“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
“It’s Time To Show Kong That Man Is King!”
As per the new craze of recent cinematic ventures, the newest big-screen franchising exploration comes in the form of classic Hollywood monsters being revamped and reissued in Legendary Entertainment’s so-called “MonsterVerse”, beginning of course with Rogue One director Gareth Edward’s excellent Godzilla in 2014 and continuing this week with Kong: Skull Island, a “re-imagining” of the infamous giant ape who graces the big-screen for the first time since Peter Jackson’s take on the character back in 2005. Helmed by The Kings of Summer director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, as well as featuring arguably one of the best casts of the year with Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, John Goodman and Samuel L. Jackson all vying for screen time, Skull Island is the type of movie which justifies the existence of IMAX-infused mega screens, with the trailer alone being rife with a heightened sense of spectacle and splendour. As for the finished article, Skull Island is indeed the silly, OTT monster-mad movie I think many were expecting without ever pushing the boundaries of being anything more than such.
Light on characterisation yet heavy on the spectacular at times, Skull Island is inherently silly from beginning to end, with a runtime which feels almost half the length of Peter Jackson’s epic adaptation but too feels completely different in tone, relying on the effects-heavy production of giant spiders, murderous “skull-crawlers” and of course the titular Kong himself rather than any meaningful contribution to fleshing out its’ leading stars in a manner which took up the first hour of Jackson’s movie back in 2005. Helping the film along in its’ choppily edited fashion is the rip-roaring sound of the 70’s, with a soundtrack which ranges from Black Sabbath to David Bowie. evoking the shadow of a film like Apocalypse Now, an argument particularly obvious due to Skull Island’s Vietnam War setting, whilst the CGI-fuelled monster-battles feel almost too much like a Jurassic World rip-off at times to be put in the same league of jaw-dropping splendour as its’ predecessor within the same cinematic universe, Godzilla. Much likes its’ titular ape, Skull Island is a big and fluffy piece of escapism which knows what it wants to be and doesn’t attempt to be anything more. Yeah, that’s right, Kong is very fluffy. Well, sort of.
Overall Score: 7/10
“We Got Multiple Explosions. We Need Help Down Here..!”
Of the many cinematic pleasures within 2016, Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon was a surprisingly entertaining thrill-ride, utilising the on-screen likeability of Mark Wahlberg to helm a dramatisation of one of the 21st centuries’ most infamous accidental disasters in a vein both poignant and wholly respectful. Whilst the one-two pairing of Wahlberg and Peter Berg shared mild success previously with Lone Survivor, the release of Deepwater Horizon last year has ultimately pushed the duo into a formidable partnership, returning this year with yet another live-action adaptation of a high-profile disaster in the form of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, a recent example of terrorism action within the United States. With a supporting cast featuring the likes of Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons and John Goodman, Patriots Day is a thrilling continuation of the Berg’s recent cinematic success, creating a sometimes breathtaking drama which mixes white-knuckle tension, Michael Mann-esque action set pieces and an effective screenplay which amalgamates a wide range of on-screen depictions of many who were involved in the events which occurred during that terrifying day almost four years ago.
In terms of differences between the previous works of the successful duo, unlike in Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon where Wahlberg portrayed real-life characters, Patriots Day allows the Boston-born A-Lister to fill his boots with a strictly composite character, created to not only fill certain narrative gaps throughout the movie, but also act as the walking cinematic guide for the audience, seemingly being wherever the high-octane events take place as often and as quickly as possible. Whilst the film uses its’ leading stars to a somewhat solid degree, the frighteningly startling and wholly believable pairing of Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze as terrorist brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are the real stars of the show, using their intimidating capabilities to create one of the tensest scenes of the year so far in which they carjack and threaten to kill the life of a Chinese U.S national in a manner similar to feel and tone of a similarly haunting scene within last year’s Nocturnal Animals. Concluding with interviews with the true survivors and heroes of Boston, Patriots Day follows in a similar vein to Deepwater Horizon by not only being a entertaining body of work but by being one which is entirely respectful too.
Overall Score: 8/10
“Crazy Is Building Your Ark After The Flood Has Already Come…”
Who remembers Cloverfield then? That’s right, the sci-fi found footage epic that did more damage to your brain with its’ continuous shakiness than most others in its’ respective category, produced by the man of the moment J.J. Abrams and written by Drew Goddard, the man behind the screenplay of Ridley Scott’s The Martian from last year. Dropping Drew Goddard but keeping the producing talents of Abrams, 10 Cloverfield Lane, coined the “blood relative” of Cloverfield, pretty much goes in every opposite direction to its’ sister, leaving the shaky found footage and the outside metropolis of New York behind in favour of a film which essentially becomes Panic Room meets Psycho, with the threat of the alien apocalypse stirred in for good comfort. With Damien Chazelle, writer and director of last years’ best film Whiplash, part of the writing circle and a trio of marvellous acting talents, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a superb, tense and taut sci-fi thriller.
Waking up from a violent car crash in a locked confinement, chained to her bedpost, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is greeted by the conspiracy-driven creepiness of Howard. played in a completely Kathy Bates-esque fashion by John Goodman, who chews the scenery from beginning to end in creating a character mixed between Annie Wilkes and Norman Bates, the freakiest of mixes if ever there was one. Told by Howard of the outsides contamination by unknown forces, Michelle and fellow captive Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.) begin to query Howard’s true intentions and the accuracy of his warnings. Although the film is driven by the sheer brilliance of Goodman, with Howard being a larger than life force to be reckoned with, the tight and compact surroundings of the bunker in which the film primarily takes place adds to the sense of isolation and containment the film attempts to create. And boy, it sure creates it.
Although the array of effective jump scares and scenes of complete and utter white knuckle tension make 10 Cloverfield Lane a fantastic thriller, it should be said that the BBFC’s decision to award the film with just a 12A certificate is strange to say the least. Violence, acid-burned faces and bodies, and themes of abductions and captivity, all alongside infected zombie-like civilians all result in making 10 Cloverfield Lane the most top-end 12A film I think I have ever seen. Trust me, it’s not something for ten year old’s, let alone some 15 year old’s, so take it from me, be wary of the the deceitful classification. That aside, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a brilliant thriller, one that seemingly popped out of nowhere with very little press and exposure before its’ swift arrival in cinemas, something of which I can only stand up and applaud. If his success with Star Wars allows J.J. to carry on making films such as this in the future, I look forward to his next project.
Overall Score: 8/10
Here we have a triumphant return from Pixar with the worlds favourite monsters. In a story that prequels Monsters Inc, it looks like an origin story of the great duo. It opens up with a collection of child monsters on a school trip too Monsters Inc., upon enters a tiny Mike, a adorably big eye, a stature that puts him in the light weight boxing division of Barbie & Action Man dolls, alongside vibrant green skin and a cute little smile. At the scare factory, we find out Mike’s inspiration and reason behind his decision to join the Monsters University. From this point on, he focuses on getting there and achieving his dream of becoming a screamer. Not till later do we see a skinnier, leaner version of Sully who is a powerhouse of strength and creature of fear, yet lacks theoretical perspective and uses his fathers fame to further his popularity, therefore, making him the common day rich douche-bag. At the start of good year, both tend to avoid each other and don’t interact much, but as we progress, we see a rivalry and distinguished hatred for each other which lays them in trouble with the university dean and leads to a series of events detailing the pairs friendship growth, alongside a group of shunned students who are pushed to strive for bigger things.
As a member of the 90’s generation, I was about when Monsters Inc. came out and could truly appreciate it at that age due to its colour, comedy and its ingenious plot that makes it so memorable. Now as an adult, this movie feels like it was made for the generation who lived to see it in the cinema and value it. Now I can appreciate the extensive amounts of work that goes into making Sully’s hair move or every single blade of grass under Mike’s feet. The lines and shapes that make up the campus and so much more. Visually the movie is pristine. Everything is vibrant and punchy that sends your eyes blitzing around the screen soaking in every last orange and pink in the vast scenery. Everything was in focus allowing you time to look.
As with any Pixar movie, once they develop onto it and create a foundation, the stories can become a little predictable at points with a lot of moral dilemmas throughout whenever a plot twist occurs. As predictable as it was, the story was still fun, witty and utilizes it’s potential to make it far bigger. Character stories were heartfelt, pulling on the heart strings at points and the whole film would keep a smile permanently wedged onto your face, hairs raised on the back of your neck and an attachment that only Pixar could create. The witty creations and variations that they went through to develop each character is phenomenal and the variation shows the dedication to create a real world for the monsters and not some copy and paste fillers.
As an overview, I don’t have much to write about. The movie was a stunning piece of art, a graceful origins story, a heart warming adventure with silly humour fit for all the family. However, before the movie even starts, The Blue Umbrella is a Pixar short to open Monsters University and is impeccable and a stunning short film to open with. I never felt that I could develop an emotional attachment to an object as simple as an umbrella. If this hasn’t shown at your cinema, Google is a thing that can help!
So, as an overall rating, I’m going to go with an 8/10 due to its predictability, but also the skipping of some sub-characters. A must-see movie for the summer!
Hangover, part 3 was one of my hotly anticipated films finally came out today. I was unlucky enough to miss out on the first two and resorted to the original DVD format and I’m extremely glad I didn’t let Hangover sit on the shelf until the last minute. I did however miss out Due Date which ties in within the movie for a short scene but it is nothing that is to drastic.
Surprisingly, this movie doesn’t begin with the obligatory piss up that ends up with the Wolf pack running around to find Doug and explain the drug fuelled night. This one focuses on the capturing of Chow; the cocaine loving psychopath. The final instalment in the Hangover trilogy is one that wraps up the connection to Chow and why he kept appearing throughout the series and his criminal activities. To fuel his lifestyle and addiction, Chow robs another criminal boss named “Marshall” of several million dollars worth of gold bars. After spending fortunes and ending up in a Bangkok prison after part 2, he escapes and becomes an international villain on the run from both the police and Marshall. Marshall then captures the Wolf pack and forces them to hunt down Chow and capture him or Doug dies.
In terms of story, you can see that it has taken a different turn and has become a little more serious. Although, in the ending credits, we are greeted with the day after a heavy night out to find everyone hanging and Stu with a new rack (I will let you figure that one out). I certainly enjoyed the reversal of the story and the introduction of a truly deadly force that will and does kill and the introduction of a new love interest. The danger was amped up and the twists within are very precise and quick. As I mentioned prior, the story blends with the past movies and is great at entwining old characters and stories to close the final movie. However, at the end we do see the possibility that the franchise has been left at a point that could be ridden upon if money gets tight for Legendary studios and Green Hat.
The comedy throughout was a constant and didn’t wear thin. Yet it wasn’t rip roaring and I wasn’t gasping for air or tearing at the excessively stupid antics. The jokes were written well, flowed well without interruption and were executed brilliantly. The collection of actors could hold themselves without losing form. The examples of this are Zach Galifianakis and Melissa McCarthy who can hold a room with a simple longing
gaze, their ability to ignore their surroundings and create an unbelievably awkward situation without actually saying anything is flawless. Bradley Cooper also fills his role quite well, managing to retain the badass persona to life that made him so popular with the crowds (his looks
The film was also shot brilliantly. I enjoyed the contrast and the lighting that rolled throughout the movie. Close up shots filled space but felt natural in their surroundings. The landscape shots where expansive and incredibly strong. Jumping from bright desert wasteland of Mexico too the luminescent city of Las Vegas was gorgeous. Colours bounced around of the screen and seeing the iconic city at a height like that at night is something that only some have done. It is the stereotypical way that we perceive Vegas to be.
Overall, the movie was great fun. It’s got plenty of laughs and has some brilliant actors to back it up. I am rating this movie as a 7.5/10, simply because I wanted to harder hitting jokes and a little bit more in the story franchise. I felt myself wanting a little extra from the movie but it is still an enjoyable film.