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Mach 6 right out of a World that made more sense....somehow.
I really like this film, its a diverting, high tech, cold war thriller, which entertainingly subverts many of the tropes of spy and espionage movies of the time.
It reasonably translates its source material intact to the screen, that being Craig Thomas's novel of the same name and manages to juggle the sci-fi / thriller genres, whilst allowing Clint to add a new facet to his tough guy persona. Being a long time Clint fan, its significant to me, as its his first movie i saw at the cinema, also as it was the first AA certificate film i manage to obtain admittance to here in the UK.
Clint plays Mitchell Gant, a former USAF Major who is "encouraged" by the CIA to undertake a mission into cold war era Russia to steal one of the new fighter plane prototypes the Soviets have developed. The plane in question is the MiG-31, a hypersonic aircraft with revolutionary new stealth and combat capabilities. Handicapped by post traumatic stress disorder and a lack of intelligence mission experience, Gant must successfully steal the aircraft, failure would mean a dangerous shift in the balance of World power to the USSR.
Can Gant pull off this daring heist? Well i'd be shocked if there's anyone reading this who doesn't know the answer by now, but thats the charm of this movie, its re-watch value, i feel, is significant and it makes a great "beer and pizza" night in movie.
There are elements that date it, foremost the long gone cold war setting, some people may cite the miniature based special effects. These are primarily in the last third of the movie, some may claim they look a little dated in our whizzo CGI age, but i call foul on that. The effects have nice weight and heft to them that CGI still cant muster and the dramatic effects of Firefox's hypersonic footprint, make anything in modern movies look positively arthritic, well I think so anyway.
The cast are all getting stuck into their roles, particularly Warren Clarke (who passed away recently and prompted me to write this today) who plays a disgruntled Russian dissident and underground operative.
Firefox is a film that didn't perform financially as well as it may at the time of its release, but 1982 was a year over shadowed by ET and most things that year followed on that movies coat tails.
Its a nice little thriller, out of a time where you knew where the bad guys were and could generally see them coming and its nice to immerse yourself in the nostalgia of that from time to time.
There was a follow up novel written by Thomas, Firefox Down, which is a thumping good read, it never followed its precursor to the screen and would now seem a little out of its time if it did, thats a shame.
I recommend Firefox, as a great thriller, sci-fi, espionage, action movie, if you can imagine such a thing and if you cant, then just think in Russian!
The Expendables 3 (2014)
Sly manages to force the 12A into puberty (probably at gun point).
I will start by saying this is my least favourite of the Expendables franchise. I thought it seemed a little obvious they'd trimmed the violence and it didn't have the immediacy of pacing the other ones had. Niggles aside, this is still fantastic, machine gun toting, head smashing, building demolishing entertainment.
There's no getting away from the site of a helicopter gunship being piloted by Harrison Ford, whilst Arnie and Jet Li man the guns and lay waste to an army, transcends awesome and approaches hitherto undiscovered levels of gung ho nirvana.
Mel Gibson makes a great villain, one of the best scenes is his conversation with Barney in the back of the van on the nature of their business.
The new Expendables are perfectly good, as far as their involvement goes, but the task they have is to make us like them as much as we have Sly, Arnie, Harrison, Dolph etc over the last thirty years, only they've got two hours to do it in. Tall order.
What saves the day here again, as with the other Expendables, is the same thing that elevates these movies above all the CGI, wire-fu, teenage fantasy movies we get every year, purporting to be "action movies", legitimacy !! All these guys look, act and have the undeniable pedigree of being real action heroes.
They have a history through this type of film and they wear that history on their sleeves in these movies. That's why when they start vaporising the bad guys, it feels more.. legitimate.
I hope there's a Expendables 4, as there are a few things they could improve on next time. But for now Expendables 3 is great fun, I mean where else are you going to see Rambo and Frasier drinking in a nightclub?
Well Galileo and Isaac theorized about it, but last night I experienced it.
I really want to convey how thoroughly enjoyable this movie was, but at the same time I don't wish to gush over it. The reason being, that if anyone was reading my review with the thought of watching the film, it is possible to build something up too much and precipitate disappointment.
So no hyperbole, just a cool, clear, opinion, delivered with an almost scientific emotional detachment.
1. Ask a question, to whit, should I go and watch Gravity, the new science fiction thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney ?
2. Conduct research and make observations. Which I did, after reading up on this movie, the consensus seemed to be a favourable one. I had also observed previous efforts by the actors involved and had enjoyed them.
3. Propose a hypothesis. The theory being that it would be to my benefit to drag my TV loving backside down to the local purveyor of IMAX entertainment and watch this film.
4. Design an experiment to test this hypothesis. Plans were quickly drawn to rendezvous at 19:45 BST at the Odeon, for a screening of the entertainment.
5. Test the hypothesis. I watched the movie.
6. Collate results and draw conclusions, to support or reject you hypothesis. The results were that I had a fantastic evenings entertainment. Watching a tense, thrilling tale of two astronauts left stranded, by a terrible accident, in orbit, two hundred miles above the Earth.
I concluded that the fantastic performances given by the two leads in the piece, combined with assured and innovative direction from Alfonso Cuaron and some dizzying special effects on the IMAX screen, produced a infrequently experienced, yet palpable sensation within me, that for the purposes of this experiment I choose to call, "thrilled to bits".
I strongly suggest you conduct your own experiment, as I did, in relation to the subject matter. I feel confident you will draw the same conclusions I did.
I did notice that some people here on IMDb seemed to have drawn somewhat muddled results from their experimentation in this area. Their conclusions were tainted by perceived scientific and procedural inaccuracies within the film. Having a limited knowledge of these things, I could not hope to debate these issues on any kind of an equal footing. (SPOILER-ISH) That said, I did read a vehement "technical complaint" in relation to something (completely scientifically impossible) that occurs in a scene which is well established as a dream sequence. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions from that.
The Lone Ranger (2013)
Disney may have lost some money, but the critics have lost all credibility.
I will start by saying that I do not like the Pirates films and I find Johnny Depp's character in those movies deeply disagreeable, just a personal opinion.
It probably and understandably seems strange then that I would be moved this past Sunday morn to go and watch the same star and director responsible for those other projects, tackle the Lone Ranger.
Considering, as well, the film has flopped stateside and the critics have lassoed it and dragged it through a cactus patch.
But I am a fan of the Lone Ranger, have been since I was little, so I thought I'd give it a go.
Well I'm glad I did, this was a fantastic film, exciting, well paced (maybe dips a little in the centre), funny, warm and is gorgeous to look at. The scenery (some of which was Utah I believe) was beautiful, featuring fantastic, real world locations, that genuinely brought the film to life.
Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp have a good on screen chemistry and Depp's Tonto was amusing, without overkill.
Absolute Ranger purists could probably find niggles, but this is entertainment, not historical documentation. They could probably stand to lose the Horse up the tree, in the hat, but I digress.
Best of all, I thought, they crank up the William Tell overture, at just the right bit, I left the cinema whistling that tune and feeling that my seven pounds and eighty pence had been judiciously invested.
The only cloud on the horizon, was the sudden realisation that most of the negative reviews I had read, by the aforementioned "critics", were clearly falderal. Pompous zealots, with axes to grind, so large, that not even Tonto could hurl them. I don't believe that critics opinions, positive or negative, can ultimately hurt the financial performance of a movie.
But the real shame here, is that there will be, some good people, somewhere, who will have been dissuaded from catching this film, by that ill-deserved, myopic, rhetoric and their loss, is part of someone else's agenda.
So you know what I say, stuff em, go and watch this, if for no other reason, than just to spite our friends the "critics" and with that said, its hi yo Silver..AWAY!
Man of Steel (2013)
"It's like, Super........man !"
I think in many respects this is the movie we would have got if Bryan Singer had been allowed to go "Wrath of Khan" on his second Superman feature, as he said at the time. But that's the road not taken, so we have Man of steel instead.
Clearly Warner brothers wanted more action and that's what Zack Snyder has given them and the results are entertaining and hopeful for the future.
The second edict appears to have been not to follow the Superman origin story verbatim, to avoid comparisons with Richard Donner's Superman. Flashbacks are used, mostly successfully, to achieve this.
The emotion and understanding that these scenes needed to inject into the movie work very well, (SPOILER-ISH) the ones towards the midway point possibly needed juggling around a bit, but almost immediately Zod reappears at this point, so the whole thing kicks up a gear anyway.
There is a lot of action, particularly after the halfway point, mostly its coherent and exciting, occasionally blurry or just too fast. The cast are all excellent, for me Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon stand out.
Cavill's Kal-El is unsure of himself, but not overly angst ridden, he comes over as reasonable and good natured, in other words Superman. Shannon's Zod, if its important to you, does touch on Terence Stamp's performance to a small degree, but this has more to do with the fact that there are points where his character shouts as the plot requires it and as Stamp's best (and funniest line) involved shouting, it just draws comparison.
The change in origin dynamics negates any worry of audiences getting restless, waiting for the cape to be donned.
(WHOPPING SPOILER!).....(NO REALLY!!) I think what I appreciated the most was after Kal has saved the day and appears to have won the trust of the Humans he has been fighting alongside of, conversely Zod has lost everything and without his raison d'etre, he is purposeless. He had one function and never had the luxury to view that function in terms of good or bad.
In amongst all the battling, the scene where Zod laments this turn of events to Superman, he chooses revenge directly here and forces Superman to make choice, shortly thereafter, in terms of dealing finally with Zod's choice of actions.
At the end of a superhero movie or any movie that ends with destruction, its always nice to find a moral conundrum or denouement like this.
So overall Man of steel was a very good, solid starting point for DC/Warner's for future Superman projects and exploring the DC universe, beyond Batman. Now if we can just repair Green Lantern and for a REAL challenge there's an Amazonian warrior who's been cooling her heels for a while now.
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
"it's not 1986 anymore !"
Thus spake Alik, the latest in a long (and usually misguided) line of heinous cads to lock horns with Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) in the Die Hard film franchise.
This carrot crunching, hoofer, furthers his impromptu history lesson, whilst holding our heroes at gun point, by adding,"Reagan is dead !" The dastardly mercenary is opining to John McClane's archaic methods of law enforcement. After that as we get back on track and everything started to splinter and shatter again, i had some time to think.
There is a delicious irony here, which was also sniffed at, but not as successfully integrated into the narrative as it could have been, in Die Hard 4.0 as well.
Justin Long asks McClane, in that last installment, "why are you still THAT GUY" ? (i'm paraphrasing), to which McClane retorts that no one else is offering to fill his shoes (or lack thereof, geddit ?).
The irony, to me, being that every ranting review of this film i've cast an eye over this week, is asking the same question from the opposite side of the screen, "why are they still doing this" ?
Maybe for opposite reasons, to the audience, they feel that the better tropes of the series have been allowed to slide, villains, viscera and a good plot. From McClane's point of view, that the people in charge of the world he inhabits refuse to meet the constant threat of scumbags and dirtballs it faces, with the more direct methods he favours.
Yet, there's the question, why still bother, well based on this entry it could be seen to be puzzling (although i would challenge you to offer me any franchise where the fourth sequel is even approaching the quality of the original movie).
The Die Hard films have been with us twenty five years now and the zeitgeist our friend Alik is referring to has shifted, i think in anyone's view, to the wholly different mindset of today and "action films" have changed right along with it.
People will still turn out for this franchise, it would seem from recent box office, but its two feet are planted in different worlds. The makers struggling with past content and modern form.
I feel these issues, as i said, that have been mentioned in passing, could, in the right hands, be the saviour of the series (if a sixth episode is at hand) and what an ironic rescue it would be.
To address these issues, of past versus present, that McClane's ability to "Die Hard" is not just physical (which is far more what the last two films have interpreted it as), but it is also his whole personal ideology.
The first two films tested McClane's principal's and metal, against not only a physical threat, but against redundant bureaucracy. Since then, (particularly in the two recent movies) his only impediments have been physical. Don't struggle with McClane's persona being out of step with the modern world, embrace it, remind the audience (and the villains) why we still need "that guy" in the wrong place at ANY time !
With regards to the present, A Good Day To Die Hard, is loud (whew is it loud), bombastic and fairly brief. There is enjoyment to be had from it, its not as terrible as runaway emotions would have you believe, but its not brilliant either. When U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles Erwin Wilson referred to "bang for your buck" he was talking about this movie (i think).
My word is my bond and my word, what a good Bond !
If you only read the first line of my review, heres my opinion, its fantastic, well worth your time and money, see it in IMAX though.
I was a little concerned when i first heard Sam Mendes was directing the 50th Bond movie, as a similar unusual choice of director was made with Michael Apted on The World Is Not Enough.
That was Pierce Brosnan's third outing as Bond and the Brosnan Bonds, i feel, deteriorated as they went along, even then Bond was still slavishly following the Goldfinger/Thunderball schematic.
That rigid, moribund take on Bond culminated in Die Another Day, Bond was starting to look silly, he was becoming a parody, invisible cars were not the way forward.
This was the point where it seems to me the producers realised Bond isn't about scale, rather drama and intensity.
Since that realisation, they have re-cast, re-tooled and re-booted, the results have been re-markable.
Daniel Craig has proved that what may seem like a questionable choice at first, can often be shown to be a wise one in the long term. In our modern times where "reality" is the watchword, he has, with a little help from the Bond people, brought us an abrasive edge (not seen since Connery) and emotional facet to the character, that will ensure his longevity well into the 21st century.
Having loved the Bond movies as a kid, reading the books, its a pleasure to report that Commander (RNR) James Bond is reinvigorated and reporting back for duty, ma'am.
Skyfall, without wanting to get too bogged down in tedious semantics, now falls within, i'd say, the three best Bond films to date.
After snatching your breath away, with a hell for leather opening chase across Istanbul and a seemingly inescapable cliffhanger, the film settles down into a story where, Bond is emotionally stripped down, questions his very raison d'être and emerges triumphantly to...well i'm not going to spoil it.
Javier Bardem provides a Bond villain, with one foot in the past (figuratively) and an eye on a vengeful future, he represents the flamboyance of earlier villains and the elusive spectre of the modern terrorist.
Dame Judi Dench is fantastic, she even gets to shoot a gun, what more could you want ?
Before the dust settles, we've visited Shanghai, the Bond family home, popped into the National Gallery to view Turner's "The fighting Temerarie tugged to her last Berth", fed the Komodo Dragons and quoted some of Tennyson's Ulysses.
Bond is experiencing a renaissance and you will be shaken, stirred and thoroughly entertained.
Very clever, very original and very welcome.
I would have thought it doubtful that anyone could have anything new to add to the sci-fi sub category of time travel movies. After watching Looper yesterday, i'm happy to report that Rian Johnson has removed those doubts and given me hope that sci-fi in Hollywood can be more than just empty spectacle.
First off i would say, don't get discouraged from watching the film if you think its going to be too complex or difficult to follow. To follow the story and recognise characters motivations does require a little concentration, but not to the point that you wont enjoy the action beats and other more visceral elements.
The story is well constructed, information and plot points are presented at an entertaining and well judged pace. There are some nice little throw away visual references and metaphors which, if you catch them, add a nice texture to the story and stop it feeling too clinical in its plotting.
The script is tight, hard edged and very dry in its humour, the actors are fantastic. I think its fair to say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is well on his way to being "one to watch", Bruce Willis pops back to life here, clearly enjoying himself again, (although i wouldn't say this is solely a Bruce Willis movie in that definition).
This is a brilliant movie experience, its an wholly original and entertaining idea, that the writer/director has managed to successfully transpose to film without, it would appear to a layman, pressure or interference from external sources.
No matter how much of a good time you will have watching this film (and you will), Hollywood could stand to learn much more from it.
The Expendables 2 (2012)
ATTENTION, can somebody please claim the body of the pg-13 action movie, its dead, thank you.
What we have here is an almost contemptuous lack of respect for property and human life. But, when that human life is vile, murderous, plutonium pilfering dirtballs, then its time chop, break, snap, blast, liquify, incinerate and decapitate (repeat).
There's very little point in going into a great deal of explanation of what makes this so worth a trip down to your local cinema. Suffice to say Sylvester Stallone has once again saved action movies and put the meat back on the bone.
Here he is aided and abetted by messrs Schwarzenegger, Willis, Norris, Van Damme, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Crews, Couture, who all dive into the proceedings with an enthusiastic amount of esprit de corps, taking the carnage to a hitherto undiscovered level.
This is an action movie with both feet planted firmly in the 80's and there nothing wrong with that one iota. The guys banter, crack jokes, shoot and cause things to blow up, the bad guys are hissable, murderous wretches to a man and are blown up.
Everybody is clearly having a blast, so in translation, so do you, of particular note, Jean Claude Van Damme provides a standout performance as sneery and arrogant Jean Villain.
If you like proper action movies i would be bewildered if you didn't enjoy this. Sly, you did it again, you are without a shadow of doubt "the man".
If they can deliver Eastwood, Ford, Cage, Snipes, Russell, Biehn, Weathers and T for the next one, then my money is already spent.
Mesmerising, beautiful, thought provoking, a REAL movie experience.
That header is just my opinion, its not a guarantee, i feel this is a truly unique film and well worth your time and money. Its a bold movie and has the courage not to rest on previous laurels and opt for the lazy, unoriginal route most blockbusters take. There's no spoilers to give, because the best stuff would take way too much explaining.
This film is the realisation of all Ridley's promises to expand on one of the most intriguing indirect questions ever posited, "who or what was that in the Space Jockey ship".
Its not Alien and its as far from Aliens as you can get, there are connections to Alien, one main connection and others lesser ones. Don't think about the Alien movies, just keep them in the back of your head. It does not dwell on splatter and its not a "monster" movie, but it does have those things.
If you require black and white exposition and don't enjoy post movie speculation, i probably wouldn't recommend it. The films plot is pretty straight forward, ask a question, get your answer but definitely not the one you wanted.
What you do get, if you focus on it, are answers and larger questions from those answers, as to "what was in the chair and what was it doing". It does not answer everything, either existing questions or new ones that are raised and thats obviously intentional. Because thats whats so damn good about it, it explains more, but doesn't remove all the mystery of the one main thing that connects this to Alien, the mystery that makes the whole thing so provocative.
If Ridley had tried to make this a straight on horror/sci-fi movie, it would have been suicidal and a waste of his and our time, Alien cant be topped in that arena.
This is a sci-fi film, with "thriller" elements, thats intended to be the start of something more than just another monster mash and when considering that,it gives you a lot to start with and not just rehashing and cheap tricks.
Its the most mature movie in the summer season for a far back as i can remember. This film is a significant effort towards getting adult movies back on the summer season slate, it would be a terrible shame if it couldn't achieve its potential because of individual misinterpretation and pining for elements that we all claim to be thoroughly sick of anyway.