco the voice of reason and Mr. Whiskers that of chaos encouraging our hero to kill.

We learn of Jerry's tragic past and the horrific damage that was done to him and it's obvious that jerry isn't a bad person and that he means well, it's just he seems to be a victim of fate. When he invited to joint a work committee to produce the employee barbecue he jumps at the change, it's there he falls for English accountant, Fiona played by Gemma Arterton, sadly he's well outside Fiona's league and their first date doesn't go well leading up to her accidental stabbing, murder and decapitation. He takes her head home and puts it in the fridge and along with the animals she too starts to talk to him forgiving him for the killing and asking for a companion to keep her company. And so Jerry asks one of Fiona's co-workers, Lisa, played by Anna Kendrick out on a date and it looks as if history is about to repeat itself, but can Jerry fight his demons before his life spirals out of control again?

This is a very black comedy and shows a very different side to Reynolds than the one who went down with Green Latern, this Reynolds flashing his acting chops, which he does with real skill, providing the voices for Bosco and Mr. Whiskers too. Funny, creepy and very black this won't be everyone's cup of tea.



#15 RUN ALL NIGHT (15/03/15)

Starring Liam Nesson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Boyd Holbrook, Genesis Rodriguez and Vincent D'Onofrio. Written by Brad Ingelsby and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. 115 minutes long.

Since 2008 Liam Nesson has acted in 18 movies, nine of which have been action films and it's safe to say that he completely re-invented himself since he first played Bryan Miles and it's easy to see why. He has a huge, hulking presence that lends itself perfectly to a certain type of action films that in the past would have been played to perfection by Charles Bronson. Liam tries to mix up each of his action roles so they can be differentiated from each other and this time round, he's Jimmy Conlon - a washed up, alcoholic, failed father and mob assassin/enforcer  working for his childhood best friend and mob boss, Shawn Maguire - Ed Harris.

Sadly Jimmy's grown up adult son, Mike wants nothing to do with his father as he struggles to make ends meet by driving a limo to support his young family. One night their world's collide when Mike is an eye witness to mob hit by Ed's son, Boyd Holbrook – a wrong un to be sure – and gets arrested by corrupt police man who then try to kill him. Luckily Liam's on hand to rescue him and before Jimmy can come to terms with the situation, he's a wanted man on the run for his very life and the only person who can save him is his estranged father.

Then, to make matters even worse, Shawn Maguire son is killed by Liam when Shawn tries to kill his son and now the pair of them have to run all night from an city of killers.

This was a surprisingly satisfying movie, Liam's post Taken films have been a mixed bag with sadly more misses than hits so it's a relief to report that this one is a true hit, thanks in no small part to the acting chops of Ed Harris and Vincent D'Onofrio who both manage to elevate this entertaining and enjoyable film that harkens back to the crime films of the 1970s. Sadly a suprise cameo in the third act robs the film of its momentum and the subsequent introduction of an unstoppable hitman, in a trenchcoat with a truly ridiculous kill score in the third act turns the film into a sub terminator movie. Luckily the showdown between Liam and Ed Harris is enough to just about drag the film back to its feet.

Satisfying and enjoyable. A solid and gripping crime film well deserving of an 7/10.


#14 THE INTERVIEW (19/02/15)

Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco and Randall Park. Written by Dan Sterling, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
Franco and Rogen play cable chat-show host and his producer who out M&M on camera and get an invite to interview Kim Jong-Un in North Korea. The C.I.A recruit them to assassinate Kim and the rest, as they say, is easy peasy. This is one of those films that came to the cinemas with an amazing amount of publicity thanks in so small part to the hacking attack that Sony suffered at the hands of North Korea, which is odd because chances if North Korea had just ignored this film, it would have sunk without a trace. As it is, the controversy made it the highest grossing digital movie ever.

Overall, this was a surprising funny film, Franco and Rogen seem to becoming the 21st Century Bing and Hope and their obvious off-screen friendship gives them an easy and likeable chemistry on screen. Filled with laugh out moments, gross out humour and one genuinely touching sequence where Franco goes out on a day-long bro-date with Kim and they bond over their love of a shared song and a tank.

This is pure fantasy and in no ways grounded in reality, sharing the same passion of fact based historical accuracy as Inglorious Basterds. Overall this was a very enjoyable and funny film, perhaps not as funny as last year's Alpha Pappa but still highly enjoyable and well worth a punt.



#13 JUPITER ASCENDING (07/02/15)

Starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne and Sean Bean. Written and directed by the Wachowskis. 127 minutes far too long.

Hmm, right. There's this family run by Eddie Redmayne what owns most of the galaxy including the Earth, which they seeded with humans and have been waiting for the right moment to harvest them, which luckily enough just so happens to be now. Then on Earth, there's this Russian toilet cleaner, Mila Kunis who just so happens to be the re-incarnation of the Empress of the Galaxy, which she doesn't know. Anyway, Eddie's lot want her dead cos she can save the world, and Bean's lot want her alive. So half wolf, half pixie, Caine Wise, played by Channing Tatum the deadliest warrior E-VER is sent to protect her from a slew of baddies. Lots of chasing goes on around New York, or Chicago or LA, whatevs, didn't care then, care even less now. Luckily, Tatum rescues her and takes her to Bean who lives on Earth raising bees, whom we discover are genetically programmed to swam around royalty and detect lies. Eddie's bunch are living inside Jupiter and his various brothers and sisters swan around being cunning and stuff. Luckily, Kunis is 'the one' and so she sods off into outer-space to be recognised as the re-incarnated Empress of the Galaxy and there thwart the greed of Eddie.

After that there's lots of sequences where lots of pixels explode and people dangle off tall things, or fly around tall things, or fall off tall things or get rescued off tall things before the whole thing mercifully ends and we can all go home.

A lot's been said about how great this film looks but I say whop-die doop. These days ALL films look good, CGI can create anything so saying a film looks good today is like saying water is wet.

This is a film that made just 5 million more than its budget thus making it one of the most expensive flops of all times. What has happened to the Wachowskis? I loved Matrix, simply loved it. I enjoyed Bound and I even thoroughly enjoyed Cloud Atlas. But this just feels like a pale Matrix rerun, it's dull, it's boring and it's crushingly un-original. I'll give them kudos for trying to create a new science fiction film universe but why did they have to populate it with such guff and then make it so dull and un-involving? And seriously and apologises in advance if I'm ruining the ending but are you seriously telling me that given the chance to cruise the galaxy as Empress or staying on Earth cleaning out toilets you'd much rather stay on Earth? Fuck off. 

By no means as dreadful as Matrix 3, but just, alas, dull, bland and rather boring.




Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophie Cookson and Sofia Boutella. Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Based on a graphic novel by Mark Miller and Dave Gibons. 129 minutes long. 

Inspired by the classic Bond villains, Billionaire, and then some,  computer genius, Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) has a plan to save the world by destroying it so that the super-rich can inherit the Earth and only one man, well two, well several actually an entire network of a super-elite, spy agency stand in his way. Colin Firth is Harry Hart - one of the band of secret agents called Kingsmen who work, like later-day Knights of Old defending the realm from enemies both foreign and domestic. When a fellow agent is killed whilst on a failed rescue mission, Hart takes a punt on a young man called, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the son of another fallen agent, and recruits him into the agency. Trouble is Eggsy is a wrong-un, a Royal Marines drop out, living on a sink estate, a juvenile delinquent in trouble with the law and with a long criminal record of petty crime.  But Hart is convinced there's more to the boy than meets the eye and starts to re-educate him, transforming him from troubled yoof into a suave  gentleman spy in time for the third act showdown, Bond-style in Valentine's mountain-hewn lair. There's a 'firework' sequence in the final assault that seems to have divided audiences, some loving it and others thinking it a step too far, but I loved it, thinking it was perfect for the whole tone of the film.

This was a fantastically fun film that had the audience howling in laughter, with great action set pieces, some lovely humour and terrific performances. All-in-all this was a glorious and thoroughly entertaining spy film that paid homage to the Bond films of old while never giving them the Vics.

Colin Firth was a revelation, who won me over despite years of 'meh' indifference. And aside from some IKEA style set designs and slightly iffy CGI effects there's not a bum note in the entire film and the final scene, perhaps one of the filthiest I've ever seen had the entire audience cheering in surprise. 

Matthew Vaughn once again shows a deft hand with comic-book based material and shows himself to be a director of a light touch and a great sense of humour.