Thursday, December 14, 2017

Film Review - Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is written and directed by Rian Johnson and follows on from where 2015’s The Force Awakens left off with Rey (Daisy Ridley) going off to find Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) while the Resistance is fleeing the increasing might of the First Order (Adam Driver, Domnhall Gleeson and Andy Serkis) but even when times feel dark there is always hope.

The Last Jedi sadly is a bit of mess movie wise don’t get me wrong there are moments here that are very strong and the plotline with Ridley and Hamill is great and both of them do a lot to lift this movie out of the bog of a messy story but outside of them there is a shaggy mess for these reasons:

- First off Finn and Poe who were built up so well in the Force Awakens are pretty much relegated to background fodder where Finn has a totally pointless story arc that feels like a distraction from the main action going on screen and Poe is reduced to running around and barking orders in so much of the running time when in the Force Awakens he was the dashing handsome Maverick of the X-Wing fleet flying out there in the Danger Zone whereas here he just does a lot of running and barking of orders.

- Secondly there is no sense of threat from the First Order at all they just come across as a bunch of shouting, whiny nitwits that only seem to have gotten this far because of their actions in the Force Awakens and Driver does okay here but Gleeson is as horribly over the top as he was in the previous film and Serkis is FLAT as Snoke and the promise of that character from the Force Awakens is now gone.

And compare these to the might, the strength, the force of the Galactic Empire in the Original Trilogy with that DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN of the Imperial March plus Lord Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine who were not just evil but crafty (remember the Emperor’s plan in Return of the Jedi brilliant stuff) and also imposing as Lord Vader was where much like Freeza in Dragon Ball if you fail him, you die.

- And lastly this movie is far far too long running for 152 minutes and a good 25 minutes or so could have easily been cut out of this movie just by tightening a very long Resistance sideplot and by rewriting entirely Finn’s storyline to something that feels more meaningful and like Poe not a near complete waste of those characters.

And so that was Star Wars the Last Jedi a film that has some great moments and performances that are trapped in the Bog of a messy storyline that wastes not only key members of its trinity from the Force Awakens but also any kind of threat its villains might have had I honestly don’t know how this trilogy is going to end but I sincerely hope it’s a good one, 2 out of 5.

New Radio Ep

Well folks here is my last Radio episode covering the best and worst of 2017.

https://soundcloud.com/abclocalradio_sa/friday-flicks-dec-8-final

This episode also marks the end of my time with ABC South East SA after 3 and a half wonderful years there, I am a little disappointed to not be continuing with them going forward but life goes on and I think of the many wonderful friends I've made and the people I've met along that road.

Not to mention all of this has opened up a great career path for me going forward and I will forever be thankful for this period of my life and forever grateful to those I've met.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

To Infinity and the Cosmos

Well its finally here boys and girls and its so devishly exciting I could squeal out loud hell I already did when watching it.

And that is the first official trailer for Avengers: Infinity War which dropped last Wednesday night Australian time and OH! MY! GOODNESS!!

It is a truly fantastic piece of trailer making and I love me a good trailer but this one was so good and so well cut together in terms of its beats both musically and editorially that I can’t help but want to watch it over and over and over again and save for the Frank Sinatra trailer for Kingsman the Golden Circle this is my favourite preview for this year.

But there also three huge reasons as to why I feel this trailer works so well:

- Firstly the glimpses of the spectacle on shown here look HUGE and not just in a “Aren’t these effects neat” kind of a way but it just feels like a huge movie in terms of its effects work both on Earth and in Outer Space but also its stakes in terms of “Thanos has to be stopped or he will destroy the entire Universe” and from what I’ve seen of his chief minions the Black Order they remind me an awful lot of the Ginyu Force from Dragon Ball Z.

- Secondly the characters and their interactions all look and sound terrific it feels like a real thrill to see Dr. Strange, Wong, Tony Stark and Dr. Banner together same with Captain Rogers, Black Panther, Black Widow and Bucky plus Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy in the end of the trailer.

But it isn’t just that this is an exciting thrill it also feels very natural these interactions as Marvel Studios has spent an entire decade building this universe with not just 2 previous Avengers films prior to this one but also multiple films with Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the Guardians of the Galaxy plus solo films for Doctor Strange, Ant Man, Black Panther and Spider-Man so by the time we get to this major movie we’ve seen plenty with these characters and their journeys so seeing them all together doesn’t feel rushed in any way.

And lastly it just feels right to see them all together even Loki who has a great great shot in this trailer holding the Tesseract in his hand while he has this look of complete fear on his face as if he’s seen some bad shit go down and also this kind of reaction is what happens when a studio like Marvel and its leader Kevin Feige have the patience, the discipline and the vision right from the beginning and set about executing it in a methodical way that yes has seen some changes along the way but the leadership did not crack so those changes were added seamlessly to the overall universe and its come out stronger as a result.

- Lastly Thanos and finally after so many times that I have written here and said on air in my Radio show Marvel Studios’s weakest link for me and it has hurt the long term replay value of their films in my eyes is their villains almost all of them save for Loki have been either meh or miserable failures but here Thanos looks great.

And its not just in terms of his visual look which looks very believable in terms of you can see and hear Josh Brolin under all that purple skin but also the glimpses we get of his dialogue are great as well and when he has lines like “In time you’ll know what its like to lose, to feel so desperately that your right yet to fail all the same.” And “Fun isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe.” I squealed big time.

Because here finally we get a proper villain in one of these films and it feels like its been so long since a movie villain really resonated with an audience the last one I can think of was maybe the Joker in the Dark Knight but since then it feels like the focus has been so much on the heroes that the villains have been forgotten about in terms of how much they can resonate with an audience but also their true importance to these kinds of stories and I fear that Thanos could end up potentially the same way as audiences now may well have forgotten what a good movie villain feels like.

Now I could be wrong and I hope sincerely that I am but I just can’t help but feel that way right now that audiences have become so used to villains being a forgettable part of the story that Thanos might not resonate with those audiences the way he should but we wait and see.

Now here is where I will not only start to wrap things up but also compare this trailer to the leaked trailer from Comic Con earlier this year and by and large they have a similar feel but the cosmic side of the story was featured more heavily and some of the glimpses we see in this trailer are extended out more but the combination of those and this official trailer give us a look at a film that will have plenty of the Marvel humour but also feel like a large spectacle with great character work and a memorable villain and that’s all you really want a film like this isn’t it.

Isn’t it?

So that was my take on the Avengers Infinity War trailer and it’s a great trailer and I cannot wait to see the movie next April.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Radio Ep

Well folks here is my final review show for the year where I reviewed:

- Geostorm
- Murder on the Orient Express
- Thor Ragnarok

As always you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/abclocalradio_sa/simon-nov-17-final

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Film Review - Suburbicon (2017)

Suburbicon is co-written and directed by George Clooney and concerns Matt Damon as an office worker whose home is broken into and his wife (Julianne Moore) is killed but meanwhile a black family moves into their neighbourhood and chaos ensues.

This movie is frankly awful and not unlike the Snowman from last month I cannot believe that this many highly talented people are involved in a gigantic mess of a film which is that way for these reasons:

- Firstly it is now crystal clear that Clooney hasn’t a fucking clue how to properly execute a script on film and it isn’t just with this movie it was also with the Monuments Men from 2014 the story here feels all over the place and Clooney just cannot make all of these elements come together in a harmonious fashion.

But a movie he produced did that beautifully and that was Argo a script by Chris Terrio that easily could have been a mess but Ben Affleck made sing like a hummingbird and it won Best Picture and whenever I watch that movie I think “How the Fuck did he pull this off” and I can’t help but think that Clooney felt “Pfft Show Off I’ll show him that I can do it too” and well twice now he has shown that he cannot do it at all which means this soufflĂ© should be thrown out in the trash.

- Secondly the script by Clooney, Grant Heslov and the Coen Brothers (to be fair they themselves have been hit and miss for me) is a real mess I mean here you have a fascinating story of the first black family moving into a prominently white suburb and it’s the Fucking side act of a really boring story about the mob being owed money and insurance fraud and riots and none of it did anything for me at all as the humour wasn’t funny and the racial stuff is not given the story thrust it should have gotten as it could have been an interesting reflection on contemporary times but it’s just thrown in there.

- And lastly the performances here are dreadful, Damon is incredibly flat and during the home invasion I wanted him to just take the glasses off, turn into Jason Bourne and beat the shit out of them, Moore is really cartoonish here as both the wife and the Sister in Law and it feels worse here than her turn in Kingsman 2 as at least that film was a more cartoonish movie here it really feels out of place given the seriousness of the film itself.

But the biggest waste is of Oscar Isaac as he is barely in this film (really only 2 scenes) and when he is in the film you think “Even he can’t save this movie” and when that happens you are in deep deep trouble as this man can lift pretty much every movie he’s in up another notch he’s that good of an actor but yeah this is a rare exception to that role and I really liked him as Apocalypse last year and that’s saying something.

But that was Suburbicon and it is awful on almost every key level, the direction, script and performances are all over the place and have no unifying tone to them and I don’t want to recommend it to anyone, 1 out of 5.

Film Review - Justice League (2017)

Justice League is the newest entry of the DC Cinematic Universe and concerns Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) having to pull together an alliance of warriors consisting of The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) as Bruce fears that the end of the world is near following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) but the world can’t be saved alone and with no Lanterns and no Kryptonians this world will fall, like all the others.

I was very excited to see this movie mainly because not only did I love Wonder Woman from earlier this year but the previews for this film got better and better showing not only the promise of a good villain steeped in the DC lore (Superman the Animated Series deals with this well if you want to find somewhere to catch up) but also the combination of director Zack Snyder’s visuals with Joss Whedon’s script writing flare what could possibly go wrong?

Well actually not much as I loved and I mean Loved this movie for these reasons:

- First off I want to start off with Ciaran Hinds as Steppenwolf I had read some criticism of him as a villain before seeing this movie but I enjoyed him in this movie mainly because he felt like someone that could tear through worlds much like Apokolips and the slaves of Darkseid and seeing him take on the Amazons from Wonder Woman was a real thrill and then to see him mock Diana because of it was just as thrilling as was his battles with the overall league.

- Secondly if you know your DC lore as I do having watched the animated Superman series as well as the first two seasons of the animated Justice League show I visibly gleed in my seat and had my mouth wide open at what I was seeing here not just the references to Apokolips and the New Gods but also Boom Tubes, Mother Boxes and Para Demons who serve a better purpose than the Chi-Tauri did in the first Avengers film and they tie into the main storyline very well I thought.

- And lastly I want to talk about the League overall and the films action sequences the League is very well realised with all the members getting good amounts of screen time and action beats and all of the members particularly the Flash are well developed Miller is a lot of fun as the Flash and he brings a real quirky energy to the role Momoa and Fisher are fine and Gadot and Affleck serve well as the 2 anchors of the team in terms of the leadership.

The action scenes here are terrific with a lot of high energy editing, huge battles and great dialogue throughout the fights in the past and with Steppenwolf in the present in particular were quite good and had me smiling in a big way.

However this film has one major problem and that is it doesn’t do enough to really setup the history that’s being portrayed in the movie in terms of Steppenwolf and the Mother Boxes and how it all ties to the various locations of the Universe there’s a little bit of it but those sequences really needed to be fleshed out more I wonder if Whedon and Snyder had a cut that was 140-150 minutes that did all that but then when Warner Brothers decreed that it must be 2 hours as has been reported recently all of that had to be cut back but there’s always Warner Home Video to do a longer version right.

And lastly the 3D is terrible I saw it in 2D and 3D and the 3D adds nothing its dark and murky and it looked really bad, the 2D however looked picture perfect.

And so that was Justice League and as someone who loves the DC world and the Animated Universe this was a real treat and while this phase of DC experimentation is over the trinity of Whedon, Snyder and Patty Jenkins is a strong one that this franchise needs to keep together going forward as what lies ahead is going to be very exciting, 4 out of 5.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Film Review - Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Murder on the Orient Express is based off of the novel by Agatha Christie and is directed by and stars Sir Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot who boards the Orient Express train in the hopes of returning to London for a well deserved break but a passenger is later murdered and its up to Poirot to solve the case.

This isn’t one of the best films I’ve seen this year but I did enjoy myself quite a bit with this movie and a lot of that comes down firstly to Sir Ken for not only does he direct the film well with lots of interesting angles including his infamous dutch tilts but also by maintaining a tight pace to proceedings and also by making sure the story and the mystery never stray too far away from the train and thus rob the story of its momentum or tension as Poirot solves the case.

And also Branagh himself does well as Inspector Poirot and look the moustache is silly I know but it is what it is okay so I’m going to move on and leave it there as what it far more important is how Branagh goes as Poirot and as I mentioned above he handles himself very well in the part and watching him here made me go “I wouldn’t mind seeing a few films of him as this character” and some of his reveals in both the role and in directing the film are also good for a laugh.

But secondly the films overall cast consisting of Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Derek Jacobi, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Dame Judi Dench and Olivia Coleman among others are also pretty good and it was sure nice to see Ms Pfeiffer in a good role again plus Depp not come across as a slobbish drunken buffoon pissing his great legacy against his wall after a bender the night before and part of me also did swoon a little whenever Ms Daisy came on screen.

Though thanks to Red Dwarf I knew the outcome of the case the Murder on the Orient Express is a well made and engaging murder mystery and is worth seeing, 3 out of 5.