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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: Hell or High Water

“We Ain’t Stealing From You. We’re Stealing From The Bank…”

Much like Bone Tomahawk, which reaffirmed the cult status of the legend that is Kurt Russell, Hell or High Water, the latest from Sicario writer Taylor Sheridan and Starred Up director David Mackenzie, above all, highlights the power of the cinematic pro, those that have been in the game for so long, that you know, if given a decent script, are going to bring their A-game to the floor and pull it out of the bag. In the case of Hell or High Water, that pro is Jeff Bridges who brings his most True Grit performance since, well, True Grit, as rugged police chief Marcus Hamilton, unsure of the notion of his impending retirement when news of numerous bank robberies bring him swiftly back into the action alongside trusted colleague, Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham). Flip on to the other side of the coin however and we thrown into the lives of Toby and Tanner Howard, portrayed majestically by Chris Pine and Ben Foster, who are the cause of such crimes in order to align their families’ financial difficulties amongst a seemingly despaired and depressing West Texas. Like Sicario last year, scriptwriter Taylor Sheridan has once again pulled off an intelligent and thought-provoking crime thriller, one which understands the impact of subtlety and the power of effective characterisation.

Where many of this years’ summer blockbusters have simply failed due to a sublime lack of any sort of residual quality, intelligence or fundamental originality, Hell or High Water is the perfect film to combat the pains of the past two months or so with it being a well-scripted, flawlessly acted work of drama which attempts to portray each side of the law, each with their own necessities and issues, with each given equal screen time to build up an efficient level of depth in order to sympathise and care for these characters in the space of only 100 minutes. Where Sicario was a film seeped in ambiguity and became a much darker entity for it, Hell or High Water is for the most part, a laid-back western bromance, with humorous banter and jet-black humour not only adding to the characterisation but to the audiences’ perception of a plausible, true-crime drama which could perhaps be regarded as some sort of realism within the financial uncertainty of the 21st century. Of course, when the violence ensues, it is observed with sheen and calculative efficiency, something of which was sorely missing from the whirlwind-editing of the recent summer blockbusters. Hell or High Water is the type of movie which puts its’ larger and bigger hyped Hollywood cash-cows to shame; it’s a proper, hard-edged drama with top-end acting and a superb script, showcasing the ever-increasing talents of writer Taylor Sheridan. Ironically, Hell or High Water is this year’s Sicario, just with a lighter touch.

Overall Score: 8/10

Film Review: Star Trek: Beyond

“We’ve Got No Ship, No Crew, How’re We Going To Get Out Of This One…?

Taking the helm as only producer this time around, it is resoundingly safe to say that J. J. Abrams is the all-round geek saviour of the 20th century where long before breaking box office records and smashing countless other cinematic achievements with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mr. Abrams lit the fuse once again in regards to the nations’ love of Star Trek, with a brand new team of space explorers being offset with a brand new timeline, expanding the stories of the crew upon the Enterprise to new and exciting limits. Now, six years since the first Star Trek reboot, Star Trek: Beyond continues the blockbuster success of the franchise, where although it could be regarded as the weakest of the three so far, Justin Lin’s directorial space debut is solid and sometimes spectacular summer popcorn fun featuring everything you would expect from an array of actors each used to their own talents on and off-screen in the six years from which they first began their voyage into deep space, albeit if the series itself is beginning to feel ever so slightly formulaic.

Beginning with a portrayal of a day in the life of our beloved Enterprise crew, Star Trek: Beyond begins rather slowly and then ascends into a two-hour survival mission against the ominous yet dedicated figure of main antagonist Krall, played expertly by everyone’s favourite Bond hopeful, Idris Elba, and his pack of cronies, hell bent on bringing destruction to those who wronged them in the past. If anything, Krall’s role in Beyond is all too small, where although Elba’s performance is enough to make him an effective bad guy, the script just doesn’t allow his character to become complex enough to make him memorable. Of course, the one-two of Pine and Quinto brings the bromance factor to the table, sidelined by the cling-on (no pun intended) of third wheeler Bones, whilst the bad-ass duo of Zoe Saldana and Sofia Boutella gives the female characters an extensive role to bring to life. Of course, overshadowing the release of Beyond is the deeply saddening loss of Anton Yelchin, an actor lost too young and an actor whose roles in films such as Green Room and the Star Trek franchise means he will not swiftly be forgotten. Beyond is Star Trek to the T. A classic adventure with some great thrills, if not entirely up to the mark of its’ predecessors within the 21st century revival trilogy.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: The Finest Hours

“In The Coast Guard They Say You Go Out, They Don’t Say You Gotta Come Back…”

Based upon “The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue” by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman, Craig Gillespie’s The Finest Hours is a film that intends to be as gripping and wet-soaked as the shores of Cape Cod but ultimately comes off as more of a damp squib, with a cast including Captain Kirk himself, Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Eric Bana not enough to save it from the pit of mediocrity it safely floats upon before inevitably sinking into the realms of history. Much like the true-life tale, an anecdote I’m sure incredibly popular and well versed between the secular, sea-wise clans of the U.S. Coast Guard, The Finest Hours is a movie that has somewhat been hidden under the radar and away from the cinematic masses, with not even a trailer being in sight within my many ventures to the world of cine over the course of the past few months or so, and with this in mind, the sheer lack of advertisement and press-hounding may indeed result in the film not exactly finding a key audience. Were it a more intriguing tale of survival in line with other sea-faring adventures such as Ang Lee’s The Life of Pi, The Perfect Storm and even, see it to believe it, Titanic, perhaps The Finest Hours could have been the riveting adventure it perhaps wanted to be seen as.

Adding to the mediocrity is the fundamental saccharin sweet nature of the movie, with the influence of Disney being particularly noticeable within scenes that not only encourage the burning sensation of a face-palm, but also result in either a painful palpitation of a cringe-induced stasis or a desire to swiftly stick fingers down your throat in order to release the sickly build-up of Disney-induced diseases. Aside from the land of over-sentimentality, award for most unintentional psycho, co-dependant girlfriend of the year has to go to Holliday Grainger for her role as Chris Pine love interest, Miriam Webber, a role which could easily be seen as a mid-20th century portrayal of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Seriously, if you aren’t put off by the possibility of a creepy girlfriend by The Finest Hours, then nothing will. In a nutshell therefore, The Finest Hours sure ain’t the film it would love to be, with a sheer lack of threat or suspense killing the film stone dead, a film which requires such in order to be seen as truly worthwhile. See it in a Blockbuster near you. Oh wait, this isn’t 2003. Just catch it when you can, but don’t rush to see it.

Overall Score: 5/10

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Quicky Review!

Jack Ryan 1Tom Clancy has had his faced and name slapped across everything in a substantial amount of years. With his recent death, the possibility of more Clancy movies and games creeping out is inevitably going to increase. Having never read one of his books, I cannot comment of his ability as an author. However, his involvement with other forms of the media is were I can play about. Actively avoiding his collection of games because they were simply the same game, wrapped in a different package and sent to the studio to change the threat from the Taliban to Russia. Call of Duty has that market cornered and there is only so much of the same crap we can endure.

Jack Ryan is solely based on the character created by Clancy. Fortunately it doesn’t involve his stories revolving around Jack Ryan and it does allow for a great possibility to move away from the abusive draining of a dead man’s creations. However, Jack Ryan was also played by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck in several other movies simply aimed at bleeding a rock. When this will end is a mystery that only Da vinci could solve. It would be refreshing to see them come up with something that isn’t solely used for money rather than a good story. The question here is is Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit worth it?

Answer – No.

I’m going to keep this short. The story is genuinely pants. Lets crash another countries economy because they didn’t want to do one thing. Mother Russia is the best, America bad. No America is the land of the free and Russia are just grumpy and we need to send a secret agent to hack into their mainframe. I’m no computer genius but if you wanted to find something out, you can do that. It’s as loose as an extra large condom on a small calibre man and feels ignorantly patriotic that it is painful to watch. It’s a plot that takes itself

From story to acting, I have to attack the most prominent piece for me. Keira Knightley. First of all, what jackass cast her to play an American even though she cannot do an American accent without looking like a horse. Alongside the fact that the rest of her acting could be considered poor, at best, it really puts a lot of pressure onto the others to bring the level back up. However, stuck with Jack Ryan 3Kevin Costner, the acting isn’t going to be great. Yet Chris Pine should have filled his role of testosterone filled secret agent pretty easily but his voice squeaks in comparison to Kenneth Branagh’s thick Russian accent. None of it fits. Much like a school play, people have been cast simply because they asked for it and were available. The extent of their talent has disappeared as Christmas draws closer and they are excited to get home rather than put all of their effort into a play that means very little to children who have no concept of what the story is trying to portray. Each character has little or no background whatsoever and are thrust onto screen while Kenneth Branagh (also the director) shoots at their feet to make them dance. It’s a hash of people with no character, poorly directed positioning, script and casting and should not have passed go.

Finally, the only thing that should be good in this movie but is incredibly mediocre and excessively over-produced is the action. The action is big, there’s a lot of noise (all be it deafening) but all common sense just vaporises. We do everything in extensive action scenes through the streets of cities will no interference from traffic. I went to Paris last year, it was fucking difficult to drive around. I’ve also seen New York traffic and the aspect of reality and common sense piles on me with every poor punch.

The movie had my hopes high. A cast of actors that are typically deemed good, only to find out they are astonish bad. A script written by a room of monkeys that still have the deadline for that Shakespeare piece and an attitude to it that is so pretentious and up it’s own ass makes it a poor watch. I haven’t even delved into the cinematography because it wound me up so much. A constant blur covers the screen, with nothing clear or crisp, I don’t feel I’m in a modern movie that’s been recorded on a million dollar camera but rather an Iphone. So my overall score rounds in at 6/10. The only redeeming factors are that it’s an action movie and keeps you remotely interested and it’s only 105 minutes long which is enough to pass the time you need to waste before you go to the dentist for that check-up they keep insisting on.

Jack Ryan 4

Star Trek – Into Darkness REVIEW -SPOILERS-

Star Trek 1Welcome back to Black Ribbon Reviews!

J.J Abrams has done it again, Into darkness is a brilliantly made film and visually beautiful. Star Trek was always controversial with its use of current situations to display through popular culture and really helped to revolutionise the casting for productions of all type and style. Abrams has held the classic integrity and uses Kahn to represent the terrorist threat of Al Qaeda.

In the opening of the movie, we follow a chase scene through a vivid red forest of a sheathed Kirk who is being chased by aliens with white faces in bright yellow clothing. The contrast of colour is amazing and certainly needs to be seen on the big screen to truly appreciate it. Once this introduction scene is over, we are introduced to our bad guy for the evening; Khan. Any Trekkie will know this name from an older Star Trek film “Wrath of Kahn” (Yet I’m no Trekkie and was still aware of this!). Then some explosions happen and Kirk travels into enemy territory to kick some butt, only to find the Kahn is a one man army who is superior to everyone.

Visually this movie is flawless. I can’t help but think of what it would have looked like in 3D. Set designs were extensive and modern. Building were a mix of classic with a splash of modern architecture. The CGI is exactly the same. The Enterprise looked lifelike and when it shot into warp it kept its definition and colour without being stretched and looking ridiculous. The fight scenes were also executed very well. However some of the movements seemed over exaggerated and could have done with a little less super hero effects.

With a collection of the current biggest actors, this film isn’t short of brilliant performances. Chris Pine does a brilliant representation of Kirk, his facial expressions blend and he acts with ease and efficiency. Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Kahn is admirable, however I felt his facial expressions are a little over the top and as much as they help convey anger, they make him look like he is sobbing or having a tantrum. Apart from this he plays Kahn well. However, Karl Urban who plays Bones (the doctor dude) is very annoying. I’m not sure if it is the character or him. Bones likes to say “Dammit” a lot and spout some poetry, yet Karl doesn’t help when he doesn’t have the ability to move any facial muscles to make him smile for once. He looks like he has been hit with a spade and is still reeling from the shock. The rest of the cast are very good and all play there parts brilliantly.

The initial story for Into Darkness is very simple. Kahn is killing people, Stop him. Yet deeper into the story we are confronted by another evil using Kahn for his gain and Kirk and Kahn team up to stop this threat. I’m not going to ruin the plot for you but stuff goes down! Expect a few plot twists.

Overall this movie is beautifully shot, written and executed. With fluid fight scenes and witty one liners the story doesn’t lose its charm, but isn’t diminished by the gritty aspect of the story. I recommend seeing it and I agree with IMDB’s rating for it. 8.5/10

Star Trek