Friday, May 12, 2017

Film Review - Alien: Covenant (2017)

Alien: Covenant is the new Alien film once more directed by Ridley Scott and this film takes place 10 years after the events of Prometheus from 2012 and the crew of the Covenant is awoken after a serious accident which leaves Walter the Synthetic (Michael Fassbender), Daniels (Katherine Waterston), the Captain (Billy Crudup) and Tennessee (Danny McBride) among others they later find a new planet and decide to go down and investigate but they may end up finding something sinister.

I was very nervous going into Alien: Covenant the previews for the film were not the best (the sight of the Alien in full view had some laughing when it showed before Fate of the Furious) and the Alien series has not been the same since James Cameron's 1986 sequel which forged a new direction but with the posters saying "Run, Hide" could I be persuaded.

Sadly not as I was very disappointed in this movie for two reasons:

- Firstly I thought that the feel of the film felt very predictable in the sense that when watching the film I felt like Ridley Scott was both remaking his original Alien film from 1979 as well as rebooting his 2012 film Prometheus and neither really felt all that satisfactory mainly because firstly Prometheus was not the best film wise and should probably have been left alone.

But secondly remaking the original Alien in the sense of trying to replicate that same sense of the slow burn, the mystery and the wonder all of that represented doesn't work anymore it worked in 79 because we didn't know what to expect you went to this Alien film thinking "Oh this is another Sci-Fi film it could be fun" and THEN you were shocked out of your skin here I felt like "I know what's coming Ridley hurry up."

- Secondly the characters in the film tend to become a bit of a gelatinous blob after a while Crudup was good as the captain but a lot of the others don't really seem to stick out all that much, Waterston was fine but very much lacked the strong presence Sigourney Weaver had and Fassbender really needs both a sharp director and a strongly focused script in order to really shine and if you've seen Brent Spiner do both Data and Lore on Star Trek the Next Generation his arc becomes very predictable.

But lastly when I came out of this movie one phrase came to my mind almost immediately and that was "Cameron was Right" and by that I mean when James Cameron set out to make Aliens he made it very clear that while he was very respectable of Ridley's vision he couldn't do what he had done and decided not to he would build on it and make his sequel a combat film and it worked beautifully as well as having a woman at the centre of the film this time there's a real sense of everything going backwards and very much in the same way the Prequel Trilogy sent Star Wars backwards.

And so that was Alien: Covenant a very disappointing entry in the series that sadly is only worth recommending to long time Alien fans, 1.5 out of 5.

Film Review - Snatched (2017)

Snatched stars Amy Schumer as Brooke a young woman who is fired from her job and is then dumped by her boyfriend but before she was dumped her and her partner planned for a holiday in South America which is non refundable so she has to go and decides to take her mother (Goldie Hawn) and the two eventually end up kidnapped whilst on holiday and must now make their way home.

Snatched is unfortunately not a very fun comedy to watch and it's a real shame because I did get a real joy out of seeing Goldie Hawn again on screen and she still has her way of good natured humour and likeable screen presence but apart from her I didn't really laugh very much.

And the reason for that is that so much of the humour is the substandard American humour where by being as foul mouthed as you can, as loud as you can and as gross out as you can not to mention a dash of nastiness on the side then you generate laughs and I just don't like that kind of comedy much and also Schumer is extremely annoying here she wasn't all that funny she was annoying, obnoxious and very unlikeable and even in the film people lose patience with her and I don't blame them I was willing to give her a chance now I've pretty well had it with her.

And so that was Snatched which was not a fun comedy for me then again I am not the target audience for this movie which I will freely admit, 1.5 out of 5.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Radio Ep

Here is my latest Radio episode in which I reviewed:

- The Boss Baby
- Power Rangers
- The LEGO Batman Movie

As well as briefly discussing the Last Jedi trailer.

As always you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/abclocalradio_sa/simon-april-21-final

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Film Review - Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the 15th Marvel Studios film and sees the return of Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and this time Star Lord and the gang are on the run from the Sovereign and it's high priestess (Elizabeth Debicki) but the gang may end up in a much bigger scenario than as originally thought.

I was pretty nervous going into this movie mainly because of my disappointment with 2015's Avengers Sequel Age of Ultron and the first Guardians film is my favorite MCU film save for the first Avengers film so could the gang rise to the occasion or fail like glorious A holes who stuff up.

Well it's really a case of neither as while the film is fun to watch at times and has some great visual effects the films storytelling and use of the characters falls way short but it is nowhere near the disaster that Age of Ultron was mainly because for most of the running time I was enjoying primarily the new characters played by Kurt Russell, Debicki and Pom Klementieff who plays Mantis.

But aside from that new burst of flavour this is a classic case of a raspberry soft drink that has now gone flat and the main reason is that the film doesn't really have a lot of the heart and the warmth and the genuine sharply focused fun that the first film did this time all of the space battles and mixtape songs and I Am Groot and interpersonal bickering doesn't really feel all that different from the first film and nor does it feel like it's evolved in any way since the end of the last film.

It also doesn't help that the bickering becomes really loud and incredibly annoying after a while and the way that the film treats its female characters in particular really started to bother me after a while and it gave the film this almost pre pubescent view of girls that made me cringe a little bit because girls like these films and have been looking forward to this one and they deserve a lot better than to have those female characters treated in a way that feels disrespectful towards them.

And also when I think about this movie a bit more I feel that this is why I feel so guarded and so nervous about approaching the sequel to a film I really like (there are some exceptions of course like the upcoming Kingsman sequel) and I really feel very very strongly that if you are going to make a sequel you should do something with it that pushes the ball down the field and deepens the characters somewhat.

And it has been done in this genre Bryan Singer did it with X-Men 2 back in 2003 a superior film to the first X-Men film, Christopher Nolan did it brilliantly with the Dark Knight in 2008 which was a step up from Batman Begins in every step of the way and Richard Donner would've done it as well had he been given the chance to properly finish Superman II his way back in 1979 given he now had a proper adversary for Chris Reeve's Superman to face off against.

And that above all is what disappointments me most about this sequel nothing new feels genuinely achieved this time and that was enormously frustrating for me when I came out of this movie and yes the visual effects are great and the new characters are fun but without those fundamentals of good storytelling and strong character arcs and motivations it just becomes frosting on a not very nice cake for me.

And so that was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 not a bad sequel for sure but nothing really feels achieved or justified here it just feels like more of the same and it made me want for Thanos to show up even more and shake things up in this universe, 2 out of 5.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Film Review - Going in Style (2017)

Going in Style is a remake of a film of the same name from 1979 which was the debut feature for Martin Brest and helped him to land directing the first Beverly Hills Cop film a few years later, this new film is directed by Zach Braff and is written by Theodore Melfi who recently made Hidden Figures and stars Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine as 3 steel workers who are cheated of their pension fund so they decide to rob the bank to colluded to strip them of their pensions though they'll need help to do so.

I really liked Going in Style it has some faults for sure but it is very hard to not get caught up in the film due to its wonderful veteran cast Caine, Freeman and Arkin all play off each other really well and have a nice chemistry in their scenes Arkin in particular has a great dry sense of humour that I found really appealing while Caine and Freeman turn on their movie star charm and are very likeable.

The film also has some nice turns by Joey King who redeems herself after being wasted in Independence Day Resurgence last year and the great Christopher Lloyd Dr. Emmet Brown himself though sadly he doesn't get an awful lot to do and part of me wished he was able to get in on the main action given his legendary status among many film fans but there's not much that can be done about that and also the film does feel a little too long for its own good despite only running for 96 minutes perhaps a tightening by 10 minutes or so would've helped with the comedic pacing of the film.

And so that was Going in Style a really fun film despite some minor flaws, 3 and a half out of 5.

Film Review - The Fate of the Furious (2017)

The Fate of the Furious is the eighth Fast and Furious film and this one sees Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) go rogue for the mysterious Cipher (Charlize Theron) naturally his team (Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez and Nathalie Emmanuel) aren't happy about this so they vow to bring him in and find out why he turned.

The Fate of the Furious was an okay instalment in the long running series but it does fall short of the previous 3 films don't get me wrong its perfectly entertaining and made and everyone involved commits to their roles but it kind of left me a little bored after a while.

The reasons for this are 2: Firstly the near endless sound of vroom Vroom VROOOOOOOMMMMMM VRRRRROOOOOMMMMMM really got on my nerves after a while as they began to feel a bit repetitive with the crazy car stunts and loud engines and it doesn't help that F. Gary Gray the director doesn't really do anything exciting with the chase scenes in the way that James Wan did with Furious 7 in 2015.

Another thing Furious 7 had was a genuine heart beating at the centre of its proceedings no doubt brought on by the tragic death of Paul Walker during production but the way the film dealt with that and paid fitting tribute to him really made that film stand out as something worthwhile whereas here the heart seems to have been removed in a service and replaced by a motor and engine that just goes loud, very loud and ear shattering and it also doesn't help that Gray isn't as exciting an filmmaker as Wan is and all of the talk about Family this time feels very hollow as compared to the previous 2 films.

And so that was the Fate of the Furious a weaker entry this time that is really only worth it for the long time fans of the series, 2 out of 5.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Film Review - Power Rangers (2017)

Power Rangers is based off of the 1990s TV Series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and is set in Angel Grove a small American town home to 5 kids who are in detention Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Billy (CJ Cyler), Kimberley (Naomi Scott), Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G) all 5 discover a buried spaceship home to Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and Zordon (Bryan Cranston) who recruit the young kids to stop Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks.)

I was initially very reluctant to see this movie for while I was a Power Rangers fan when I was growing up (the original 1995 film was shot here in Australia) I thought this wreaked of a studio in this case Lionsgate in desperate need of a franchise to keep them afloat but then people I trust gave this film a thumbs up so I decided to go and see it.

And I am very glad I did as I had a lot of fun watching this movie and the reason for that primarily is the young cast they play off each other very well and each have individual traits that put you on side with them I particularly liked young Dacre Montgomery and when watching him I thought "He would've made a good Scott Summers/Cyclops" because you believe in him as a leader of a team I also quite liked Naomi Scott as Kimberley she had a real spunk to her.

Oh and Hader, Cranston and Banks are pretty good as well Banks in particular is a lot of fun to watch as Rita and she makes for a really fun villain.

The film also has some pretty neat visual effects especially in the final act that made me think "They actually did something with this" because when looking back at the original series as an adult its low budget roots really show but here with today's Visual Effects you can really do something with the various Zords and Monsters seen throughout that series.

Where the film does fall down is also in that third act where it got a little too much like the recent Transformers movies for my liking with the loud destruction, the close up editing and noisy sound design that just sounded like banging and crashing pots and pans with no real depth to it and that was where I started to lose interest a little but the well developed young team never let it become too boring in that part of the film.

And so that was the new Power Rangers which is good fun and well worth seeing, 3 out of 5.