“You Asked Me How Far I Would Go To Protect My Country. Whatever It Takes…”
It comes across wholly ironic that in a week in which we see the big budget release of Alien: Covenant, the sequel to 2012’s Prometheus and a sequel in which does not include the wholly reliable face of Noomi Rapace who declined to participate, that the Swedish born actress turns up in Unlocked, an action-packed spy thriller directed by Michael Apted, perhaps most famous for the Pierce Brosnan led The World is Not Enough, and the type of movie which belongs entirely within the realms of straight-to-DVD mediocrity. Of course, the coincidental notion of these two films being released side by side might not mean anything whatsoever, but in terms of further advancing the career of Rapace, it doesn’t exactly compute why such an esteemed actress chose Apted’s laughably poor action raspberry of a movie rather than the Ridley Scott led sci-fi epic, a movie which although is nowhere near a masterpiece in its’ own right, when put up against Unlocked comes across as some kind of 21st century work of art. With a cast which indeed includes the likes of Rapace, John Malkovich, Toni Collette, Michael Douglas and Orlando Bloom, yes, Orlando Bloom, Unlocked does boast an incredibly strong payroll but with a narrative which is woeful as it is unintentionally hilarious, Apted’s latest is perhaps the least enjoyable time I’ve had with an action flick since, well, last week’s Sleepless. Not exactly a strong week for films.
After stumbling into a double crossing, trust bending, terrorism plot, Noomi Rapace’s shock-filled London based CIA agent is thrown violently back into the fold, shooting her way through building after building in order to establish the real play-makers behind a massive biological threat. Cue exposition galore, over-dramatic cameo performances and plot strands which edge of the side of cinematic malpractice, Apted’s real ace in the hole comes in the form of Orlando Bloom who appears half way through the action, conveying the tattooed, grungy, untrustworthy ex-jarhead who enters with a gold pass into the hall of worst cockney accents ever alongside Don Cheadle and Dick Van Dyke who are there to keep him company in the ways of mastering the voice of the East-End. Not only does Bloom win the award for worst cameo of the year so far, his character ultimately is entirely inconsequential to the extent that his existence is some form of contractual agreement to allow Bloom to garner a quick pay check after seemingly disappearing into thin air over the past few years. Unlocked is obviously awful, and although the narrative does threaten to entertain around the twenty minute mark, Apted fails to hold such attentive themes and constructs an action flick so poor that you pray for the likes of Gareth Evans to direct every action movie ever from now on.
Overall Score: 3/10
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Moving on to the actual meat of this post. Finally, after a year, the next instalment in The Hobbit series has finally arrived. Pumped up with the exciting news of Legolas coming back and busting some Orc butts, I was thoroughly prepared for moments of badassery and witty commentary. However, that is for a little later. My hopes were high for this movie. I have even put off releasing a “Top 5 of 2013” list until this was released. Unfortunately, it was a wise decision. My expectations had clouded me and left me grasping for more meat on the apparently succulent bones.
Getting right too it, one of my annoyances was the year gap between the movies. If you don’t have the time to re-watch the previous films in a series, it’s no easy feat to remember where exactly it all left off. But ignoring this fact, it is very easy to get into the swing of things when the travellers didn’t actually get very far. Considering that the story is no considerable difference in the movie apart from them FINALLY making it to the mountain of the Dwarven kingdom and the introduction of a few new characters.
The new/returning characters are really good to see. They hold enough screen time to really illustrate their stories and build upon their roles. Hopefully, it will continue into the next instalment as some characters were unfortunately lost in the mix and easily forgotten when you’re jumping from 4 or 5 different locations. My personal favourite from the Lord Of The Rings series is and will always be Legolas. He is wise, courageous and generous to those around it. Surprisingly, he holds more of a grudge on the outside world and orcs. Appearing distasteful at the thought of dealing with matters that do not concern his people. Coldly indifferent and yet struck by love for Tauriel, of which she is not permitted to react to by his fathers orders.
The elements really do show a much darker side to him. Something a little more raw and interesting, especially when moments refer to Gimli (Having not met until the Fellowship of the Ring, Legolas makes a joke about one of the dwarves son who is Gimli!). Now obviously, Legolas is not at the forefront of the movie, although he is a bit of a gimmick to draw in more sales, we do see this for other characters. Smaug; the giant ass dragon that is reputedly voiced by none other than Cumberbatch. I use the term reputedly for many reasons, one being that they did so much work to his voice, it sounded NOTHING like him. Genuinely, I couldn’t tell it was him. If I had to pick out of a list, I would have picked the hulking great big dude with the awesome moustache, not the lanky, fairly intelligent (I presume) Mr Cumberbatch with the face of a babies ass. Ben, as I shall now call him, also voiced the Necromancer, who also sounded nothing like him! Once again, as we see with Legolas, he is very much a tool to draw in money to fund Peter Jackson’s need for overpriced cameras.
On the topic of overpriced cameras, which I would like but can’t afford but would kindly take to any offer that chooses to come my way, WHY THE HELL ARE YOU USING GO PRO’S!? I shit you not, a sequence which involves a lot of water, some barrels and general chaos was plagued by disgusting shots that dives under the surface with a lacking resolution and quality compared to the rest of the entire film! A big budget movie can afford something far more advanced than a GoPro. Don’t let a boy do a man’s job. I’m also incredibly shocked by a lot of the CGI. At points, it was saddening to watch. Nothing fit into place and never reflected the light and surrounding effectively, thus making them obscure and vividly annoying. It’s easy pickings but could have been avoided easily. It’s almost as if they handed me a fish on a silver platter and begged me to slap them with it because they have some kinky fetish. The rest of the footage was half decent and the CGI that went into Smaug was fairly impressive. Shame it was never transferred equally.
Now to the cast! We have a really big range of stars that perform their roles brilliantly. No qualms can be brought against them. Although he held little screen time, Luke Evans (Bard/Giroin) was a possible favourite of mine. He maintains an air of mystery that I hope is explored in the next film. Stephen Fry pops in for a short role, completely juxtaposed to the Fry we know and love. A pig of a man, driven by greed with an unkempt moustache and wardrobe to boot. It’s great to see him play someone vile for a change compared to the typically nutty guy who is always on the good side. According to IMDB, even Stephen Colbert made an appearance as is rumoured for the next film too.
The question to be asked about the Lord Of The Rings franchise is what draws us too it? The magical world?, an exciting story?, or just pure action? Personally, I feel it’s always been the perfect combination between all points and the action was always something that excited me. Vast battlefields and skirmishes across middle earth. The brilliantly choreographed fights that built upon elements of light hearted humour in a dark world in some of the most aggressive wars. We still have elements of the epic fights and action with the comic relief within them but we also have to deal with much slower action. The cause, blame and my hatred falls upon 3D. Because fast images in 3D will cause motion sickness and can’t be viewed easily, the scenes have to be longer to counter this issue. This also causes another issue. I prefer 2D. I tend to despise gimmicks and my beloved Hobbit has been tainted by it, marginalising those who watch it in 2D who notice the loss in pace.
Finally, one last point. If another movie ends with a cliff hanger as big as this, then demands we wait a year until the next part, I may have to sue for emotional compensation. I think my overall score for it will be a 7/10. I didn’t want to be so brutal but I can’t agree with the IMDB public vote on this one. There were too many issues for me to simply ignore.
So, yeah. Tell me what you thought of it in the comment section and if you could subscribe or share this about, it would be much appreciated!
Here we are, welcomed yesterday with the new trailer for the long awaited 2nd instalment in the trilogy. Finally we make it to the dwarven kingdom and awaken Smaug, how it ends it debatable but its nice to have the group back. Personally, I’ve not read the books, only little snippets and bits from games. Yet, I never remember Legolas returning to aid, but as my favourite character from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s great to see him back! Just looking at the trailer we begin to see that the action has stepped up and looks to be an exciting thrill-ride. Now, we have to wait for December before we get this, but seeing that the whole series was shot in one period, you would assume that it could come out earlier and we wouldn’t have to wait a year for each film!