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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: Split

 “Let Us Show Them What We Can Do. Let Us Show Them How Powerful We Can Be…”

If there is one thing to be said about M. Night Shyamalan’s career in the business of movie-making so far, to say it was one of the most diverse and critically haphazard back catalogues of all time wouldn’t exactly be a raging overstatement. Whilst films such as The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable continue to be Shyamalan’s support beam for his seemingly imperishable reputation, people tend to forget the cinematic bombs such as After Earth, The Last Airbender and Lady in the Water, films which not only are regarded as utter, utter stinkers but films of which Shyamalan tends not to remind people of their existence in fear of not actually being allowed to be behind the camera ever again in Hollywood. With Split, Shyamalan seems to be on similar and overtly familiar territory, with a creepy, psychological premise at the core of the film’s screenplay and a final twist which is both surprising and overtly on-the-nose in terms of its’ utter silliness but one which too will leave the lay cinematic audience scratching their heads.

Featuring a scenery chewing central performance from James McAvoy, one which echoes the full-blown madness of his role in the black-hole darkness of Filth, Shyamalan’s latest is undeniably a welcome return to some sort of form, with the obvious b-movie silliness actually resorting in a movie which is much more fun in terms of its’ exaggerated ripeness than one might have first expected, due mainly to the headline performance of McAvoy, whilst the go-to actress for creepy leading ladies in recent times, Anya Taylor-Joy, continues to impress after continuing on from her stand-out roles in both The Witch and Morgan. Of course, now the un-embargoed reveal of the very final act of Split is one of which will baffle those unaware of Shyamalan’s previous work, yet for those privy to a particular early Shyamalan picture, the concluding seconds bring with it a surprising sense of wanting to pat Shyamalan on the back for having the audacity to attempt it, let alone actually film it.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

“I Was There To Spark And Fan The Flame of Man’s Awakening, To Spin The Wheel of Civilisation…”

Like the complete cinematic geek I am, Tuesday night at my local world of cine offered the chance to not only witness the midnight showing of the latest Marvel offering but to watch a riveting triple header of mutant goodness beginning with X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past and then leading smoothly into the UK release of X-Men: Apocalypse, the newest feature from the mind of Bryan Singer, the worldwide proclaimed saviour of all things X-Men when it comes to the big-screen after the superhero mess which was The Last Stand. I mean come on, Vinnie Jones? Watching all three on the big-screen once again gave the opportunity to see who was victorious in the realms of mutant supremacy and after watching almost seven hours of Marvel mayhem, I can safely say that Apocalypse is most definitely not the best of the X-Men canon, with that torch still indeed belonging to the far superior Days of Future Past, and in a month where the release of Captain America: Civil War emphasised the staying power of a franchise as gargantuan as the MCU, X-Men: Apocalypse is somewhat of a let-down, a let-down with a whole lot of CGI destruction intertwined with moments of greatness which only remind you how previous entries into the X-Men canon have been in the past.

Amongst the crazy amount of plot lines thrown into Apocalypse, including the introduction to a young Jean Grey and Scott Summers, played by Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan respectively, our ever-growing team of mutants led by Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), now living life in the early 1980’s, soon have to face the growing threat of the powerful Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), the world’s first mutant, who has risen from his tomb after centuries of being preserved and hidden from the outside world. Capturing the powers of Magneto (Michael Fassbender) as well as a young Storm (Alexandria Shipp) to fuel his destruction, Apocalypse believes the only way to save the Earth is to first destroy it and recreate it in his own image. Cue CGI mayhem and major mutant face-offs, intertwined with rather rushed introductions to a wide range of new mutants, Apocalypse almost seems the complete opposite of Civil War, a film which rather brilliantly manages to juggle its’ eye-watering cast and the introduction of new players, with the former struggling to keep up with the extraordinary demands it places upon itself.

One of the main reasons Apocalypse falters in this regard is the titular Apocalypse, a villain with only a shallow background to start him off and a motive of destruction which seems flawed to say the least. Add into the fact it was difficult to look at the character without laughing due to the rather rubbery amount of make-up leathered on Oscar Isaac, an actor of whom I would pay to watch in anything I might add, and Apocalypse can only be regarded as having the worst villain of the series so far. Even Kevin Bacon was better. A re-hash of the slow-motion Quicksilver scene from Days of Future Past halfway through the film only strengthens the claim that after four films in the directorial chair, Bryan Singer may indeed be running out of ideas on the mutant front with Apocalypse seemingly being the end point for the man who began the franchise all the way back in 2000. As Jean Grey states after a trip to watch Return of the Jedi during the course of the film, “the third film is always the worst”, and ironically, Apocalypse adheres to this assumption rather disappointingly. Civl War, you are still in the lead.

Overall Score: 6/10

X-men: Days of Future Past – Review – SPOILERS

XMen 2If you’re a normal human, X-men Days of Future Past has managed to grab your attention. The relentless advertising campaign undoubtedly will make this instalment of X-men one of the biggest movies this year. If you’re wondering if its worth going to see it, you are a sad human-being. Of course you need to see this. Days of Future Past stands as one of the best movies I have seen this year so far. With already established characters that need little introduction, jumping into the fold is easy, as long as you’ve seen First Class.

As you should have guessed, the story is about the extinction of mutants and the majority of the world. The extinction of the race comes down to these giant robots called “Sentinels”. Programmed to trace the mutated X gene in people who will give birth to mutants and mutants themselves. So the decision is made to send Wolverine back to when Xavier and Magneto were young to unite them against the catalyst that would signal the next 50 years of war between mutants and humans. Let’s be honest, we know how its going to end without seeing the movie. Yet the movie manages to disguise it and keep you guessing until the very last moment.

Over the past few days I have been sat thinking about X-men and how I’m going to review it. Everything was epic. Just looking straight at the acting, we have same of the best actors to grace our screens altogether in one group. Although some do not come into contact with each other, the Magnetos (Michael Fassbender & Ian McKellen) and Xaviers (James McAvoy & Patrick Stewart) are some of the best casting out there. McAvoy’s tormented Xavier gives a whole new level to a character that was always fairly confined. His execution of lines and accent allows for real power to be portrayed in many scenes. “I don’t want your future!” is one that features in the trailer but really sticks well in my mind.The there is Fassbender who I have critiqued quite a lot for many of his movies. Most recently would be the movie “Frank”. I chose not to review it as it aggravated me to the point that I debated walking out of the cinema. Compared to The Counsellor, Fassbender needs good directing to push him for a good performance and its evident that the stone cold Magneto is the role for him and the directing is perfect to make it work and challenge McKellen’s portrayal.

What it really comes down to is the action and excitement. As with every Marvel movie, humour is always present and a scene with Quicksilver just demonstrates the pure technical abilities and comedy style that has served them well for years. Many of the scenes with CGI are gorgeous to look at. Everything looks real and its amazing to see and it never looks fake. As if you could almost reach out and touch it. Now we have the violence and action. Fighting sentinels which are meerly computer generated must be a hard thing to do when you are on a green screen but it is executed perfectly. The scenes with Blink are incredible to see as the blend 4 or 5 different angles due to her portal abilities. We must not forget the core man of the X-men franchise; Wolverine. Now I thought he was big in his recent solo outing, yet somehow, Jackman looks like he’s spent time in prison and looks like a road map for Britain. The flow of the action is great and it really is exciting. Yeah, sure there are parts I could be critical of but we don’t know the true potential for the sentinels so simply cutting them in half may be harder than it seems and leaves a lot to the imagination.

Considering that I have left this to the last minute and Watch_Dogs has just plopped into my hands, I feel I should clear a few things up. This movie is amazing. But I do wonder, The Wolverine shows Logan without the metal claws at the end and in the last X-men outing, Xavier dies?…I understand the reboot of the universe and characters return can happen but in a movie it seems to much of a cheap shot. Although I would have liked to have seen more of the future it doesn’t really bother me as the movie was great fun to watch and stands as the best X-men movie ever and deserves a 9/10

XMen