Thursday, May 21, 2015

Film Review - Spy (2015)

Spy stars Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper a desk officer in the CIA who helps out veteran Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law) when he is in the field but when a nuclear weapon goes missing and Fine is presumed Dead Cooper finds herself getting an unexpected promotion to field agent to save the world.

Spy is amusing for the most part but it is also flawed but before I delve more into that I want to delve into what I did like and that is the film's supporting cast who pretty much steal the show from under McCarthy's feet, Jason Statham is very funny as a foul mouthed fellow agent, Rose Byrne is really good (all seems right in the world when she gets a good role in a film) here as well and I also liked Peter Serafinocwicz in his small role as well plus Law is pretty good here as well.

But sadly I didn't find McCarthy's character all that appealing as her screeching started to grate with me after a while though her scenes with Byrne were pretty good to be fair but coming back to the jokes so I can elaborate on that point some more the constant throwing down of F bombs and curse words to not be all that funny after a while plus the film does feel a little bit too long for its own good, there's a good 90 minute comedy here but sadly the film goes to near 2 hours and it didn't really earn it that much.

So Spy is a good comedy despite some repetitive jokes and a too long run time and is worth seeing on a matinee ticket, 2 and a half out of 5.

Film Review - Woman in Gold (2015)

Woman in Gold is based off of a true story and stars Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann a Jewish woman who flees to America from Nazi occupied Austria but one of the pieces of art taken from her was a portrait of her Aunt Adele so she hires a lawyer Randol (Ryan Reynolds) to take her case to the court in terms of getting her portrait back.

Woman in Gold was a nice surprise for me and I think a lot of that comes down to the story and characters whose plight I found myself getting invested in, Mirren was very good here and made up for her underwhelming efforts in the Hundred Foot Journey, Reynolds put me off at first but when the film was over I thought to myself "Now that casting makes sense" and it sure was nice to see Daniel Bruhl from Rush again in a supporting role and all three together made for a trio I found worth caring about.

The film also has a very interesting story at its core in terms of the Nazi occupation of Poland and the good and bad it brought as well as the sides people took for better or worse and at times I was waiting for the penny to drop in terms of the plight of young Maria (played by Tatiana Maslany) and the Nazi Soldiers occupying her home and it does create a tense sequence in the movie.

All in all Woman in Gold is worth seeing for its interesting story and characters and especially if you miss seeing films aimed at grownups hopefully Bruhl will get a meaningful role in Captain America Civil War next year but sadly I fear he will be wasted in that film, 3 out of 5.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Film Review - Mad Max Fury Road (2015)

Mad Max Fury Road is the fourth film in the Mad Max series and is directed by George Miller but this time Tom Hardy takes on the role of Max instead of Mel Gibson, the story this time sees Max captured by the War Boys of the overlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne who also played the Toecutter in the first Mad Max film) but secretly his Rig Driver Furiosa (Charlize Theron) smuggles his 5 wives (Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton) away from his fortress and to the land of Green where they can be safe but Joe vows to pursue them across the wasteland.

I am a massive fan of the first two Mad Max films, their energy, imagination, storytelling and performances all blew me away and both films also had that very real Dinki Di true blue Australian feel to them but alas the third film in the series 1985's Beyond Thunderdome did not work very well for me and this new movie Fury Road has been a long time in the making and the first attempt WAS going to see Gibson reprise his role but alas that fell through and Gibson declined to return and now Hardy has taken his place plus the previews for this film left me feeling very skeptical about it.

But could this film actually deliver the goods for me or would it just be proof that we didn't really need another hero.

Well actually it was just okay for me, don't get me wrong I liked the film and do think it's well done but this was also a case for me where what worked really did work and what didn't badly misfired:

- First off the stuntwork and the action sequences are amazing to watch as like Mad Max 2 (which this film has the inspiration of running all throughout it) it really does feel like these trucks and cars and bikes are smashing into each other at high speed and some of those smashes really do make your jaw drop.

- The second is that the performances for the most part are pretty good, Theron invests a lot into her role of Furiosa and it was nice to see her back on form after a few misfires in recent years, I liked also the group of wives I thought they worked nicely together as a group and I also liked seeing Josh Helman and Nicholas Hoult as two rival War Boys plus we get to see a group of kick ass warrior women led by Megan Gale who shows what she might have done as Wonder Woman in George Miller's aborted Justice League film.

But alas as good as those points are there are some major negatives to counteract it:

- The first of those is indeed the feel of the film itself and frankly it doesn't really feel like a Mad Max film to me it feels more like one of the knockoff films the US, the UK, the Italians and a lot of other countries tried to make after the success of the first two films at the international box office and given how important that classic Australian feel was to Mad Max 1 and 2 to not have that feeling here just took a lot of the flavour out for me.

- The next one and it is massive for me and it has to be Hardy himself, I'm sorry but every time he was on screen I just kept missing Gibson as all Hardy does is mumble his lines through first a pretty bad Australian accent and then in his native British tongue and even then he just mumbled or grunted a lot of his lines and I just kept thinking to myself "I miss Mel Gibson" and that feeling hasn't changed and I think also that this is a danger for when a new Indiana Jones is chosen as Harrison Ford IS Indiana Jones and these roles are not like the comic books where it's a literary character and it doesn't really matter, Ford and Gibson originated those roles and without them then their respective franchises should be allowed to retire.

- And lastly the film did have that "more of the same" feeling in that Max is out in the desert and there's a powerful warlord who wants a precious substance and everyone chases the big truck with the substance and to be honest Mad Max 2 did this better for me and this time when I started to think about the film more after coming out of the cinema that feeling came to mind.

And so that is my review of Mad Max Fury Road which despite my skepticism I did like but it also has some big flaws in my mind but still as an action thrill ride I recommend it but with the warning to say to keep a check on your expectations for it, 3 out of 5.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Film Review - Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Pitch Perfect 2 is directed by Elizabeth Banks who also stars in the film and it continues the tale of the Borden Bellas the Acapella singing group but when a presidential celebration goes wrong the group finds itself suspended and to reclaim its title it has to square off with the German championship group the Das Audio Machine.

I was keen to see film before going in primarily because of Banks being in the director's chair and her work as both Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games and as Wildstyle in the Lego Movie had impressed me so could she deliver the goods in the captain's chair?

Actually she did though I think she is let down somewhat by average script material as I primarily thought this film was okay but before I do delve into that I want to talk about what I did like and that is Anna Kendrick's Beca, Kendrick is a fantastic screen talent as she pours her heart and soul into her work and like in the first film I liked watching her character, Rebel Wilson was a lot better here than she was in the first film and I did like Halle Stenfeld as well as the musical numbers and some of the jokes plus Katey Sagal shows up and who doesn't love seeing Leela again.

But the jokes are what killed this film for me as so many of them were basically about female anatomy and certain manoevers and I have to say that I didn't find it all that funny and in some instances I began to feel uncomfortable watching those jokes but the girls sitting around me in my session ate it up, they loved it and as a result I began to feel when I walked out of it that this movie just wasn't for me which is a shame as I like Banks and Kendrick enormously.

But I do not feel disappointed with this movie like I did with Avengers Age of Ultron but I feel more that this film is not for me or for a male audience for the most part this is strictly a girls night out at the cinema and they are who I recommend this film to, 2 out of 5.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Film Review - Cocktail (1988)

Cocktail stars Tom Cruise as Brian, a young man who returns to New York after serving his country but cannot get a job on Wall Street or in Advertising so he goes to a Bar one night and sees a Help Wanted sign put there by Doug (Bryan Brown) who says that if he sticks with him he'll make him a star.

I hated this movie and the reasons are three:

- First off is I hated these characters, they are reprehensible to watch on screen and they consistently make the wrong choices in their lives and when something good comes along you just want to strangle them for botching it so badly and they are also just so bloody unlikeable.

- Which leads me to my second point which is the very questionable morals in this film that is pretty much represented in the characters Cruise and Brown play and they both have this unshakeable belief that drinking all night and picking up girls at the bar and having unprotected sex will lead to "Happy Days are Here Again, They Skies Above are Clear Again Let Us Sing a Song of Cheer Again" when it just fundamentally does not I mean not once do these guys have any hangovers so it feels more like a glorified sugar drink than real alcohol.

- And lastly it wastes some good actors, I love watching Brown but he is wasted here, Elisabeth Shue does a good job with the pathetic script material she's been handed, Kelly Lynch gets little to do and Cruise is just obnoxious and his early scenes made me think he would've been out of his depth as Bud in Oliver Stone's Wall Street, what a real shame this happened to these actors.

So all in all I hated Cocktail with its reprehensible characters, questionable morals about alcohol and the waste of talented actors, 1 out of 5.

Film Review - Outrageous Fortune (1987)

Outrageous Fortune stars Shelley Long as Lauren and Bette Midler as Sandy two women who find out they're dating the same man Michael (Peter Coyote) but Michael is not all that he seems the two girls find themselves unlikely allies on a great adventure.

Outrageous Fortune I thought was great fun and that comes down to the terrific chemistry between Long and Midler, the two of them play off each other very well and Midler's manic comedy styling's really made me smile and laugh (although I have to say that the film had me smiling pretty much from start to finish.)

But what also works here is the great script by Leslie Dixon which combines the light comedy with the dark thriller and yet the combination of the two which shouldn't work but it does and you have a great time watching all this unfold, the film also has some great supporting performances by Robert Prosky, Anthony Heald and George Carlin (Rufus from Bill and Ted).

So all in all Outrageous Fortune was great fun that had me smiling all the way through, 3 and a half out of 5.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Film Review - Boychoir (2015)

Boychoir tells the tale of young Stett (Garrett Wareing) who finds out one day after school that his mother is dead following a car accident so he is sent to a tough American Boychoir School in the hope that it might give him a stable home as well as a chance to make a better life for himself.

Boychoir is okay but it is also very very predictable but before I delve more into that I want to talk about what I did like and that is seeing Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates and Debra Winger again on screen, it had been a while in my eyes for each of them and it was nice to see them getting a good role again even if I felt Hoffman was slumming it in his role.

But as I said this movie is really predictable with its tale of the working class boy who has nowhere else to go but this tough new regime he finds himself in will make a man out of him yet as well as see the tough teacher give him a dressing down and gee where have I seen that before?

Oh that's right in An Officer and a Gentleman which this movie just kept reminding me of Smeg it even has Winger in it and she played Paula in that great film (seriously she and Richard Gere were fantastic in that film) and even the ending was predicted for me by a great Simpsons gag which made me laugh out loud.

So all in all Boychoir is predictable and frankly not worth the ticket price, rent An Officer and a Gentleman instead it'll lift you up where you belong, 1.5 out of 5.