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Film Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

“The Imminent Destruction Of All We Know And Love, Begins Now…”

Whilst overly long blockbuster movies are indeed not exactly anything original, it does take the patience of a saint to be able to sit through and enjoy most of Michael Bay’s most recent cinematic exploits, and whilst The Rock and Bad Boys prove that sometimes Bay does manage to create something which although is undeniably stupid, is too a whole bunch of fun, his annoyingly pompous stamp on the Transformers series proves without a doubt that fame and fortune is the only thing on the mind of its’ creators, particularly when the series just doesn’t seem to be slowing down in terms of worldwide and domestic gross. Clocking in at a staggering 149 minutes however, a runtime which is actually generously measured when put up against previous Transformers entries, The Last Knight is stated by both Bay and leading star Mark Wahlberg to be the final entry into the CGI-fuelled, overlong, action franchise and with that in mind, there is a sense of joy heading into the cinema knowing that this may indeed be the last time to witness Bay’s live action interpretation of Hasbro’s famous plastic toy range. Unfortunately, yet rather inevitably, The Last Knight is not exactly a movie which can classed as anything remotely joyful, with Bay successfully managing to create the most insipid, boring and woeful excuse for a blockbuster in years. Wait a second while I just clear my tinnitus.

Although narrative and plot are never usually at the forefront of most Transformers movies, The Last Knight actually revels in the fact that there simply isn’t a story to be told. Whilst something about King Arthur, Merlin and some ancient, historic sword attempts to linchpin the movie together, Bay’s latest makes Batman v. Superman look like a picture-book example of coherent A to B storytelling, with the movie too often more interested in endless explosions and placid CGI to really offer anything for the audience to really sink their emotional teeth into. Aside from a woeful narrative, epileptic editing and a cash-hungry supporting cast including the likes of Sir Anthony Hopkins, The Last Knight suffers from two inexcusable elements which simply make the film a painful exercise of patience. Firstly, the length. Not many films earn the right to be 150 minutes plus and whilst The Last Knight may be one of the shorter Transformers offerings, my sweet lord do you feel every single second of its’ sheer awfulness, with each passing minute ripping your soul apart as you slowly lose hope in the future of cinema as we know it. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the 12A rating slapped onto the movie encourages kids to go and see it, albeit with their parents, and whilst the action and spectacle may keep many wildly entertained, the constant use of unnecessary expletives and ripe sexual references make this supposed “kids” movie a poison chalice of misjudgement, and a movie which although may succeed in taking shed loads of money, will surely not satisfy even the most hardcore of Transformers fans. An explosive mess of a movie, The Last Knight is worthy of complete avoidance. Don’t take the risk.

Overall Score: 2/10

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Film Review: Patriots Day

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

Film Review: Deepwater Horizon

“Mayday, Mayday. This Is Deepwater Horizon…”

Proclaimed as the worst oil disaster in U.S history, Deepwater Horizon brings to the big screen the events which unfolded on the titular oil rig back in 2010, starring Mark Wahlberg as Chief Electronics Technician Mike Williams as well as a strong supporting cast consisting of Kurt Russel, Kate Hudson and John Malkovich. Directed by Peter Berg, whose back catalogue includes The Kingdom, Hancock and Lone Survivor, also starring Mark Wahlberg, Deepwater Horizon is a surprisingly effective disaster drama, one that focuses on the buildup of characterisation and plot and then throws you into submission with a slender mix of both practical and digital effects, resulting in an experience both impressive and terrifying in its’ attempt to showcase the horrific events that took place aboard the titular oil rig only six years ago.

Questionable accents aside, particularly from John Malkovich, as well as a wondering Texas accent from Wahlberg, and a tendency to resort to technical jargon and mumbling, of which was sometimes hard to unravel, Deepwater Horizon follows in the conventional genre-converting blueprint of attempting to tell the tale of a disaster from the POV of many, whilst primarily focusing on one in order to form an emotional and physical connection to occurrences on screen and whilst Wahlberg is effective in the lead role, the beginning of the film recalls a court case featuring the real life Mike Williams after the events of the Deepwater Horizon and thus prevents the audiences’ ambiguity regarding the fate of its leading character. A strange move indeed, but nonetheless, when put up against recent movies of similar ilk such as San Andreas and Everest, Deepwater Horizon is indeed the most effective, unexpectedly so and whilst it isn’t exactly groundbreaking in terms of cinematic originality, Deepwater Horizon is indeed worth the ticket price for its’ big screen quality if nothing else.

Overall Score: 8/10

Duo Film Review: Ted 2

Dan’s Review

Comedy that is shipped over from the US into our beloved country always seems to be an example of something having that “marmite factor” whereby you either love it or loathe it. In the case of Seth MacFarlane and his own personal brand of comedy, I do believe he is a talent, with the first few seasons of Family Guy still being his opus magnum in my opinion, but any talent he does possess is seemingly starting to wear thin and I can’t work out whether my taste for his humour has outgrown me or whether it is just plain bad. What an opportunity it was then for Mr Macfarlane to solidify his stance as one of the US’s leading comedic flagships with the release of Ted 2, a sequel to the 2012 comedy featuring MacFarlane himself as the voice of the titular living, breathing teddy bear and “Marky” Mark Wahlberg as best friend John Bennett. A return to form for Mr MacFarlane you ask? I’m not too sure.

After a year of marriage to partner Tami-Lynn, Ted (MacFarlane) believes the best way to revive their eroding relationship is to raise a child as their own through means of adoption after Tami-Lynn is found to be infertile due to heavy drug use. Due to the application of such an adoption, Ted is red-flagged as being property and not in fact human, leading to his marriage being annulled and a court case to determine whether such a status can be revoked. With “thunder buddy for life”, John at his side, along with attorney Samantha L Jackson (Amanda Seyfried), Ted must face the power of the courts in order to claim his life back once again. In terms of the comedic value of Ted 2, MacFarlane does manage to include some funny set pieces that although are heavily influenced by the slapstick comedy prevalent in Family Guy, was quite effective in some areas of the film throughout its’ overlong two-hour runtime. Funny too were incidents in which humour was placed just below, or even slightly above the line of bad taste, particularly in one scene in which Ted and John rudely interrupt an improvised comedy sketch.

Now here are the problems. Firstly, there are few too many jokes within Ted 2 that just don’t hit the mark at all and actually end up being rather cringe-worthy, particularly the recurring jokes about men’s genitals and Amanda Seyfried’s character being called Samuel L. Jackson which when repeated actually brought about silence into the screening I was in instead of rapturous laughter which I assume Seth MacFarlane, in all his infinite wisdom, was aiming for. Secondly, the film’s plot has a fairly similar design to its’ titular character, with them both being rather hollow and stuffed with rather inanimate rubbish, such as weird, out-of-place cameos from people such as Liam Neeson who had obviously just turned up for the paycheck in a scene which may have better suited something like Family Guy instead of a feature film in which it made no sense whatsoever.

Lastly, the films’ treatment of women, geeks, and other separate groups of people aside from either single hunk-man or teddy bear was actually rather crass and immature as well as lazy on the writers’ part showcasing how although Seth MacFarlane can be funny in places, overall, his comedy seemingly only encompasses that of a mind of a teenager desperate to show how much swearing he can fit into one single sentence whist feeling anxious at the lack of sexual endeavors he has explored in his life to date. The “marmite factor” that is so often the case when it comes to Seth MacFarlane was highly evident once again in Ted 2, a film that although was funny in places, was rather unremarkable and quite tedious on the face of it resulting in Mr MacFarlane once again failing to align himself with the gold-star comedy he may or may not be capable of.

Dan’s Score: 4/10 

Pete’s Review

Ted 2 is a comedy movie which answers the age old question of, ‘How the fuck does this bear legally work and marry?’ Well, it gets answered and we see that Ted 2 is based on giving Ted (Seth MacFarlane) personship and civil rights to work, marry and adopt a child as being a classified human entity. As we know though, the film won’t be all doom and gloom and the ending is guaranteed from the start but its the journey that gets them there. John (Mark Wahlberg) is now single after Mila Kunis left him and is down in the dumps until the duo come across Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) while on the search for a lawyer to represent Ted. John’s story is him finding love and how the pairs attraction flourishes as they get high and help their friend, Ted is merely along for the ride. As far as comedies go nowadays, this story is one of the betters. No plot holes, loops or anything to confuse, a very linear sequence with a few reflections of the past installment but altogether fun and engaging.

Comedies aren’t something you can rate like any other film, it is the most subjective genre out there and lacks the artsy glitz and glam of Hollywood blockbusters and art house films. The film looks wonderful, a couple of shots gained through a GoPro don’t have an effect on the viewing and the VFX for Ted were almost perfect. Seth MacFarlane has a warehouse of talents and it’s almost always promised that you will come out of the theater with a smile. His selection of music gives transitions a very classic feel with a variety of names that remind me of his Oscars show a few years back (Still my favourite). Honestly, it’s a well made movie. Production has been key and they’ve made it look and sound fantastic, the casting was ramped up and the acting was nowhere near as bad as I had anticipated. Now the comedy. The struggle. Often enough I was laughing away at the obscenities and antics that the group got up to but American pop culture references dropped like a stone. Its universal audience watched as a moment of silence ensued for comedic effect but brought no laughs. References like this ruined certain scenes, made them null and void for anyone watching. It leaves you wondering exactly what is going on.

Not many people will know Tom Brady outside of the US and I’m probably one of few to know who he actually is but his history requires a shred of knowledge of American ‘Football’. It’s not all bad! In fact, when things like this weren’t going on, I was constantly wiping tears from my eyes, more so at a particular improvisation scene which has me laughing still 24 hours on and a lot of hyper-sensitive farts pissed. Perhaps its my morbid sense of humour but I really love jokes that can be offensive. I love Jeremy Clarkson and Frankie Boyle for those exact reasons. Ted 2 surpassed the original and although certain story elements were repeated in this, they were better executed with a level of comedy that was far more confident than that previously. Everything looked wonderful and it was a fun movie. Its good entertainment for those who want something simple and it’s probably one of the better examples of American comedies I’ve seen in a while.

Pete’s Score: 7/10

Overall Score: 5.5/10

Transformers: Age of Extinction – Giant Robot UFC – Review – SPOILERS

Transformers 2Everyone with half a brain knows that Transformers is bound to be a huge hit in cinemas. With Michael Bay at the helm, it makes it that much more special (Lets not talk about the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…). With Shia LeBeouf having his alcohol fuelled plagiarist mid-life crisis, Transformers return has had to make a change. Although its very unlikely that he was planned to feature in this instalment even before his impression of Lohan came too light, it feels empty not seeing the hero that we’ve followed for so many years. Now we have been lumbered with Mr Mark Wahlberg and it certainly isn’t the same. With his new reality TV series and the emotional pallet of a dead skunk it has led me to slowly lose faith in a big player in the movie industry and made me wary of the quality of the film.
Since the Chicago war in which the Autobots annihilated the Decepticons, NEST was shut down, the alliance between Humans and Autobots has ceased with them being granted asylum and a new task force was created to deal with the Decepticon threat and those who are hidden away on Earth. Although, not all is well with this new task force. Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), CIA and our lead villain has an alliance with a Transformer bounty hunter and Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) in providing Optimus to the bounty hunter and with his help all the Transformers, including the Autobots too Joyce, dead. Attinger stands to inherit a bomb from the bounty hunter that creates the very material Transformers are built from and a large sum of money from Joyce who is using the mineral to create his version of Transformers but under his control, thus cornering huge markets. Walhberg, who plays Cade Yaeger is simply a bystander who bought a truck which turned out to be Optimus. Some stuff blows up and now him and his ‘family’ are on the run from this shadow organization with the Autobots.

Now that NEST has thoroughly been pushed out of the picture, it feels as if they just blew away all of the past characters that could still have played a role and really strengthen the cast and add some familiarity to the screen. Lumbered with a new frontman, we have to be able to connect with Wahlberg from the bat and it’s just not possible. With the acting range of Steven Seagal’s back catalogue, Wahlberg cannot express emotion to any other degree than a blank canvas that shouts a lot. mixed with two young actors whose blockbuster virginity has been popped but have the likeability of women with a tramp-stamp. Paired with the fact that Nicola Peltz plays Tessa Yaeger, the stereotypical Transformers 1American blond popular girl who dates Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor), a ‘rally’ driver picked up by Red Bull who is a giant pussy when it comes to anything else. Then we have a few Youtube sensations appearing for small roles. Kassem G and TJ Millar (I know he does other stuff) were horrible. Annoying character, even when they didn’t speak. Many of their scenes were useless and are worthless additions to try and make something funny. Another bone to pick is the plug advertisements. Of all things, Beats Pill got its grubby hands on Michael Bay and he bent right over. The scenes were so painfully forced, you could see the souls of the actors die a little inside.

Now apart from all of this, this film is a ton of fun. Lured in by the addition of giant Dinobots, I was sold on the idea from the first trailer release. Although they only appear in the last 30 minutes, the action is heavy enough with plenty of witty moments to lighten up the mood. The range of vehicles was astonishing and seeing the first Transformer with the ability to transform into 3 forms (A Samurai, Bugatti Veyron Vitess and an attack helicopter) was cool too. The huge range of vehicles and Transformers was amazing and their general quality was incredible. At parts it slips and looks like its pasted onto the scene with little shading and the new transform style isn’t the nicest looking but the level of work, expertise and dedication that goes into making something on this scale shows the love and passion that everyone had working on this. I would like to put into question the prop designer on a gun used by Mark that is picked up from the armoury of the bounty hunter’s ship. With the size of the crew, how is it only the size of a standard issue rifle and shaped like a sword but extremely blunt?

With a few plugs confirming the next Transformers movie, hopefully the cast can be sorted and we get a better group of people to face it. Hopefully Shia will have woken up from whatever moment he is having and will be considered to return as the forerunner to the next title as I don’t think I can stand dealing with Mark Wahlberg in a movie that he doesn’t fit. The passion and effort that went into making this warrants a lot of more score alongside the fact that the movie is just pure craziness from the get-go. Unadulterated fun with giant dinosaurs and clever little twists and loveable Transformers. What’s not to love? 7/10

Transformers

Lone Survivor – Review – SPOILERS

Lone Survivor 1It’s not rocket science, the trailer and the films name really do make the outlining plot obvious. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the majority of the movie. Presented as an all American patriotic war film based on a true story, but the Lone Survivor is something far bigger. Based on the operation Red Wings, a 4 team squad have to take down a high profile Taliban target. With no comms, the strike team find there cover blown with no support or commanding orders. Left alone, it’s a right for survival which costs the lives of 3 of the squad leaving only Mark Wahlberg’s Marcus Luttrell to fend for himself.

The story is great. Once again, I’m not versed into the ins and outs of what actually happened and expect the odd embellishment from time to time, but there were a few bits that I was a little saddened by. With a lack of character development throughout, the death of the soldiers do very little to cause an emotional response. Running up to the outbreak of violence, characters are introduced but the movement is incredibly slow. Characters we meet are completely irrelevant and hold no emotion value while in this time, they should have focused on character progression rather than a slew of names and faces. One piece I really enjoyed was the representation of the Afghan people. Moving away from a typical “everyone of them is involved with the Taliban” approach, and taking a positive view and portraying it to a world through a form of media that normally attacks Afghanistan.

As the movie represented itself as an action movie, it’s important to critique this. However, the first thing that I would like to talk about is the use of armour. I understand that they are given Kevlar armour which is supposed to withstand quite the impact, yet it appears that it does very little to stop a bullet when these guys get shot to shit. Now that is out of the way, the action is brutal. There is no other word to describe it. The wounds look real and the deaths are mortifying. One particular shot sits with me and will do for quite some time is the killing of one of the soldiers. After running dry on ammo and suffering multiple gun shot wounds, he props himself up against a tree. The shot expands to center his limp body. As he struggles for breath, Taliban draw closer and aim. Firing two shots that rip through the tree above his head, he doesn’t flinch. The final shot hits Axe (Ben Foster) in the head and sends his head back into the tree only to drop forward seconds later. The lingering shot was amazing. Yet, for a movie at 15+ of age, it seems a little much. With action comes sound. With war comes loud noises. Microphones must have been peaking, at points it scares the living shit out of me because it’s so sudden and really aided in immersing into the movie.

The movie is wonderful. Without digging into everything else too deeply, the acting was alright and visually it was gorgeous apart from the slow-mo team jump which felt generic and cheesy. But otherwise, Lone Survivor deserves a solid 8 out of 10. It’s a great piece of entertainment and deserves a watch from anyone interested in the conflict and to any ladies out there, Taylor Kitsch was massive and Wahlberg didn’t steal all of the screen time!

PS – Another short review as I’m in a race to catch up with The Walking Dead…So. Damn. Good.

Lone Survivor

2 Guns – Quicky Review – SPOILERS

2 GunsSorry for the delay again! I’ve been real busy with a lot of other stuff. Coming up later this week we have the UK releases of both Elysium and Pain & Gain, so be looking out for them. Be sure to follow my twitter account to hear news of each completed review and a load of other crap! As much as I would like to dribble on, this will be a real quick sum up of a full review that I haven’t got around to doing.

2 Guns is a buddy cop movie with a twist. These cops are undercover agents from the navy and DEA who have no idea that the person they are using to get into a Mexican cartel is also undercover but from a different agency. An unsanctioned robbery of a bank turns out to be the breaking point between the pair that ignites the second half of their relationship. A race to find the money that they stole, turns to out cause trouble with the CIA, The Mexican cartel and their own agencies who are hunting them down for the crime. With a plot twist that is handed on a plate, the story is a little simple and a bit predictable but otherwise something refreshing for the summer but could have done with a more meat on the bones.2 Guns 3

As a tradtional action movie, you would expect it to be full of cheesy one liners and increasingly poor visual effects (Just look at Expendables, as much as I love it.) but this movie saw that and was genuinely funny and brilliant visual effects that only had a few minor issues. The comedy stands out the most and is probably one of the best examples for action movie jokes, some jokes made me well up in tears and fighting for breath while the action was truly first rate. Predominately firearm fights, you can understand that they can be a little dreary and demand a lot of explosions to capture the attention, yet 2 Guns had was more about the execution and style that many a man dreams about.

As a typical buddy cop action movie, 2 Guns turned out to be a step above the rest. With a collection of well known faces and big names, the general consensuses is that the acting was impeccable when compared to others of it’s genre. Wahlberg was the comical of the pair, a brazen attitude to match his muscular physique was easy for Mark to achieve, especially as Pain & Gain was filmed prior and he is much the same in that (Review out Friday as the UK only gets it then!). It may seem like he is getting type cast for such things but each 2 Guns 1character is different and in this he is fairly lax and extremely excitable. Denzel plays something very different. I never expected him to be part of something like this as I always know him for Man on Fire, a serious actor with a flare for violence but this makes him seem exciting with a hint of danger that can be disguised by the nutty plots he develops. As a crew, the unit worked well and many of the cast acted well within their means without over dramatising.

For a movie well above the rest of its ancestors, this movie is a perfect summer hit, a good watch with a few friends and mashes up both comedy and action seemlessly. Perhaps a few more explosions and a bit more story wouldn’t go a miss but I feel it deserves an 8/10 for breaking new ground in a genre thats faded over recent years.