Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Man We Called Max: Fury Road Comic Con Footage

After 30 years away from cinema screens, George Miller's Mad Max franchise is finally revving up the engines and coming back to cinemas next year with the long delayed and long anticipated 4th installment titled Fury Road.

And the film also went to the San Diego Comic Con over the weekend and the footage shown from that panel event was later made available around the world to watch and being the Mad Max fan I am (the first two films in the series are the only films I've seen that have given the Star Wars Trilogy a run for their money on my favorite films list) I was keen to check this footage out.

But sad to say the footage left a very mixed taste in my mouth after it was over and the reasons are numbered below:

- The first and biggest reason is that the tone of it reminded me a lot of the comic book feel of the third Mad Max film Beyond Thunderdome and the hard hitting Car Stunts of Mad Max 2 (NOT THE ROAD WARRIOR!!!!) and for me I didn't think this was a good thing as I did not like Thunderdome for that reason the comic book/Indiana Jones tone really put me off especially given the hard hitting fast driving Australian feel the first two films had and worked very well whereas here the mix of the two put me off.

- The second is sadly Tom Hardy himself, Hardy inherited the role when Mel Gibson walked away from the film (Gibson and Miller were going to make the film together back in 2003 before the Iraq War broke out and the US Dollar crashed against the Australian dollar) and when he opens his mouth and says "My Name is Max" the British tone of voice really grated with me and I kept thinking afterwards "Why couldn't an Australian actor like Jason Clarke or Joel Edgerton have taken over this role" but given the increasing reliance on the International Box Office these days I doubt Warner Brothers or Village Roadshow would've gone with that idea.

Even though to continue on this part THEY DAMN WELL SHOULD HAVE!! as this is an Australian film franchise and that's who this role should've gone to in Gibson's absence and yes I did miss him as well after hearing Hardy's voice in the footage.

Now I know that it is very hard to judge what the film will be like based off footage that is for the most part still needing to be completed before its release next year but the more I've thought about this footage the more my hopes for this film have gone into the same territory as my hopes for the Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars Episode 7 in that while I am keen to see all three of these films I also have very deep seated reservations about each of them that will probably only be resolved when I am seated in the cinema for each of them.

And so ends my thoughts on the Comic Con footage of Mad Max 4 and as for the Road Warrior well he lives for the moment only in our memories.

Film Review - Hercules (2014)

Based off the ancient legend, this new film version is directed by Brett Ratner and sees Dwayne Johnson "The Rock" as Hercules who after going through his 12 labors now has to deal with a king (John Hurt) who seeks to free his kingdom from an Evil force of Centaurs but this will not be an easy task.

I have to confess with the mighty power of THE CUSHIONS! that I did not expect a lot from this film going into it mainly because of Ratner in the director's chair (part of me just cannot forgive him for butchering X-Men 3 so badly) but Johnson has become a somewhat likeable lead and certainly the closest anyone has come to taking that mantle from Arnold Schwarzenegger but is this a Hero or a Zero?

Well surprisingly I didn't really mind this movie very much, I thought that the film had the moments I wanted out of it primarily Hercules punching things with his mighty strength and that was about it, not much I know but as I said I didn't really expect an awful lot from this film and I said to myself "If there's an action scene of Hercules punching things I'll be happy" and I was, Johnson is okay though I don't think he is the new Arnold and I also liked Ian McShane and Rufus Sewell in their roles.

Sadly however the film is very predictable in its storyline, as I was watching it I thought to myself "This is going to happen" numerous times and by the time I got to the climax part of me already knew what was going to happen, I also found it hard to shake the image of the 1997 Disney animated film of Hercules and boy oh boy I kept wishing James Woods would show up as the villains here are very boring.

So all in all, Hercules is okay but very predictable and frankly you can happily skip this film as I find it hard to recommend it, 2 out of 5.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Film Review - Sex Tape (2014)

Sex Tape stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as Jay and Annie who meet early on in life and are instantly attracted to each other sexually and have a lot of it but 10 years and 2 kids later they struggle to rekindle their spark so they decide to film themselves doing it but this may not have the desired effect they intended it to have.

The worst thing or one of the worst things a movie person can sit through is a comedy that has next to no big laughs in it and I mean genuine laugh out loud laughs and sadly this is the case with Sex Tape as this film is simply not very funny or indeed any fun at all to sit through:

- The first reason for this is that both Jay and Annie are not very likeable leads, don't get me wrong Diaz and Segel have some chemistry and it certainly helps to lift the mood of the scenes they share together but their characters do not show a single ounce of any common sense or practical thinking any time they're on screen and as a result I just sat there feeling bored and wanting to almost fall asleep.

- Asleep is also the key behind my next reason I didn't think this film had any energy in it at all and came across as another US Comedy Club posing as a feature film and after the work that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have done with the Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street both of which are easily the best comedy films released this year with their high energy direction and endless visual and dialogue gags this sort of slumming it attitude to comedy just isn't good enough as it all goes slow slow slow.

- And lastly the sexual scenes aren't all that erotic now I know this sounds silly given its a comedy but sex scenes should at least have some sort of feeling behind them even if it's just discomfort, recently I finally got to see the ABC Fresh Blood series Bed Head and in one of the episodes was a character nick named Nasty Nicole and well she stole the show in a way that makes this just not work and I did think to myself "Where is she when I need her as this sucks."

So all in all Sex Tape has unlikeable leads and very few laughs and because of that I just cannot recommend it to anyone, .5 out of 5.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On the Air - Episode 1: A New Beginning

Last week I was given the great privilege and thrill to talk to ABC Radio South East SA (South Australia) about the 5 main current releases now showing in Australian cinemas.

Happily the audio from that show has now been made available so it is with great pleasure that I am now able to present it to you:

The movies covered on this show are:

- Transformers Age of Extinction
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
- Rio 2
- How to Train Your Dragon 2
- Jersey Boys

To listen to the show just click on the "Friday Flicks" highlighted in Grey and it should start playing:



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Film Review - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place 10 years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and in that time a Virus has wiped out most of humanity and the humans band together to survive, the Apes meanwhile have set up a home on the outskirts of San Francisco led by Ceasar (Andy Serkis) but the encorachment of Humans may threaten their peaceful life in the forest.

I have to confess that I was somewhat mixed heading into this film primarily because I was not a huge fan of Rise of the Planet of the Apes it had its moments but it bored me for the most part but the previews for this film that showed Jason Clarke (one of my favourite actors of the moment) having a role as well so I became more excited for it, did it make a happy little monkey out of me or make me hate every Ape I see from Chimpan A to Chimpanzee.

Happily I can say "I Love You Dr. Zaius" as this film did make a happy little monkey out of me much more than Rise did and that is primarily down to the Apocalyptic setting of this new film which for me seemed to fit the story better than the modern day setting Rise had, Clarke is also very good here as the lead human as was Keri Russell who had a larger role than I first thought she would though sadly out of the main human cast Gary Oldman just sounded like a broken record doing his Jim Gordon voice from Batman and it just pulled me out of the film whenever he appeared.

But the real star of this film is Serkis as Caesar and again he weaves the same performance capture magic that he did when he played Gollum/Smeagol in Lord of the Rings, I still hate the fact that he was Captain Haddock in Tintin a couple of years ago (Richard Armitage would've been much better in the role) but here you really get a sense that there is a living breathing performer in the character and when you see Caesar's eyes you really believe Serkis is there, I really really hope that he gets a Special Achievement Oscar for his Motion Capture Work as when he gets it right, its magical.

And so all in all, Apes Sequel is Strong and well worth a look though leave the kids at home, 3 out of 5.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Film Review - Jersey Boys (2014)

Jersey Boys is based off of the successful Broadway musical and is also directed by Clint Eastwood and the story here concerns the origin of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as well as their eventual success with many hit songs and the tensions that lie underneath between its 4 members.

I have to say that I was looking forward to this film going into it, I like a good musical and I'm also a big fan of Clint as a director mainly because I love his snapshot of working people on film, it's tricky to do that in a way that feels authentic and with his style I look at it and go "Yeah this feels like someone I would come across in my own life", could he make my day with a good musical and was I just an unlucky punk?

Well sadly it's more of a disappointment for me and I forgot to remember that a good man always knows his limitations, what I did like here thought was the dramatic side of the film I thought that did work very well and I was invested in the lives of the four band members.

What is not as good here is the musical numbers as they feel very out of place in this kinda dark film and some of them are okay but they don't really gel all that well into the main structure of the film, I can't help but think that Clint just doesn't feel all that comfortable with them and had to have them there because they were part of the stage show and as a result of this, the film runs on for a little too long for its own good.

Don't get me wrong though I did like some of those musical numbers mainly "Big Girls Don't Cry" and "I Love You Baby" which is easily the best song moment of the film as it feels like it fits within the main arc of the character but even then I couldn't help but be reminded of Michelle Pfeiffer's version in the Fabulous Baker Boys which is a MUCH better film in this style as it focuses much more on the drama than the singing.

And so all in all I would recommend the Fabulous Baker Boys instead of Jersey Boys as this film sadly disappointed me, 1.5 out of 5.

Film Review - Transformers Age of Extinction (2014)

Transformers Age of Extinction is the fourth film in this series but this time we get a new lead character Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) an inventor down on his luck trying to get his daughter through College but one day he finds an old abandoned truck for his workshop to work on in the hope of making some money but there is more to this truck than meets the eye.

I have to confess sitting on the Comfy Chair that I had some level of optimism going into this film primarily because I thought the addition of Wahlberg to the series replacing Screaming Shia LaBeouf might make it watchable and also the addition of Frank Welker as Galvatron as a potential villain and the hiring of William Goldenberg to edit the film (he'd done the editing for Argo) which had me hoping that he might just might stand up to Director Michael Bay in terms of the ridiculous length of these movies, was I to dream perchance to hope or was it just a fool's hope in the dead of night.

Well sad to say that this was merely a fool's hope as this becomes the film version of the song that never ends, it just goes on and on and on and it all goes BANG! CRASH! and BOOM! and no one walks out without a funny head.

But to be more serious now there are a few key problems with this film and I will now outline those in more detail:

- The first of these is that the storyline is so sparse that it earns no right whatsoever to be 165 minutes long, this could've easily been done in 90 minutes to 2 hours at the very most and I am most disappointed in Mr. Goldenberg here that he did not do a better job in trying to get the length down but given he has 2 other editors to work with Roger Barton and Paul Rubell both of whom have edited some of Bay's previous films he probably didn't have much hope at all which is very disappointing.

- The second is that the characters here are just not worth caring about very much at all, Wahlberg does his absolute best and is a massive improvement over LaBeouf but even he can't make it worthwhile watching, Kelsey Grammar and Stanley Tucci also don't fare much better and it just comes across as a real waste of two great actors and Peter Cullen as Optimus the one thing all of us Transformers fans care about the most in this series just grunts, growls and mouths meaningless dialogue.

I also have another objection here on that point and that is the treatment of Optimus in this particular film, the Optimus I remember would NEVER endanger humans with his actions and would always try to lead the fighting away from them as much as possible whereas here he just doesn't care about anyone and is more than happy to blow away half of Chicago and Hong Kong, I sat there feeling very mad about that and that feeling hasn't changed much either.

- The third and last problem I have with this film is my old bug bear of the villains, there are two villains here Galvatron as I mentioned and Lockdown, ah yes Lockdown he was in the new Transformers game Rise of the Dark Spark and like in that game he's a nothing no name of a villain who has little to nothing to do with the plot and could've easily been removed with a clever rewrite of the script which makes Galvatron the villain and gives us the Cullen/Welker showdown I've been wanting all throughout this series and have never gotten, hopefully next time around that will change but why kid myself, I know it won't.

And also the 3D here is just way too dark and although it wasn't the headache inducing world of pain I had been expecting it still wasn't a good experience and 2D is more than enough for this movie.

But lastly watching this film made me appreciate Bryan Singer's work on X-Men just so much more as that felt like a big blockbuster film with actual heart and characters at its core instead of mindless head banging drivel that leaves either dizzy or with a headache but I'll stop there.

So all in all my foolish optimism for Transformers Age of Extinction turned to be just that foolish but hey we all know this will be a huge hit and you'll all go and see the movie regardless of my thoughts so here's my score of 1 out of 5.