Posts Tagged ‘Film’

Related imageAn American becomes a member of the Japanese yakuza and tries to help the clan who are under a power pressure from a rivaling gang.

Less stylised than Only God Forgives (2013), director Martin Zandvliet offers a well filmed, satisfying, yet, paint by numbers gangster screenplay from
Andrew Baldwin in the vain of a string of 80s and 90s Japanese organized crime syndicate films, including the likes of American Yakuza (1993) and Black Rain (1989). That said, what makes The Outsider standout and more interesting from many other yakuza yarns is the 1954 post WWII backdrop and the strong cast performances.

The tone and score compliments Zandvliet’s well staged ultra violent moments – fingers are cut off, throats are cut and people are shot, strangled and stabbed. With deaths echoing the Godfather trilogy writer Baldwin wisely includes the staple themes loyalty, betrayal and forbidden love with Zandvliet bringing these visually to life with the grease and atmosphere of the 50s, injected into the costumes sets and locations.

Jared Leto’s snake like performance as prisoner of war Nick Lowell is a highlight as he becomes part of the yakuza. The Shiromatsu patriarch, Akihiro, played wonderfully by Min Tanaka is notable. Tadanobu Asano is memorable as Yakuza member Kiyoshi who Nick helps out of an Osaka prison.

Overall, not a gangster game changer but enjoyable nonetheless.

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Warning: Spoilers

The evil powerful Thanos is on a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, which will destroy 50 percent of the whole galaxys population, only a group of superheroes stand in his way.

With its ensemble cast (too many to mention) Avengers: Infinity War is almost wall to wall nonstop action with comic book quips throughout. Thanos is surprisingly likeable in parts and adds some emotional weight making the story more dynamic. Viewers to make sense of chaos on the backdrop of outstanding effects, fantastic sets and outlandish costumes may want to watch Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor Ragnarok to name a few essentials to make sense of the sacrifice and devastation on display.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo offer an enjoyable film with surprise deaths of beloved characters (Loki in the first few minutes) scattered over its well paced lengthy running time, which whizzes by. While older comic book readers may not be able to work out why these on screen character don’t have that secret je ne sais quoi of their paper counterparts, ultra geeks and readers of more recent comic series will no doubt find it a movie Marvel blast. Unlikely characters are paired together, creating some enjoyable comedy, tension and action moments as the story gets bleaker and bleaker for our heroes.

With some sharp editing and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely leave Infinity War on a cliffhanger not seen since The Empire Strikes Back*. Or for those who will never watch another Marvel instalment, behold the most nihilistic ending to a comic book film ever.

*There’s the obligatory after credit scene where Nick Fury calls on Captain Marvel to help Marvel film fans sleep at night until the next installment.

Set in an isolated underwater facility, a team of scientists carry our research on genetically engineered Mako sharks to help fight Alzheimer’s disease but this go awry when sharks go on rampage and flood the facility.

Director Renny Harlin’s delivers a B-movie premise that’s good fun. Although the CGI shark effects are a bad as they were back on its 1999 release, the practical shark effects still hold up and are impressive even today.

There’s plenty of shark action and the cast boasts both Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson in small pivotal roles. Leads Saffron Burrows and Thomas Jane play it perfectly straight and are solid enough. However, Donna & Wayne Powers and Duncan Kennedy’s screenplay add comedy moments mostly in the guise of LL Cool J who is memorable as Sherman the cook ‘Preacher’, instead of it being totally serious throughout.

There’s some good set-ups and surprise deaths, an ominous attack on partying teens, a shark smashing stretchers against windows, sharks casing through flooded shafts, a helicopter crash, think The Poseidon Adventure meets Jaws 3.

Although Deep Blue 2 followed – it’s less squeal and more of remake, recycling some of the story setups and script only without the budget and tension. Stick with Harlin’s original.

Image result for tomb raider 2018The daughter of an eccentric adventurer embarks on a perilous journey starting at her fathers last-known location in Japan.

So in 2001 we didn’t get actress Rohan Mitra, we got Angelina Jolie instead. After casting directors passed on Marvel’s Hayley Atwell and Star War’s Daisy Ridley for this reboot Alicia Vikander won the role. Director Roar Uthaug offers Tomb Raider a Lara Croft origin story, she’s younger with distracting, gasps, grunts, pants and yelps at every stunt. Here Uthaug presents Lara honing her skills, missing jumps here, getting beaten there. It’s Lara the student not the gun-toting archaeologist yet.

Uthaug offers sweeping camera work throughout, London, oceans, waterfalls and jungles, it’s an extravagant production, the locations ooze atmosphere and the effects are not too distracting. Writers Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons’ dialogue at times is derivative, but thankfully the solid acting glosses over it. Satisfyingly the tone is less comic-like, that said, it lacks any setups to write home about, there’s a circumstantial shipwreck and an exciting escape from a dilapidated plane that has long since crashed, both of which are visually impressive but could be in any other film. There’s nothing in terms of setups which equal or surpass anything in the previous two Tomb Raider films or the original Eidos Interactive game.

To Vikander’s credit she does a credible job and equals actor Dominic West and his deep tones as her dad, Richard Croft. Actor Daniel Wu, Lara’s side kick is notable and Predators actor Walton Goggins offers some seriousness and weight, delivering a the perfect 80s thriller intense bad guy in a good way.

There’s machine-gun shoot outs, bow and arrow pulling, chases, Indiana Jones-like shenanigans and every tragic father daughter cliche you can think of complete with a post title scene setting up a sequel with more Lara-like trademark weapons.

Overall, it’s not bad but not great either, pretty forgettable but at least there’s not a nanotechnology McGuffin in sight.

Dr. Paul Kersey is an ER surgeon burning for revenge, to deliver justice for his family’s assailants.

Eli Roth’s Death Wish is arguably more satisfying than revenge films The Equalizer (2014), Oldboy (2013) and on par with the great stylised John Wick (2014) in term of entertainment. Bruce Willis makes a triumphant return to top form as Paul Kersey in this fitting and timely remake of Death Wish. Willis reminds us he can act and not just turn up, this is a well produced on location feel action, unlike his recent low-par films and cameo-like performances.

Eli Roth offers one of his most conventional Hollywood-like movies to date, but includes his staple gore in a few moments throughout mostly dished out by Willis’ slayings and some unconventional use of everyday weapons. The action thriller is fast paced with plenty of shootouts. Likeable Elisabeth Shue is fittingly cast as Kersey’s wife, along side Vincent D’Onofrio as his brother. Notable are actors Camila Morrone is as Kersey’s daughter and Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris is cast as warm Detective Kevin Raines.

From a solid screenplay by Joe Carnahan based on Death Wish (1974) and Brian Garfield’s Death Wish novel the film works within its own logic, the doctor come vigilante Willis character has an arc and manhunt aspect where the media debate whether he is a guardian angel or grim reaper gives weight to the intense drama. You could fit on a postage stamp what it has to say about gun crime and it socially sits on the fence, with Roth leaving it for the audience to decide what’s right or wrong.

At the end of the day, it’s an well made action revenge flick. Overall, one of Willis memorable roles to date, recommended.

In Thailand, a drug trafficker’s icy mother sends him on a mission to avenge his older brother death.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives feels more like his Valhalla Rising (2009) rather than the more conventional and mainstream Drive (2011). The music is mesmerising, stirring the uneasiness of The Shinning (1980). It’s atmospheric, stylish, quiet and yet ultra-violent, with the beats of an opera. It echoes elements of Diva (1981), Collateral (2004), Subway (1985) and David Lynch’s dream-like quality to name a few.

Ryan Gosling plays Julian Thompson, an American criminal who lives in Bangkok. Gosling smolders (with limited dialogue which appears to have become his trademark staple) Julian speaks less than 20 lines throughout the film. Kristin Scott Thomas shines as Crystal Thompson, Julian’s mother, a merciless and terrifying mafia godmother, probably her most memorable role. The star though is Vithaya Pansringarm as the imposing Lt. Chang/The Angel of Vengeance.

Refn remains visually stylish thoughout with natural location shoot, he adds enough subtle narrative smarts and horrifying underworld characters to ground its beautifully filmed depravity.

The film’s characters are non-people; reminiscent of Revolver (2005) the things they say to each other are non-conversations, the events of neon-drenched nightmare are like some piece of French cinema which purposely plays differently to mainstream good taste. It’s slow, edgy and gripping as the extreme violence basic plot plays out.

Only God Forgives has some quirky casting and interesting visuals on the background of the seediest sides of Bangkok. If you like artsy, its dedicated to director Alejandro Jodorowsky which should give you an idea what to expect then this is for you.

Thor Ragnarok PosterThor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop the ruthless God Hela.

Director Taika Waititi offers more fun than the overlong, padded majority of Marvel films than it should, Thor Ragnarok has plenty of humour (maybe a little too much). From the special effects to costume design and colourful characters including actors Chris Hemsworth, whose Thor goes through a few changes certainly looks wise right up until the end. There’s a welcomed on form return of Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston’s sly Loki, Mark Ruffalo, who gets plenty to do with his dazed Banner and there’s more Hulk action, with Anthony Hopkins’ nonchalant Odin and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange who both cameo.

New comers to the series evil Cate Blanchett, who is not just a ‘end level baddie’, Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster and Karl Urban give more than the stereotype unsavoury characters, there’s also a few twists and turns. Tessa Thompson is also noteworthy and excellent Clancy Brown voices Surtur. Waititi also voices the memorable Korg.

There’s the obligatory end credit scene, here two of them. Interestingly where as the Led Zeppelin “Immigrant Song” is overused Mark Mothersbaugh’s music and the score is fitting to the 80s vibe throughout, sadly Magic Sword’s epic tune “In The Face of Evil” appears to be omitted from the feature, only appearing in the trailer. Still Mothersbaugh’s music has a similar feel.

Overall, Ragnarok’s strength lay in its entertainment value, thanks to some relaxed writing, likeable characters and story beats. Highly recommended.

In an alternate present day, humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been coexisting. Two police officers, one a human, the other an orc, embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it.

Director and producer David Ayer offers a part buddy film, reminiscent of the likes of Training Day, Alien Nation with a bit of Tolkien thrown in and you get what adds up to an enjoyable entertaining well paced movie. With wall to wall shoot outs, slick fights and magic wand sorcery Ayer handles the diverse mix of genre themes effortlessly as the unlikely paired partners battle rentlessly throughout an evening in L.A.

Actors Will Smith is on nonchalant form as Serpico-like Daryl Ward, unrecognisable Joel Edgerton with Orc makeup sporting a Nic Nolte-like raspy voice gives a standout performance as Nick Jakoby. Noomi Rapace is notable as a power hunger Elf and gives a physical intense turn as she goes about retrieving her wand to unleash a dark Lord. However, Lucy Fry steals the show as Tikka, a Rogue Elf who assists the unlike Orc and human police channeling Milla Jovovich’s Fifth Element Leeloo.

Writer Max Landis (son of John Landis) and Ayer throw in hints of comedy, a clever alternative Earth premise and interestingly set it during a night and day in L.A. Bright has plenty of ‘street’ atmosphere, as well as strong production values offering well executed special effects. To Ayers credit the mix of both reality and fantasy hold together seamlessly and you buy into the world and the Midnight Run, Judgement Night, Collateral, After Hours feel to name a few night set films from the get go.

Overall, a well balanced mix of genres in an alternative present day, with both underlying and on the nose social commentary that is almost too good for an action fantasy cop film. Recommend.

When music-hall star Elizabeth Cree is accused of poisoning her husband on the same night as the last of a series of ‘Golem murders’ Inspector Kildare discovers both cases maybe linked and sets about solving both crimes.

Based on an an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd’s 1994 murder mystery novel Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem director Juan Carlos Medina offers an old-school Hammer-style horror anchored by performances by subtle Bill Nighy (who took up the reigns from the late Alan Rickman), Olivia Cooke (of Bates Motel), Eddie Marsan and Daniel Mays. But it’s Douglas Booth as Leno who steels the show.

All the familiar Gothic Victorian elements and crime story beats are there reminiscent of A Study in Terror and countless other yarns and clichés set in the period which are more than likely inherited from Ackroyds source material. Set on the unforgiving, squalid streets of Victorian London in 1880, Jane Goldman’s script captures the Lizzy Borden and Jack the Ripper talk of the time, but where 2015’s comparable Frankenstein Chronicles series had a filmactic feel this is sorely lacking in Limehouse Golem given it’s made for TV look despite a theatrical release. That said the costumes, makeup and music are spot on as Nighy’s Kildare goes effortlessly about piecing the case together aided by some bloody flashbacks and spectres in his mind. There’s a little nihilistic twist which peaks interest showing that the conscious of life isn’t black and white especially when it comes to work politics, promotion and fame.

Overall, it has some gruesome elements and while it may not work as a whodunit reaching heights of In the Name of the Rose, Agatha Christie or a Sherlock Holmes mystery it satisfies as an unconventional immersive period piece in the vain of countless Ripper-like outings. Worth checking out even if for Booth’s memorable performance.

IT (2017) Review

Posted: September 9, 2017 in FILM REVIEWS/COMMENTS
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IMG_7758.JPGSeven young outcasts face their worst nightmare when an ancient, shape-shifting evil emerges from the sewer to prey on the town’s children.

Director Andy Muschietti’s story beats are perfect the casting is top notch. Bill Skarsgård is fitting as IT/Pennywise the Dancing Clown, a trans-dimensional evil that awakens every twenty-seven years. Skarsgård’s and Tim Curry’s IT is like Jack Nicholson to Cesar Romero’s Joker, both equally great but a different take on the same character, so there’s no need for comparisons. Incidentally there’s a fitting nod to Curry’s TV Pennywise in a room of clowns. For the main cast there’s the one reminiscent of a young Kevin Bacon, the Rob Lowe looking one, the Molly Ringwald (amusingly self referenced within the film) the River Phoenix one and so on. Echoing The Breakfast Club, Goonies and Stand By Me to name a few.

Muschietti and writers Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman even cram in a creepy gnarled tree and a dilapidated haunted looking house. Starsguard moves eerily slow and contorted at times and uneasy fast at others. There’s much more gore in this adaptation. As a horror it offers enough creepy moments but where it gives today’s horrors a run for their money is the friendship, outcast and bully themes which come directly from Stephen King’s source material.

A major departure from King’s 1986 novel and 1990 miniseries is the 80s setting for the child part, even with the Airwolf T-shirt, New Kids on the Block songs, Casio watch, Gremlins posters and Nightmare of Elm Street 5, Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 showing in Derry’s cinema, some of the period feels a little off but the recreation for the most part works.

Again its strengthen comes from the casting which emotionally affects the story at its core. Frights, whether a cellar, sewer, bathroom or the alley or simple a dark office, the music, sound design thanks to Muschietti’s staging amplifies the chills while wearing its heart on its sleeve with the young performers.

It’s tight and pacey, with enough time for the characters to breath. Muschietti injects plenty of jump scares and creepy moments, and with a larger budget and omitting the adult segments (saving them for an IT sequel/chapter 2 and possibly flashbacks to 1989) it actually, surprisingly is better than its predecessor adaptation.

Packed with terrifying, hallucinatory and nightmare imagery coupled with a near on perfect cast IT is highly recommend.