“I Used To Sleep On A Lamb’s Wool Beanbag Next To An Electric Space Heater. That’s My Territory, I’m An “Indoor” Dog…”
Whether you feel the back catalogue of Wes Anderson falls too heavily on the kooky spectrum at times, there is no doubting that the stylish cinematic sensibility which springs to mind whenever you think of the likes of The Grand Budapest Hotel or Moonrise Kingdom is undoubtedly one stamped with a seal which paints the American as a contemporary, modern example of someone willing to expand and explore the vast array of horizons possible on film. Following on from his use of stop-motion animation on 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson once again utilises the format on Isle of Dogs, a surreal, comedy caper set in a dystopian near-future city in Japan, one ruled by the tyrannical Mayor Kobayashi who resorts to signing an executive order which immediately orders the evacuation of the ever-expanding populous of dogs onto “Trash Island” due to an outbreak of “dog fever”. With an extensive and highly impressive voice cast, Isle of Dogs is on the one hand an incredibly successful animated exercise, with the flawless and detailed approach to the creation of the movie plain to see from the outset, but with a one-card trick holding up its’ central narrative, Anderson’s latest is entertaining, but far from utterly captivating.
Whilst accents and language utilised within the confines of successful comedic features isn’t wholly original and has been used many times before, most predominantly in last year’s The Death of Stalin which of course featured Jason Isaacs donning a Yorkshire accent for his depiction of Georgy Zhukov, Anderson’s celebrity shopping list of a voice cast resorts to an entertaining game of “guess who” as the film progresses, with Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Edward Norton (Birdman) and Bill Murray (The Jungle Book) the immediate trio of recognisable dulcet tones as the leading pack of the movie who come across Koyu Rankin’s Atari Kobayashi, the young Mayor’s aid, who travels to Trash Island in order to locate his lost dog, “Spots”. With most of the film laying focus on the superb animation, the movie does unfortunately suffer from a sense of being a joke strung out too long, and whilst the pace of the movie is nicely balanced, with the narrative moving back and forth in both time periods and locations in a Scorsese-esque edited fashion, Isle of Dogs does come the end of it, feel quite flat and all too focused on surface rather than depth, but with a cute, barking-mad feel to it and the fact that nobody can turn down a fluffy haired canine, Anderson’s movie works to a solid, not spectacular, degree.
Overall Score: 6/10
“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
“Promise Me This Is The Last One…”
Who would have thought that Hal from Malcolm in the Middle would have turned out to be one of the biggest, baddest and reputable actors come 2016? Ever since making major waves in Breaking Bad with his sublime portrayal of Walter White, Bryan Cranston seems to be in the joyous position of being able to pick and choose what he wants to do, when and where, with his latest project, Brad Furman’s The Infiltrator, only extending Cranston’s pedigree as one of the greatest actors of this generation alongside a strong cast including Diane Kruger (Inglorious Bastards), John Leguizamo (John Wick) and Amy Ryan (Birdman) in a highly dramatised portrayal of Robert Mazur, a US Customs agent who goes undercover as a corrupt money-laundering businessman in order to bring down Pablo Escobar’s infamous drug operation. Although The Infiltrator falters from hardly bringing anything original to the tale of undercover operations, the illegal drug trade and gritty crime dramas in general, it does benefit from a simply outstanding performance from Bryan Cranston in the lead role. Boy, does that man love being two-faced.
Although plot contrivances and exposition galore prevent The Infiltrator from being as silky smooth as other films of a similar ilk, Bryan Furman’s drama focuses primarily on the absurdity of an undercover operation, squeezing out tension left, right and centre in order to empathise with the central character and the torment of a double life in which one wrong step could potentially result in not only losing his own life but his entire family too. Adding to the deception is the inclusion of Diane Kruger as Cranston’s makeshift fiancee who is only added to the disguise after a brief slip of the tongue, whose rookie nature only adds to the worries of our titular infiltrating agent. Although the ending is ever-so-slightly rushed and feels rather flashy in a mostly stripped down hard-edged crime drama, The Infiltrator is a solid two hour drama, one which if failed to feature the larger-than-life presence of Cranston in its’ lead role may have failed completely. Thankfully for Brad Furman, Cranston is the film’s selling point and rightly so; he’s electric.
Overall Score: 7/10
“Get Ready To Dance… With Danger!”
Where last year offered some real quality additions to the genre of animation with films such as Inside Out already solidifying itself as a Disney classic whilst The Tale of the Princess Kaguya all but continued the riveting success of Studio Ghibli, this year has only succeeded in adhering to the well-established notion that animation is on the rise with last week’s Anomalisa being yet another wonderful piece of animated-driven cinema. Rivalling the success of both Disney and Studio Ghibli is that of DreamWorks Animation, with their latest venture, Kung Fu Panda 3 being a solid, highly entertaining continuation of the highly successful series in which a wholly impressive voicing cast lead the way to a variety of laugh-out-loud set pieces in which all family members can take something away from. In terms of the film’s plot, after being reunited with his long, lost father Li Shan (Bryan Cranston), Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) is required to take over the reigns of Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and become the role of teacher, much to Po’s and and the Furious Five member’s bemusement. After coming under attack from the spirit warrior Kai (J.K. Simmons), Po must train under the wing of his father in order to defeat this legendary foe once and for all, training to become the teacher his master believes he can be all the way.
Of course, as with most DreamWorks Animation pictures, Kung Fu Panda is a delight to take in and admire visually, with fluorescent and vivid animation filling the screen in almost every section of the film’s incredibly family-friendly runtime. Wherein it may suitably pass the time and do wonders for the younger generation, in terms of its’ overall longevity and originality, it does seemingly go in one ear and come swiftly out the other, with the formula of the Kung Fu Panda franchise not exactly being broken to an extent that its’ third instalment could be classed as something excellent, yet for the time it is on-screen, Kung Fu Panda 3 is ridiculously enjoyable, with laughs and sniggers being constant throughout. That’s right, Kung Fu Panda is much funnier than Hail, Caesar! The kid inside me has been truly awoken. Kung Fu Panda is no mere masterpiece, but it does what it needs to and does it well. Pandas… ASSEMBLE!
Overall Score: 7/10
Could this finally be the year. Howard Hughes in The Aviator. Sorry, Jamie Foxx deserves that this year. How about Billy Costigan in The Departed? I’m afraid not. But how about my roles in either Django Unchained or The Wolf of Wall Street? Once again, I’m afraid not Leonardo, you just aren’t good enough to deserve an Oscar. Fine. I’ll find a director who will put me through sheer hell and force me to cut open a horse and sleep inside it, proper Luke Skywalker style from The Empire Strikes Back. Of course, I’m sure this isn’t how the life of Leonard DiCaprio actually played out after countless times of Oscar betrayal but it does seem that his dedication to his role in The Revenant was that of a man giving all he possibly can in order to claim what has bypassed his clutches in the past. Everyone and their mum’s believes it is time for Leo to win his Oscar and if somehow such did fail to occur this year, I fully believe the Leo supporting masses would violently and swiftly burn the Dolby Theatre down to the ground with Leo being the sole survivor of such a terrible tragedy.
Extreme I know, but without even looking at the betting for this years’ Best Actor category, it is obvious that Leo is the firm favourite. In fact, it is such a safe bet I would recommend putting your life savings on it. Trust me, I know these things. If however you are not privy to the odd bet or two and believe that the Oscars will continue to starve DiCaprio of his glory, the other contenders for the award include Bryan Cranston for Trumbo, Matt Damon for The Martian, Michael Fassbender for the brilliant Steve Jobs and Eddie Redmayne for the not-so-brilliant The Danish Girl. As for those who may have been overlooked, Fassbender, if not for Steve Jobs, would have been nominated for his role as Macbeth in Justin Kurzel’s cold-blooded adaptation of the Shakespearean classic, whilst it was a shame Samuel L. Jackson wasn’t recognised for his eye-locking performance in The Hateful Eight, one which kept the film intriguing and captivating for its’ ridiculously over-long runtime. Also, what about Jacob Tremblay’s simply stunning performance in Room? Sure he’s only nine but Tatum O’Neal won an Oscar at the age of ten. One to ponder upon anyhow. Here are the nominations:
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Matt Damon – The Martian
Godzilla stands at the pinnacle of the monster movie genre. It’s very nature is primal and built upon the fact that people want to see destruction. We want to witness carnage and giggle manically while people and buildings are torn to shreds and men in white coats begin to descend on you. Last year we had the fantastic Pacific Rim. Godzilla 2k14 has some real competition for craziest monster movie, unless you count the undeniably disgusting Sharknado and its inbred cousins. Or the majority of Syfy shows…So yeah, Godzilla needed to earn a place in my heart. With trailers cleverly mixed to conceal the story completely, the aura of mystery and a giant roar is way to difficult to ignore. If you were wise enough to ignore the spoiler filled trailer, you are in for a surprise if you’ve never experienced much of Godzilla.
Upon seeing the movie, I really enjoyed it. Although, I cannot agree with comments about it being the new ‘Jaws’. The story was extremely generic. I understand that it wants to retain the past style that made monster movies what they are, but I can’t sit through watching a man trying to get to his family while he faces off with the threat. Featuring Bryan Cranston in the trailers over and over and killing him in off in the first half was just a weak move. Yes, not expected at all but portraying him as the sole heart of the movie with Aaron Taylor-Johnson tagging along for the ride, only to become the main for the majority almost feels like Cranston is nothing but a seat filler and used simply because he’s become popular recently. Then we have the fact that Godzilla faces off with the “MOTO’s” (Kaiju) but they skimp out on it at several opportunities trying to make it funny rather than exciting while trying to hold onto until they get to the big finale which lacks the Pacific Rim ferocity and opts for a repetitive sequence of movements that simply just aren’t working. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was fun and is entertainment that really numbs the minds to the outside world, yet I can’t help thinking that money and production bodies seems to have their claws dug deep into the crotch region of Gareth Edwards (Director).
Visually the movie was astonishing. The pure scale of Kaijus’ must have made the task of generating them huge. Buildings toppling with explosions everywhere and general chaos all captured well with the occasional flaw that made it looks like it was filmed in a Universal theme park. Obviously, there was a lot of effort that went into the iconic roar of Godzilla. For the rest of the sound, it was alright. Nothing that really grabbed the attention. Composed by Alexandre Desplat (Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows), the overall outcome resembled white noise generated from some headphones at the other end of the room. I can’t remember much of what was actually used and its a real shame.
Only just finding out the Elizabeth Olsen is actually in this movie as one of the mains, I have to admit that she is far superior to her relatives. Yet the actual extent of her acting cannot convince me of anything with real conviction. Now the real reason that this movie is going to succeed – Bryan Cranston. So for the few moments he is on screen, he was fairly good but with his potential, he wasn’t given a chance to truly demonstrate what has made him so popular. Finally the lead – Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Kickass was a very weird, yet great movie, but the acting needed for it is very different and Johnson cannot display an army bomb disposal hardman.
I won’t drag on but the movie did lack some real key moments that should have been done to really impact the overall excitement of the movie. Its a real shame that the action was repetitive and the action was subpar in relation to prior Legendary project, Pacific Rim. For the fun factor, the choice is simple. Its fun, mindless entertainment and worth 7/10 for a total score.