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Film Review: Atomic Blonde

“I’m My Own Bitch Now…”

If ever there was someone in Hollywood who is the epitome of kick-ass action, Charlize Theron undoubtedly takes that prestigious award all the way home, with recent releases such as Mad Max: Fury Road and The Fate of the Furious in particular showcasing that it’s not just the male fraternity of actors that should get all the explosive fun when sometimes their female counterparts can do it so much better. With Atomic Blonde therefore, the latest release from John Wick director (albeit strangely uncredited) David Leitch, a filmmaker renowned primarily for stunt work on a wide range of cinematic releases including the likes of V for Vendetta and The Bourne Ultimatum, it comes at no surprise that many could simply regard Theron’s latest as somewhat of a John Wick-infused cash-in, yet with a cast which features the likes of Eddie Marsan, James McAvoy, Toby Jones and John Goodman, Atomic Blonde on paper has the groundwork to be it’s own beautiful beast. Unfortunately, this is most definitely not the case, with Leitch’s latest suffering way too heavily from fundamental script issues and mind-bashing plot twists to be classed as a film in which I could safely say I enjoyed from beginning to end, and whilst there are certain elements which are delicious in their execution, for the most part, Atomic Blonde is a vicious let down.

Whilst the late 1980’s, fall of the Berlin era is effectively flashy enough, the underpinning of a narrative which hinges on flashbacks is fundamentally at the heart of the problem of the film, one which uses a script which comes across stinking of a seeping air of sanctimony in it’s belief regarding how clever and slick it is, and too a picture which revels in the exploitative use of undeserved levels of profanity and violence which comes across much too jarring and distracting throughout pretty much the entirety of the film. With the back and forth nature of the story much too convoluted for anyone to really care what is actually going on, the film isn’t helped either by Atomic Blonde having arguably the worst plot twists since the stupidity of Now You See Me 2, and whilst Theron makes the most of what she has handed, style alone in the form of costume design and makeup doesn’t form a memorable character, resulting in a heavy heart when realising I forgot the lead character’s name as soon as I exited the foyer, something of which doesn’t normally happen when the film has truly engaged me. Jarring more than enjoyable, Atomic Blonde is mediocrity incarnated and too not the first film to use stairways as the backdrop to a decent fight scene. DAREDEVIL DAMMIT.

Overall Score: 5/10

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

Triple Whammy Review! – Mad Max: Fury Road – SPOILERS

Dan –Mad Max 2

In a time where remakes and sequels are in constant supply, regardless of the demand, it would be fair to say that George Miller has fully deserved the chance to release another addition into the world of Max Rockatansky, with 30 years passing since the the release of Mad Max III: Beyond Thunderdome, where back then Mel Gibson was still slightly sane, Everton and Liverpool were the dominant footballing sides in England, and Queen were blowing minds during their performance at Live Aid. So now, in 2015, we have Mad Max: Fury Road, with the wonderful Tom Hardy replacing Gibson in the titular role, as well as Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult in supporting roles. With Miller himself stating in an interview with Empire Magazine that Fury Road was set to be “big on action and low on dialogue,” it would be foolish to believe that this latest addition to the Mad Max saga was going to be anything other than spectacle. And boy, is it. And some.

Still suffering heavily from the loss of his wife and daughter from the first film, our titular hero Max (Hardy) is captured by the War Boys, the violent army spawn of King Immortan Joe, whose teachings and tyranny have forced the people of the Citadel into poverty and sickness. Once captured, Max becomes a blood bank for illness-strapped War Boy, Nux (Hoult) who follows Joe and the rest of the War Boys into battle with Imperator Furiosa (Theron) after hijacking a war rig secretly containing King’s Joe’s “wives”, each of whom are used for the purpose of breeding. First off, as you can tell from my very short plot synopsis, to say Fury Road is mad would be doing it a huge injustice. It is a film wrapped in a straight jacket whilst shock-therapy treatment is being applied to it throughout. Seriously, what other film includes a guitar-yielding mad man playing heavy metal riffs on top of a truck whilst his equally mad colleagues set about causing endless destruction, all at the speed of 100mph? That’s right, none. The sheer madness of Fury Road is one that shouldn’t alienate the audience at all and instead, should be admired for the sheer bravery of it to not just be another quirky action movie and instead, stick to its’ guns and be something completely different, much like the original was more than thirty years ago.

If ever there was a cult/B-movie hidden in the form of a summer blockbuster, Fury Road would undoubtedly be it, with the violence turned up way past eleven, and the post-apocalyptic view of the Earth being one totally lost in the face of craziness, of which, is worse than any vision of the future that has ever been seen before in Mad Max universe where ironically, Hardy’s portrayal as the slight-spoken titular character is the calmest thing within it. Hardy has always had a knack of brilliantly portraying characters in films that focus on the physical aspect of their demeanour, whether it be Charles Bronson in Bronson or even Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and it is no surprise that such a gift is fully formed within Fury Road where although there is little in terms of dialogue from Hardy, the sheer physical demands he adheres to from Millers’ 21st century take on Max is more than enough to warrant standing up and applauding.  Applause is needed too for the overall look of the film, with the colour palette ranging from the gorgeously vast sand-induced emptiness of the day to the dark, moonlit shadow of the night, whilst the CGI and stunts seemingly outdoing themselves as the film progressed throughout its’ more than satisfactory two-hour runtime.

There was a personal fear of Mad Max: Fury Road being just another action film before I had watched it, but this potential downfall was put to bed as soon as the film started. What Miller has created here is not just another action film, it is one of the greatest, yet strangest and completely bonkers, action movies of recent times and is easily the best yet in the Mad Max canon. If this is the result of a thirty year wait for a sequel, then I am more than happy to wait just as long for the next. Simply brilliant.

9/10

Josh –

I have to say I made a huge mistake before watching Fury road and that is not watching any of the previous Mad Max movies. I would have enjoyed this film so much more if I knew about the earlier Films in the series. So keep in mind that this review is based solely on what I have seen in Fury Road. Fury Road threw me into detailed apocalyptic baron wasteland, Our protagonist, Max has been captured By a group known as the “War Boys” which serve the Warlord “Immorton Joe”. Immorton Joe is somewhat the god of the citadel and controls the only water source in a vast desert wasteland.

Fury Road shouldn’t be labelled as an action film, it should be “THE” action film. This is exactly what action should be a Chaotic symphony of destruction with cars, flames and blood! Despite most of the action taking place around what is initially a truck the fight choreography is amazing and brutal especially to old ladies. What really makes the action shine is the creativity of the vehicle designs and how they use some of the unique design features to fight on.

Mad Max 5Something I really enjoyed about this film, was the detail in the culture of the War Boys and their Valhalla worshipping towards Immorton Joe. It seemed that every action that one of the war boys took whether that be my Nux or other War Boys added more to the insanity and brainwashing by Immorton Joe for example spraying their teeth silver to look “shiny and chrome” before trying to become suicidal martyrs in the hopes they will be carried through the gates of Valhalla.

Though Max was intended to be the main character, there seemed to be very little character development throughout the film with Max being a man of very little words however definitely made up for it with thrilling action scenes. However in my opinion he was out-shined by Furiosa mainly because she is what starts the events throughout the film with her stealing Immorton Joe’s wives in the hope of taking them to the “Green Place”.

The only negative I had when I was watching the film was the CGI. Luckily there was very little of it apart from the enormous dust storm which did look amazing, however near the end of the film they used a CGI steering wheel that was coming towards the camera as a transition between shots and it really broke my immersion not only because the CGI looked awful but it just wasn’t necessary they could have just faded to black or had rock cover the screen and it would have been perfect.

As you can tell I loved this film yes there was little character development for Max, apart from what we assume is the death of his daughter however nothing else was needed. All we needed to know was that he is awesome and bad ass. The action is amazing creative with raw destruction and apart from a few CGI issues there was nothing wrong with this film and I look forward to watching the previous films and new ones to come.

9/10

Drake –

I’m in the same sinking boat as Josh. A member of the audience with no experience of the original trilogy and I’m ashamed that I never got around to watching it. I’d call it excusable but now, I’m excited to get my teeth in. Aware of the story and basic points of its predecessors, the reveal trailer for this monster had me excited (wink wink). Tom Hardy, explosions, gore, violence and incredible vehicles had me drooling from the start and if you’re reading this and have yet to see this movie, you should probably have left half way through Dan’s introduction.

Rather than babble on, lets get down to business. Fury Road brought a soap box to the convention of movie goers, threw it as Sylvester Stallon and his loaf of bread, pissed on his foot all while making him their little bitch. Expendables? Pffft. Rambo? Pfffft. George Miller isn’t afraid of you. He’s got Mad Max. A crazy SOB with a predisposition to kill shit.

The movie rocks. It rocks harder than Dwayne Johnson. The action is like nothing I’ve seen before. The practical effects were incredible and it must be said, the stunt crew must drag their nuts around in wheelbarrows because the shit they were pulling is next level. Often the difference between CGI and practical is difficult to distinguish which is incredible work by the department, apart from the 80’s transitional effects of Max’s daughter. That stuff was a little weird and outdated in context. I can’t actually pick a favourite between any of the visual effects. The microsecond glimpse of someone’s ribcage opening, the crazy costumes, the big balled stunt crew or the astonishing selection of vehicles. Its a V8 ratters wet dream and I want to be part of it, so much so, I’m going to buy myself one…So click that big Razer sign to the right and fund my new hobby!

Ahem, enough of this plug. The guys have given you a stellar report of the movie. I’m tagging in merely to extenuate their points. Visual effects were top gear, the acting was perfect and the characters were just insane, in a good/bad kinda way. A man with elephantiasis repping a dapper waistcoat with nip holes for his blinging nipple tassel hip-hop chain and dude who should really be DC’s newest Joker what’s not great about that!? But lets be honest, those milk udder women were just plain freaky.

Sure, there are a couple things I have issues with. Its suffered from the Hobbit 2 syndrome where it went from Ultra Mega 8 Billion K cameras to a crappy 10MP compact with dust on the lens and a scene where Max tells the crew to move on while he goes Hulk only to return to the exact spot a cut later. Otherwise, what else can I complain at? Well, apart from the fact that it ended.

In an unpredictable story of survival, Mad Max: Fury Road is a movie that won’t last for just a year. It’ll drop into the books as one of the biggest and best movies of our generation and cement Mad Max at the top of the food chain. BRING ON THE SEQUELS!

Overall Score – 9/10

 

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