Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Film Review - Hitchcock/Truffaut (2016)

Hitchcock/Truffaut is a documentary based around a series of interviews conducted over a week in 1962 between Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut though the doco also contains comments from some of our own master filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and David Fincher among others.

This doco was fantastic truly terrific stuff though it does get off to a bit of a slow start but when it gets to just the 2 men talking about their craft it becomes probably the greatest master class on cinema that any film lover could ever dream of to the point where you become tempted to get out a book and start writing down everything they're saying in the hope that you will learn something out of it all.

One thing I picked up the most from this doco was a line of Hitch's that he wrote in a letter to Truffaut saying that perhaps he should have taken more risks with his work and experimented a bit more with his art form which was so precise and carefully crafted yet came with a deep understanding of his audience and that resonated with me given how this year in movies in particular has played out where more and more filmmakers if they spend a big budget don't really get to do much with their medium instead they just follow orders.

And one only has to see the new Fantastic Four or Suicide Squad to see where that can lead it rarely ends well and even if a filmmaker does get to experiment like Dr George Miller did with Mad Max Fury Road last year or Edgar Wright did with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World there's no guarantee that audiences will jump on board en masse so it can be a bit of a double edged sword sometimes.

And so that was Hitchcock/Truffaut a great doco and one of my fav film watching experiences of the year, 4 and a half out of 5.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Film Review - Green Room (2016)

Green Room is written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier and stars the late Anton Yelchin as Pat the head of a band called the Ain't Rights who are facing the end of their tour when a gig comes their way at a secluded club owned by Darcy (Patrick Stewart) and Darcy has very dark secrets in his club that he will do anything to protect.

Green Room is simply terrific and very genuinely one of the years finest crafted films for these three key reasons:

- First is Saulnier's direction it is truly fantastic to watch just from a craftsman point of view, the film is only 96 minutes long but he makes the absolute most of every moment he puts on screen, nothing feels flabby or wasted but instead air tight and sharply paced, I hope sincerely to see more of him in the director's chair soon.

Another person deserving praise is Sean Porter who was the cinematographer on the film and the mood he creates with that bar with the deep greens and black blacks and beer coloured yellows its almost as if you can feel the piss and vinegar and vomit stains on the wall and the empty glasses on the bar with beer foam still inside, just great world building here.

- Secondly the action in the film is properly violent and bloody and as someone who is so utterly sick to death of seeing toothless and bloodless action in the action films released these days it like Hardcore Henry was very refreshing to see some real blood in the action scenes.

- And lastly the performances are all very good, it is so sad to be watching this after Yelchin sadly passed away and this film shows that he still had so much more to give us as an actor and that it's just so sad that he was taken from us so soon in his life and Stewart is a truly fantastic villain he doesn't do much but his sheer presence reminds us constantly that this guy means business and he'll do whatever it takes to protect his livelihood and again he is just fantastic to watch here.

And that was Green Room which joins Eddie the Eagle and X-Men Apocalypse as one of my top films of the year so far, 4 out of 5.

Film Review - Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings is the latest Laika animated production and tells the tale of Kubo (Art Parkinson) who is a young boy who is tasked with finding an ancient battle suit in the hope that it will help him and his mother live freely from an evil sorcerer (Ralph Fiennes.)

Kubo is beautifully animated truly beautiful with its use of stop motion animation just to look at this film is a true delight, the waves, the lights, the landscapes, the action all of it is just impeccably put together and Charlize Theron is great in the film as well playing a bad ass Monkey with a real attitude problem.

Sadly however the films storyline just didn't do much for me and all throughout the film I just struggled to get all that engaged with it and primarily because I felt it got pretty predictable with its story and character arcs in a way that I kinda began to figure out what was going to happen ahead of time and given that this film is meant to be about the power of storytelling and how it impacts our lives as well as the lives of those around us it feels a little disappointing that the film falls short in this key area.

That said some older kids 7 to 12 will enjoy this film but that would be about it I feel (saw a couple of young kids in my session and they did squirm a little bit) but for me personally it was just okay, another meh film in what has been a very meh year for movies in general, 2 out of 5.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Film Review - Hardcore Henry (2016)

Hardcore Henry is a Russian production all in First Person Perspective as a man named Henry wakes up in a lab missing an arm and a leg but after his scientist wife pieces him back together a man named Akan attacks and kidnaps her forcing Henry to go and rescue her.

Now I was really excited to see this film as the preview for it was fucking exhilarating with its use of Don't Stop Me Now by Queen and the action scenes feeling really exciting but could the film itself actually deliver the goods?

Well no sadly as this movie is a big disappointment for me so much so that when it ended I thought to myself "Is That It?" but before I delve into that I want to talk about what I did like:

- First off the film looks terrific the First Person Perspective works a real treat and while watching it I thought to myself "This is as if someone took a VR Helmet and turned it into a movie camera to shoot a film" and it really felt that way at least for me and not once did I feel bored looking at the film from that technical perspective.

- And secondly the violence in the film just had me grinning from ear to ear as this is full on R rated violence with oodles of blood on screen and it is about fucking time too as I am so sick to death of all these big action films that just chicken out with their violence because they want that magical PG-13 rating that gives them the maximum bang for the buck and boy does it feel so fucking good to have some blood in a film again.

But where this film faulters majorly is in its storytelling frankly it's just a ripoff of Robocop from 1987 where you have the cybernetic guy, the evil villain, the big twist to it all and none of it really was that interesting for me and the use of Don't Stop Me Now in the film itself was immensely disappointing but that's all I'll say on that front.

As for Akan the lead villain well he wasn't all that great don't get me wrong his powers look great but all he ended up being was a cheapo Magneto knockoff but without any real motivation which Magneto always has and why it makes him such a compelling villain to watch.

And so that was Hardcore Henry sadly my biggest disappointment of the year so far, rent Robocop instead, 1.5 out of 5.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Film Review - Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad is based off of a DC comic and stars Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis and Jared Leto among others as the US Government representative Amanda Waller seeks to establish a special task force in case Superman turns evil again but this group will be hard to control.

I was very 50/50 going into this movie as DC's Cinematic Universe much like Marvel's in 2008-2012 has gotten off to a very rocky start for I was not a big fan of Man of Steel whilst I warmed to Batman V Superman with the extended version but I was looking forward to Jared Leto as the Joker so could this film turn the ship around for DC or are there still rocky waters ahead.

Well I hated this movie and for these reasons:

- Firstly the film is just so lifeless on screen to the point where it feels like your being hit over the head with a hammer and it makes your head hurt, none of the scenes ever really felt like they came alive for me and the storytelling here was pretty weak with a lot of flashback segments in the beginning that in some cases could've been their own film and then grinding the whole thing to a halt in the middle act and then crafting a boring CG filled climax.

- Secondly the action is thuddingly noisy as it is constantly filled with LOUD MUSIC THAT PLAYS EXACTLY LIKE THIS!!! and after a while it all just got too much for me and it added I think to the being hit over the head feeling I elaborated on in my previous point and also the film has this attitude towards women that for me made me very uncomfortable after a while which also didn't help matters.

- And lastly I really didn't like a lot of the performances, Smith as Deadshot didn't really register for me all that much, Robbie went way too over the top as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney did a really cringeworthy Aussie accent as Captain Boomerang (Courtney himself is Australia but this was way too cartoonish) Joel Kinnaman basically did the "Army Officer 101" act as Rick Flagg while Ben Affleck basically had a glorified cameo as Batman.

But there are two performances in particular that disappoint me one of those is Leto's as the Joker and that character has always been fun over the years whether he was played by Jack Nicholson or Mark Hamill or the late Heath Ledger but this time Leto barely did anything nor did he have any meaningful screen time and for me I just hate it when such a great character like the Joker is wasted in this manner.

The other is Cara Develeigne as the Enchantress and frankly she was not very good in this film and again another Super Hero film suffers from having a weak villain and boy oh boy oh boy am I getting sick to death in so many ways of this.

I will say however that Davis as Waller is a terrific performance but again its one that basically has Davis sitting around a desk barking orders and making threats and it feels like a bit of a waste, hopefully a more meaningful role will come in the future for this character.

And so that was Suicide Squad one of my least favorite films of the year so far, 1 out of 5.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Film Review - Jason Bourne (2016)

Jason Bourne sees the return of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and Paul Greengrass in the director's chair and Bourne is now tracking down the mystery regarding his father that could well tie into his mysterious past.

I was very much looking forward to this film as it looked like a proper action film and it has been a fair while since we have had one of those (The Nice Guys was probably the last one we got and that was back in May) but could Damon and Greengrass's return to the series put things back on track or were they right to leave things after the 2002-2007 trilogy of films.

Well I have to say that I did enjoy this film but the more that I began to think about it the more it kinda shrank in my mind now that does not in any way make this a bad film as its very far from one but it also kinda became one that fell into the grey area a little bit.

The good however is very good Greengrass makes the film clip along at a really nice pace, there are some very exciting action sequences (ones set in Vegas and Greece were real highlights) and Vincent Cassel and Tommy Lee Jones are terrific in the film.

The bad however is pretty bad and there are three key components to this:

- The first is the films story, all throughout the film I kept thinking to myself "This is the Weapon X Program from X-Men" and that program was where Wolverine got his Metal Claws and had his memory wiped ("He will have no memory" says a voice from the past in X-Men 2) and that comparison became harder and harder to shake for me.

One positive side of that is that Tommy Lee Jones would've been a fantastic William Stryker although Brian Cox was simply brilliant in that role.

- Secondly Damon just didn't cut through for me this time around, he stood around a lot, walked really fast and scowled a lot and after a while I got a bit bored with it and his performance overall.

- And lastly Alicia Vikander who is a wonderful young actress is pretty much wasted in this film, she was so good in Ex Machina and the Man from UNCLE last year and she won an Academy Award but here she just plays the generic CIA officer that frankly any actress could've played, hopefully the Light Between Oceans and Tomb Raider will remind us all of how good she can be.

And so that was Jason Bourne, not a bad film at all but just not a great one either I suspect that I might have enjoyed this a lot more if I had seen the earlier films, 2 and a half out of 5.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thoughts on the Extended Version of Batman V Superman

So Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice has now been released in its original 3 hour version before director Zack Snyder had to cut it down to the 151 minute version we all saw in cinemas back in March.

I will avoid in this review talking about my overall feelings on the film itself as I covered all that back in March both on here and on my Radio show but what was this cut the one that if Snyder had had his way we would've seen back in March like?

Well this is easily the best cut of the film and it is also the cut we should've gotten back in March but Warner Brothers panicked at the last minute and most likely ordered Snyder to cut it down to 2 and a half hours in case they could get the maximum impact in terms of sessions in a day (which are most often taken up with nearly 20 minutes worth of ads, now I love previews but that is ca-razy) and well if you go even a sliver beyond 150 minutes its considered a huge gamble and given the huge amount of story this film has now in this 3 hour version something has to give.

And sadly something that did give was the use of Clark Kent in the release version he barely did anything and had little to no screen time whereas here he actually gets a really good story arc of his own where he actually goes to Gotham and does research on the Batman and the effect he leaves on the city ("He is Angry and he's Hunting" says one man.)

The other is the fully realised Africa sequence which should NEVER!!! have been cut to shreds in the release version and this time it actually plays out like a fun Superman action scene in the beginning of the film (though he really didn't need to save Lois for the 9 BILLIONTH TIME I mean seriously the handling of her has been farcial since Superman II) and sets up the rest of the film very well.

Sadly however this version is not the night and day difference I thought it would be and what also became the case with James Cameron's the Abyss back in 1989 where he had a 3 hour cut (a 3 hour cut) that he then had to cut down to get the maximum session times in a day and the Special Edition he released in 1993 pretty much rendered the release version unwatchable.

Where this film and this version goes so very wrong is sadly where I feared very genuinely where the film would end up when I saw the now infamous 2nd preview for it back in December of last year and that is instead of the film culminating in the titanic fight between 2 iconic superheroes instead it's with a CGI Monster that looks like they cast the Cave Troll from Lord of the Rings.

Not to mention shoving in a pointless Wonder Woman cameo which Gal Gadot gives all she can to do with and becomes memorable for sure but all it does for me is serve to undermine her solo film which is coming next year as well as the other "Here's the Justice League" scene that really made me cringe even if one of them has Myles Dyson in it.

The third problem I have and this is really disappointing for me is the scenes with Jena Malone, now I LOVED her as Johanna Mason in the Hunger Games series she was awesome in those films and when it broke that she had been cast in this film many suspected she might be either Barbara Gordon or Carrie Kelly the female Robin instead it was just a really small role and it felt like a waste of her talent.

And so that was my thoughts on the extended version of Batman V Superman it's a big improvement but it does not sadly fix the fundamental problems the film has overall regarding its final act and shoving in characters for no real reason apart from "Here they are ready to go for next time" and so this cut gets a 2 and a half out of 5.