Thursday, April 27, 2017

Film Review - Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the 15th Marvel Studios film and sees the return of Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) and this time Star Lord and the gang are on the run from the Sovereign and it's high priestess (Elizabeth Debicki) but the gang may end up in a much bigger scenario than as originally thought.

I was pretty nervous going into this movie mainly because of my disappointment with 2015's Avengers Sequel Age of Ultron and the first Guardians film is my favorite MCU film save for the first Avengers film so could the gang rise to the occasion or fail like glorious A holes who stuff up.

Well it's really a case of neither as while the film is fun to watch at times and has some great visual effects the films storytelling and use of the characters falls way short but it is nowhere near the disaster that Age of Ultron was mainly because for most of the running time I was enjoying primarily the new characters played by Kurt Russell, Debicki and Pom Klementieff who plays Mantis.

But aside from that new burst of flavour this is a classic case of a raspberry soft drink that has now gone flat and the main reason is that the film doesn't really have a lot of the heart and the warmth and the genuine sharply focused fun that the first film did this time all of the space battles and mixtape songs and I Am Groot and interpersonal bickering doesn't really feel all that different from the first film and nor does it feel like it's evolved in any way since the end of the last film.

It also doesn't help that the bickering becomes really loud and incredibly annoying after a while and the way that the film treats its female characters in particular really started to bother me after a while and it gave the film this almost pre pubescent view of girls that made me cringe a little bit because girls like these films and have been looking forward to this one and they deserve a lot better than to have those female characters treated in a way that feels disrespectful towards them.

And also when I think about this movie a bit more I feel that this is why I feel so guarded and so nervous about approaching the sequel to a film I really like (there are some exceptions of course like the upcoming Kingsman sequel) and I really feel very very strongly that if you are going to make a sequel you should do something with it that pushes the ball down the field and deepens the characters somewhat.

And it has been done in this genre Bryan Singer did it with X-Men 2 back in 2003 a superior film to the first X-Men film, Christopher Nolan did it brilliantly with the Dark Knight in 2008 which was a step up from Batman Begins in every step of the way and Richard Donner would've done it as well had he been given the chance to properly finish Superman II his way back in 1979 given he now had a proper adversary for Chris Reeve's Superman to face off against.

And that above all is what disappointments me most about this sequel nothing new feels genuinely achieved this time and that was enormously frustrating for me when I came out of this movie and yes the visual effects are great and the new characters are fun but without those fundamentals of good storytelling and strong character arcs and motivations it just becomes frosting on a not very nice cake for me.

And so that was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 not a bad sequel for sure but nothing really feels achieved or justified here it just feels like more of the same and it made me want for Thanos to show up even more and shake things up in this universe, 2 out of 5.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Film Review - Going in Style (2017)

Going in Style is a remake of a film of the same name from 1979 which was the debut feature for Martin Brest and helped him to land directing the first Beverly Hills Cop film a few years later, this new film is directed by Zach Braff and is written by Theodore Melfi who recently made Hidden Figures and stars Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine as 3 steel workers who are cheated of their pension fund so they decide to rob the bank to colluded to strip them of their pensions though they'll need help to do so.

I really liked Going in Style it has some faults for sure but it is very hard to not get caught up in the film due to its wonderful veteran cast Caine, Freeman and Arkin all play off each other really well and have a nice chemistry in their scenes Arkin in particular has a great dry sense of humour that I found really appealing while Caine and Freeman turn on their movie star charm and are very likeable.

The film also has some nice turns by Joey King who redeems herself after being wasted in Independence Day Resurgence last year and the great Christopher Lloyd Dr. Emmet Brown himself though sadly he doesn't get an awful lot to do and part of me wished he was able to get in on the main action given his legendary status among many film fans but there's not much that can be done about that and also the film does feel a little too long for its own good despite only running for 96 minutes perhaps a tightening by 10 minutes or so would've helped with the comedic pacing of the film.

And so that was Going in Style a really fun film despite some minor flaws, 3 and a half out of 5.

Film Review - The Fate of the Furious (2017)

The Fate of the Furious is the eighth Fast and Furious film and this one sees Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) go rogue for the mysterious Cipher (Charlize Theron) naturally his team (Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez and Nathalie Emmanuel) aren't happy about this so they vow to bring him in and find out why he turned.

The Fate of the Furious was an okay instalment in the long running series but it does fall short of the previous 3 films don't get me wrong its perfectly entertaining and made and everyone involved commits to their roles but it kind of left me a little bored after a while.

The reasons for this are 2: Firstly the near endless sound of vroom Vroom VROOOOOOOMMMMMM VRRRRROOOOOMMMMMM really got on my nerves after a while as they began to feel a bit repetitive with the crazy car stunts and loud engines and it doesn't help that F. Gary Gray the director doesn't really do anything exciting with the chase scenes in the way that James Wan did with Furious 7 in 2015.

Another thing Furious 7 had was a genuine heart beating at the centre of its proceedings no doubt brought on by the tragic death of Paul Walker during production but the way the film dealt with that and paid fitting tribute to him really made that film stand out as something worthwhile whereas here the heart seems to have been removed in a service and replaced by a motor and engine that just goes loud, very loud and ear shattering and it also doesn't help that Gray isn't as exciting an filmmaker as Wan is and all of the talk about Family this time feels very hollow as compared to the previous 2 films.

And so that was the Fate of the Furious a weaker entry this time that is really only worth it for the long time fans of the series, 2 out of 5.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Film Review - Power Rangers (2017)

Power Rangers is based off of the 1990s TV Series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and is set in Angel Grove a small American town home to 5 kids who are in detention Jason (Dacre Montgomery), Billy (CJ Cyler), Kimberley (Naomi Scott), Zack (Ludi Lin) and Trini (Becky G) all 5 discover a buried spaceship home to Alpha 5 (Bill Hader) and Zordon (Bryan Cranston) who recruit the young kids to stop Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks.)

I was initially very reluctant to see this movie for while I was a Power Rangers fan when I was growing up (the original 1995 film was shot here in Australia) I thought this wreaked of a studio in this case Lionsgate in desperate need of a franchise to keep them afloat but then people I trust gave this film a thumbs up so I decided to go and see it.

And I am very glad I did as I had a lot of fun watching this movie and the reason for that primarily is the young cast they play off each other very well and each have individual traits that put you on side with them I particularly liked young Dacre Montgomery and when watching him I thought "He would've made a good Scott Summers/Cyclops" because you believe in him as a leader of a team I also quite liked Naomi Scott as Kimberley she had a real spunk to her.

Oh and Hader, Cranston and Banks are pretty good as well Banks in particular is a lot of fun to watch as Rita and she makes for a really fun villain.

The film also has some pretty neat visual effects especially in the final act that made me think "They actually did something with this" because when looking back at the original series as an adult its low budget roots really show but here with today's Visual Effects you can really do something with the various Zords and Monsters seen throughout that series.

Where the film does fall down is also in that third act where it got a little too much like the recent Transformers movies for my liking with the loud destruction, the close up editing and noisy sound design that just sounded like banging and crashing pots and pans with no real depth to it and that was where I started to lose interest a little but the well developed young team never let it become too boring in that part of the film.

And so that was the new Power Rangers which is good fun and well worth seeing, 3 out of 5.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

On the Air Season 4 Episode 4

Well here is my new Radio ep where I reviewed the following:

- Life
- Kong Skull Island
- Beauty and the Beast

As always you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/abclocalradio_sa/simon-mar-31-final

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Film Review - LEGO Batman (2017)

LEGO Batman sees Will Arnett return to the role of Batman which he did in the LEGO Movie in 2014 and here Batman arrests the Joker and then is beloved once more by the people of Gotham but a new Police Commissioner (Rosario Dawson) wants to work with Batman and well he kinda tends to work alone.

I had a lot of fun watching this movie it is easily the most fun I have had in a cinema since watching Split earlier this year, Arnett really does that campy Batman all anew for this generation (the recent DC animated film Return of the Caped Crusaders really felt out of place I feel) and it doesn't feel annoying or irritating to watch at all, Dawson has a lot of fun as the new Police Commissioner while Ralph Fiennes makes for a terrific Alfred.

The film also has some truly gorgeous animation there were many times where I was just looking at the film and thinking "This looks amazing" plus if you are a long time Batman fan there are plenty of gags and references to the history of the Dark Knight but I will say that the LEGO Movie is preferred to this film for me as that film had a lot more gags, more characters to enjoy watching and a more fresh feel to it whereas this if you aren't a big Batman fan you'll have a good time but a lot of the gags and references might go misunderstood.

And so that was LEGO Batman a lot of fun that is well worth watching, 3 and a half out of 5.

Film Review - Life (2017)

Life stars Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal as astronauts on the International Space Station who pick up a probe coming from Mars they and their team then study the probe and see that it has a lifeform on it but just because it's an organic lifeform that then starts picking off the crew one by one doesn't mean it's a bad person.

Life has some pretty neat gooey Blood effects but overall it's a pretty boring sci-fi horror flick that has the unfortunate misfortune to open so close to Alien: Covenant which Ridley Scott is making as this really does come across as a very poor imitator (my cinema had the posters for both films side by side from each other even.)

The main reason this falls over is the characters all of them are one note bland and boring nobodies that you don't even get to spend much time with in their day to day lives on the ISS before the blood starts a flowing and this was a genuine highlight of both Alien and Aliens both films had a very clearly defined group of characters that we spent a lot of time with and who we came to understand before the terror and tension came bursting on the screen whereas here it starts almost straight away after a few brief scenes.

What this film also lacks is a character like Hudson in Aliens and this came to mind for me with the very sad death of Bill Paxton last month and Hudson in that film essentially represents a lot of the audience watching that film which is he's the one having the breakdown ("17 Days? We're not gonna last 17 hours" "Hudson, HUDSON") whereas here a lot of them sit around and try to figure out what to do which I thought.

"Here's an idea, go down to the Ammunition decks get the Nuclear Warhead and strap one to your head, you'll knock the Smegger to oblivion."

It also represents a real waste of all 3 of those talented actors who deserve a lot better than this.

And so that was Life and frankly wait for Alien: Covenant in May but it does have some cool gooey Blood effects so it's not a complete disaster, 2 out of 5.