Thursday, January 19, 2017

Radio Days are Here Again

Well folks here they are my last 2 Radio episodes (there were problems with uploading shows late last year that have only now been resolved) covering:

- The Best and Worst of 2016

As well as:

- Star Wars: Rogue One
- Passengers
- Moana
- Red Dog True Blue

As always you can listen here:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Film Review - Passengers (2017)

Passengers is directed by Morten Tyldum who made the Imitation Game and stars Chris Pratt as Jim a mechanic who is accidentally woken up from hyper sleep 30 years into a 120 year journey to Homestead II a planet very much like Earth but the isolation considers him to wake up another Passenger Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) even though she too will die along the way.

I was very much looking forward to this movie mainly because it was a new Science Fiction film with 2 actors I really like in both Pratt and Lawrence would this become a new Sci Fi classic or just another misfire that sadly crashes not long after takeoff.

Unfortunately most unfortunately I have to say this is a case of the latter as Passengers is enormously disappointing for these reasons:

- Firstly the moral quandary presented in this movie is a fascinating one as unlike say Red Dwarf where the crew is wiped out by Radiation Leaks and one person survives all alone he has a chance to have some company even though he will ruin their life as well and if a connection fails to form then "What Have I Done?" can quickly come to mind.

Sadly both Tyldum and Pratt severely drop the ball in handling this murky story point and its execution comes off as very very badly so bad that it left a bad taste in my mind for the rest of the film and the casting of Pratt in this role really did not help as I just could not believe him in a role that requires an actor willing to go down this dark path simply to make a voyage through space better for him if it had been Arnold Rimmer for example it probably wouldn't have been a problem but with Pratt he feels miscast.

- And secondly the film completely goes off the rails and becomes Titanic in Space which is not as good as that sounds as the ship starts to go haywire and our lovers have to fix it and save themselves from dying in the process and it is super duper boring to sit through and it reeks of a film that just went off the rails.

I did however like both Lawrence and Michael Sheen in their parts Sheen in particular is the bright spark of the film reminding me a little of Mr. Data from Star Trek the Next Generation hopefully he will get to be in more roles in the future.

I wish I could say Passengers is a great film to kick off the new year but sadly I can't as it really disappointed me and I cannot recommend it, 1 out of 5.

Film Review - Moana (2016)

Moana is the latest Disney Animation telling the tale of Maui (Dwayne Johnson) a Demigod who stole the heart of Te Fiti which then starts to condemn the nearby islands to darkness meanwhile a young Tribal Chief named Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) is determined to help her island people become plentiful again and she may very well need Maui's help to do it.

I liked this movie and primarily because I like the Moana character, she was headstrong, brave, willing to look for solutions and get things done and take nobody's crap from anyone you were either in her way or getting behind her in her quest and the latter was what happened to me watching the film even if Maui was constantly picking on her and getting in her way and speaking of him I did not like Dwayne Johnson as much in this movie mainly because at times I felt like he was a copy of the Genie from Aladdin and not that great of a one.

And also I feel the storytelling itself very much followed the typical Disney Princess formula:

- There's the young girl who wants more out of life
- The big songs
- The supporting comic relief
- The big villain
- And the fight at the 2 third mark which splits the hero apart only to fight back in the climax

And all of that after a while began to get on my nerves especially with a film like Zootopia from earlier this year which tried to do something different though thankfully this film steers away from the heavy handed messaging that film had in its climax but all that aside I did enjoy myself.

Is Moana a typical Disney Princess film? Yes Did I Enjoy It? Yes I Did and Would I Recommend It? Absolutely I would especially to young girls who would really get something from this character though kids under 6 I would caution taking them to this one as it might scare them a little, 3 out of 5.

Film Review - Red Dog True Blue (2016)

Red Dog True Blue takes place before the events of the original Red Dog film from 2011 and tells of a Perth businessman (Jason Isaacs) who takes his kids to see the original film after it has an effect on him he tells his oldest son about the story that inspired the film which also leads into his time on a Kimberley farm with his grandfather (Bryan Brown.)

Red Dog True Blue is actually a pretty fun prequel and you certainly can't say that about most prequels especially these days and it's not hard to fall in love with that loveable Red Dog all over again and the station Bryan Brown's character runs is full of life and very nice characters ranging from an umbrella wielding Chinaman to a Helicopter Pilot and even some local Indigenous people who tell tales of magic.

Young Levi Miller who I didn't like in Pan from 2015 redeems himself here as the young boy at the heart of the story while Brown is his usual reliable self even if I kept thinking of him as Rollie Tyler from FX Murder by Illusion and when Jason Isaacs came on screen I thought to myself "Hello to Jason Isaacs."

I will also say however that this movie is not as good as the first film primarily because I felt that the story being told here just wasn't as appealing but it's good natured charm and likeable performances won me over by the time the film ended and I began to stew on it in my mind.

Red Dog True Blue is a fun and likeable time but not as good as the original which virtually saved the Australian Film Industry from oblivion, 2 and a half out of 5.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Film Review - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rogue One takes place in the time leading up directly to the events of the original Star Wars film from 1977 and expands on the first victory of the Rebellion over the Empire that was explained in the first paragraph of that crawl from the original film.

Rogue One is not a bad film at all, it's perfectly fine and passable entertainment but there are some serious problems I had with it for these reasons:

- Firstly the story here gave me flashes of how I felt about the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy from 1999 to 2005 and that feeling was "I don't care about this, I know what happens get on with it" and watching this movie that feeling got stronger and stronger like a Jedi Knight unable to resist the calling of the Force to them and even though there is some nice action here it all began to feel like a videogame after a while and without that story interest I found it hard to care.

- Secondly the characters here for the most part including the main group of Rebel Alliance Freedom Fighters all come across as one big gelatinous group of people that were hard to distinguish from one to the other they all looked like worn down combat veterans and they all wore the same uniform for the most part and I never really got invested in their journey, Donnie Yen was really good as this blind Samurai who uses the Force to see and become aware of his surroundings but he was probably the only standout for me.

- And lastly and I hate to say this the main villain here Krennick played by Ben Mendelsohn felt like a bit of a waste not only of Mendo who is a very likeable and watchable actor even if it is only to see how fully Mendo he'll go but his character in this script feels very perfunctory in a sense that with a clever rewrite of the script (and this underwent extensive reshoots) his character could have either been removed or another famous character from this story could've been removed and Mendo could've easily filled those boots.

But there is one big positive that is pretty much the reason I don't write this film off at all and that is Lord Darth Vader and one scene in particular (and I will NOT!!! give it away) had me giddy as all hell in my seat where I was thinking "THEY MADE VADER GREAT AGAIN!!!!!!!!" and in my more measured and critical mind going "This is the best scene in a film since Quicksilver in X-Men" it makes me wish he was in this movie more but alas I can always go back to the original trilogy to watch him in his magnificent glory.

And so that was Rogue One its okay but also I found it to be forgettable, 2 out of 5.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Looking Back at 2016 Part 2

This is a very short and sweet wrap up for me this year as well this year in movies has not been a good one for me and also early to mid December is when I record my final Radio show for the year and it is in that show where I talk about my favourite and least favourite films of the year and there's a number of those so let's get started.

And well nothing would suit me better than by throwing out the trash and starting with the worst of the worst, the 5 films above all else that I just hated sitting through with a burning passion and I just want nothing more than to eviscerate them for taking 5 days out of my life, 5 days I'll never get back.

5. The Light Between Oceans: This entry was based off of a novel and starred Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson and even smegging Norman Gunston plus it was directed by Derek Cianfrance who made the Place Beyond the Pines surely the right ingredients for a hit film right?

Wrong as this movie was just laborious and tedious to sit through the more it went on and had scene after scene after scene especially in the second half of the film of world class actors sitting around in rooms and jail cells going "OH MY BABY, PLEASE GIVE ME MY BABY BACK" and "OH MY DARLING WIFE HOW I MISS YOU" as well as crying over goddamned letters and not even thinking anything through in any logical sense whatsoever.

And the more this went on I just wanted Fassbender to turn into Magneto and break free so he could destroy the town and kill everyone while in his head he hears the words "EVERYTHING THEY'VE BUILT WILL FALL AND FROM THE ASHES FROM THEIR WORLD WE'LL BUILD A BETTER ONE" at least if that had happened the film would've ended hopefully Assassins Creed will be a better use of his immense talents.

4. Warcraft: Again based off of the very successful series of Videogames from Blizzard director Duncan Jones takes us into the world of Azeroth full of magic and Orcs and Humans fighting it out for survival while elements of both camps try to forge an uneasy alliance.

And boy oh boy was this a horrible mess to sit through almost right from the start you feel like you're behind the 8 Ball in terms of who these people are, what the stakes are for the Orcs, who or what Azeroth is and what the history of these cultures is and when you contrast this movie with what Peter Jackson did with the Lord of the Rings series where he took the time to bring audiences into the world of Middle Earth this movie falls way way short by comparison and given that Jones has some magical heritage of his own it feels all the more disappointing that he dropped the ball like this so heavily.

3. The Legend of Tarzan: Tarzan had a great cast in Margot Robbie, Samuel L Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Honsou and Alexander Skarsgard plus source material ripe for retelling with today's technology.

And yet once again this was a boring mess of a film to sit through that feels like its playing as a sequel to a film that doesn't even exist and when it does its in the flashbacks which should've been the film itself not to mention the near complete waste of that cast most of whom just don't have anything to sink their teeth into, do nothing but run around CGI jungles with their shirt off or in the case of Waltz just do the same damned thing he's been doing for the last 7 years the dashing rogue you can't trust, find a new smegging act buddy as this one is getting tiresome.

2. The Revenant: This was the film that kicked off my cinema going year it had the director of Birdman, Leo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domnhall Gleeson and a story of revenge in the landscapes of colonial America.

And it just went on and on and on and on for 156 minutes and the whole thing became a complete fucking drag almost the entire time with endless scenes of snowy mountain landscapes and Leo DiCaprio grunting and hobbling his way to that elusive Best Actor Academy Award sorry back to his base a bit of a memory blank there for a second while Tom Hardy mumbles his way through yet another performance.

Seriously I wish he and Jeff Bridges would just quick this constant bloody mumbling all the time as its getting ridiculous I mean can't someone say to them "Please talk normally" before they start shooting a role I mean it can't be that hard and as for DiCaprio well he only won the damned gold statue because he played someone who suffered for their art UGH give me a fucking break.

But as bad as those were my absolute worst film of the year was:

1. Suicide Squad: Yup DC's first spin off film in their new cinematic universe (what a surprise) is my absolute least favourite film of this entire year.

Mainly because when I look back on this movie I cannot think of anything that I liked about it in any substantial way the film was constantly throwing loud rock music onto the soundtrack, the squad were uninteresting bores thrown together in the hope of copying the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, the storytelling was a mess of over editing and on top of all this the whole fucking thing comes to a stop so they can all go have a drink in a bar unbelievable.

And also DC once again like the incompetent fuckwits they look like lost their shit at the last minute because of all the "Batman V Superman was too dark" whining and whinging that went on and took the film David Ayer was crafting away from him and re-cut it to oblivion just as 20th Century Fox did to Josh Trank's Fantastic Four reboot but WB at least avoided what happened with Fant4stic where its director blew his stack the day before it opened.

And I hate to do this last part but I have to and that is DC desperately and I mean right fucking now needs its own Kevin Feige Marvel's Producer Supreme who was a working producer first and a Comic Nerd second working on all of the Marvel productions of the early to mid 2000s before becoming a Producer in his own right with Iron Man in 2008 and Feige's experiences on those films has very clearly shaped his MCU for better and for worse (the fact that many of them misfired is probably why so many of the MCU films feel kinda bland at times.)

DC meanwhile had the perfect person in Bruce Timm sitting in the same company (he oversaw along with Paul Dini and Alan Burnett their enormously successful animated shows and films since Batman the Animated Series in 1992) ready to go someone who like Feige loved that world and knew how to translate it to another medium like film but instead they hired Geoff Johns and Jon Berg who don't look like they're making much of a dent given the director problems DC has been having recently and once again it makes me think that Fox was damned lucky to have found Bryan Singer to help guide their X-Men franchise and that his departure could once again spell trouble for that long running series.

But now that is all out of the way let's get out that Christmas dinner and start to talking about my favourites of the year ah happy days are here again, the skies above are clear again let us sing a song of cheer again ah already I feel better.

Last year had a very very strong top 3 going for it so strong that A Most Violent Year, Kingsman the Secret Service and Dragon Ball Z Resurrection F each could've been my movie of the year but this year marks a return to a more traditional top 5 list in which these were the films I easily enjoyed the most in what has been a very weak film year.

And at Number 5 is:

Sing Street: Writer/Director John Carney's tale of a young boy named Cosmo forming a band in 1980s Ireland to impress a young girl named Raphina was easily some of the most fun I have had with a film this year.

And part of that is because since I have seen this movie I have not been able to stop thinking about it and in a lot of ways this has burrowed its way further and further to my heart in the days and weeks since watching it I feel that it is arguably one of if not the best recreation of the 80s so far put on film it has what you want from a musical in terms of using both new songs and licensed tracks both of which work beautifully together the young cast is terrific to watch and it recreates that teen film vibe really nicely and it has a sweet little love story as well even if that didn't work as well for me personally.

But the big thing I come to is that when I was watching it I began to feel more and more like I was watching an old Roadshow Home Video or Premiere Home Entertainment VHS release from 1986 that happened to be done here and now in 2016 (the look of the film is simply gorgeous with its bright and bold colours and that scratchy 35mm print feel) that also happened to be preserved in a vault somewhere and released this year and when the film was over and this will sound very very silly to most readers but I wanted that 5 to 10 minutes of Roadshow VHS Previews to come up from that era films like Short Circuit, Rebel, Raw Courage, The Neverending Story and Biggles among others as well as that vintage Roadshow Home Video logo with the yellow V and ominous music in fact I wish I had watching this on an old Roadshow VHS it would've really added to the wonderful vibe this movie created which despite being a sweet one hit that very spot.

4. Batman the Killing Joke: This will be a very divisive pick for a lot of people to see on my list but I don't care as it's my list dag nabbit and I've pretty much learned this year that the stuff I tend to enjoy is that stuff that very few tend to enjoy with me and this DC Animated Universe film drew such a response.

But stripping aside the Batgirl cartoon at the beginning of the film that feels exactly like that a cartoon episode before the main feature the actual Killing Joke animated film is actually quite good with great animation, dark storytelling that was clearly an influence on both Tim Burton's Batman film from 1989 and more specifically Christopher Nolan's the Dark Knight which is pretty much a live action Killing Joke film by another name.

What also gets it here is the vocal performance of Mark Hamill as the Clown Prince of Crime he completely owns this film and has come to define this character so well that you just sit there hanging off every word coming out of his mouth something that Jared Leto failed completely, utterly and spectacularly to do in Suicide Squad hopefully Ben Affleck will turn that around if he decides to use him in his solo Batman film.

3. The Beatles 8 Days A Week: Ron Howard's wonderful documentary captures the ups and downs of the touring years of perhaps the world's most famous rock band was just a delight to sit through at the cinema with many tales being told of life on the road combined with wonderful archive footage.

And what also shone out was the wonderful music that I found very hard to get out of my head for a good week or so after seeing the film and very happily I was able to see archival interviews with George Harrison and John Lennon as one of my concerns about the doco was that the focus would go onto Paul and Ringo who are still with us but that was happily not the case and to hear from them was a real treat.

Sadly however Ron Howard would go from this to Inferno which makes me sad even thinking about that what a shame.

2. X-Men Apocalypse: This like the Killing Joke will be a divisive pick for many but Bryan Singer's 4th film directing the X-Men was a film I personally loved even if a lot of other people did not.

This was for the most time the most fun I have had in a cinema all year as for that 2 and a half hours it just felt like the whole world fell away and all that mattered to me was watching this world and these characters that I deeply love being projected in front of me and I could once again enjoy their company perhaps a not too similar feeling people have when watching the Avengers series.

But on top of that there were numerous scenes that made me feel all sorts of emotions whether it be sadness, joy, fear Singer did a good job in the director's chair despite inheriting a fairly rough script John Ottman did some fantastic music once again creating several memorable cues as he had also done for Days of Future Past and all of the performances save for Jennifer Lawrence who was clearly only there to see out her contract were very solid for the most part.

But now the time has come to move to the top of the pile the king of the heap my favourite film of 2016 which is:

The Accountant: This was a no brainer for me the more I thought about this movie, Gavin O'Connor's film of an Autistic Accountant who also deals with some of the world's shadiest people while also trying to stay one step ahead of the US Treasury who might be suspecting some dodgy behaviour in regards to his accountancy work.

To me this movie felt like the kind of film that really doesn't get made very much anymore which is a genre film with plenty of hard hitting action that also takes its time to develop its characters and its story as well as pin all of that onto its central character and seeing it the 2nd time really gave me a greater appreciation for the work Ben Affleck does in this movie.

His character Christian Wolff is someone who lives with a condition that can make someone feel very lonely and insecure about themselves even though they might be lucky enough to live a normal life in the workaday world but to be able to connect with people in either a romantic or a friendship kind of way can prove exceedingly difficult even though they're trying with all their Heart to do the right thing in doing so and the scenes he has with Anna Kendrick help to form the heart of the film as you can see that he cares about her but can do very little about it as he also fears what might happen to her either after a long period of time with him or his shadowy past comes to target her to get to him.

And also to see Autism portrayed in a way that feels very sincere and sympathetic without resorting to the stereotype of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man is also very refreshing and again I have to credit Affleck and O'Connor for doing this as well as the writer Bill Dubuque and another feeling I had seeing this film again was that Ben is probably the one person I find reliable in Hollywood right now as he has yet to let me down since Gone Baby Gone in 2007 I hope sincerely that Live by Night continues this trend next year.

And so that was 2016 at the movies a short and sweet wrap up because mainly I did not enjoy this film year all that much hopefully 2017 will be better though save for Live by Night which comes out in late January I don't really have a lot of hope for the coming film year ahead.

Mainly because I feel that much like a disappointing entry in a franchise I feel that next year's crop of films has to win me back to climb back up that mountain once again after falling some distance but Marvel Studios managed to do that for me with Doctor Strange which I didn't think would happen so if that can be done then perhaps there is some hope left but again as they say only time will tell.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Looking Back at 2016 Part 1

Well here we are again boys and girls another movie year, another year of "Can I get 1 for this at 12.15 thank you" another year of talking on Radio about new release films and another year of ups and downs and movies in the middle is over.

And yet despite all of that, all of the running around and jumping on and off of buses and cars and paving the footpaths to my cinema and back this year in movies has been well pretty terrible.

And by that I mean so many films that I saw this year came across as very meh, bland, blaze or at times just plain boring, uninspiring and sloppy and to me a great movie year like 2011-2015 should be inspiring for a film lover a sustenance to keep them going through the 12 month period of watching new releases but this year that at least for me it has been difficult.

Perhaps a large part of this malaise has been to do with the fact that I turned 30 back in April and that has made me think about a few things outside of movie going this is hard to explain I know but that feeling has been a pervasive one for me throughout most of this year and its only now in the last period of the year where that feeling has lifted from my mind somewhat.

But coming back to the uninspiring part throughout a lot of the US Summer period I kept thinking to myself "We live in a world where we can put anything we like on screen, anything we imagine in our minds we can find the right Viz FX Team and they'll bring it to life for us and THIS is the best you can do this bland, messy, soft and sloppy storytelling that is a slog to sit through, how pathetic."

But enough about that for now as frankly I really have no desire to continue now perhaps films like Moana, Rogue One, La La Land, Allied and Red Dog 2 can turn things around and those 5 are the ones I hope to fully sign off the year with though I doubt my area will get Allied or La La Land given that family films tend to dominate at this time of year but hope must be maintained and besides there's always next year.