Saturday, 30 April 2016
Starring: Chris Evans, Roberrt Downey Jnr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emly VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt and Daniel Brühl.
Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. Budget $150 million. Running time 147 minutes long.
If I was to try and summarize the plot to this film I think it would take longer that the film's running time so I won't. Suffice to say, or nut-shelling it to a sound bite, the plot is something like this - the heroes gather after one too many incidents involving innocent bystanders and are forced to decide between signing up to a UN accord or going rogue, battle lines are drawn between Captain America and his chums and Iron Man and his, plus the arrival of two new supes, Spiderman and Black Panther. Meanwhile a shady looking young fellow is going around trying to get Sebastian Stan's Winter Solider blamed for the deaths of lots of people for his own nefarious purposes. After that, it's 147 minutes of near perfection.
This is, without doubt the best Marvel Universe movie so far produced, easily matching and surpassing Captain American's last outing and I thought that one was pretty damn good. The title is pretty misleading since there are so many characters it's more of an Avengers movie than it is a Capt American one however that's probably the worst thing you can say about this.
I was lucky to go into this film knowing little, apart from the trailers and for once the trailer reveals very little of this film! Plus, much of the trailer seems to have been made up of different takes and as such the film seems utterly fresh. The actors all seem to reveal in their roles so relaxed have they become in them. The plot is dense and complicated and builds nicely, never short changing you nor disappointing. The action is fantastic and the CG is used perfectly to enhance and not to create horrible plastic-looking monsters. There's little doubt that this will be the new benchmark by which subsequent super hero films are measured.
I bloody loved this film, it was effortlessly entertaining and the fights were genuinely peerless! you might have glimpsed the airport runway fight in the trailer but rest assured 'You ain't seen nothing yet!' in the true highlight of the movie the titular fight between the two bands of heroes is jaw-droppingly fantastic! And there are two sequences that had me not only gasping in sheer delight but whooping with utter joy, one is the introduction of the new Spiderman and oh boy what a glorious introduction that is, leading to a fight scene which eradicates the vile memories of the last three Spider Man movies in one go! And the other sequence I wouldn't dream of spoiling, it's just too wonderful for words, but it involves the Empire Strikes Back!
Taking time to develop the plot and giving each of the heroes time to shine, this was a film that despite it's long running time just zips along, a film that had me utterly engaged from beginning to end. The action sequences are fantastically mounted and the direction is lean and sharp.
I would suggest that if this is your first ever Marvel or super hero film then you're going to find it pretty incomprehensible but then that's your own fault for avoiding a simply glorious series of films, and it would pay for you to watch the last Captain America movie and the first Avengers one too before going in. However what makes this so good is that it doesn't all descend in the obligatory third act, final-fight showdown that often mars the Marvel movie template, this one ends in a much more personal way ending more with a whisper than a roar.
I won't take time to point out that this film is everything that the woefully piss-poor in comparison Batman Versus Superman would love to be. But the truth is that it is. Plus the Marvel Universe takes place in glorious day light and not the dreary, gloomy twilight fug of the DC-verse.
Without doubt the best blockbuster we're going to get this year!
See it once, see it twice, but whatever you do see it!
Starring Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon, Eriq Ebouaney and José Garcia. Written by Andrew Baldwin, directed by James Watkins. Running time 92 minutes.
The third action film of the month and the third set on the European mainland. This time round we've got an Englishman playing an American in Paris, while another Brit plays an American also in France and some French actors play French people in France. The plot sees permanently angry, CIA rage monkey SEAN BRIAR (Idris Elba) tracking down MICHAEL MASON (Richard Madden) - the world's greatest pick pocket who accidentally bag snatches a bag containing a bomb that subsequently explodes killing four innocent people just a few days short of Bastille Day, making him a person of interest to the CIA.
Anyway, Briar is shit hot at what he does and it isn't long before Mason is under his jurisdiction and he uncovers a conspiracy behind the bomb and the two men set off on an action-packed romp through Paris killing bad guys willy–nilly to find the real culprits and prove Mason's innocence, although he has actually contributed to killing four people.
The Paris setting is nice and somewhat fresh, Idris using the film as his audition for James Bond is wonderful, I wait for the day he gets his own Taken franchise and the whole thing is brisk and economic. Another thoroughly enjoyable Saturday Night Special!
This would have been an 8/10 but the film loses a whole point for the utterly awful end credit song that sees Idris singing a 'Little Britain' style song and revealing that as an actor he can't sing for shit.
Starring Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt and Jordi Mollà.
Written by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg. Directed by Ariel Vromen. 113 minutes long. Budget $31.5 million.
London-based CIA killing-machine and loving husband and father, BILL POPE (Ryan Reynolds) knows something that everyone else, except JERICHO STEWART (Kevin Costner) wants to know too...
The location of super, chain-smoking cyber-hacker JAN STROOP (Michael Pitt). Why? Because he has the MacGuffin of course! The thingie-gadget, what-not-do-dar that will let international, super-rich, media-loving terrorist XAVIER HEIMBAHL (Jordi Mollà) do something really, really bad. So when Pope is killed! No, not The Pope - leader of the Catholic Church, but Pope - Bill Pope - Ryan Reynolds, the home-loving super spy, the CIA headed by permanently angry QUAKER WELLS (Gary Oldman) is forced to recruit DR. FRANKS (Tommy Lee Jones) – a genius inventor-type bloke who has perfected a way of transferring memories between gerbils – in the hope he can access the memories from the, still-warm, corpse of Bill Pope.
Dr. Franks(enstein) transfers the memories of BILL POPE into the brain of a convicted, empathy-lacking, emotionless, death-row inmate, JERICHO STEWART (Kevin Costner) in the hope he will tell them where Pope stashed Jan. After all that build up, and it's a long time building, Pope spectacularly escapes, gets captured and escapes again, Jan Stroop stages a missile hi-jack in an attempt to sell the MacGuffin to the Ruskies, the baddy sics his psycho henchwoman, MARTA LYNCH on everybody to find Stroop and Jericho and Jericho discovers emotions and feelings thanks to Pope's memory transplant and connects with his widow and young daughter in a sequence that's oddly reminiscent of Jame Whale's 1931 horror classic, Frankenstein. All before the obligatory abduction of the innocent wife and child and the race against time with everybody converging on the location of the what-not-do-dah in a violence-packed, action homage to the finale of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World!
This is, without doubt the most brainless and ridiculously silly action film I've seen in ages.
A ridiculous and genuinely silly action film that is nevertheless an utterly and thoroughly enjoyable romp filled with outlandish action, copious amounts of violence and Kevin Costner, positively relishing the role. This is also a film with a hero who kills innocent victims and members of the police with utter impunity, who horrifically beats, nearly to death, a plumber so he can steal his van while at the same time enjoying his first lamb kebab.
This has all your favourite action film tropes including a shoot-out at a private airport and a delightful way of getting round London which will make any Londoner howl with delight.
Silly, ridiculous and thoroughly entertaining. The perfect Saturday night special.
Starring Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett and Tim Roth. Written and directed by Ilya Naishuller. Budget $2 million. Running time 92 MINUTES.
I have seen the future and it's not POV action films.
From the moment the unbelievably violent, slow-motion opening-credits start you've given a clue as to what is to what you can expect, scene after scenes of graphic violence, from baseball bats to heads, broken bottles stabbed into torso, bullets slicing through crash helmets to knives, fists and boots slamming into flesh and bullet-laden magazines slapped into guns, this film is a glorious celebration of ultra-violence in all its myriad forms.
Staying utterly true to its central conceit, this is a first-person action video game presented as an action film, the first of its kind although it's not the first film to be a POV (point of view), indeed in 2012 we had the utterly vile Maniac, starring professional Hobbit Elijah Wood, but it's the certainly the first to be a balls-out, non-stop action film and believe me, it's exhilarating - of that there's no doubt. It's also nausea inducing, disorientating and bewildering (but in a good way).
The plot sees you, Henry, wake up mute in a lab after a flashback to your childhood when you were bullied and your father, Tim Roth gives you a pep talk, from then on you're being chased by a literal limit-less army of black-clad henchmen and a strange white-eyed albino, Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) with telekinetic powers as you try and piece together just what the blooming heck is going on. Luckily every other scene Sharlto pops up to propel the plot along by playing a smorgasbord of roles, from mohican punk rocker to British army officer to demented underpant wearing party animal and hippy psycho from then on your on your back. Oh and there's a beautiful female scientist, Estelle - your wife, whose abduction at the hands of Akan gives Henry the plot he needs. Accompanied by a relentless pounding soundtrack of Russian Death Metal music, this film rips along, from one breath-taking thumping action scene to the next and it's utterly exhilarating!
But that's all it is, there's no depth to the plot, no story arc, no redemption, nothing except the straight ahead charge, as Henry is shoved to the big boss fight at the end.
There's been a resurgence of late in action films, my particular favourite genre and there's also been a shift away from US based films to a more Euro-centric one and that gives these films a new dimension, new locations and a different feel.
Sadly, by the time you read this review this extraordinary film will have gone from our screens, lasting as it did for just one week. So now you'll have to catch it on your goggle boxes at home.
Sunday, 10 April 2016
The biography of Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards (Taron Egerton) who, as a young boy, dreamed of competing in the Olympics and finally settled on the Winter version. The film follows him as he realises his dreams with the help of former disgraced Olympic ski jumper and alcoholic, Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), who goes on to win his own redemption through training the plucky Brit. This is the classic, much-loved, story trope of the classic sporting underdog winning against the odds.
Well, this is one of those films, you have to have a heart of cold stone not to be moved by, it's the perfect feel good movie, one you really wish was true, but sadly you quickly learn that most of what happens is ficionalised to make a good movie, still it's wonderful and the message at the core of it - it's not the winning, it's the competing - stops it from becoming hateful. With a splendid cast, Taron Egerton, who first came to prominence in last year's Kingsmen, is impossible not to like as Eddie and Hugh Jackman as Peary, the movie's fictional trainer comes to the party packing an extra suitcase worth of charisma. Nicely directed and with some terrific, vertigo-inducing ski-jumping sequences, this is a movie that will leave you with a spring in your step and a lump in your throat.
Great fun, loved every second. Well worth a watch.
Starring Micheal Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirst Dunsten, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher and Sam Shepard. Written and directed by Jeff Nichols. $18 million budget. 111 minutes long.
In the middle of the night, just before an FBI task force storm a religious cult, Roy (Micheal Shannon) and his childhood best friend, Lucas - a State Trooper (Joel Edgerton) go on the run with Roy's strange son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) for reasons that will slowly reveal themselves to us.
Alton is a pale, weak boy prone to talking in tongues, spouting covert government radio chatter and bringing down space-based orbiting space stations with the power of his mind alone. He's also able to fire beams of pure energy from his eyes and giving visions to those brave enough to stare into his eyes. As the two men and the boy drive across America, having picked up the boy's mother, Sarah (Kirsten Dunst). Meanwhile, government scientist, Paul Seiver (Adam Driver) is on the trail of the boy, although how and why is never explained. Indeed, there's lots that is never explained. Alton's messages are accepted by the cult as prophecies that herald the coming Armageddon and believe they will survive it if Alton is with them, so they dispatch a snatch squad to bring him back in time.
Like a cross between ET, Starman and Return to Witch Mountain, this is a strongly acted, well directed chase thriller that sort of never quite clicks and it's a tad frustrating. You're left wanting to know more or perhaps some closure, but too much of this film is spent with characters who know far more than we do and that's always frustrating, particularly Alton who seems to possess all the answers but refuses to tell anyone else.
Still, the film, playing as a road movie builds the tension and excitement nicely, it's helped by a solid cast and good direction, but it's the lack of closure or answers that ultimately makes this a little disappointing.
Friday, 8 April 2016
Written by Craig Mazin and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. Budget $115 million. Running time 114 minutes long.
It's the Prequel/sequel no one asked for, or wanted. Starting off with the origin story of the Huntsman (Hemsworth), his unrequited (until it's quited) love interest, Sara (Jessica Chastain), along with the wicked, mirror-obsessed, 'Evil Queen'- Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and her sister, Freya (Emily Blunt) and then fast forwarding 7 years to bring us up to speed for the sequel part. With so many strong female characters, it's a shame then that Hemsworth, swapping his trusty hammer for a couple of axes is the main focus of the poster and the film particularly since he's the most wooden and least interesting of all the main characters.
This fantastically dull adventure plod sees Hemp and Chas abducted as children by the Freya to be part of her army of children brought up not to believe in love, fall in love when they're adults and then meeting up and getting their nasty back on, off, on, off etc etc.
A dull, dreary, drude through a middling chilly landscape of wet autumn as our band of dull, dreary, dullards trudge after the Queen's mirror so it doesn't fall into the baddies hands, I wonder how that will turn out? Along the way, Hemp and Chas fall in and out of love more times than I could care less, accidentally point out all the stupid plot holes, and engage in a rigorous bout of - Cliche Movie Dialogue Bingo. Get the next line in dialogue before it gets spoken and win 10 points. It's fun for the whole family.
Honestly, I don't really remember that much about this. The first movie in this pointless series, if two can be said to be a series, saw the Huntsman team up with Snow White to kill the wicked Queen, this one sees the Huntsman recruited to take the mirror to sanctuary to save the realm, while the wicked Queen's hither-to unknown sister, Freya suffers a terrible love-induced trauma that sees her widowed and bereaved in the same night, which leads her to develop super ice powers and go a bit doolally head off oop-North to build an army of love-adverse child soldiers who wage war against somebody (it's never really gone into), for some reason (not really explained) towards some end, (never actually established). So, Hemp and Chas, both former child soilders in Freya's army fall in love (what, really? I never saw that coming in an army built of children raised not to believe in love) get separated by the Ice Queen and lead to believe the other is dead or that they betrayed the other. Then they meet up, bicker, fall in and out of love and meet up with some truly awful dwarfs lead by a terrible Nick Frost and a seriously dreadful Rob Brydon find and lose the mirror, battle some hybrid monkey/orcs all before Ravenna turns up again and they all have a bit of a ruck, that sees all the other former child soilders realise the error of their ways, along with Freya who discovers who's really behind all her misery, spoiler alert, it's her wicked sister. and then it sort of stops, bumping against the kerb sort of stopping and you traipse out wandering if you'd left the gas on.
Really pointless. 3/10 don't know what for, but I'm sure there was one thing I liked about? Oh yes the wardrobe department deserve a shout out, Theron's costumes were stupendous. Oh and there isn't a massive fight in a field between two massive CGI armies, so that's a blessed relief.
Please Baby Jesus, please let this one be the last.
Channeling the essence of Cronnenberg for all he's worth, this is Ben Wheatley's film version of the J.G. Ballard book of the same name. Indeed this was the second book by Ballard, the first being Crash, that was declared 'unfilmable' and left so for over 10 years.
Set in the 1970s the film sees the new resident, Doctor Robert Laine (Tom Hiddleston) move into his luxurious apartment on the 25th floor of a tower block built for the well-off and super rich by reclusive architect, Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons). Royal lives in the roof-top penthouse of the strange finger shaped building of the title. The building has everything you would ever need, from swimming pool to supermarket to gym (see, everything) so the residents need never leave. With his belongings still boxed, Laine wastes no time in sunbathing nude on the balcony much to the delight of his upstairs neighbour, single mother, Charlotte Melville (Sienna Miller) and her horny would-be boyfriend, Richard Wilder (Luke Evans), a brutish documentary film-maker, who lives with his heavily pregnant wife on a much lower floor. ANYWAY, before you can say "bloody hell, aren't you even going to unpack your kettle?" Laine and Melville are shagging like bunnies on the concrete balcony of her apartment and Laine is introduced to Royal and the world of the super rich in the guise of a fancy dress party. But it isn't long before cracks appear in this utopian society and as the power starts to falter in the tower and the fancy fruits start go off in the super market. Then battle lines are drawn up along social standing and wealth and civil war erupts between the floors. Looting parties, dressed in colour co-ordinated shell suits set out to find canapes and vol-en-vents and before you can say, 'Italian post-apocalyptic, straight-to-video, exploitation movie', bands of nomads dressed in rags and sporting gear roam the stairwells looking for women, food and wine...
Oblivious to the outside world, or is that the other way round? Tribal warfare leads to brutal violence, rape and murder as social moires and law and order breakdown. And through it all strolls Hiddleston, emotionally locked in, like the residents are physically, many meaningful conversations are had about class and society, acts of extreme violence erupt and it's all very much an adult Lord of the Flies. It ends without any true closure either emotionally or story-wise and you're left to ponder whether or not it was a good choice for a first date movie.
This film has a strange hyper real atmosphere, the actors except for Hiddleston deliver performances that boarder on near parody, emoting in an exaggerated manner. This married with the pin-perfect 1970's set design gives this film an other-wordly, dream-like quality. And yet there's something missing, a sense that something has been lost in the translation. It not nearly funny enough, the humour should be blacker than ink and yet it's not quite, there's a sense that the characters know a lot more than we the audience do and that's frustrating, and ultimately we're left unfullfilled.
Still, Ben Wheatley is a fascinating director and this was a valiant but flawed effort.