Friday, June 23, 2017

Film Review - Cars 3 (2017)

Cars 3 is the newest Pixar film and the third in the Cars series and sees Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) start to come up against a new generation of high tech racers one of which is Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) because of this there is a lot of talk of him retiring or being retired but Lightning is not yet ready to bow out of the race just yet.

Cars 3 is an okay film but also a very middling Pixar film and while again it has professional animation and good voice work the story here feels very maudlin and sombre most of the time and in many ways is reminiscent of Rocky 3 where Rocky lost the eye of the tiger and had to get it back and while that is a strong undercurrent here it feels very under developed wanting to make way for new characters like Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) who is not well written though her payoff becomes rewarding.

But there was another thing for me that came to mind while I was watching the film and that is how Lightning McQueens arc for the most part in a strange way mirrors the trajectory of Pixar as a Studio they were great champions that set new standards in their fields, they pushed themselves with each new entry but have now started to lose their way and though sparks of that former greatness still exist that's all they seem to be sparks that fizzle out quickly.

Now I really hope that Coco due later this year can do what Inside Out did in 2015 and still prove to audiences that the light still burns brightly in that famous Pixar lamp but with this, Finding Dory and the Good Dinosaur all of which came after Inside Out not really doing much for me personally as well as some others I have doubts as to whether it can deliver but Pixar always has a level of hope.

Lastly the short Lou plays before the film and I always like to see the newest Pixar short as it allows them to experiment a little like Night and Day from 2010 and last year's Piper but here it feels again maudlin and sombre and as a result I wasn't as into this as it felt very average.

And so that was Cars 3 a not very good Pixar entry that only continues to show the studio has hit the skids though hopefully Coco can win the day, 2 out of 5.

Film Review - Despicable Me 3 (2017)

Despicable Me 3 is the third entry in the series and again concerns Gru (Steve Carrell) and his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) trying to track down the former child star turned villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) who plots revenge against those who cancelled his show back in the 1980s meanwhile Gru meets his long lost brother Dru (also Carrell) and the two start to bond.

This was a very fun film that I had a great time watching and I also thought it was miles better than Number 2 and almost as good as the first film from 2010 and there are 2 reasons for this:

- Firstly Balthazar Bratt is a really fun villain and a lot of his animation is very fluid and the many 80s references he makes just had me smiling in a big way especially the tunes that come out of his electronic guitar gun and every scene he was in I thought really elevated the film which was something I think missing from number 2 a really fun villain to help anchor the story.

- And secondly I still get a real joy out of seeing the Minions and though their screen time is rightfully reduced given they got their own spin off film 2 years ago their scenes are still great fun to watch and land better because their back to being fun sidekick characters with fun gags one scene with them in particular just had me beaming from ear to ear and when I thought about it I still laughed a lot out loud.

And so that was my short and sweet review of Despicable Me 3 a really entertaining animated film that shows Illumination back on form after last year's Secret Life of Pets which was fun but forgettable, 3 out of 5.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Film Review - Their Finest (2017)

Their Finest is directed by Lone Scherfig and takes place in London during World War 2 and a young woman named Katherine (Gemma Arterton) takes a job with the British Ministry of Information in the hope of rallying the British people to the aide of the War but the film they have in mind will have to do much more than that.

Their Finest is an okay film at most, certainly not bad in any way at all but it just didn't compel me very much as compared to other recent WW2 films like the Zookeepers Wife or Hacksaw Ridge where in those films you saw these incredible acts of heroism by ordinary people just wanting to either serve their country or just do the right thing while an innocent culture of people is just needlessly slaughtered here whilst there is some good fun to be had it did lack the resonance of those earlier films.

But the performances here are very good, Arterton is very good herself and watching her in this film I thought "Where has she been in the last little while" as she's a good actress and deserves much more here, Bill Nighy is his usual affable and charming self while Sam Claflin shows once again that he can be more than just a hunk as he too is very good in another dramatic role.

And so that was Their Finest which is okay but wait for Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk next month which the preview to played in front of this film and it kind of made this film feel inferior to be honest but it is certainly not a bad film just an okay one, 2 out of 5.

Friday, June 9, 2017

New Radio Ep

Well folks here is my new Radio ep where I review:

- Guardians of the Galaxy 2
- Snatched
- Alien: Covenant
- Live by Night

As always you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/abclocalradio_sa/simon-may-19

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Film Review - The Mummy (2017)

The Mummy is the first film in Universal's Dark Universe and stars Tom Cruise as Nick a soldier in the Middle East who after a skirmish finds a mysterious artefact buried underneath the town they're in this arouses the interest of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe) who summises that this might be the prison of the Egyptian princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) but alas she awakens and threatens to wreak havoc in order to bring her beloved Set back to life.

The Mummy is far from a bad film it does have some positive elements but it is also a pretty average one and a lot of that comes down to the direction by Alex Kurtzman here directing his first big film there's no real life in any of the scenes the camerawork never truly feels exciting and there's no real sense of a strong story and as a result the film comes across as very bland a lot of the time and also pretty boring with the endless jump scares that only ever work once.

It also doesn't help that Cruise is also really boring in this role but then the script gives him very little to work with and Cruise is at his best when he is the leader of the pack, the smartest man in the room and running a mile ahead of everyone else, Christopher McQuarrie (one of the screenwriters of this film ironically) understands this I feel and Rogue Nation the last Mission Impossible was really good and he was really good in it but here he's just playing a dullard and its a bad fit.

A very good fit however and the one bright spot of this entire film is Crowe as Dr. Jekyll every scene he's in really comes to life in his hands and it makes me want to see more of him in this role hopefully if this movie does well a solo film with his character will be on the cards as he certainly deserves it for without him this movie is a near complete bland fest that just made me want En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse from the X-Men to show up and bring some life to the film outside of Crowe.

And so that was the Mummy and frankly rewatch X-Men Apocalypse instead as that is a fun Ancient Egyptian being destroyer film whereas this is very bland, 2 out of 5.

Film Review - John Wick Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2 continues on from the original John Wick and sees Keanu Reeves return to that role this time he is asked to help out a man who helped him to get out of the life by killing his sister so that he can take her place on the high table but when your known as the Boogeyman plenty of shadows and bullets come calling with you.

I was very keen to see this sequel mainly because I really liked the original John Wick film in 2014 it was fun, brisk, knew exactly what it was and had Keanu back kicking proper ass again after the lacklustre Matrix sequels but could this sequel deliver the goods or end up just another bullet riddled corpse in the mass grave of sequels that fail to deliver.

Well sadly this sequel is not as good as the first film but it does have an honourable death as the action sequences here are truly terrific plenty of gun fights, car chases and hand to hand combat and all of it had me sitting there with the biggest giddiest grin on my face as it all looks so real at times you think you're watching it live this is not like the endless array of Superhero films where extensive CG effects plaster the action here it is hard and brutal and I LOVED every single moment of it.

Where this film does fall short sadly is in its storytelling whereas the first film had a brisk story of a retired hitman out for revenge after his little puppy was murdered (and to be fair I don't blame him) this one sets up a more elaborate story regarding the underworld that was developed in the first film but it doesn't quite come across as interesting and I think the reason is that the main villain here isn't as interesting as compared to Michael Nyqvist who was an interesting baddie whereas here that is missing and it hurts the overall storytelling.

But that said this is not a bad sequel at all in fact I would say it's one of the better ones to come down the pike but when the first film is as good as the first Wick was its a high bar to live up, 2 and a half out of 5.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Film Review - The Zookeepers Wife (2017)

The Zookeepers Wife is based off of a true story and stars Jessica Chastain as Antonia the wife of a Polish Zookeeper in Warsaw when the Nazis invade in 1939 and during the war the Germans round up the Polish Jews into Ghettos and beat them and kill them but Antonia and her husband can no longer stand by as this continues to go on.

The Zookeepers Wife is quite good and that mainly comes down to the story being told here a true life story of a real person who just couldn't sit by and let what was happening to her fellow countrymen as the Germans were occupying their home and it makes for several rather tense sequences where I thought for sure they were going to get caught though happily they did not, Daniel Bruhl an underrated actor is also quite good as a German Officer who hangs around the Zoo like a bad smell.

But this movie is clearly Chastain's and she is very good here and watching her in this movie I was reminded of how good an actress she can be when she has a role to really sink her teeth into and though her Polish accent was a little distracting at times she holds the screen very nicely it's a shame to see her wasted in films like Interstellar, Huntsman: Winters War or the Martian where she had so little to do hopefully in the future she will get meatier roles as she more than deserves them.

And so that was the Zookeepers Wife a quite good true story film that appealed to me and my love of World War 2 History on film and has a great performance by Chastain worth a watch when it comes out on disc, 3 out of 5.