Posts Tagged ‘review’

Contains Spoilers!

A bus filled with colourful mentally stressed military try to stop an intergalactic sports hunter to save sniper’s son who is in possession of alien tech that his dad unintentionally sent him after his P.O. box was closed.

Following the events of Predator (1987) and Predator 2 (1990) notably including Peter Keyes’ son (as confirmed in the prequel tie-in novel and set presumably after 2010’s Predators, although not directly referenced), director Shane Black along with co-writer Fred Dekker echo the modest fun of past Predator movies. They offer a mix of gore and humour, while adding new elements and leave narrative breadcrumbs setting up future sequels.

Alan Silvestri’s Predator theme music is expertly reworked but is arguably heavily used by Henry Jackman. The on location night-time shoot adds atmosphere along with the dawn space ship crashing last act. The weaponry that the Predator wields is as fanboy neat as the original character design and effects on display. Even if the Predator dogs are not a menacing as in Predators.

Plot wise the writers give the classic Predator, here more agility, personality and motivation for helping the humans (as he is part human) without spelling it out in your face. They subtly explain why the “Tracker” Predator can see in heat POV without his mask due to his inbuilt biotech/biometric enhancements.

Boyd Holbrook (Narcos) is on usual form and is excellent as army sniper Quinn McKenna who encounters the Predator during a mission in Mexico. Know-how, gun-toting biologist Olivia Munn is impressive alongside the soldiers including actors Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane and Alfie Allen. Also in the castings favour is child actor Jacob Tremblay who doesn’t come across as annoying as Rory, Quinn’s autistic son. At times you care about the characters and morn when they meet their demise, Rhodes’ Williams in particular. Actor Sterling K. Brown is notable as the unscrupulous Govenment Agent.

The Predator is non-stop entertainment, mixing expected lowbrow dialogue and macho talk with no holds barred action sequences and special effects. Yes it’s exciting but the action does grow more outlandish in closing followed by off the wall human Predator robotic weaponisation.

This entry ups the ante, Uber style with larger action sequences bigger thrills but doesn’t reinvent or progress franchise (especially the Yautja species history or social structure as well as in previous films) as much as touted or deserved.

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Mission spoilers ahead…

Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions as group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for simultaneous nuclear attacks.

The excellently staged, outlandish, sweaty palm stunts feel even more real in this instalment as the IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time to stop two nuclear bombs being triggered. While far removed from the original ’60 TV series, the film offerings go from strength to strength and Fallout doesn’t merely rehash Rogue Nation’s approach.

Writer, director Christopher McQuarrie offers more high-octane action in this sixth instalment, the narrative is more complex, the stakes are high, the emotion well placed. McQuarrie goes out of his way to explain why Hunt’s marriage to Michelle Monaghan’s Julia Meade character from the third movie couldn’t last.

Here the cast are on top form Tom Cruise and Henry Cavill’s Agent Walker bounce perfectly off each other as they attempt to corner a despicable arms dealer named John Lark. Both Hunt’s IMF boss played excellent by Alec Baldwin and Simon Pegg get physical and Ving Rhames add some unexpectedly emotion clout. Sean Harris returns as Solomon Lane who is as intense and nonchalant as ever. Vanessa Kirby leaves an impression, possibly for a comeback in a sequel, Milla Jovovich-ish Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust is impressive especially during the action sequences. Notably Wes Bentley an actor who fell off the radar is given second life, briefly appearing as Patrick, Julia’s second husband.

The big action set ups in Paris and London are memorable, injected with exciting score by Lorne Balfe. Unexpectedly Fall Out feels fresh and moves the series forward. Even though you can see some story twists coming a mile off there are genuine surprise moments along with proper thematic substance in amongst the white-knuckle action.

Undeniably the best entry in the franchise, re-establishing Cruise’s status as an action superstar. Highly recommended.

Contains Spoilers

Davey Armstrong suspects his local police officer is a serial killer, along with a group of his friends they spend their summer gathering evidence but with dangerous consequences.

With the popularity of the 1980’s at an all-time high, TV series Stranger Things, the IT film remake to name a few, imagine if the Goonies and Stand by Me teens went on the hunt for a serial killer instead of looking for a dead body or treasure! Directors Anouk Whissell, François Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell’s Summer of 84 offers a modest dark adventure which delivers just that.

The cast are impressive, the teens have family struggles which ring true. Lead Graham Verchere is impressive as conspiracy fan Davey Armstrong. Judah Lewis, reminiscent of a young Rob Lowe and Michael J. Fox is notable along with likable Tiera Skovbye as Nikki Kaszuba providing the typical yet timeless (before Xbox ans PS4) crush interest.

There’s a great score with John Carpenter vibes, contrary to what the critics say there isn’t an over reliance on nostalgia of the titular decade, the soundtrack is 1980s minimal, the pop culture dialogue references are only littered throughout, with the E.T, Poltergeist-like neighborhood location sprinkled with just enough 80s for you to buy the period setting as they spy on their neighbor Rear View Window and Burbs style. It not just in your face nostalgia but also has that teenage discovery, angst and your first love element which crosses generations.

Technically the pacing of the three directors falters in the dark themed closing as the last act, jarringly it goes off the predicable beaten track, but thankfully everything isn’t wrapped up satisfying like an episode of Scooby Doo, hats off to the writers Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith avoiding a paint by numbers ending we all wanted.

With a surprise death, this offering goes out of its way to avoid expectations. This goes both for and against Summer of 84. But there again as the story tells, life isn’t always roses and doesn’t go the way you’d expect.Excellent 80’s style teenage thriller which plays on expectations

A troubled Vietnam veteran turned writer moves into a haunted house after inheriting it from his kooky aunt.

Director Steve Miner (Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Friday the 13th Part 2) House oozes all the wacky horror comedy staples of the 80s. In the hey days of optical effects and practical make-up House is just as fun (but not as creepy) as on its initial release. At times echoing The Evil Dead (1981), in the vein of Fright Night (1985) and clearly infulcing The Burbs (1989) in terms of suspicion and locations, it deserves a tab in horror history.

Dispite some pacing issues Miner offers suspense at times with a few jump scares and eerie dream sequences. There’s severed hands and heads, an obese witch, the impressive zombified corpse of Big Ben, three demonic kids and a stop motion flying skull-face, there’s plenty of creepy visuals on display.

William Katt’s Roger Cobb balances the special effects with paranoia, obsession with his missing son and PTSD, there’s a lot going it what could have been a simple two dimensional character. Notable for horror aficionados Kane Hodder (of Jason, Friday the 13th fame) serves as stunt coordinator.

While the effects may not been as hidden by VHS grain and TV AV connectors on the Bluray format Miner’s House still has plenty of tongue-in-cheek horror fun.

Image result for the megShark Spoiler Alert.

An unimaginable threat, a 75-foot-long prehistoric shark known as the Megalodon is set free from the depth of the ocean and only a rescue diver Jonas Taylor can stop it.

The MEG is what Jurassic Park was to the late Crichton’s novel. And that’s not a bad thing for Steve Altens’ novel MEG Terror of the Deep. It works commercially, and it looks great, director Jon Turteltaub gives it that cinematic feel that comes with a great effects and 150 million USD production values.

This adaption is entertaining mostly due to Jason Statham’s nonchalant likeable performance as Taylor who must must save the crew and the ocean itself from the giant shark. It’s more action orientated than thriller with hit and miss humour littered throughout. Rebecca Romijn-alike Jessica McNamee is memorable but her screen time is limited. Notable are Cliff Curtis and Rainn Wilson. The whole cast give solid enough performances including Winston Chao, Li Bingbing and striking Ruby Rose.

Most likely due to Jurassic World’s Mosasaurus the MEG novel prehistoric opening has been dropped and overall the bare bones of the novel remain, but not much more. One particular tweak from the book worked, with the later reveal that there’s more than one Megalodon. Oddly Shark Hunter (2001) and Megalodon (2002) feel closer to the novel than this. That said, these low budget serious toned ripoff attempts lack the execution of Turteltaub’s offering. Don’t expect the book and it won’t disappoint in terms of no brainers like Armageddon, Independence Day and Transformers to name a few blockbusters.

Although it cheekily borrows elements from Jaws (1975) and Jaws 3D (1983), this adaptation gives Meg legs for future film outings as there are plenty more Alten novels to adapt and die hard fans will always have the source material too. When is the film ever as good as the book, Turteltaub’s outing is no The Shinning exception, but is goes out of its way to be fun, even if only touching on depth.

Overall, it won’t blow novel fans away nor has it the gravitas of Jaws but for the casual viewer it’s a recommended piece of summer shark entertainment.

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.

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, Owen Grady and Claire Dearing return to the island of Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano that’s about to erupt but soon uncover a conspiracy that will change the fate of the dinosaurs forever.

Opening with the Mosasaurus destroying a submersible and a Tyrannosaurus attack, J.A. Bayona’s direction is on point as he handles the mammoth film effortlessly. At first Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom appears to improve the ethical conundrums of bringing dinosaurs back to life, building on themes touched on in Spielberg’s 1993 original and the novel source material. However, things take a major turn in the second act.

This instalment offers an impressive (but distracting) CGI loaded destruction of Isla Nublar’s Jurassic Park/World after the eruption. This setup includes a select few of the de-extinct dinosaurs being ‘saved’ only to be used for corporate gain with echoes of The Lost World. Still, the tone shifts to a Halloween-like dark place and Fallen Kingdom becomes a stalker in a mansion, cat and mouse type film.

The latter half offers some serious nightmares for younger viewers and possibly leaves fans of the outdoors feel of its predecessors scratching their heads. While the second half is a brave shift in terms of setting and tone the philosophical points, mostly from an Ian (Jeff Goldblum’s) cameo, are interesting but the message simply feels off and doesn’t really take Kingdom forward.

In amongst the tense well staged action packed set pieces, (drowning in a Gyrosphere springs to mind) and genuinely thrilling moments there are too many unscrupulous cartoon like villains, even more so than its predecessor. Namely Toby Jones Lockwood Estate auctioneer host, unprincipled Dr. Henry Wu (B. D. Wong returns) and there’s corrupt Rafe Spall’s Murder She Wrote-like killer Eli Mills. James Cromwell Sir Benjamin Lockwood, John Hammond’s former partner accent is as out of place as the cloning Scooby doo subplot twist which leads nowhere. On the flipside both Chris Pratt’s Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard’s Dearing are on form and much better performance wise here. Also notable is Ted Levine’s Ken Wheatley, a seasoned mercenary who has a memorable scene with the a newly created dino, part Indominus rex and a Velociraptor, the sociopathic Indoraptor! Trained Blue’s storyline and purpose is never fulfilled, the raptors ‘emotional’ DNA is never used as the weaponised pro-type goes on a hunt through the estate for our heroes and a young girl.

Kingdom returns to the thrills and scares which the first delivered but through no fault of Bayona, over four films, the novelty and wonder has faded. With a post credit scene setting up another sequel you can’t but think that, even with the change of direction, the Jurassic series should be left in Amber.

Warning: Contains star destroying spoilers.

A crew devises a daring plan to travel to the mining planet Kessel to steal a batch of valuable coaxium.

Credit to award winning director Ron Howard Solo feels like a small film, focusing on characters and high stakes,  not just big sets ups. Howard offers a dark standalone entry without the plodding pacing of Willow or his drama epics. Even with the reshoots and behind the scenes director changes rest assure Howard’s vision fits perfectly in the Star Wars universe. With a few title cards introducing us to the story (no Star Wars title crawl) setting the scene. It’s builds on Rogue One’s grim look opening with Corellia. The effects are as first rate as the performances.

While Han isn’t quite the swashbuckling adventurer yet, Solo isn’t the swashbuckling adventure film either. But that’s not a bad thing leaving room for the further buddy movie adventures of Chewie and Han in the future.

Mother of Dragons Emilia Clarke makes up for her less than perfect Sarah Connor as Hans strong independent love interest. Kira Joonas Viljami Suotamo is perfect one again as Chewie mirroring Peter Mayhew‘s Chewbacca wonderfully. Here we see the Wookie fighting more, pulling arms out of sockets with glimpses into his character and background. Like all the main player characters we’ve grown to love including Lando Calrission (Donald Glover taking over the cape from Billy De Williams) are handled carefully.

Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett and his ill-fated crew are great including Thandie Newton at the top of her game and while Alden Ehrenreich may not be everyone’s first choice as a young Han Solo, he does a sterling job.

John Powell, John Williams music fits and heightens the emotion, double crosses and shootouts. We see how Han is named Sol and here we also see Han, once again, getting to shoot first in a pivotal moment. Yet, thankfully it’s not an eye rolling paint by numbers origin tale.

Amongst the excellent action scenes and impressive special effects (no distracting subpar effects, like in Last Jedi) there’s plenty of Star Wars trilogy connections with planet dropping and character (Bosk, Hutts to name a few) dialogue nods including a surprise link and character to the prequels, namely Dark Maul! It also plays against trailer expectations that Paul Bettany’s Crimson Dawn criminal boss Dryden is the masked Cloud Rider saboteur Enfys Nest who in fact is played by Erin Kellyman. The Star Wars story has plenty of twists and turns and it’s even more universe building than Rogue with its moulding of Han into the character we loved.

While not a huge spectacle film it’s still an essential and recommended Star Wars Wester-like heist film.

Warning Spoilers

Based on The Winchester Mystery House mansion in San Jose, California, where Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Winchester is visited by a doctor to test her sanity.

Directors Michael and Peter Spierig offer an old school paint by numbers ghost story with a fistful of effective jump scares and solid camera work. The recreated period, costumes and setting add to the atmosphere, with the eerie unorthodox Winchester house (and star of the film) is wonderfully created, any paranormal sleuths or those who watch ghost investigation programmes will no doubt be familiar with the mansion.

The real-life story aspect adds additional interest with high-class horror performances from the excellent Helen Mirren and reliable Jason Clarke as Dr. Eric Price. Sarah Snook is notable ‎Jason Clarke. Spierigs and writer Tom Vaughan deliver high collars, possession, visions, poltergeist activity, there’s tiresome tropes of redemption and spooky The Haunted and Hill House-like ghost forgiveness.

Horror fans will no doubt spot the butler twist a mile off and raise an eyebrow at Clarke’s Price subplot but that isn’t a bad thing if you like good old fashion well produced big budget ghost stories.

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.