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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Duo Review

Dan’s Review

 

The biggest film of 2015 is finally here after years, almost decades of an excruciating wait for a true continuation of George Lucas’s original trilogy, something of which would attempt to eradicate the wholly mediocre memory that the prequels imprinted on the Star Wars community, whilst expanding the well and truly cherished universe for a whole new generation of young children who’s experience of The Force Awakens may indeed be their first taste of Star Wars on the big screen. With George Lucas handing directorial duties to renowned sci-fi enthusiast, J.J. Abrams, the man behind the reinvention of the Star Trek series, The Force Awakens was already heading in the desired direction with Lucas finally understanding that money can only go so far and what was truly needed with The Force Awakens was to return to the imaginative and truly immersive spectacle the original trilogy portrayed all the way back with the release of A New Hope in 1977. Has it succeeded? Is The Force Awakens the magnum opus of the Star Wars universe many have proclaimed it to be? Not exactly, but one thing is for sure, it is a resounding homecoming and like the original trilogy, a whole lotta fun.



Beginning once again with the legendary line of “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, John Williams famous overture blasts onto our screens over the scrolling opening crawl that informs us of Luke Skywalker’s apparent disappearance and the rise of the First Order, a seedy, evil faction of the fallen galactic empire who are attempting to discover the location of the lost, legendary Jedi, an opening backdrop much more streamlined than the tax credit political nonsense that The Phantom Menace began with. So far, so good, and the film takes no time at all settling into the introduction of the both the film’s antagonist and protagonist with the Sith-ridden Kylo Ren being introduced through ruthless murder and an understanding of the force similar to that of Vader himself, whilst Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron comes across as the cocky, swaggering second shade of Han Solo himself, and already I’m sold. Within the first ten minutes of the film we are exposed to an understanding of the force unlike anything I have ever seen before and this is a riff played extensively upon throughout the course of The Force Awakens, resulting in a villain both ominous and ambiguous who is crippled by, excuse the pun, the force of expectation brought upon him due to his rather muddled family tree. No spoilers here.


 

Where Kylo Ren proves to be a real win in terms of the evil side of the force, the introduction of Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn are welcome entries into the Star Wars universe, with Rey particularly being a strong, independent, and well-developed female lead, expanding the rather limited female base of characters established in the universe so far and for that I’m glad. Following in the footsteps of the universally recognised R2-D2 also, is that of BB-8, the orange coated roller-ball who, along with the return of Chewbacca, brings the greatest comedic elements of the film, particularly in a scene where it responds to Finn’s thumbs up which resulted in the entire screening laughing in hysterics. As for the return of the golden-oldies, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo is the obvious winner with him not only getting the greatest screen time, but also the best lines, most of which hark back to the original trilogy or his relationship with his favourite Wookie, a true bromance is ever there was one whilst it is his character which takes the front-line in the film’s most shocking twist, a cinematic moment on par with “I am your father”, and one that is set to send shock-waves across the Star Wars universe.

 

As for the film’s production, The Force Awakens is a particularly handsome movie with spectacular scenes of vast, endless landscapes, gorgeous looking CGI spaces battles, and a unnerving attention to detail that highlights the love and dedication to which the film has been made with. Where the film ultimately succeeds is in its’ sheer diversity to the prequels, with the dodgy CGI of the early 21st century being totally outclassed with the use of practical, real life props, giving the film that rustic aesthetic which makes you feel these places actually do exist and aren’t created on somebody’s computer, a brilliant change of direction, and one that leaves me reeling for more. For all the film’s brilliance, there are certain degrees of similarity in terms of plot which reduces the film’s overall originality, yet one can afford to overlook such weaknesses and exhale in relief. The Force Awakens is a true return to the magical wonder of the saga’s original trilogy, incorporating new, interesting characters whilst working a winning nostalgia appeal with the return of the series’ most famous faces. A real triumph. How many years until the next one? 

Overall Score: 9/10

 

Josh’s Review

The hype is real and totally worth it!

Usually in these duo reviews it seems that I’m the one to poke holes in the plot, but I don’t know if I’m “fanboying” too much while mentally blocking most of them out. There isn’t many films that I would say that I’d gladly sit in the cinema and watch again, back to back, but I would for this. If you haven’t yet, go see this film!

As obvious as the statement is, this is undoubtedly a Star Wars film. What I mean by that is that it feels like a continuation of the originally trilogy. J.J Abrams decision to use more costumes and animatronics instead of relying solely on computer effects is a noticeable improvement, bringing a more organic feel to environments and sets.

 

The return of the previous cast is a welcome sight  and a good measure of the passage of time. good to see that none of the previous actors have forgotten their roles despite it being 32 years since they were last in their characters shoes. Moving on to the new characters, as Dan said huge praise for Daisy Ridley’s  character Rey, loved the character progression which was done at the right pace. Along with Oscar Isaac’s character Poe which immediately resembled a Han Solo personality and humour but thankfully not to the extent which he mirrors him. John Boyega’s character Finn slightly recalled me to how Luke was in the original film. Its often hinted throughout the film that there is something special about him but he struggles to become it but that’s not say that his character doesn’t also make loads of progression. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who left the cinema wanting a  BB-8 for Christmas. The lovable droid despite only commuting with limited gestures was hilarious and adorable even more so than I dare say R2-D2.

No Star Wars film is complete without the Dark Side. Though I admit I was originally sceptical  to Adam Driver as the First Order’s Kylo Ren, however, he did an impressive job…while the mask was on. Without the mask he just didn’t seem as big nor as threatening, yet maybe that was deliberate. What Kylo Ren can do with the force though brings a new evil with the Sith (torture) and I love his character for that.

One little complaint I have would be with Gwendaline Christie’s character, Captain Phasma. Despite being one of the most advertised characters her role was minuscule with hardly any dialogue. She didn’t even fire her blaster once! Hopefully she will have a larger role in the future upcoming films.

The fight choreography is perfect for the setting of the film. No force triple back flips or over the top dance fighting which is how it should be. Every swing has the characters emotion in it, along with the amazing camera work and epic music it creates truly enjoyable fight scenes.

After watching the film you can clearly tell that J.J Abrams is a huge fan of the original trilogy and directed “The Force Awakens” for fans. Its safe to say that he hasn’t let us down at all. There are throw backs to the previous films but not so many that we are chocking on it or that it disrupts the pacing of the story. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next and hopefully it continues with this momentum.

If this had came out before I did my top 5 this would’ve easily been my number 1!

9/10

Black Ribbon’s Best Film Scenes of 2015

Best Film Scenes of 2015

Within every great movie is a scene of equal greatness, whether it be a memorable moment of character progression, a tear-jerking loss of a key character, or even something as trivial as a note of music that pulls at the heartstrings in a way that affects a particular viewer. Throughout 2015 there have been a vast amount of particular movie moments where the magic really kicks in, scenes in which have left a long-lasting impression within my mind and have resulted in either making the film a better picture or just a fantastic scene on its’ own ground albeit being in a overly mediocre movie. Within this list is Black Ribbon’s top ten most memorable scenes of 2015, starting promptly with…

10. A Meeting With Macha – Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea is many things. Beautiful. Awe-inspiring. Genuinely tear-inducing. Yet one of the things I didn’t expect from Tomm Moore’s animated masterpiece is the scene in which our beloved heroes come across the legendary owl-witch known as the Macha, whereby we witness the darker side of the Irish folklore in which Song of the Sea is based upon. Although most of Song of the Sea is undeniably child-friendly, the introduction to the insidious Macha was genuinely startling, resulting in a hallucinatory dream-scape of evil owls and creepy Irish folklore legends.

9. Confrontation With Jobs – Steve Jobs

Although Steve Jobs is directed by the fine hand of Danny Boyle, it undoubtedly belongs to the craftsman of screenplays himself, Aaron Sorkin, with its’ three-act structure being an effective stage for which Sorkin is allowed to play upon. Of the many wordy dialogues within the film, the scene in which Jobs is confronted by John Sculley within the second act of the film is the one that stands out the furthest, with Sorkin’s brilliant script being fully embraced by the acting duo of both Fassbender and Daniels whilst being offset with flashbacks of the past, all of which results in a heavy sense of escalating drama that gives credence to the simply unfair talent that Sorkin has unleashed upon directors such as Boyle and David Fincher, both of whom have enjoyed undeniable success because of such in Steve Jobs and The Social Network respectively.

8. Day of the Dead – Spectre

Before Spectre was even released, director Sam Mendes made sure that his latest entry into the Bond canon was set to have one of the most epic opening scenes in the film’s 53 year history, with the famous Day of the Dead in Mexico City being the backdrop for the return of everyone’s favourite English super-spy. Beginning with a seemingly one-take shot following Bond through the streets of Mexico City and onto the rooftops above, Spectre’s opening scene definitely ramps up the thrills and skills, with Bond mercifully tracking down and defeating a high-ranking agent of SPECTRE all-the-while attempting to keep the poor innocents of Mexico City with their lives intact from the rogue helicopter in which our enemy decides to escape within. Mr Mendes, you were right. The opening scene of Spectre is one to be treasured.

7. The Walk – The Walk

Although not exactly the greatest film of the year, with the release of Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk essentially just being a dramatic re-telling of the superior documentary Man on Wire, one thing the film did have going for it was the exceptional titular sequence in which Philippe Petit crosses the Twin Towers with nothing more than his wit and skill as a wire-walker to keep him alive. As a self-confessed hater of heights as it is, the concluding 30 minute scene of The Walk was a sheer nail-biting collage of vertigo-esque tension, where even though I was fully aware of Petit’s incredible success, resulted in an sense of intolerable discomfort in the best way possible, something of which is owed simply to the brilliant way in which Zemeckis’ titular act is filmed. Simply breathtaking.

6. F**K Tha Police – Straight Outta Compton

Some of the best films are those that unexpectedly turn out to be real gems and surpass any expectations they have had before it, and in the case of Straight Outta Compton, F. Gary Gray’s real firecracker of a drama based upon the rise of the notorious hip-hop group, N.W.A, what a surprise it was to witness its’ brilliantly managed explosive temperament and uncanny portrayals of the genre’s most decorated patrons. Within the film’s many great scenes is the recording sessions of the group’s titular debut album, particularly that of their most notorious single, “F**K Tha Police”, recorded after a confrontation with the somewhat backward’s handling of the Los Angeles police department whose racial stereotypes present in the early 1990’s are made abundantly clear within Straight Outta Compton, yet it’s the ferocious response from the group into recording arguably their most famous hit which creates one of the most entertaining scenes of 2015.

5. Showdown With Gordo – The Gift

Written, directed and starring Joel Edgerton, The Gift proved to be a real tense and taut claustrophobic chiller thriller with Edgerton sinking in almost too well into the role of Gordo, the creepy stalker hell bent on making the lives of both Simon and Robyn Callum rather awkward with a selection of creepy get-together’s and unwanted hand-delivered gifts. The real winning success of The Gift however is down to the nature in which Edgerton’s portrayal of Gordo is one of a rather mixed and ambiguous nature, resorting to feelings of compassion towards someone who is obviously rather troubled at heart. One of the most incredible scenes within The Gift is when we witness the rather fiery Simon confront Gordo at his place of work, yet instead of being on the side of the targeted Simon, the sight of Gordo’s sheer embarrassment as his real life is discovered results in a collage of conflicting feelings, something of which has stayed with me ever since the film’s release.

4. Madness Prevails – Macbeth

Transferring the dark, twisted tale of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to the big-screen is no easy feat in itself, yet Snowtown director Justin Kurzel manages to embrace the bloody nature of the famous text and turns it into essentially a horror flick with glorious displays of violence, something of which won’t exactly be shown to schoolkids examining the play for the sake of education. Of the many great scenes within Kurzel’s adaptation is when we witness the titular Macbeth, played majestically by Michael Fassbender, start to go completely bonkers at a royal feast in front of his loving, loyal wife and fellow ruling family and friends where, reeling from the violent slaughter of Banquo by his own hand, Macbeth begins to hallucinate his bleeding, pierced body dining at his feast, resulting in a crazed, frightened Macbeth showing how the power of being King has truly began to corrupt him. It’s a wonderful scene and one in which Fassbender’s raw and ripe acting talents are once again put on display.

3. Thermal Imagery – Sicario

If Sicario is not the film that finally wins the simply brilliant Roger Deakins an Oscar for his cinematography skills then I am pretty sure nothing will. One of the most talked about shots of the year is the scene in which we witness the spook-like militaristic agents disappear into darkness in search of a drug-trafficking tunnel and it is here where the best scene of the film begins. Switching between complete darkness and thermal imagery, our venture into the pitch black tunnel of horror, all seen through the eyes of unknowing FBI Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), is nail-biting tension in its’ most extreme, even more so than the scariest traffic jam ever we witness earlier in the film, yet it is the ambiguous nature of both our heroines nature and what lies for her in the tunnel which makes this particular scene a true gem and definitely the most tense twenty minutes of the entire year.

2. Goodbye Bing Bong – Inside Out

I love Disney, I’m not afraid to say it, and I love Inside Out even more. Not only is it wholly original and incredibly intelligent but it also features the most heartbreaking cinematic moment of the year by a long shot. After falling into the subconscious and memory dump of Riley’s mind, Joy and imaginary friend Bing Bong attempt to escape via that of Bing Bong’s homemade rocket ship yet after being originally unsuccessful, Bing Bong sacrifices himself to get Joy safely back to head office, who subsequently disappears into dust, much to the despair of everyone, including myself, who found it hard to hold back the tears, regardless of the extent to which lip biting came into effect. It’s a scene as heartbreaking as the death of Mufasa and reinforces Disney’s ability to make every human resort to their inner child and weep with sheer sadness. Damn you!

1. A Final Encore – Whiplash

The final ten minutes of Whiplash are among the greatest of cinema within the past decade or so, if not of all time, with the final drum solo combining sheer tension and thrills, resulting in a storming final encore for both Miles Teller’s Andrew Neiman and Damien Chazelle’s simply brilliant drama surrounding the abusive teachings of Oscar winning supporting actor J.K. Simmons as the terrifying Terrence Fletcher. Although drumming and the entire aspect of drums are as exciting to me as a wet flannel, somehow Whiplash is a film that just is just majestic in its’ execution with Tom Cross’s editing one of the many reasons for such, and it is here within the final scene where his skills are truly put to the test, resulting in a stunning tour de force of blood, sweat and tears which left me simply breathless. With that in mind, scene of the year belongs to Whiplash, and boy does it deserve it.

Deadpool – OFFICIAL RED BAND Trailer

 

Let’s get right to this. Any decent superhero/comic book fan will know of Deadpool. Above we see parts of the reveal trailers and the leaks all bundled into one hell of a package. From this small short, we can really begin to see how Ryan Reynolds fills the shoes of one of the most beloved characters of the universe. Down below is the trailer for the trailer which tears into Reynolds previous appearance as Wade in some of the best marketing I’ve seen in a very long time.

Now personally, I’m not sure how this movie will fair with the general public who don’t know of the character and I worry that his reach and the violence may not appeal to them. Lets hope the Marvel community goes out in droves for this because we could be looking at a cult classic of the superhero universe!

 

Duo Review – Ant-Man – The Small Packs a Punch!

DAN – With the release of Peyton Reed’s Ant Man this week, the mammoth of a machine that Ant-Manis Marvel continues to ever-grow and seemingly swallow everything in its’ path, regardless of the competition at hand. With Comic Con last week seemingly handing the hype trophy over to DC due in part to the explosion of Batman and TV related goodness, cast interviews and movie trailers, particularly that of the eagerly anticipated Suicide Squad, it seems obvious that DC are staging an attempt to sway the Marvel machine off its’ course for the time being even though they still hold the award for best comic-related movie ever in the form of The Dark Knight. So with DC winning the hype-race at Comic Con, Marvel have seemingly decided to take a seat back from the fire-fight for the time being and allow us to revel in the formation of a new Avenger in the form of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, the incarcerated criminal who unwillingly undertakes the role of Ant Man under the guidance of Micheal Douglas’s Hank Pym, a retired former S.H.I.E.L.D agent who had once previously been the occupier of the famous Ant Man suit. Where before Marvel films have seemed to undertake a very similar, formulaic layout, Ant Man points more towards the spectrum of Guardians of the Galaxy, particularly in terms of its’ high comedic value, something of which makes Ant Man one of the most enjoyable Marvel entries so far, and ultimately concludes Phase Two of the MCU in a rather cool and collective fashion.

The entire reason for why Guardians of the Galaxy succeeded so well last year was the unexpected turn it took from the rather similar and over-used Marvel film blueprint for almost all entries in the MCU up to its’ release, with it combining a underlying comedic element and self-mockery to the fundamental questionable concept of a team of heroes that combined a tree and a talking raccoon. Add in a scorching soundtrack and a well-chosen cast, Guardians of the Galaxy truly was one of the highlights of last year, let alone in its’ own expandable universe, and Ant Man swiftly follows suit by once again being another Marvel related success which combines a huge riff of comedy, due in part to the influence of Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish who left half-way through production, and a wonderful cast, strongly spearheaded by the one-two of both Rudd and Douglas. Compared to the spectacle of most MCU-related movies, it was actually quite refreshing to see Ant Man take more of a low-key approach, with the action only really taking place in the final act of the film after some interesting and highly enjoyable character development in the first two-thirds, with scenes in which the miniaturisation was used in a hugely comical manner being one of the many highlights of the film.

Other highlights of the film included Ant Man’s accidental meeting with a fully-formed Avenger and the way the film included Easter Eggs and references to the MCU, particularly its’ attempt to signify its’ move away from the Avengers with Pym’s statement of them being busy “toppling a city somewhere”, rather tongue-in-cheek at the destruction caused in Age of Ultron. Such levels of destruction thankfully cannot be attributed to Ant Man however with the biggest moment of chaos being caused by an enlargement of Thomas the Tank Engine in a scene with produced chuckles from the entire screening audience. In terms of the problems, Ant Man does seem to bear resemblance to Guardians a bit too much resulting in a lack of freshness from Marvel’s POV, particularly when the latter was only released last year, whilst the plot thread of the Quantum Realm seemed a bit too rushed and jack-hammered in to be truly interesting. All in all however, Ant Man succeeds in being a rather entertaining and much welcomed entry into the MCU, and in my opinion beats Age of Ultron for best Marvel film so far this year. Up next, Fantastic Four. What a time to be alive. Ant-man GIF

Dan’s Score: 8/10

 

PETE – Dan has hit the nail on the head. Ant-Man was another one of the MCU’s films that honestly looked a bit naff. The trailers were lacking and it felt like the whole movie was pretty much summed up within them, yet like Guardians of the Galaxy, it was a huge surprise. The journey of an ex-con turned superhero was fantastic. Instead of dropping you into a story with characters who know their powers, their limits and strengths, we actually see a someone become a hero who doesn’t have infinite wealth or training to begin with.

The story was great fun. Ant-Man always seemed a but dull to me but Marvel have the uncanny ability to create characters that are so likeable and fun that make me want to run down to the comic store and dig into the back catalogue for a little more. Now as I haven’t seen anything involving Ant-Man, I can only say that I enjoyed the portrayal I saw, whether it is accurate or not. Paul Rudd simply doesn’t age and I’m sure for many years to come we could see him playing this role because he was great fun. His comedic wrap sheet means that he can execute lines on a whim and be extremely convincing doing so. Its the character that he can embody. Yet, considering Ant-Man is supposed to have a master degree, we really don’t see much about this at all but hopefully we can see it in his next outing.

It makes me wonder how people become evil in the Marvel world. The claims of righteous acts aren’t enough to justify it for me. When you watch a massive city/town lifted into the sky and the Avengers destroying this giant threat, why would you honestly think that your squishy body has any sort of chance. The ending for said villain was rather quick and honestly it felt a little rushed. The sequence was fantastic fun but it was to short compared to the entirety of the movie but nevertheless, it isn’t the typical way we see Marvel villains go and is rather liberating to see it so.

Marvel are great when it comes to visuals but it does feel as if Ant-Man’s budget was a little smaller in the CGI department as all the backgrounds in the miniature scenes lacked fidelity as looked very fuzzy. As for the rest, the ants look awesome and the giant scenes tended to uphold the general trend set by Marvel. The music was on point and the action was explosive and funny all at once. Is it better than Guardians? No. Is it worth your time? Hell yes. Its great and I really can’t wait until he makes an appearance in other instalments and we get a lot more cameos. PS – That SHIELD cameo was pretty damn epic! 8/10!

Overall Score – 8/10

Ant-man 4

Terminator Genisys – Double Trouble Review – I’ll probably be back

DAN – As soon as it was announced that a new Terminator movie was set to grace our screens sometime this year, the first thought that came to mind was “flogging the horse”, with the annoyingly named Terminator Genisys (Erm, dictionary anyone?) being the FIFTH instalment of a series in which the first two both settle in the category of classics, whilst its’ successors only manage to solidify themselves into the category of, “okay, but not brilliant”. With Arnie taking a break off from the franchise in Terminator Salvation, his return in the Alan Taylor directed Genisys, was at least some sort of reconciliation with my personal love for the series, with Mr. Schwarzenegger always having that monumental feat of being a truly brilliant screen presence, regardless of how bad a film he is in may be (Think of “classics” such as Eraser for example). Unfortunately for Arnold and friends, including Emilia Clarke (Erm, Game of Thrones), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty), Jai Courtney (Die Hard 5), and the lovely Matt Smith (Doctor Who), the sign of how mediocre a film like Terminator Genisys actually is can be traced back to the first theatrical trailer in which for its’ entire duration we are treated to echoes, lines, and even direct scenes from previous entries in the series and after finally watching the movie in its’ complete package, that’s pretty much what I took from it, with Genisys being a movie essentially jealous of its’ better, older siblings and it subsequently attempting to mimic them into becoming something it most definitely isn’t. Rant mode activated.

The plot of Terminator Genisys, if it can actually be called a plot, focuses on the war-torn John Connor’s (Clarke) attempts to finally foil the Skynet invasion of Judgement Day by sending back good friend and fellow soldier Kyle Reese (Courtney) to the 1980’s by use of a Skynet designed time-machine which has already sent back a Terminator to kill off Sarah Connor, the mother of John, in order to prevent the resistance of man from ever coming to fruition. Uh, hold up, isn’t this just the plot from the first Terminator? Yes. It is. But wait! In an attempt to do something wholly original, Genisys attempts to make us believe that the events of the first two Terminator movies in fact never happened with a plot line that is one, completely ludicrous, two, not clear-cut or understandable in the slightest, and three, certainly abides by the 12A certificate by presenting no sense of threat, shock or horror throughout its’ two-hour runtime and in fact, keeping with the Matt Smith casting, actually felt like a two-hour Doctor Who episode, solidified by the cheesy, saccharin sweet ending in which my love for the Terminator series was seriously put into question.

Aside from the nonsensical plot, Genisys was evidently a film in love with its’ previous incarnations, with way too many in-house references to the first two Terminators, whether it be cheesy, over-used lines such as “get out”, or “I’ll be back”, direct copy of villain choice, with the brilliant Robert Patrick portrayal of the T-1000 in Judgment Day being replaced with a shoddy, boring, no-one that thankfully was on screen less than I actually expected, or just the same characters, albeit in a much more boring and shallow reincarnation. I mean, I love Emilia Clarke as much as the next man but to be honest, she is no Linda Hamilton, and Clarke’s portrayal of Sarah Connor just felt wrong and flat, with no sense of depth or a case for me to actually believe Clarke could be this character. I’m sorry Emilia, you have been miscast. Of course, in any case in which a film has so many negative attributes, there are some positives, with the film being rather silly and fun in some places, with some of the effects being so cool it actually produced a little snigger of joy now and then, but when it comes to the fulfilment of a movie, I personally need more than that, and Terminator Genisys may indeed be action-packed and explosive ridden on the surface, but its’ depth is essentially non-existent, resulting in a popcorn movie for the masses rather than a much-loved classic like its’ older, and indeed better, siblings.

Dan’s Score – 4/10

 

PETE – Well, it seems like Dan and I have swapped roles this week. Since Jurassic World’s giant disappointment, I was left hoping that Terminator would do something different and dazzle me. Fortunately it did. Sure, its not the greatest movie in the series but it didn’t simply repeat itself with a half-arsed money spinner with a plot that was vacant of any consistency.Terminator is another movie from my childhood that I actually feel was a decent reboot. Lets hope its not a new trilogy…

The plot was basic. It was a little complex and over convoluted with the general use of time travel but the rest of it is very simple. I wasn’t expecting something with a story like Interstellar, I wanted something entertaining with a plot that wasn’t ripped off from the previous generations. It was a creative use of the situation which tied the series up with a nice bow. Sure, its basic and the big surprise of the movie was ruined in the trailers, but this is one of the reasons I tend to avoid them. Its simple, but gives the originals enough of a twist to become different and have a creative angle on a series that’s been drawn out for many years.

What really lets the movie down is the visual FX and CGI. On the Terminators themselves, it was fairly good but it tried to hard to use visual effects similar to that of the originals as some sort of fan service but it looks so blunt and disjointed amongst other good examples in the same scene! The way people fly off a rolling car isn’t like a ragdoll, its more like a still being slid along the screen in animation closer to SNES Mario. Its as if one of the artists was being fired and just fucked with everything he could while the better in the group simply continued with everything they had without even a look to see just how bad some of it was.

Perhaps it was fan service, but the fan service I enjoyed was Arnie. Who doesn’t love the man? He’s a power house on and off screen, his acting is pretty poor which aids the whole robot thing and he’s been given an element of humour to him rather than cold blooded killer we’ve seen before. Although not along the lines of the original but an enjoyable take nonetheless. As for the rest of them, meh. Emilia Clarke is a woman I’ve had little contact with in my consumption, her role in Game of Thrones seems to be the driving force behind her but her performance in this doesn’t give me hope for when I eventually get around to watching GoT. Die Hard’s Jai Courtney is another that suggests poor things about his other pieces of work and I’m extremely disappointed by Jason Clarke. His role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a solid performance which put him onto my watch list, this is just weak and lacklustre. As the dominant villain, he should have been far darker and twisted to really suggest his power and ability.

Visually poor, acting was fairly flat and the story wasn’t half bad. It is a popcorn movie and it always has been, I won’t lie, but I can’t see how the reincarnation of Jurassic Park using exactly the same basics of big bad dino, stupid people making a park and annoying children can be deemed as a good movie for the previous incarnations while Terminator is slated for daring to change the formula and wrap up its loose ends. I enjoyed it. Its funny, some great action scenes and a rather interesting take on the past.

For me, its a 7/10

OVERALL SCORE – 5.5/10

Triple Whammy – Jurassic World – Does it have enough teeth?

Dan – In terms of childhood memories, particularly those of a cinematic pedigree, the Jurassic Park series was one that I never wholly took to and thus never really had a set place in my heart like other childhood films such as Back to the Future, Star Wars and even Lord of the Rings, a trilogy of movies that did, and still does, have a secure place in my love of cinema. Sure, I recall watching Jurassic Park and even remember watching Jurassic Park III in the cinema as a child, but the sheer wow factor of the “dinosaur dystopia” in which Spielberg and co. had created never really excited me in ways that other films did. I recently watched the trilogy once again after years of them being in the category of just “seen it”, in order to discover whether my childhood had in fact been a complete disgrace, yet my feelings still remain the same. From a a much more mature and critical standpoint also, it was clear to see that the first Jurassic Park was clearly the best out of the trilogy, with it to this day still having moments of pure excitement and tension, but it then all being spoilt by its’ predecessors The Lost World and Jurassic Park III which were, let’s just say, nowhere near as good. So now, 22 years after the original movie, we have Jurassic World starring Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3), Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil) whilst being directed and partly written by Colin Trevorrow of Safety Not Guaranteed fame. Before entering my local multiplex, I was cautious of Jurassic World maybe carrying on the torch of another mediocre dinosaur film but as soon as the credits rolled it was clear to see this was definitely not the case. In fact, its’ almost as good as the original. Almost.

When scientists at the world famous Jurassic World theme park, located on the Isla Nublar, disobey rules clearly laid out in the first three Jurassic Park films such as DON’T MESS WITH DINO DNA, their new creation, the aptly named Indominus Rex, decides to go AWOL, leading to mass panic and mass murder on the island, forcing park manager Claire (Dallas Howard) and trainer Owen (Pratt) into finding a solution to prevent the death of not only themselves, but the 20,000 tourists stuck on the island with them. Seems like a pretty straightforward Jurassic Park style plot doesn’t it? And it most definitely is, but one of the things that I loved about Jurassic World was that it didn’t stop long enough for you to really care about the weakness of its’ plot with it constantly ramming up the dinosaur action up to eleven, leaving you continuously with a sense of breathlessness and feelings I probably should have felt when I watched the first film as a child. Not only does the tension hit home due to the surprising amount of bloodshed and death on-screen throughout, but also due to the expertly crafted dinosaurs that we are faced with. Each and every scene in which a dinosaur appeared was genuinely jaw-dropping and deserves a round of applause for the amount of precise detail that those tasked with the creation of such have adhered to. Top marks.

Of course, the film does have weaknesses, and weaknesses that have been current in the franchise from the start such as having quite a few incidental characters whom are used simply as cannon fodder for death-by-dinosaur on screen, and having an annoying tendency for making human beings seem actually quite stupid in the line of fire, but these weaknesses are glossed over by the sheer spectacle that is presented, with likable leading characters in the form of Pratt and Howard also doing well in solidifying Jurassic World as one of the forerunners in the 2015 blockbuster race. In a nutshell then? Miles better than the two previous Jurassic Park entries but maybe just below the original in terms of quality, Jurassic World is a bigger, bolder and cooler entry into an inevitably ever-growing canon of movies. Jurassic World, you have my endorsement.

Dan’s Score – 8/10

 

Josh – When I first watched the trailer for Jurassic world I was psyched. I had a lot of hopes for this film. Little did I know that what I was watching was the bloody highlights of the film!  Which did partially spoil the film. Yes this is done so often nowadays and I will always rant about it.Jurassic World

Yes being a Jurassic park film you can immediately tell the plot of the film, dinosaurs get loose, people get eaten, as the cast try to escape the island. That’s just what the films are about fair enough it’s good, however when it gets to the point you can tell who is going to get eaten  and by what it just loses all of the thrill and almost horror side which made the previous films all so enjoyable.

You would think after all the deaths and accidents from the previous films they would make more safety precautions to deal with the protection of guests. nearly all the way through the film I was face palming, if there was a desk I would be slamming my face into it I mean the stupidity of  characters its like they don’t realise that the dinosaurs eat people! Yes I can see them lowering the intelligence of the human characters in an attempt to make the “indominus rex” and the Raptors seem smarter but not like this! Also they know clearly state that the “indominus rex” can see thermal heat yet they still try hiding 2 inches away from it *face palm*. Also, little side note, Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, Beth somehow manages to cross all terrain from muddy grasslands to concrete while running faster then a T-Rex in high heels now I don’t wear high heels (in public) but I’m quite sure this is actually impossible. There are a lot more weird plot holes but I weld be here all day to mention them all.

Honestly I feel the whole kids characters to be slow and pointless and an attempt to copy the kids from the first movie. Also the character development was relatively poor to non-existent I mean the Nick Robinsons charter Zach’s whole thing with him staring at all the girls at the park was ridiculously boring and brought no plot development and if anything made him seem creepy. And the whole their parents getting divorced was already used in Jurassic park 3. It all just seems recycled. I will give it props to relating to the first movie at some parts to the film with the kids finding the old Jurassic park banner and driving the old Jeeps.

Though I do agree with Dan in that the first was by far the best out of the previous trilogy, however I would disagree with him in that Jurassic world is on par with the first. If anything I would say that Jurassic world has made Jurassic park look even better and they should have created more suspense in being hunted or made it seem more like a thriller.

So far I have been biting chunks out of this film, but I did enjoy it aside from all the plot holes and annoying characters it was good to watch. As mentioned by Dan when the dinosaurs were on the screen it was amazing to watch. The detail and action scenes were superb and thrilling to watch with impressive use of the surrounds such as the use of the holograms in stalling the Raptor. The magnitude of the dinosaurs are impressive and that’s exactly what I came to see, so much so I would actually like to watch it in 3D.

Josh’s Score – 6/10

 

Pete – Josh and Dan both bring very valid points to the table. I myself sit on the fence. As I was raised on these movies, they have a special place in my heart. They are so fondly remembered that I can’t help but watch them whenever they’re on. So perhaps my view of the latest is one of a spoilt critic with an expectation of greatness. Jurassic World lacked. It lacked the tension and the heart pumping excitement that made the classics, classic but it had throwbacks to the past that gave the sense of nostalgia. Yet here I am, with my ass on a white picket fence.

Jurassic World 1It lacked the tension for many reasons. The build was not long enough and the pay-off was a generic, predictable mess and happened instantaneously. It feels that the movie is a children’s one with an attempt to keep their minds focused on one thing for more than a few seconds without them pulling out their Iphones and playing Candy Crush. The need for the instant gratification ruins exactly what Jurassic Park is known for. Sure, the originals were PG but at the time, they were legitimate, scary thrillers. Now we have a 12A which sparks no fear or excitement. In many years time, I will show my kid(s) all of these movies and I could almost guarantee that the 4th will fade into their memory without a second glance. The only scene to really make me recoil was the abuse the kid’s guide got from a multitude of dinosaurs which was actually over zealous. Although the CGI was on point I would enjoy seeing more practical effects throughout.

Josh rightly pointed out the issue with the plot holes and this is really significant. Things are happening everywhere, but we never really finish anything up. No one talks about the women murdered by the Mosasaurus or the fucking owner of the park! The group that try to weaponise the creatures are whisked in and the need to classify information from the owner just confuses the plot even more. By claiming they have to use other creatures DNA to breed the dinosaurs, why is it that the hybrid has Raptor DNA? and why do I need to know about the childrens parents getting a divorce, how does that change anything and why is this child so fucking annoying? Among a host of continuity errors, I find myself mad that this happens so much and it was let out of the gate. Its either that the cut way to much, or more likely, they never finished. With production being back and forth for years, many ideas have floated about and some genius had the idea to smash them all into one and hope it did something. The general production suffers, not only the visuals but also the script and the music. With a script written by a child and music probably crafted prior to the film, nothing fits. Its all disjointed and doesn’t flow or create something magical and special.

I may be attacking this like a rabid dog but the reality is, this is a movie that has been created for the commercial reasons. They may claim its for the fans with a short appearance of the T-Rex but rather than targeting the original audience, you bombard them with more product placement than the Super Bowl ad break and pander to the child market so you can squeeze more money from the merchandise. Its feels cheap. As if they no longer value the franchise and want to abuse it like its into some sick dino BDSM.

There were parts I’m okay with. It was a blast to the past. It was something that I was raised on and the it has Chris Pratt in it. The rest is just a bit meh. Its one of those films that don’t stick. It lost its edge and for the love of god, stop using child actors whose character and acting suck. I feel too generous awarding it a 7 so I feel that a 6 is far more appropriate. Bring on the Lego game!

Pete’s Score – 6/10

Overall – 6.66/10

Jurassic World 4

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

 

Mad Max 7

Absolutely Anything – RELEASE TRAILER!

More trailer news!

This time we have a Monty Python take very reminiscent of Bruce Almighty in the form of Absolutely Anything. With Simon Pegg as lead and co-starring Robin Williams’ final performance as the voice of Dennis the dog. Looking like a very British comedy (obviously) the humour looks to be both crude and stupid with a far more realistic approach to what someone would do with the ability to do anything!

The movie releases August 14th and is the final appearance of the late, great Robin Williams.

Jurassic World – GLOBAL TRAILER

As you’ve probably noticed by the sudden influx of posts hitting the page, we’ve been inundated with trailers for the biggest hits on route.

Today we see the launch of the long expected Jurassic World trailer and finally catch a glimpse of Chris Pratt in his element among the Raptors and a quick flash of our big bad hybrid.

With a 190 million dollar budget, the CGI looks to be worth every cent.

Jurassic World arrives in UK cinemas this June!