Archive for October, 2019

As he walks the streets of Gotham City Arthur Fleck is isolated, bullied and disregarded by society causing him to descend into madness turning him into the anarchy iconic criminal known as the Joker.

Channeling the likes of Taxi Driver, American Psycho with a dash of The King of Comedy director Todd Phillips offers an outstanding Joker origin film, so much so and Oscar worthy it feels too good to be a mere DC superhero movie.

Joaquin Phoenix is mesmerisingly outstanding, making Fleck both sympathetic and menacing. The Wayne/Batman connections are weighty and dramatic enough not to induce eye-rolling. Cinematographer Lawrence Sher delivers the atmospheric grit of the late 70s into an early 1980s set Joker.

The psychological aspect is reminiscent of American Psycho with a play on what is real and what is not. Its intriguing throughout watching Fleck’s metamorphosis into something quite edgy and creepy during the briskly paced running time.

Phillips expertly injects violence that is hard hitting, that emulates the simmering and brutal kills of The Godfather, Goodfellas and the like with a tragic character and dark comedy at its core.

It’s a must see, if anything, it’s arguably too well made to be a comic book movie.

An expert hitman is pitted against his own clone run by a government sanctioned security service Gemini.

Director Ang Lee offers a solid fun actioner with an injection of science fiction that echoes the likes of Assassins (1995) and the 6th Day (2000) with a feel of John Woo’s Face Off (1997).

With a notable supporting cast that includes the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Douglas Hodge, Benedict Wong and (somewhat wasted) Ralph Brown you’d think it would be a entertaining dramatic hit however everyone feels so relaxed that there’s no real sense of danger. With paper thin motive the Jason Bourne-like government conspiracy scenes never quite hit the mark lacking some much needed weight.

Even though the whole film seems an excuse for Will Smith to face off against the parallel universe Fresh Prince of Bel-air assassin, Smith is great in the duel young/old roles along side a menacing Clive Owen. Smith, however, like the reset of the cast feels flat, even during the emotional highs, possibly due to the colourful locations, cinematography and Ang Lee’s general directing style.

The CGI de-aged effects are a mixed bag at times as excellent as the wacky fight setups but at others not as effective as the young Sarah Conner in Sky Dance’s other release Terminator Dark Fate.

With global-trotting fights, chases and shoot outs throughout there plenty to like right up-to a little clone twist in the closing act along with a surprise death.

Overall, Gemini Man is a lot better then the trailer makes it out to be but it’s odd tonally flawed entertaining action film.

In Mexico City a young woman named Dani Ramos becomes the latest target of a cyborg assassin, Rev 9, from the future sent by ‘Legion’.

Director Tim Miller (Deadpool) offers a standup Terminator outing correcting Genisys working as a sequel to Terminator 2. However, opening with Endoskeleton Terminators which are wiped out because of the events in T2, a young John and (excellently CGI rendered young) Sarah Connor – it then takes a sudden story turn to present day. Miller flashes forward at times to a possible or inevitable future (never clarified in Dark Fate if it can be prevented as in T2). These snippets introduce a Salvation like future with bizzare fast moving tentacle Terminators and the creation of an technologically augmented super soldier.

It has better casting than Terminator 3 (namely poorly cast Danes and Stahl). But don’t get too excited though as it barely has the grit or grounded practical feel of The Terminator nor the substance and style of the second. Frankly there’s too much CGI which takes centre stage ripping you out of the action. That said, as a CGI driven modern action film younger viewers may find it more appealing, but this is where the likes of Halloween (2018) and also Mexican themed Rambo: Last Blood have a slight edge over Miller’s loud big outing as the aforementioned focus is on the characters not just the effects.

Emotionally the film belongs to it’s cybernetically enhanced soldier Grace brilliantly played by Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton, who returns as Sarah Connor. Both actors have great chemistry. Hamilton is great here, Miller keeps it refreshingly female orientated.

Gabriel Luna’s advanced Terminator model whose skin and skeleton can function as two separate bodies is interesting but his incognito infiltration element, to blend into any surrounding is wasted as he blatantly goes on wacky outlandish killing sprees in plain sight.

Schwarzenegger lights up the screen as Terminator but it leaves very little impact, it’s a pitty he didn’t show up in the flesh in Salvation. His 101 model has some good lines and generous amount of screen time. Many elements are rehashed from T2, others echoing the underrated Salvation, Dani Ramos (played by Natalia Reyes) is the new the Sarah Connor but with a welcomed little twist on the story.

Miller and writers thankfully keep it coherent compared to the last outing, but they never really explore the time travel whys and what. Also Kyle or Ginger never get a mention from Sarah’s lips, given her subtler scenes with both leads it felt like a missed opportunity.

Overall, with less CGI it could have been great, never the less it’s an enjoyable Terminator film, maybe coming from an analog age it’s just not my Terminator film.

While attempting to save her father during a hurricane, a woman finds fighting for her life against a group of hungry alligators.

Alexandre Aja (director of the underrated Maniac and overlooked Pyramid) offers a excellent exciting creature feature flick.

The glue here though is a good performance by Kaya Scodelario as Hayley. Barry Pepper is also on his usually form as her father Dave. The premise is simplistic enough. There’s moments reminiscent of The Shallows, Rouge and 47 Metres Down to name a few.

Where Aja excels is with the practical and digital effects, as looters, police and other fodder are devoured on the rising waters and storm backdrops. The tension at times is as well executed as the alligators themselves especially the setups where Hayley is trapped in a house.

Overall, it’s no game changer or as visually ground breaking or clever as Aja’s other works but it is a recommend creature feature, especially thanks to Kaya’s dedicated performance and alligator moments.