Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Film Review - Avengers Infinity War (2018)

Avengers Infinity War is the 19th Marvel Studios film and this time the focus switches to the Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) who is on a mission throughout the cosmos to recover the 6 Infinity Stones for wielding all 6 could give him the power to rebalance the universe by killing half of all life that exists within it but both The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy some of whom have history with Thanos will have to do all they can to stop him.

This was easily my most anticipated movie of 2018 and that is mainly due to Thanos himself as I have been patiently waiting for him to leave his mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the last few movies now but Marvel Studios for all their success has not had the best track record in regards to their villains but this was one that they could not afford to let fail so could this movie possibly deliver the goods or just become another example of fun being something one considers even when wanting to rebalance the universe.

Happily most happily this is everything you dream of yet nothing you expect and also this is Marvel Studios finest hour in this universe for these reasons:

- Firstly the characters are all perfectly balanced as they should be with all of them getting a real moment to shine be it through a fun gag or an action beat or some fun story points and it is terrific fun to see the likes of Tony Stark, Doctor Strange, Peter Parker and Star Lord interacting with each other as well as Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

A lot of these interactions got great laughs at my screening and having had so many of these movies where these characters have had their major arcs and their introductions and their histories fully fleshed out they can now be used in a more supporting manner even if their name is in the banner headline and there is a lot of fun to be had.

- Secondly the action sequences are remarkable a lot of the heroes really get to strut their stuff in these big scale clashes and it is a real treat to behold as it finally feels like more money has been spent on the visual effects of the powers and they have a real weight to them that has not been as present in some of the previous Marvel Studios films especially during the Pearlmutter years.

And also the editing of these scenes is just fantastic with many high quality angles no real reliance on shaky cam and a exhilarating feel to them that made them feel terrific.

- But lastly Josh Brolin is excellent as Thanos here finally Marvel Studios gets to let this character off the leash and it is what I have wanted from this franchise for so long a powerful villain to challenge Earth’s mightiest heroes.

And challenge them he does along with his Black Order all 5 of them really bring the fight to the heroes and it is wonderful to behold as having a great threat makes the investment in the heroes to beat them all the more satisfying and their action beats have that much more weight to them.

And lastly Brolin himself really lifts this movie in every scene he’s in and this is very much Thanos’s movie and his development as a villain is really well realised and his voice has such a calm serenity to it that it feels even more frightening that he wants to effectively cull half the life in the universe but to him it makes sense sometimes to save something beautiful you have to destroy parts of it for the greater good and hope those left remember you.

And so that was my review of Avengers Infinity War a film well worth the wait despite some dizzying editing at times but this a film worth seeing more than once on the big screen and with a packed crowd as it makes for a terrific cinema going experience, 4 and a half out of 5.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Film Review - Rampage (2018)

Rampage is based off of the video game and stars Dwayne Johnson as Davis a former US Special Forces officer who now works with animals in the San Diego Zoo one of them being a albino gorilla named George but when a corporate experiment goes wrong and sees not only George but also a Wolf and a Crocodile well they go on a Rampage and Davis has to do all he can to stop them.

Rampage is very much the kind of film that it says it is on the box and that is a monster movie with big special effects and a basic story and all it wants to do is be fun on the bun and it is fun to watch but mainly from a visual effects standpoint and those scenes of the monsters tearing up Chicago were for me great fun to watch as all the buildings came down and the helicopters and tanks got smashed and people got gobbled up like chocolate snacks for the monsters it is a great example of that kind of fun at least for me.

As for the performances well they are fine and capable but no one really stands out in that same way that Idris Elba or Rinko Kikuchi did in Pacific Rim Mr Johnson is his usual charismatic affable self while Naomie Harris was fine and Joe Manganiello was okay but the show stealer was Jeffrey Dean Morgan as suited officer he had this smarmy tone to his character and it made it fun to watch him in the movie.

As for the overall story it was fine but I didn’t mind too much as I really only came to watch giant monsters wreck stuff and the Rock sometimes you don’t want a film to do too much just be a bit of mindless fun and this did it even if I wasn’t overly blown away by it like I was Pacific Rim.

And so that was Rampage a fun if slightly forgettable film that will do what it promises on the box, 2 out of 5.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Film Review - A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

A Wrinkle in Time is based off of the novel and is directed by Ava DuVernay and stars Storm Reid as Meg a young girl mourning the disappearance of her scientist father (Chris Pine) but when three goddesses of the universe (Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon) show up saying that they can help her find her dad across the universe the journey begins.

I was very much looking forward to this movie based off of the previews as it looked like a good mix of bold ideas based Sci-Fi for a Family Audience a tricky course to chart but if anyone could pull it off it was Ava who won enormous acclaim with her film Selma and her documentary 13th but could she make the leap to big time studio filmmaking.

Well sadly she could not because this movie is a huge mess for these reasons:

- Firstly the film makes little if no sense because so little time is taken to properly explain the scientific theories that are presented in the film in regards to Tesseracting the stars of the galaxy and every time someone mentioned the Tesseract I just kept thinking “Ah the Tesseract is a cube shape with a blue colour with a stone in the centre of it you know from the Avengers” and also I just sat there thinking “What is going on here none of this is making any sense”

- Secondly the dialogue here is atrocious as so often you have characters just talking in platitudes and phrases Ms Kaling’s character is the worst at this and only once does she sound like a normal person would talk as most of the time she just spouts out phases from literature and history, Charles Wallace the little brother of Meg sounds less like a normal little brother and more like a child of the Q Continuum from Star Trek the Next Generation.

And he too just talks in these endless platitudes that just made me think “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP” I mean his endless inane babble just got so fucking annoying after about the third or fourth line that came out of his damn mouth and at one point I half expected him to blurt out “You’ll float too you’ll float too YOU’LL FLOAT TOO YOU’LL FLOAT TOO”

- And this leads me to my last negative and that is the IT the nothing the dark cloud as if we needed another one of those and it somehow is meant to represent the Darkness that fuels Violence and Hatred in all the universe and it comes across as a relative of the dark cloud in the Green Lantern film that also wanted to destroy everything in sight and this is a good idea in theory but in practicality it doesn’t work because so long as there is light there will always be darkness to counter it.

And all of this I take no pleasure in saying none at all because I wanted very much to like this movie and it does indeed have some good elements in it Ms Reid is very good and so is Chris Pine and the film does indeed have a good message at the centre of this messy story that being a young child who has to learn to believe in herself and have confidence and to accept her faults as being part of who she is and her search for her father across the cosmos is an affecting one but both of those elements just end up being lost amongst the messy storytelling and inane dialogue.

And also I did like the Giant Oprah effect that was fun to watch on a big cinema screen.

And so that was A Wrinkle in Time a film I was highly anticipating and was severely letdown by and I know what some will think that I somehow wanted to sink the boot into this one in a malicious way I did not I wish I could say otherwise but I cannot and it disappoints me deeply to say that, 1 out of 5.

Film Review - Ready Player One (2018)

Ready Player One is based off of the novel by Ernest Cline who also co wrote the film adaptation and is directed by Steven Spielberg and is set in 2045 where Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan also from X-Men Apocalypse) lives in the Stacks of Columbus Ohio where people escape to the Oasis which was created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance from Dunkirk) who has passed away and left 3 keys that could lead to his vast fortune so the race is on to find the clues and Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) head of the IOI corporation is hot on their trail.

Ready Player One is a bit of a mixed bag as a movie but there are a fair few positives and first off is the visual spectacle within the Oasis the action sequences it generates and the various quests and hunts the avatar characters go on is a real treat and it reminds you as did Tintin in 2011 that Spielberg is the man that made Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark 2 huge favourites of mine as the camera runs along and swoops up high and is very fluid as if it was a rubbery substance that could be stretched to any angle or degree in his hands.

The film also has a great musical score by Alan Silvestri and throughout there are numerous nods to his work on Back to the Future and the overall sound design is quite good.

But where this film does fall over is in its screenplay and by that I mean that it feels very hollow sure the stuff in the Oasis is great but there is a lot of great material to be mined here about the nature of the virtual world and how sometimes the real one can be as much if not more thrilling about how corporate greed takes gamers for granted about how lonely people have it in them to make something great for the world and the sometimes dark side that geek culture can have and while watching much like how I felt about Red Sparrow I kept thinking of Paul Verhoeven.

And not just of him but also of the kind of film he would’ve made with this material I mean you only have to look at his work on Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers all of them highlights of the science fiction genre the third of which isn’t as good but still has that same satirical bite and edge to it that the other 2 do and I suppose you could chalk that up to me wanting him to make another big studio film again even though the kind of films he made back then rarely get made now.

Lastly the performances are all over the place, Sheridan does what he can but he just felt like a fill in for Shia LaBeouf who Steven seemed to mentor some time back, Mendelsohn tries with every inch of his will to do something with his character and succeeds somewhat, Olivia Cooke was good as Artemis and Rylance was good even if he was made to look a little bit like the late Gene Wilder from Willy Wonka while Simon Pegg was wasted and TJ Miller did very very little in the film.

And so that was Ready Player One and it’s a mixed bag from me some good stuff but it needed some more substance to its script, 2.5 out of 5.

Film Review - Love, Simon (2018)

Love, Simon is based off of the novel and stars Nick Robinson as Simon who is a high school student with his friends played by Alexandra Shipp (Storm in X-Men Apocalypse), Katherine Langford and Jorge Lendeborg Jr and he has a normal family with parents played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel but he begins to realise that he is gay and when one of his other students finds out he has to do his bidding virtually or risk his secret coming out before he is ready to reveal it himself.

Love, Simon very nicely blends the teen film formula with the coming out story very well and while watching it at times I was reminded of the wave of euphoria that came over Australia last year when Same Sex Marriage was finally legalized in that the film has a very positive attitude about someone coming out and the character of Simon lives in a very progressive environment though there is some hardship to be found in the story.

The film also has a great young cast of actors anchoring it, Robinson, Shipp, Langford and Lendeborg Jr all play off each other very very well and I did like seeing Ms Shipp again after watching her in Apocalypse in 2016 and I quite liked Mr Robinson as Simon even though it is weird to hear others say your name.

But getting back to Robinson he carries both the high and lows of his character very well and you become invested in him and you want to see him do well and find his place and set things right when they go wrong and sure this movie could’ve have delved more into the struggles of coming out as a gay man to those around you but it would not have fit with the balance of the tones between that story and the teen film formula.

And so that was Love, Simon a film that is quite good and I hope people will go and check out, 3 out of 5.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Last Wish: My Thoughts on the Dragon Ball Super Series Finale

This is a little unusual for me to do as I don’t really review much in the way of television but Dragon Ball is my all time favourite franchise and the most recent series Dragon Ball Super has had its series finale air and after this comes a new movie in December.

The current arc has been the Tournament of Power where numerous Universes competed for a wish on the Super Dragon Balls and this final episode sees Goku, Frieza and Android 17 try to beat Jiren before time runs out or he eliminates them and gets the wish for himself.

Before this finale had come to air I was a little sceptical as to how it would come to an end as there was a lot to do in terms of the storytelling:

- How would Jiren be defeated
- What would happen with Frieza
- Who would be left standing
- Which Universe would be erased

And also who is going to get the wish.

And very happily this finale answers all of that very well, there were times watching this where I was beaming from ear to ear and I had a joyous look on my face at the events I was watching it all felt so satisfying in a way I didn’t think it would be given there had been rumours about how it would all end and happily that did not pan out.

Seeing some of those old faces again and some of the character interactions was just wonderful and there were some very exciting teases for the future especially when coupled with the recently released teaser for the movie due in December.

And so that was my take on the Dragon Ball Super series finale a well made and exciting finale that wrapped up its key storylines well and also gave us some exciting teases for the future, 4 out of 5.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Film Review - Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

Pacific Rim Uprising takes place 10 years after the events of the Pacific Rim film from 2013 and this time Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) takes up the mantle of being the chief Jaeger pilot but when Kaiju begin to re-emerge on Earth Jake has to lead a new team of recruits to go and cancel the Apocalypse once again.

This was a movie I had very skeptical views about mainly because I am a massive fan of the first film it had Guillermo Del Toro being given $200m to give us a film form his immense imagination with giant robots fighting giant monsters and Idris Elba showing what a toweringly charismatic figure he can be when given the chance so this movie had a lot to live up to.

And sadly and this comes as no pleasure at all this movie does not deliver on that promise it feels like another sequel that’s made because the first film makes a bunch of movie either in cinemas or on video and watching it I got really bored with it all.

And that mainly comes down to the storytelling and the first film much like Highlander in 1986 kinda wrapped everything up whereas here the way certain events play out felt very silly to me and didn’t make an awful lot of sense when comparing it to the first movie.

But there are 2 major reasons that dwarf all of those:

- Firstly the absence of Mr Del Toro in the directors chair is very keenly felt as you watch the movie as Guillermo has an extraordinary visual imagination, an attention to every single detail no matter how small and the love, the passion, the humanity and the energy he brought to that movie.

He also understood very clearly and this is apparent when you watch the extras on the double disc Blu-Ray release of the movie is that these robots and monsters even though they would be digital creations they have to have a sense of weight and a physical presence in the movie whereas here it just felt like a bad Transformers knockoff.

- And secondly Mr Elba’s absence is also plainly felt when it comes to the overall performances and everyone tries their best Mr Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman both of whom reprise their roles from the first film as well as many others and all of them felt very flat and I just kept wanting Idris Elba to show up.

Because in the first film he hovered above the proceedings as the fixed point the last man standing between humanity and the Apocalypse whereas and though I wasn’t a big fan of the Dark Tower film last year it reminded me of how very charismatic he can be in a movie and his absence was felt for me like it was for Mr Del Toro.

And so that was Pacific Rim Uprising an okay sequel but a very very pale shadow of the first film, 1.5 out of 5.