Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Radio Ep

Well folks here is my final review show for the year where I reviewed:

- Geostorm
- Murder on the Orient Express
- Thor Ragnarok

As always you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/abclocalradio_sa/simon-nov-17-final

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Film Review - Suburbicon (2017)

Suburbicon is co-written and directed by George Clooney and concerns Matt Damon as an office worker whose home is broken into and his wife (Julianne Moore) is killed but meanwhile a black family moves into their neighbourhood and chaos ensues.

This movie is frankly awful and not unlike the Snowman from last month I cannot believe that this many highly talented people are involved in a gigantic mess of a film which is that way for these reasons:

- Firstly it is now crystal clear that Clooney hasn’t a fucking clue how to properly execute a script on film and it isn’t just with this movie it was also with the Monuments Men from 2014 the story here feels all over the place and Clooney just cannot make all of these elements come together in a harmonious fashion.

But a movie he produced did that beautifully and that was Argo a script by Chris Terrio that easily could have been a mess but Ben Affleck made sing like a hummingbird and it won Best Picture and whenever I watch that movie I think “How the Fuck did he pull this off” and I can’t help but think that Clooney felt “Pfft Show Off I’ll show him that I can do it too” and well twice now he has shown that he cannot do it at all which means this soufflĂ© should be thrown out in the trash.

- Secondly the script by Clooney, Grant Heslov and the Coen Brothers (to be fair they themselves have been hit and miss for me) is a real mess I mean here you have a fascinating story of the first black family moving into a prominently white suburb and it’s the Fucking side act of a really boring story about the mob being owed money and insurance fraud and riots and none of it did anything for me at all as the humour wasn’t funny and the racial stuff is not given the story thrust it should have gotten as it could have been an interesting reflection on contemporary times but it’s just thrown in there.

- And lastly the performances here are dreadful, Damon is incredibly flat and during the home invasion I wanted him to just take the glasses off, turn into Jason Bourne and beat the shit out of them, Moore is really cartoonish here as both the wife and the Sister in Law and it feels worse here than her turn in Kingsman 2 as at least that film was a more cartoonish movie here it really feels out of place given the seriousness of the film itself.

But the biggest waste is of Oscar Isaac as he is barely in this film (really only 2 scenes) and when he is in the film you think “Even he can’t save this movie” and when that happens you are in deep deep trouble as this man can lift pretty much every movie he’s in up another notch he’s that good of an actor but yeah this is a rare exception to that role and I really liked him as Apocalypse last year and that’s saying something.

But that was Suburbicon and it is awful on almost every key level, the direction, script and performances are all over the place and have no unifying tone to them and I don’t want to recommend it to anyone, 1 out of 5.

Film Review - Justice League (2017)

Justice League is the newest entry of the DC Cinematic Universe and concerns Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) having to pull together an alliance of warriors consisting of The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) as Bruce fears that the end of the world is near following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) but the world can’t be saved alone and with no Lanterns and no Kryptonians this world will fall, like all the others.

I was very excited to see this movie mainly because not only did I love Wonder Woman from earlier this year but the previews for this film got better and better showing not only the promise of a good villain steeped in the DC lore (Superman the Animated Series deals with this well if you want to find somewhere to catch up) but also the combination of director Zack Snyder’s visuals with Joss Whedon’s script writing flare what could possibly go wrong?

Well actually not much as I loved and I mean Loved this movie for these reasons:

- First off I want to start off with Ciaran Hinds as Steppenwolf I had read some criticism of him as a villain before seeing this movie but I enjoyed him in this movie mainly because he felt like someone that could tear through worlds much like Apokolips and the slaves of Darkseid and seeing him take on the Amazons from Wonder Woman was a real thrill and then to see him mock Diana because of it was just as thrilling as was his battles with the overall league.

- Secondly if you know your DC lore as I do having watched the animated Superman series as well as the first two seasons of the animated Justice League show I visibly gleed in my seat and had my mouth wide open at what I was seeing here not just the references to Apokolips and the New Gods but also Boom Tubes, Mother Boxes and Para Demons who serve a better purpose than the Chi-Tauri did in the first Avengers film and they tie into the main storyline very well I thought.

- And lastly I want to talk about the League overall and the films action sequences the League is very well realised with all the members getting good amounts of screen time and action beats and all of the members particularly the Flash are well developed Miller is a lot of fun as the Flash and he brings a real quirky energy to the role Momoa and Fisher are fine and Gadot and Affleck serve well as the 2 anchors of the team in terms of the leadership.

The action scenes here are terrific with a lot of high energy editing, huge battles and great dialogue throughout the fights in the past and with Steppenwolf in the present in particular were quite good and had me smiling in a big way.

However this film has one major problem and that is it doesn’t do enough to really setup the history that’s being portrayed in the movie in terms of Steppenwolf and the Mother Boxes and how it all ties to the various locations of the Universe there’s a little bit of it but those sequences really needed to be fleshed out more I wonder if Whedon and Snyder had a cut that was 140-150 minutes that did all that but then when Warner Brothers decreed that it must be 2 hours as has been reported recently all of that had to be cut back but there’s always Warner Home Video to do a longer version right.

And lastly the 3D is terrible I saw it in 2D and 3D and the 3D adds nothing its dark and murky and it looked really bad, the 2D however looked picture perfect.

And so that was Justice League and as someone who loves the DC world and the Animated Universe this was a real treat and while this phase of DC experimentation is over the trinity of Whedon, Snyder and Patty Jenkins is a strong one that this franchise needs to keep together going forward as what lies ahead is going to be very exciting, 4 out of 5.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Film Review - Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Murder on the Orient Express is based off of the novel by Agatha Christie and is directed by and stars Sir Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot who boards the Orient Express train in the hopes of returning to London for a well deserved break but a passenger is later murdered and its up to Poirot to solve the case.

This isn’t one of the best films I’ve seen this year but I did enjoy myself quite a bit with this movie and a lot of that comes down firstly to Sir Ken for not only does he direct the film well with lots of interesting angles including his infamous dutch tilts but also by maintaining a tight pace to proceedings and also by making sure the story and the mystery never stray too far away from the train and thus rob the story of its momentum or tension as Poirot solves the case.

And also Branagh himself does well as Inspector Poirot and look the moustache is silly I know but it is what it is okay so I’m going to move on and leave it there as what it far more important is how Branagh goes as Poirot and as I mentioned above he handles himself very well in the part and watching him here made me go “I wouldn’t mind seeing a few films of him as this character” and some of his reveals in both the role and in directing the film are also good for a laugh.

But secondly the films overall cast consisting of Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Derek Jacobi, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Dame Judi Dench and Olivia Coleman among others are also pretty good and it was sure nice to see Ms Pfeiffer in a good role again plus Depp not come across as a slobbish drunken buffoon pissing his great legacy against his wall after a bender the night before and part of me also did swoon a little whenever Ms Daisy came on screen.

Though thanks to Red Dwarf I knew the outcome of the case the Murder on the Orient Express is a well made and engaging murder mystery and is worth seeing, 3 out of 5.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Film Review - The Snowman (2017)

The Snowman is based off of the novel by Jo Nesbo and stars Michael Fassbender as Harry Hole a detective who finds himself investigating a series of missing persons case where the clue is a snowman planted at the scene but he finds himself with some help in the form of Rebecca Ferguson and managing his ex-partner played by Charlotte Gainsbourg.

This movie is absolutely pathetic and I really felt when it was over that my time was wasted the whole 2 hours I mean you have:

- Tomas Alfredson the director of Tinker Tailor Sailor Spy and Let the Right One In
- Houssen Amini the screenwriter of Drive
- Martin Scorsese as Executive Producer
- Thelma Schoonmaker one of the top editors in the world editing this movie

And finally a great cast of Fassbender, Ferguson, Gainsbourg, JK Simmons, Val Kilmer and Toby Jones and yet not one of these people the production team in particular and especially Universal Pictures see with their own eyes that this was a disastrous mess that has no real story to it whatsoever.

And not only that but its editing is so very poor and a lot of times it falls back on the “Voice over exterior scenes” that often becomes a quick fix in the editing room and the overall editing here doesn’t give you a sense of a story or a mystery unfolding or even being told in a competent way and as a result it feels like very little is happening on screen.

The film does have some nice winter landscape shots but big fucking deal when the filmmaking here is so piss bloody poor it takes a great cast and flushes them through a toilet and this is a great cast but no one really gets a chance to shine and poor Val Kilmer sounds like his voice has been dubbed now he himself is said to not be in good health but sometimes his vocals don’t match the lip movements on Kilmer’s voice so he had to have been dubbed in the editing process.

Now there was indeed a potentially interesting murder story here to be told but when as Mr Alfredson is said to have stated that 10 to 15 percent of the script was not even filmed then that creates clear problems in terms of telling a coherent story that has a beginning, middle and end still it is just staggering how poorly this film comes together.

The Snowman is a pathetic mess and the very worst film I’ve seen this year I cannot believe so many high quality people some of the best of both past and present eras of filmmaking put out such a horrible incompetent mess of a movie I still feel angry about this, 0 out of 5.

Film Review - Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok is the 17th Marvel Studios production and is directed by Taika Watiti who also made last year’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople the story here sees Thor (Chris Hemsworth) trying to prevent Ragnarok the end of everything but when a coup by the Goddess of Death Hela (Cate Blanchett) sees him and Loki (Tom Hiddelston) exiled from Asgard and stuck on planet Siccar they have to find a way home to stop Hela and also pick up an old friend.

Thor: Ragnarok is a lot of fun for two key reasons:

- First Watiti’s signature droll humour is on full display here and there are many times where I laughed a lot 2 references in particular had me laughing properly out loud in the cinema and much like the Wilderpeople there are a lot of jokes thrown at the screen but its done in a way that doesn’t make them feel overcooked they’re layered jokes that work on multiple levels and they work in a way that treats the audience with intelligence.

- And secondly a lot of the performances are quite good Hemsworth finally gets to show what a funny and charismatic lead he can be in the right hands and its definitely his best work in this series so far he’s been good in other films like Rush with Ron Howard but here his charisma and great sense of comic timing really shine here, Mark Ruffalo returns as the Hulk and he too is pretty good while Tessa Thompson does what she can with Valkyrie but doesn’t get a lot of screen time to shine, Tom Hiddleston meanwhile continues to be a bright light for this universe and it only cements my proof that he should be playing Prince Vegeta in a Dragon Ball Z film.

But alas there are two big issues with this movie:

- Firstly the film is far too long its 130 minutes and it could’ve easily lost 20 to 25 minutes off that length the Wilderpeople by contrast was only about 101 minutes and that film felt a lot punchier in terms of the impact of its humour and also the overall impact of the film itself whereas here the long runtime drags down the impact of its jokes and it makes the more heavier scenes feel out of place and this movie has that feel of the original Ghostbusters from 1984 in terms of balancing the seriousness with the comedy but that film was also only 105 minutes long and if Ragnarok had been around that runtime it would’ve worked much better as a film.

- Secondly and y’all know where this is going and it’s the same old song with the Marvel Studios villains and Blanchett is good in the film but she has very little screen time and a lot of her scenes feel disconnected from the main storyline as they have a much more serious feel to them and at times it takes away from the fun action sci-fi comedy tone the film strives for the most.

But again if the film had only been at that 105 to 110 minute length this might not have been such a problem but it is and it has also made me feel even more impatient for Thanos to show up in Avengers Infinity War next year and really emerge as the Mad Titan as Marvel Studios is in desperate need to make its villain work especially that one.

And so that was Thor: Ragnarok a really fun film even with that long length, 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Film Review - Geostorm (2017)

Geostorm is directed by Dean Devlin who worked with Roland Emmerich on Independence Day and Stargate among other films and tells the tale of an Earth ravaged by extreme weather so the worlds scientists devise a satellite system called Dutch Boy to contain them but when the head of the project named Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) is fired from it 3 years later Dutch Boy begins to fail so Jake is recalled to action to get it working again.

Geostorm is a fun disaster film that really works because of two things:

- First is its disaster visual effects almost all of which are pretty cool with giant waves, tornadoes, lightning storms that look like mighty Thor is dropping for a visit, high winds, heavy hailstones all of which cause mass destruction across the world and had me going “This is so cool ha haha” and also making me think of Apocalypse from the X-Men and his quotes like “From the Ashes of their World we’ll build a better one” and “You can fire your arrows from the Tower of Babel but you can NEVER STRIKE GOOOOODDD” and “Nothing can stop the Apocalypse.”

- Secondly the cast know what their in for and have fun for the most part Butler does his usual thing of being the macho hero who helps save the day, Abbie Cornish has a good role as a secret service agent and Andy Garcia and Ed Harris are fun as well as US Presidential people who might hold the key to the project.

Alas however the films story is sadly pretty forgettable concerning government espionage, a conspiracy of power and what ends up becoming just another techno thriller where take phone calls and then are dead the next day to cover the tracks and other stuff has to be done to crack the code and save the day and after a while I got a bit bored of it.

And I couldn’t help but think that if Emmerich had directed this film instead of wasting his and our time on an utterly pointless and boring Independence Day sequel this could have been a fun companion to his underrated Day After Tomorrow but alas we got what we got.

And so that was Geostorm a fun if forgettable disaster film, 2 out of 5.