Reviews written by registered user
|426 reviews in total|
Arriving twenty years after its predecessor took the world by storm, this belated sequel is relying heavily on nostalgia and curiosity to drive up enthusiasm levels. Which is fine, unless the resulting movie is a stinker. Thankfully ID:R isn't a flop, although it ain't going to light the world on fire either. There are two broad elements that sit at extreme opposite ends on the satisfaction scale with this follow-up. At the super-positive end are the visuals and the action, at the negative end is, well, everything else. Let's get the bad news out of the way first. The script, written by a team of five, is dreadful; the plot is initially semi-interesting but quickly becomes derivative and predictable, the alt-futuristic universe has zero depth, and the dialogue is truly, truly horrible. The cast a combination of young (Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher) and old (Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, William Fichtner) valiantly attempt to swim upstream against the strong current of poor screen writing, but fail. Brent Spiner is particularly awful as a crazy scientist, a role that should've been cut entirely, however Pullman gets the award for single worst scene for his unintentionally laughable pep talk to a handful of unknown mechanics. Enough about that though, let's move on to the good news. Visually this blockbuster is utterly spectacular, the sheer scale and ambition of what director Roland Emmerich is trying to achieve is breathtaking, ultimately succeeding in one-upping the original in both size and sheer awesomeness. Both the various spacecraft and alien-tech-infused infrastructure are conceptually intriguing, whilst the nasty otherworldly creatures themselves (especially the Queen Harvester) are superbly disgusting in design and execution. Action-wise there's an abundance of frenetic set pieces to stir up excitement despite a few aerial dogfights being near on incomprehensible with a jaw dropping sequence in which the 3000-mile wide alien mothership enters Earth, entire countries be damned, worth the price of admission on its own. Not the glorious Resurgence this franchise was seeking, yet the striking imagery and grand-scale action ensures a certain level of ear-destroying and retina-blasting gratification.
Everyone's favourite forgetful fish, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), is back on the big screen a whopping 13 years after joining Marlin (Albert Brooks) on a quest to find his missing clownfish son. This time, however, Dory takes centre stage. Shifting the focus from Nemo to Dory for this belated follow-up is a no-brainer; it allows Pixar to concoct a new ocean-spanning adventure without feeling too repetitive, whilst cleverly bringing the broader plot full-circle by having the child now looking for the parents. Even with the huge gap between movies, there are still obstacles to be circumvented in order to avoid sequelitis. Most of these are handled with the intelligence and elegance we have come to expect from Pixar, though some hurdles prove to be too big. The story goes to very different places from both a narrative and location perspective, but the messages behind the film don't judge a book by its cover, spontaneity can be liberating, you can do anything if you try hard enough, etc are all too familiar. With glorious cutting-edge animation, a string of creative sequences and a barrel-full of laughs, there won't be a single audience member, regardless of age, that'll be bored; yet there's also a lack of truly memorable moments that stop this from being a classic like its predecessor. It goes without saying that Dory is the star of the show, although the range of hilarious supporting characters is impressive. Ed O'Neill's cantankerous, camouflaging octopus Hank and Ty Burrell's self-doubting beluga whale Bailey shine brightest. It might not be in the top echelon of Pixar outings, but Finding Dory is a charming, amusing and thoughtful family flick worth visiting the cinema for.
For a long time the hype was through the roof for this fantasy blockbuster, not only as a potential Lord of the Rings successor orcs and dwarfs and wizards (oh my!) but also as the motion picture to break the pattern of poor computer-game adaptations. Thankfully the resolutely mediocre trailers brought expectations crashing back down to Earth, because if you enter the cinema hoping for a fantasy masterpiece you'll be sorely disappointed. Go in with more restrained anticipation and there's two hours of silly fun to be had. Unlike LOTR there's no set story to adhere to for writer-director Duncan Jones, so the narrative takes the form of an orcs-vs-humans war saga, with the (pleasantly respectable) runtime split equally between the two races. The plot is largely predictable and uninventive undefined magic powers are lazily employed to gloss over holes but there's a surprisingly strong focus on character development that lends the movie an emotional side and subsequently increases the stakes at play. Considering the source material, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game 'World of Warcraft', the universe isn't explored or fleshed out as much as it could have been either, with the finale frustratingly open-ended. Of course the action is priority number one though, and there are a plethora of clashes, both big and small, to get the adrenaline pumping. Despite the numerous all-in battles, it's a bone crunching one-on-one fight between two powerful orcs that is the standout. Unfortunately there's an over-reliance on CGI that detracts from proceedings; all of the orcs are created via motion-capture technology and majority of the external environments are entirely digital, feeling particularly hollow. Not the most memorable of beginnings for what will undoubtedly become an ongoing cinematic series; Warcraft is nevertheless an energetic, ambitious and successfully diverting piece of escapism.
I'll put it out there nice and early, I enjoyed this movie way more than I should. In fact, everything about this sequel screams disaster, and a betting man would assume I would've thoroughly disliked it. There's the dizzying rapid-fire editing style, the second-tier juvenile jokes, the occasionally clunky CGI, and the bombastic save-the-world final act that makes zero sense. And Megan Fox is the star. In short: this should've been met with disdain. Yet against all odds, I couldn't contain my enjoyment whilst watching it. Perhaps it was giddy nostalgia at seeing Bebop and Rocksteady in all their ugly, stupid glory, or the fact that Stephen Amell actually makes for a suitably badass Casey Jones. Maybe as a Mikey fan from way back, I was just relishing all the wannabe swagger and silly one-liners he dished out, or it was possibly the action sequences that, although sometimes geographically confusing, are orchestrated with confidence and flair. Some set pieces are more entertaining than others: Shredder's highway escape sequence is packed with thrills and an aircraft-then-tank-then-waterfall skirmish is loads of fun, but the overloaded finale goes down a notch. As with the lambasted original, many will be put off by the amped-up, Bay-influenced modern take on the TMNT, but, in an act that defies all logic, I'm coming Out of the Shadows as a fan of this updated franchise.
Dressed up as a cautionary tale about financial greed and wealth dispersion, Jodie Foster's latest directorial effort is really just a popcorn thriller attempting to be more meaningful than it needs to be. Batting above its weight with the Hollywood royalty involved, the film feels most at home when it is building anticipation purely by observing the lead trio reacting within the confines of the hostage scenario. When it strays too far from the beaten path to half-heartedly explore its underlying themes, it comes across as smug, overly moralistic and a tad patronising, bogging down the otherwise fast-paced narrative. There's a surprisingly prevalent comedic through-line embedded into the movie's tone as well, the moments of levity largely working except for the occasionally misplaced gag that undermines the tension. Tinseltown heavyweights George Clooney and Julia Roberts are clearly having a blast in their undemanding roles, the former hamming it up as an arrogant TV show host and the latter playing it cool-as-a-cucumber as the show's omnipresent producer. Intense up-and-comer Jack O'Connell overplays it as the average Joe who decides to hold the wealthy accountable for their deceit, but at least he's given something to do, unlike Dominic West's rote corporate baddie. A B-grade thriller with A-grade decoration, Money Monster is adequate in-the-moment entertainment but nothing more.
Those familiar with writer-director-actor Taika Waititi's last three films What We Do in the Shadows, Boy and Eagle vs Shark already know how bloody brilliant the New Zealand native is both behind and in front of the camera. If there is any justice in the world then his most recent Kiwi adventure, which maintains the ridiculously high standard he has set, will attract big crowds and greatly expand the number of people fortunate enough to watch this master at work. This charming tale of a rambunctious orphaned kid (Julian Dennison) trying to find his place in life, and in the NZ wilderness where his latest foster carers reside, beautifully blends cartoonish humour and meaty themes into its fascinating story. Adept at finding both poignancy and hilarity in the simple moments, Waititi's observations on culture, relationships and human behaviour draw you in to his world, which is all too real yet somehow heightened at the same time. Populated with subtly compelling characters whom you want to hang out with, laugh with, cry with and struggle through life with, the 101 minute runtime utterly flies by; when the end credits roll you'll not be ready to leave. Acting alongside screen veteran Sam Neill (outstanding obviously) for the most part, the absurdly charismatic Dennison is an absolute revelation too, looking completely at ease filling the shoes of defiant 13-year-old Ricky Baker. Hopefully many more roles are forthcoming. At times hilarious, at times heartbreaking, and always enthralling, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a gem of a movie that verifies Waititi is a filmmaking genius.
Set in the late 70s and based around a string of suspicious deaths within the porno industry, this Shane Black joint lovingly harks back to the good ol' days of ultra-violent buddy-cop flicks like Lethal Weapon and 48 Hrs. With this breed of movie almost extinct, it's gratifying to see Black breathe life back into it with his trademark dark wit, genre-subverting style and willingness to unleash a spot of sudden violence for nervous laughs. Crucially, he's aided and abetted by charming lead performances from Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, the former a gravel-voiced, hard-nosed enforcer with a noir-ish edge, and the latter a likable loser with dubious parenting skills but a sympathetic past. Crowe and Gosling are the epitome of chalk and cheese, and are all the more delightful to watch because of it; some of the film's finest scenes are nothing more than them chewing the fat about life, albeit their warped life. Unfortunately it's not all rosy for Black's trip down memory lane though. The central mystery is convoluted, boring and ultimately a damp squib, whilst the numerous tangential subplots, infused with pitch-black comedy, often go nowhere, despite lengthy build-ups. On first viewing it's difficult to grasp exactly how entertaining The Nice Guys really is, such are the typical ups and downs of Black's distinctive writing/directing style. Cult classic status potentially awaits, but so does cinematic obscurity.
Since the first ¬X-Men movie was released way back in 2000 this mutant series has been quietly carving out its own piece of the cinematic comic-book pie, with both highs (X2, First Class) and lows (Last Stand, Origins: Wolverine) but a respectably solid overall output. This 'new cast' trilogy closer can't reach the heights of the franchise's best instalments, or its two immediate predecessors, although demonstrates just how thrilling and engaging this universe can be even when not performing at its peak. Centred on the eponymous ancient mega-mutant who wakes up after a few millennia to reclaim the world as his, the dramatic undercurrent is as compelling as the all-powerful villain (despite his underwhelming look) and generates a handful of genuinely intense and evocative scenes. A second-act tete-a-tete between Professor X and Apocalypse during which the latter is causing mass destruction accompanied by Beethoven's stirring Symphony No 7 (Algretto) is absolutely riveting, almost matched by a potent telepathic showdown within the climax. At this stage in the X-Men evolution there is also a certain level of competence that guarantees the action scenes will be nothing less than exciting and, with Bryan Singer at the helm, constructed and executed with endless ebullience and flair. The CGI struggles on the odd occasion, which is a bit strange for such a big-budget flick, however this is a minor blip amongst a collection of otherwise rousing set pieces that, just like in Days of Future Past, boasts a superb Quicksilver sequence that tops the list. There are a few missteps that weaken the film's lasting power though: bland henchmen surrounding the big bad, Wolvie's unsatisfying involvement, and an atrociously placed Stan Lee cameo that raises giggles at the most inappropriate moment. From the returning cast James McAvoy (Professor X) and Michael Fassbender (Magento) reliably bring the gravitas although Jennifer Lawrence looks a tad disinterested in her third time out as Mystique whilst Oscar Isaac (as Apocalypse) and Sophie Turner (Jean Grey) impress the most out of the newcomers. Undeniably a rung below the two preceding entries on the X-Men ladder, Apocalypse is still operating at a high enough standard to be thematically absorbing in addition to entertaining on a popcorn level.
Crafting out a comedy within the setting of a real life war is not an easy task. Which probably explains why the humour dries up halfway through and this sorta-biography heads down a more earnest, and rewarding, path. Recounting reporter Kim Barker's (Baker in the film) journey from desk-jockey to on-the-ground war correspondent in Afghanistan (circa 2003-2006), the movie leans heavily on clichéd fish-out-of-water antics for the first act to squeeze out a couple of titter-worthy moments. When the following two acts become more serious and reveal deeper layers in both the story and our likable protagonist, the interest level drastically increases, but it also highlights just how miscalculated the comedy-angle was to begin with. Adapted from Barker's 2011 memoirs 'The Taliban Shuffle', the screenplay suffers from numerous time-jumps that muddy the journalist's personal growth rather than emphasise it, whilst a few supporting characters are given oddly anti-climactic closures. A more in-depth mini-series beckoned. Tina Fey brings her usual dry wit and every-woman charm to the role of Baker, sharing a nice chemistry with Martin Freeman who almost steals the show as the irreverent and arrogant Scottish freelance photographer Iain MacKelpie. Unfortunately Margot Robbie is completely one dimensional as fellow journo Tanya Vanderpoel who could be a Brit, Kiwi or Aussie going by Robbie's accent whilst Alfred Molina is woefully miscast as the sleazy Afghan official Ali Massoud Sadiq. Fey and Freeman are charismatic enough to keep WTF entertaining, but there's definitely a more intriguing, meaningful and captivating story in here somewhere.
After the first Bad Neighbours made a whopping $250m at the worldwide box office working from a measly $18m budget, this sequel, despite being completely unnecessary, was a deadest certainty. We should be thankful then, especially considering it was rushed into production, that it's not a complete mess. In fact, it's possibly better than the original, for what that faint praise is worth. This time around new(ish) parents Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne want to sell their house, but wouldn't you know, a party-loving sorority moves in next door just as they're trying to impress buyers. Delete fraternity, insert sorority, leave the rest. The large screen writing team (including frequent collaborators Rogen and Evan Goldberg) cobble together a swathe of gags in their pursuit of quantity over quality, but for every giggle-worthy joke there's a forehead-slapping dud. A garage escape sequence and a weed stealing set piece offer cheap laughs whilst Rogen's and Byrne's foul-mouthed interplay is largely amusing, but virtually all of the humour stemming from the sorority side of the house is yawn-inducing. The inconsistent tone proves to be another side effect of the hastily constructed script, with multiple half-baked themes sexism, feminine independence, parenting, growing up all strangely undercut in one way or another. Rogen and Byrne share a solid enough chemistry and Zac Efron proves yet again he's game to mock his own real-life celebrity status for laughs, however Chloe Grace Moretz is embarrassingly bad as the sorority's leader. A lazy, gender-swapped carbon copy of its predecessor, Bad Neighbours 2 is entirely unmemorable yet somehow manages to scrape together enough funny moments to be a mildly entertaining diversion.
|Page 1 of 43:||          |