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Film Review: Baby Driver

“The Moment You Catch Feelings Is The Moment You Catch A Bullet…”

Of all the rare successful exports of sunny, sunny Dorset, director Edgar Wright is undeniably up there with the best the South West has had to offer within the 20th century, and whilst his humble beginnings with the likes of the Simon Pegg starring Spaced gave Wright the opportunity to begin his venture into stardom through the medium of televised entertainment, his crowning jewel is indeed the triage of movies within the so-called “Cornetto Trilogy”, a series of successful movies which began all the way back with Shaun of the Dead in 2004 and continued with Hot Fuzz and The World’s End in 2007 and 2013 respectively. Emerging once again into the cinematic spotlight, Wright returns with Baby Driver, a star-studded action comedy led by the likes of  Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx, and a movie which overtly revels in a superbly crafted jukebox soundtrack, a collection of musical accompaniments which acts as the cornerstone for both the narrative and the development of the film’s titular leading character, resulting in a blockbustingly entertaining thrill ride which features all the tricks and twists you expect from an Edgar Wright film, albeit one which is slightly lacking in a similar level of charm which has encompassed his earlier work.

With an opening set piece which sets the standard for the rest of the action ahead, the audience is swiftly introduced to the life of Baby (Ansel Elgort), an ultra-skilled, high-speed driver who alongside suffering from a hard case of tinnitus, is caught under the thumb of Kevin Spacey’s crime boss, Doc, a softly spoken, calculating Joe Cabot figure who forces him to carry out heist after heist in order to pay off a substantial debt. Using music as both a blockade to its’ leading character’s ailment alongside acting as a bedrock of carrying out the film’s narrative, Baby Driver is undeniably an audience pleasing joy-fest, one which wins on a surreal number of levels through its’ constant supply of rib-tickling humour, brilliantly measured OTT acting and action set pieces which prioritise practicality and stunt work over the CGI overkill which tends to encompass many so-called contemporary blockbusters. I mean really, who can beat a high-speed car and foot chase played out to the backdrop of Hocus Pocus by Focus? Whilst the ending set piece does seem a little too far-fetched and overlong, one which makes the final shootout of Hot Fuzz look like the lowest key fight scene ever, Wright has managed to bag himself another cinematic success, using his love of cinema and sound to create a film which will no doubt be as big a hit with audiences as it has been with critics, a rare combination to say the least.

Overall Score: 8/10

Film Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

“The Imminent Destruction Of All We Know And Love, Begins Now…”

Whilst overly long blockbuster movies are indeed not exactly anything original, it does take the patience of a saint to be able to sit through and enjoy most of Michael Bay’s most recent cinematic exploits, and whilst The Rock and Bad Boys prove that sometimes Bay does manage to create something which although is undeniably stupid, is too a whole bunch of fun, his annoyingly pompous stamp on the Transformers series proves without a doubt that fame and fortune is the only thing on the mind of its’ creators, particularly when the series just doesn’t seem to be slowing down in terms of worldwide and domestic gross. Clocking in at a staggering 149 minutes however, a runtime which is actually generously measured when put up against previous Transformers entries, The Last Knight is stated by both Bay and leading star Mark Wahlberg to be the final entry into the CGI-fuelled, overlong, action franchise and with that in mind, there is a sense of joy heading into the cinema knowing that this may indeed be the last time to witness Bay’s live action interpretation of Hasbro’s famous plastic toy range. Unfortunately, yet rather inevitably, The Last Knight is not exactly a movie which can classed as anything remotely joyful, with Bay successfully managing to create the most insipid, boring and woeful excuse for a blockbuster in years. Wait a second while I just clear my tinnitus.

Although narrative and plot are never usually at the forefront of most Transformers movies, The Last Knight actually revels in the fact that there simply isn’t a story to be told. Whilst something about King Arthur, Merlin and some ancient, historic sword attempts to linchpin the movie together, Bay’s latest makes Batman v. Superman look like a picture-book example of coherent A to B storytelling, with the movie too often more interested in endless explosions and placid CGI to really offer anything for the audience to really sink their emotional teeth into. Aside from a woeful narrative, epileptic editing and a cash-hungry supporting cast including the likes of Sir Anthony Hopkins, The Last Knight suffers from two inexcusable elements which simply make the film a painful exercise of patience. Firstly, the length. Not many films earn the right to be 150 minutes plus and whilst The Last Knight may be one of the shorter Transformers offerings, my sweet lord do you feel every single second of its’ sheer awfulness, with each passing minute ripping your soul apart as you slowly lose hope in the future of cinema as we know it. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the 12A rating slapped onto the movie encourages kids to go and see it, albeit with their parents, and whilst the action and spectacle may keep many wildly entertained, the constant use of unnecessary expletives and ripe sexual references make this supposed “kids” movie a poison chalice of misjudgement, and a movie which although may succeed in taking shed loads of money, will surely not satisfy even the most hardcore of Transformers fans. An explosive mess of a movie, The Last Knight is worthy of complete avoidance. Don’t take the risk.

Overall Score: 2/10

Film Review: The Mummy

“Welcome To A New World Of Gods And Monsters…”

Adding a new layer to the ongoing genre of Universal Horror, a cinematic legacy which began all the way back in the 1920’s. the newest blockbuster franchise comes in the form of the so-called “Dark Universe”, a directed step into another legion of remakes and re-imaginings which begins this week with The Mummy and is set to continue into the future with fresh interpretations of classic monster movies which are reported to include the likes of Van Helsing, Frankenstein’s Monster and of course, Dracula. Taking the time away from beating the heck out of people in Jack Reacher and flying super speedy jet planes in the upcoming Top Gun sequel, Tom Cruise leads the way as the flagship star of the franchise’s beginnings in the latest incarnation of The Mummy, a well-known and well-versed adventure tale, with arguably the most popular representation being the Stephen Sommers led take in 1999 which featured a clean shaven Brendan Fraser and a pre-Daniel Craig infused Rachel Weisz. With Alex Kurtzman on directorial duty, a filmmaker with a background in the likes of movies such as Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Mission: Impossible III, the latest incarnation of The Mummy is unfortunately a generic, overblown snooze-fest, ultimately resulting in a movie which begins the Dark Universe franchise in a rather mediocre manner to say the least.

With a narrative which is more than familiar in terms of the overall set-up of the titular bandaged antagonist, The Mummy suffers too from a wild scope in tonal bipolar, changing from B-Movie horror to cringe-inducing comedy in between an array of soulless set pieces which either consist of endless CGI hollowness or people wildly screaming whilst being shot at with both never actually managing to induce a sense of threat into the proceedings. At the heart of the action, the duo star power of both Tom Cruise and Russel Crowe never really have anything juicy to work with either, and although Crowe’s character reveal was quite charming in a in-joke, canon kind of way, Cruise’s overly cocky and quite annoying leading character is at its’ best a poor depiction of Brendan Fraser. Similarly, although Boutella has all the hallmarks of a beautifully seductive Egyptian princess, her campy leading villain is ultimately a dead rubber alongside a long list of supporting characters who are either there for cannon fodder or for cranking the creaky narrative into place. The Mummy isn’t exactly terrible, it just reeks of laziness, and for a movie which is meant to propel a new franchise into some sort of success, Kurtzman’s movie doesn’t do the job effectively enough to wonder where it ultimately goes next.

Overall Score: 5/10

Film Review: Wonder Woman

“You Have Been My Greatest Love. Be Careful, Diana. They Do Not Deserve You…”

Whilst many audiences could be forgiven for experiencing a somewhat turgid time at the cinema within the summer period, suffering from a duo hit of remakes and sequels amidst an air of superhero fatigue, particularly within a year in which the two major forces in the form of DC and Marvel Comics are warring face to face in a contest which rivals the Battle of Helms Deep for sheer epic eventfulness, with more films than ever being released which focus on big-screen adaptations of everyone’s favourite literary heroes. Whilst Marvel waits on hold for the time being, with Spider-Man: Homecoming set for release next month, the ball is currently in DC’s court this week with the release of Wonder Woman, the fourth entry in the so-far much maligned DC Universe, but more importantly, the first real big-screen adaptation of the Amazonian Queen and the first superhero film since Elektra to be solely focused on a leading female character. Adding to the winning formula, Patty Jenkins, director of the Oscar winning serial killer drama Monster, takes the lead of a movie which holds so much in attempting to add a sense of integrity into a franchise which has been slowly dwindling in the shadow of Marvel’s many successes. Thankfully, Wonder Woman is indeed a winning return to form for DC, taking a brilliantly cast leading star and working with a script which adds an element of fun and adventure back into a series which has been sinking into the shallow depths of despair.

Whilst her introduction within the mighty mess of Batman V. Superman was overly rushed and ineffective, Wonder Woman perfectly crafts a backstory for a character who to most audiences may be completely alien, with WW possibly being the first time understanding the nature and background of such an infamous leading comic character. With Gal Gadot in the leading role, the DC Universe has finally hit the first mark in terms of casting, putting to shame recent debacles such as Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther and Jared Leto’s overly wasted Joker, with her physical ability and enviable natural screen presence adding organic depth to a character who is represented more than adequately in Gadot’s shoes. Pairing up with the always reliable Chris Pine, the narrative does reek somewhat of similarity at times however, using the first half of the movie to generate backstory whilst using the latter as a chance to once again conclude with a staggeringly dull CGI boss battle, yet the comedic element which rips throughout the dialogue is effective enough to combat a two hour plus running length, a decision perhaps primarily based upon Marvel’s successes in mixing action, drama and comedy within most of their many releases. If Wonder Woman is the direction in which the DC Universe is heading, sign me up for more, and whilst Jenkins doesn’t really offer anything particularly new to the superhero scene, the brilliance of Gadot in the leading role is the best thing DC has done since Nolan was around. No, it’s not The Dark Knight by a long shot, but Wonder Woman is still a success.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Snatched

“What I Need Is An Amazing Adventure…”

In a world where American comedy is usually as effective as a chocolate teapot, Amy Schumer undeniably is up there with the worst that particular side of the continent has delivered over the course of the past few years, with her venture onto the big screen with releases such as Trainwreck burdening millions with her screechy Americanised tones and hysterically dull sensibility which really doesn’t compute with my idea of an effective comedic personality, particularly in a day and age in which memorable comedies are quite hard to find. Co-starring this week in Snatched with Hollywood legend Goldie Hawn, mother of Kate Hudson and partner to the awesomely cool Kurt Russell, Schumer once again proves that her particular brand of comedy just doesn’t work within the cinematic atmosphere, resulting in a performance which ultimately solidifies the notion of her inability to create laughs through a tired and cliche-ridden narrative which attempts to turn the vulgarity up to eleven in order to distract the audience from the utter boredom which encompasses the events on-screen. Goldie Hawn, what on Earth are you doing in this movie? I guess a gas bill must be due sometime soon. Ker-ching indeed.

After being dumped by her rock and roll boyfriend, Schumer’s unbelievably annoying leading character decides to make the most of her pre-planned trip to South America by inviting her feline-loving mother (Goldie Hawn) with a penchant for over-protection and questionable sculpturing techniques. Cue loud and completely unnecessary scenes of alcoholism, party music and nudity, Snatched is the type of 21st century so-called “comedy” which adds to the argument that the good times have most definitely come and gone in regards to its’ respective genre. Whilst Hawn seems to be there only for the sake of financial inducement, the film really doesn’t paint a sympathetic picture of its’ leading character, resulting in a warped sensibility which desires her captors to actually go through with their sickening plan and dispose of their prisoners as swiftly as possible. If this was indeed the case, the audience would have been spared from a 90 minute bore-fest whose only redeemable character is the poor U.S state department official who gets forced to help save their lives. Maybe next time mate, just forget the rescue and leave them to it.

Overall Score: 3/10

Film Review: Unlocked

“You Asked Me How Far I Would Go To Protect My Country. Whatever It Takes…”

It comes across wholly ironic that in a week in which we see the big budget release of Alien: Covenant, the sequel to 2012’s Prometheus and a sequel in which does not include the wholly reliable face of Noomi Rapace who declined to participate, that the Swedish born actress turns up in Unlocked, an action-packed spy thriller directed by Michael Apted, perhaps most famous for the Pierce Brosnan led The World is Not Enough, and the type of movie which belongs entirely within the realms of straight-to-DVD mediocrity. Of course, the coincidental notion of these two films being released side by side might not mean anything whatsoever, but in terms of further advancing the career of Rapace, it doesn’t exactly compute why such an esteemed actress chose Apted’s laughably poor action raspberry of a movie rather than the Ridley Scott led sci-fi epic, a movie which although is nowhere near a masterpiece in its’ own right, when put up against Unlocked comes across as some kind of 21st century work of art. With a cast which indeed includes the likes of Rapace, John Malkovich, Toni Collette, Michael Douglas and Orlando Bloom, yes, Orlando Bloom, Unlocked does boast an incredibly strong payroll but with a narrative which is woeful as it is unintentionally hilarious, Apted’s latest is perhaps the least enjoyable time I’ve had with an action flick since, well, last week’s Sleepless. Not exactly a strong week for films.

After stumbling into a double crossing, trust bending, terrorism plot, Noomi Rapace’s shock-filled London based CIA agent is thrown violently back into the fold, shooting her way through building after building in order to establish the real play-makers behind a massive biological threat. Cue exposition galore, over-dramatic cameo performances and plot strands which edge of the side of cinematic malpractice, Apted’s real ace in the hole comes in the form of Orlando Bloom who appears half way through the action, conveying the tattooed, grungy, untrustworthy ex-jarhead who enters with a gold pass into the hall of worst cockney accents ever alongside Don Cheadle and Dick Van Dyke who are there to keep him company in the ways of mastering the voice of the East-End. Not only does Bloom win the award for worst cameo of the year so far, his character ultimately is entirely inconsequential to the extent that his existence is some form of contractual agreement to allow Bloom to garner a quick pay check after seemingly disappearing into thin air over the past few years. Unlocked is obviously awful, and although the narrative does threaten to entertain around the twenty minute mark, Apted fails to hold such attentive themes and constructs an action flick so poor that you pray for the likes of Gareth Evans to direct every action movie ever from now on.

Overall Score: 3/10

Film Review: The Fate of the Furious

“Our Paths Have Crossed Before, Dom. You Just Didn’t Know It. I Think I Need To Remind You Why You Chose To Be Here…”

Franchises, franchises everywhere. Whilst the unexpected is utterly unreliable when it comes to the release of particular films in the current cinematic tidal wave, it does seem that the golden dollar bill sign is precedent as the leading force in the development of modern cinematic treats, evidenced by the return of the ridiculously indestructible Fast and Furious series in the form of The Fate of the Furious, a continuation of the franchise two years on from the previous instalment which managed to take an eye-whooping 1.5 billion dollars at the global box office. Whilst the mountain of eye-rolling snobs sniff at the sight of yet another jumped-up, adrenaline-heavy fluff piece, myself included, there is to some degree a sense of enjoyment watching a series continuing to live on despite stretching out what is a basic plot thread throughout eight films, due primarily to a overly ripe cast which all seem to have bundles of laughs causing endless waves of destruction and chaos with a seemingly blank cheque book at their disposal. As for the franchises latest offering, The Fate of the Furious is a surprisingly dull affair, offering very little originality amongst a tonally bipolar and utterly stupid narrative which aside from a few, minor elements could be regarded as the worst the series has had to offer so far.

Of the good things within Furious 8, Jason Statham absolutely steals every single scene in which he is present, from scenes consisting of a constant battle of words between himself and Dwayne Johnson to a final act in which he massacres a variety of killers whilst attempting to save the life of a incredibly important minor, all the while aboard a seemingly untraceable aircraft, one which is operated by Charlize Theron’s Cipher, a character which unfortunately offers no sense of threat whatsoever despite her attempts to come across all edgy and unhinged by wearing Metallica tees and moulding her hair on the likes of Bob Marley and Gary Oldman’s character in True Romance. The absolute absence of threat is fundamental to the film’s overall flaws, with each of the characters acting and performing in such a superhuman manner that the risk of injury or even death is so minimal that at times the film seemed to sink to the level of the worst the Roger Moore era Bond films had to offer, whilst the truly awful CGI comes across as so lazy and haphazard, particularly when considering the array of practical-based action we have witnessed recently within good examples of the genre such as The Raid and Mad Max: Fury Road. If The Fate of the Furious is indeed the future of the franchise, perhaps it’s time to hang up the cape, but with astronomical ticket sales inevitable, the likelihood of such is as solid as Vin Diesel becoming the next US President. Well, to be fair, that wouldn’t be the worst option right now.

Overall Score: 4/10

Film Review: Ghost In The Shell

“Everyone Around Me, They Feel Connected To Something. Connected To Something I’m Not…!”

With the levels to which the hidden advertisement gurus have gone to in order to make sure this year’s adaptation of Ghost In The Shell is popularly positioned within every cinema, street corner and television set, one of the main reliefs of finally sitting down and watching such is to be safe in the knowledge that never again will we see the propaganda-esque levels of publicity for Rupert Sanders’ Americanised remake of the 1995 Japanese animation which in turn was based upon the famous manga series of the same name. Whilst the background to the development of the project was rife with controversy regarding the announcement of Scarlett Johansson in the leading role of a film which is primarily Japanese based, mirroring in an almost uncanny fashion to the awfulness which was The Great Wall, Ghost In The Shell fortunately is a solid enough by-the-numbers sci-fi flick which through a wide range of elements is strong enough to bypass the controversy surrounding its’ leading star’s heritage, yet still suffers from a wide range of issues which prevent it from being the culty spectacle it almost feels obliged to be.

Of the good elements of Ghost In The Shell, director Rupert Sanders has created a future world in which not only is highly plausible but beautifully admirable in its’ construction. Think Blade Runner meets The Fifth Element with a hint of Minority Report and the surrounding boundaries of our heroine’s setting is the grungy science fiction landscape which many films have attempted to utilise without a sense of physicality. Luckily for Ghost In The Shell, such physical spectacle is there to be admired, although one which is amongst a narrative which unfortunately isn’t as groundbreaking as it thinks it is, with it taking plot threads and twisty turns into realms of extreme obviousness, particularly amongst science fiction fanatics like myself, whilst the real interesting notions, such as Scarlett Johansson’s Major attempting to discover who she truly is in a Blade Runner-esque fashion, are left to one side in favour of various action set pieces. Having a soft spot for Peter Ferdinando, star of the Ben Wheatley directed A Field In England and High-Rise, his performance as the (SPOILERS AHEAD) villain-in-chief is passably fun, whilst Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Putt is truly wasted as the cast-off cyborg thingy who speaks in a way which combines the weirdness of The Man From Another Place from Twin Peaks and Stephen Hawking. Solid and spectacular in places, Ghost In The Shell is the type of movie you can sense what the ultimate endgame of the narrative is a mile off but for a cheap Friday night blockbuster, it does the job suitably.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Power Rangers

“The Answer To What Is Happening To You Is Here. You Five Are The Power Rangers…”

Of all the many facets of my well-nurtured youth between the mid 1990’s and the early years of the 20th century, Power Rangers was the pretty much the last thing I personally had in mind to be reincarnated and re-imagined for the purpose of reaching out to a modern-day audience, yet here we are this week reviewing a movie which not only conjures up a youth-infused opinion regarding the sheer awesomeness of 1995’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, a film which featured the iconic presence of Paul Freeman as Ivan Ooze and in an adult-fuelled retrospect, isn’t as awesome as originally thought, but also begs the question where Hollywood will eventually stop when it comes to flogging and remaking as many footnotes of entertainment that they possibly can. Featuring a primarily youth-infused cast such as Me, Earl and the Dying Girl’s RJ Cyler and The Martian’s Naomi Scott, each battling for screen time against not only their similarly aged peers but the famous figures of both Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks, Power Rangers is a tiresome and wholly predictable CGI-fuelled mess which can’t decide whether it wants to adhere to a Nolan-esque level of maturity or come across as just an overly corny cheese-fest, resulting in a movie which bears similarities to the latest adaptation of Fantastic Four in all the worst possible ways.

Straight off the bat, Power Rangers suffers from a fundamental flaw of having five leading characters who aren’t only ridiculously underdeveloped but are just outright annoying, with introductions ranging from a criminalised youth who finds spare time to wreak havoc on the local town to a bitter bully who thinks it’s fun to sex shame her friend and assault her boyfriend whilst wondering why each of these relationships goes downhill rather fast. Although I understand there is a level of flexibility within a narrative which centres around superheroes and aliens but it takes even the most optimistic of audiences to accept that the five youths portrayed on-screen are indeed the best humanity has to offer. Aside from monotonous central characters, Power Rangers suffers too from the same illness which has raged Michael Bay and Zak Snyder movies for years by including a final act which can only be described as an amalgamation of Man of Steel and Transformers in the worst way possible, utilising awful CGI in creating foes which not only come across as spitting images of the watchers from Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, but are as threatening as a battery powered furby.

Whilst the contractual duties of both Cranston and Banks are both adhered to in some form, both appear and act in ways which can only be seen as dollar-ringed, with the former literally doing absolutely nothing in the twenty seconds he is on screen both in physical and digital form, whilst the latter taking the form of the villainous Rita Repulsa, a simply terrible villain whose penchant for gold infused items can only be regarded as a metaphor for Banks’ appetite for a Power Rangers signed cheque, thanks to a performance which bears similarities to Eddie Redmayne’s camp-fuelled monstrosity in Jupiter Ascending, just without a sense of memorability. Power Rangers ultimately is two hours of film-making recklessness which you won’t get back and being aware of the film-maker’s promise of at least a SIX movie story arc, perhaps we can live in the hope of their first offering being indeed the worst of the bunch. In conclusion, 2017’s Power Rangers is the type of movie in which you leave longing for the ripeness of a 1990’s Ivan Ooze in order to push it into a realm of enjoyment which is severely lacking through almost two elongated hours of dullness. Not for me.

Overall Score: 3/10

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy go Telltale Episodic!

After months of waiting, Telltale have finally released a trailer for their upcoming series of the Guardians of the Galaxy which has received a very mixed response.

Watch it here!

It appears that Telltale have stepped away from their iconic art style that’s prevalent in The Walking Dead and Borderlands releases and opted for a style similar to Disney’s Infinity games. As a fan of the developers, I prefer the scratchy and darker hues that Telltale have demonstrated and feel like GotG is going to be commercially driven – similar to the Minecraft series. We see the emulation of the property owners styles to fit into the mainstream expectations of the younger, more mainstream audiences rather than the comic book fans and hardcore fan bases. The characters appear very long and slender with a lot of block based colours and little defining features to portray itself as a Telltale game.

In all honestly, i feel the trailer demonstrates nothing of significant value. The action and comedy factors that underpin that Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t showing through and it feels more of a show reel of that characters we will be seeing through the 5 episode series.

What do you think of the trailers, are you excited or as wary as us? Let us know in the comment section down below!