RIO 2 REVIEW

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Enough silly animation to entertain the little ‘uns. A watchable, colourful sequel that fails to beat the original but just about gets away with it.

Here we join Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway), now complete with three loveable kids, as they trade the frantic festival city life of Rio de Janeiro for the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel (Jermaine Clement), and meets his most fearsome adversary of all: his father-in-law, Eduardo (Andy Garcia).

The animation is brilliantly detailed and very colourful, providing luscious landscapes which makes for great viewing. The story is hardly original but with likeable characters it just about gets away with it as everyone can relate to feeling the outsider or having to face their partner’s in-law or parent.

There’s enough action, gags and musical numbers to keep the movie flapping along nicely. Miguel Ferrer plays a relatively generic and stocky sinister logging constructor who is threatening to destroy the natural Amazonian habitat. Hardly memorable for the Kojak cherry lollypop sucking fiend. The real devil in this is the hilarious scene stealing Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords).

Always hilarious with his “altered” Shakespearean soliloquies and parody song numbers ripping a number of movies, it was a shame that Nigel was not in it enough. It felt like he was forced into the subplot a little. Luckily so.

His crew of misfits brought the odd laugh; the hyperactive poisonous frog with verbal diarrhea, the appropriately named Gabi (brilliantly voiced by Kristin Chenoweth – Pushing Daisies) and the silent Charlie Chaplinesque ant eater. Gabi’s infatuation with Nigel and song number, “Poisonous Love” was funny, if incredibly corny.

The cast bring the characters to life. Eisenberg and Hathaway convey the loving couple and Eisenberg is always good at playing the neurotic worrier, with his fanny pack in tow. The plot is corny, cheesy and predictable. What does stand out for Rio 2 is the supporting characters.

Will.i.am is dope as the pop-pop-poppin’ Pedro with the funky flapper Jamie Foxx. The talent show sequence was funny alone from the slow high-fiving tortoises, the wrecking ball swinging monkeys and a rapping Nicki-Minajesque sloth (Amy Heidemann from Karmin) that drops off after a rap that will have Busta Rhymes tipping his cap. Bruno Mars was hilarious as Roberto. His singing was decent, to be expected and his voice acting was actually pretty good as the lothario swooping in on Blu’s family.

However, certain characters were pushed into the background. George Lopez’s Rafael and Tracy Morgan’s dribbling pitbull, especially, were barely in it. While Tulio (I can’t believe it was 300’s Rodrigo Santoro) was unfortunately in it too much with his incessant squawking and stupidity. Andy Garcia was a surprise as the frustrated father-in-law. A nice change from the slimy slick roles we know and love him for. Leslie Mann also did her best with the limited screen time.

Not bad. Enough to keep the little ‘uns entertained for 90 minutes. If adults can get past the usual predictable guff then there’s just about enough to keep you giggling an’ all but hardly groundbreaking or outstanding.

Not the worst by a long shot but seen it a lot better. Got enough to keep flight but hardly soaring high or flopping like a turkey. Enough avarian based punnery, you get the gist. 2.5/5

Currently ranks #123 out of 168!

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THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 REVIEW

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The-Not-So-Amazing-And-Incredibly-Corny-Spiderman.

Stunning special effects and 3D trickery does not a good movie make.

Certainly made it watchable BUT with a gushy teen romance subplot dominating an overlong screen time, villains that hardly threatened or entertained and a plot that was nothing more than build up for another inevitable installment, you can’t help but question why they bothered rebooting it in the first place?

Now, I loved the Sam Raimi trilogy (well Spiderman 3 was watchable. Seen a lot worse. Let’s not forget Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin, guys).

Tobey Maguire was an excellent Peter Parker (although he has been subject to some hilarious memes for his infamous face pulling).

When I heard there was going to be a reboot, I was baffled. Why? No need. Just carry on from Raimi and replace the cast if they want to leave. However, Marc Webb’s first installment was actually quite good. For an origin story, it did something that quite a few comic book adaptations don’t and that’s go back to the source material.

Andrew Garfield was a very likeable lead and a cooler, more laid back version of Maguire’s Parker. For its two hour-odd length, I could have happily watched more. My only qualm was that the villain was a little naff and the story was rushed. BUT I wanted to see more. And here we are . . .

An exhilarating (if mental) opener delving into Peter’s parents “accident”, and Spidey dealing with a crime spree, delivered high hopes. Cheesy, watchable and entertaining. BUT that soon spiralled into mediocrity.

Garfield and Stone had great chemistry and were a likeable couple in the first part. Inevitably their chemistry turned out to be more and they’re a real life couple. However, this time, the teen angst and will-they-won’t-they?-back story felt repetitive, tedious and incredibly cheesy. The sort of syrupy stuff you’d expect to see in a Twilight movie.

The way the movie was promoted, I expected something bigger, darker, badder. Bigger? Certainly. Darker? Hardly. The pair do their best and the chemistry was still very much on. BUT it felt because of the teen gossip, Webb allowed a little too much time on them. I mean we had all that will-they-won’t-they? stuff in the Raimi trilogy with Dunst and Maguire. Been there done that.

This was supposed to be a reboot. Doing something different. I know Parker’s torn loyalty between the woman he loves and saving the city was always going to be at the forefront. BUT it felt slapped together. Even the uneasy tension between Parker and Stacey’s dad (Dennis Leary) went nowhere. He just kept popping up, grimacing menacingly.

The visual effects, the set pieces and 3D were fantastic with bits flying out (steady now) all over the place. The camera work as Spidey swung around the New York cityscape was fantastic. However when some of the bigger battles commenced, the CGI got a little much and cartoony in places.

Webb reduced Peter and Aunt May’s relationship to nothing. A shame considering he had Sally Field in the role. Anyone could have played her.

The lovely Felicity Jones (Chalet Girl/Cemetery Junction) was reduced to playing a stocky, generic secretary. The same can be said for Colm Feore (The Borgias/The Chronicles of Riddick). He made more of an impression BUT a nothingy role nonetheless.

The villains, on the other hand, in the words of George Takei, “OH MY!!”

Jamie Foxx did his best with the material. His nerdy counterpart Max Dillon was incredibly weird. If anything he reminded me of Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma from Batman Forever. His obsession with Spiderman, after a brief life saving encounter, bordered on creepyville.

However, once he transformed into Electro  (Fantastic visuals by the way), he got better. But memorable? The best villain in Spiderman history? Hardly. He came off more like a demented electrolysed Mr Freeze with a sore throat.

Don’t get me wrong. The fight sequences were decent BUT the dialogue and exchanges left little to be desired.

Marton Csokas’ evil scientist came off more like a pantomine villain. Paul Giamatti? What the hell? Legend that he is. His part was incredibly irritating and OTT. A change from his usual roles but really? The money must have been good.

Fair play to Webb for reworking the Osbourns. BUT Chris Cooper was reduced to a passing cameo as Norman. I know we had the talented Willem Dafoe BUT I would have been happy to see his portrayal. At least the origin of the Green Goblin was different.

Dane DeHaan (Chronicle/Kill Your Darlings) wasn’t a bad Harry. He looked shady enough with his slimy grin and slick back hair. BUT even ol’ squinty eyed Franco did a more menacing job. Plus the Green Goblin? Really? Again? I suppose he was one of Spidey’s biggest adversaries.

My main problem was that Spiderman was rebooted for its silly, OTT, ridiculous third installment. BUT this very film did the exact same thing. Bar a redeeming closing act.

I’m fed up of films building up for another one. The film I’m watching should make me want to watch the next one.

Garfield was still a likeable Spiderman that delivered some cheeky one liners. BUT the quick-witted banter was very hit and miss. It was all a little tame (Spiderman light) until the finale. An unexpected twist gave me hope. But it wasn’t enough.

I fear this franchise is heading for Schumacher territory. This ship needs moving into Nolan/Raimi waters or I fear it will sink. Get some better baddies and this reboot might just prove it’s worth.

At its best, watchable guff with some decent visual set pieces. At its worst, overlong, schmaltzy and all done before and much better. This Spidey fan is reaching for his bug spray.

2.5 out of 5!

THE LOVE PUNCH REVIEW

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I loved the cast. I just wish the gags had more of a punch.

It’s OTT, corny and absolutely ridiculous but fun enough with the odd laugh (BUT not as much as I hoped). However, one thing that this film does prove is that talented actors can make mediocre material much much more watchable.

Critically it’s a bit of a mess but for a cheap movie night, it’s worth a gander. So what’s it about? A divorced couple scheme to recover their stolen retirement money from a ruthless French businessman.

The opening chugged along as Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility/Nanny McPhee) and Pierce Brosnan (007! Come on!) snapped and griped at each other. Desperately trying to keep up appearances for their friends; the hilarious Celia Imrie (Calendar Girls/The Borrowers) and Timothy Spall (The Harry Potter franchise).

Brosnan and Thompson were a great pairing. They had good chemistry and you could tell they were having a laugh. Their bickering was certainly relatable and ticked all the boxes for any couple.

The realisation when their last child has flew the coop tied in with having to start all over again in their fifties was an interesting premise in itself. But that is soon thrown out of the window with a crazy crime caper that predictably reignites old flames and passions. Hardly a spoiler. It’s just that sort of film.

The supporting cast was a little disappointing. Tuppence Middleton’s (Tortured/Long Way Down) part was very flat and, to be honest, needless. Especially when some of the better jokes and screen time was spent on their interaction with their son Matt (Jack Wilkinson). An ongoing joke with a Skype conversation was actually quite funny. Great to see Ellen Thomas (Adoha from Rev) as Brosnan’s secretary. Kept expecting her to say “Hello Vicar!”. She manages to make a memorable impression in her two minute cameo. Shame.

The gag rate is very hit and miss. Spall and Imrie do deliver some of the better one liners from Spall’s random ex-war veteran tales to Imrie trying to handle a gun, “Hands up Melon Farmers”. The beautiful Louise Bourgoin was a stunner to boot but her character got incredibly annoying by the end.

Despite moving at an easygoing pace, the film does seem to run out of ideas and climaxes in sheer pandemonium. I mean this was never going to win plaudits for clever story telling but posing as American businessmen with the hope that maybe the slick French businessman Tom Morton (with a very mashed up accent) hadn’t met them before when he already had? Really?

It all gets rather silly and crashes into a ridiculous cheesy, predictable finale which downplays some of the more serious moments in which Brosnan and Thompson cross examine their relationship.

Without spoiling too much, there is a scene which perfectly shows what lies in store with this mad little movie. Both Brosnan and Thompson’s characters have allergies; Brosnan with cats and Thompson with flowers. They infiltrate a room which contains (what do you know) those very things.

The French landscape is shot beautifully. The content, well. At it’s best, a TV movie. But thankfully a well acted cast help The Love Punch get away with it. Almost reminiscent of the old sixties crime capers. Easy going, cheesy but dated.

A guilty pleasure if ever there was one.

2.5/5

THANKING YOU! OVER 1000 VIEWS!

Thought I’d check my little blog and found out I achieved over 1000 views from you lovely people. Granted I’ve had a chunk of views from spammers or “apparent” spammers; so if you’re not then apologies if I haven’t seen your comments. If you are, well get lost. Not bad for four months doing the odd movie rant. Much appreciated that you can join in the madness. If there’s anything I can do to improve the blog or rants, let me know. I randomly typed in Thank you videos and got Dido. So . . . enjoy, I think. What’s wrong with Dido? I like her. And she’s not bad to look at either. What? Oh shut up and accept my gratitude you mad bunch!

 

THE RAID 2 REVIEW

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The Dark Knight of Action Movies? Sorry guys not for me. The woes of hype and the dreaded sequelitis hinder a brutal tour de force of bone crushing awesomeness. By all means, it’s still one of the better films out there at the moment but at a whopping 2 and a half hours, some might feel they didn’t get enough blood for their buck.

Now, I loved the Raid. A friend recommended it. The premise was nothing special. Sounded like Dredd. A swat team hunt down a dealer in a tower block but what came next was something fast, frantic, furious and f- flipping awesome. The Raid knew what it was. Didn’t mess around. Quick set up of who is who. Bad guy. Good guy. Let the mayhem ensue. Leading to one of the best action films I have seen and no wonder it became a cult hit and no wonder that there would be a sequel.

Now finally getting the attention it deserves and a wider release, hype spreading like wild fire, the anticipated second serving is unleashed and unfortunately for me, it was a mixed bag. Now it would help to have watched the first installment and ideally quite recently as well; as I struggled in the opening 20 minutes to remember who was who. Kudos to Gareth Evans for actually attempting to tell a story and set up a plot. The flicking back and forth and a shocking opener had me amped up and ready. The general gist is that only a short time after the first raid, Rama (Iko Uwais) goes undercover with the thugs of Jakarta in an attempt to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force.

Once the flicking back and forth is dealt with and the premise set up, it does burn on the Bunsen at a low flicker which, to start with, works to its strengths. The plot set up juxtaposed between a worn Rama prepping for an intense prison punch up, delicately teases your blood lust and tests your patience. However, after a while, that latter part of the sentence soon grates on you as my eyes starting to wonder at the little hands on my watch. Evans is a maestro with the camera filming the fight sequences and like most big action movies, he wants you to wait. Feeding your action movie palette with little blood-curdling adrenaline pumped tidbits until that macho main course finale. However, what I liked about the first Raid. There was no need for that wait. I would happily wait if the story warranted the time. But for me, it didn’t.

The first half an hour in which Rama’s cover is set up was well worked and the prison sequences were fantastic. Tense, violent and brilliantly choreographed as Rama must earn the trust of the son of a kingpin, Uco (Arifin Putra) in order to work his way up the chain of command. Unfortunately, I have seen this premise done a lot better and a lot quicker. At first, endearing as Rama must distance himself from his family for their protection soon drags on and the next hour or so, is endless slow paced exposition with an intense five minute punch up or shoot em up, followed by more predictable back stabbing and droll exposition. A few twists pick up the pace, some unexpected, others blatantly obvious.

However, the final forty minutes. Now that is what I waited for. Bold, brash, brutal, gory, violent, breathtaking. The Bunsen is soon obliterated in a fierce finale with kick ass kitchen kick offs, crazy car chases and mindless violence. Check, check and hell yes! The car chase sequence was one of the best I have seen in a long time. Intense fighting and crazy driving surpassed the relentless CGI and intensity of the Matrix Reloaded by miles. Within the fight sequences, Evans created three memorable and soon to be cult classic characters that make worthy foes for our powerless protagonist. In the red corner, the shade wearing, hammer welding, alluring deaf assassin, Alicia or the appropriate named Hammer Girl (Julie Christie) and her baseball carrying nutter of a helper, the . . .  Baseball Bat Man (no, seriously, that is his credited name – played by Very Tri Yulisman) and in the blue corner, the double bladed bearing badass The Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman).

It may drag with predictable climbing through the ranks exposition at a questionable length but when it unleashes the action, this is where it excels. Evans still recruits a strong Indonesian cast and hasn’t tainted or given in to Hollywood pressures, except for one minor scene in which they unexpectedly speak English. The cinematography gives off a more polished look to its predecessor which makes it stand out so much more. So well done, Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono. The real wizards are the stunt teams and the cast who perform them. So in all in all, not bad. Bigger? By the end, definitely. Badder? The foes? Definitely. But better? Not to me. Slow, meandering, the film could have been cut by an hour and been so much better for it. Invest by all means just be patient and the pay off will be worth it. If you want it fast, furious and constant, then go back to the first. 3.5/5

Currently ranks #22 out of 165!

THE LAST DAYS ON MARS REVIEW

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The . . . last film they should do about Mars. Oh my days. The next contender for worst film of 2014 and we’re only into April. Shambolic. The pain endured watching this space turd was like having a xenomorph burst out of my chest and that still would have been more entertaining than this drivel.

Slow, tension less, shoddily acted, more holes than a sponge. This film should be jettisoned into space. Okay, rant over. Better? Better. It is such a shame that an underrated cast have the opportunity to shine in a perfect B movie-esque vehicle and miss at every angle. They could have done a shot for shot remake of Alien and they still would have messed it up. If it wasn’t for the fact it was funded by the BFI and Irish Film Board, this definitely wouldn’t have made it to the big screen and rightly so. The fact it’s only featuring at my cinema for five days says it all.

The premise (if you can it that) is basically; with hours before disembarking back home, a group of astronaut explorers succumb one by one to a mysterious and terrifying force while collecting specimens on Mars.

Liev Schreiber (X Men Origins: Wolverine, The Manchurian Candidate) – a highly underrated actor – grunts and grimaces through the dreadful script, desperately attempting to bring something to his wooden character, only to come off with a panto performance. His face pretty much shows the distaste. He looks like he knew how bad this movie was. Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense and soon to feature in the Swarnie macho movie Sabotage) is the most realistic and interesting character. Only because of the fact she was the only one who had common sense. Scientists trained to endure the conditions of space and creating ecological systems but can’t run away when their mutated colleague is trying to bash them with a hammer.

The opening starts off slow and I expected a tense build up brewing into a crazy finale but no! Every possible scene where a little tension could be created. They crush it. Skimming across or revealing the dark shadow before any suspense. All the clichéd one liners (We’ll be home soon!, You’re not going to die! And so on). The acting varied from bland to OTT. I mean *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* at one point the crew are screaming about their colleague falling down an apparent precipice and declaring him dead. No one checked how deep it was or if he was dead or alive by simply calling out his name. Nope let’s go straight to flimsy scuffs and yelling at each other. Terrific.

Elias Koteas (The Haunting in Connecticut, Let Me In) was wasted. Anyone could have played him. Romola Garai (BBC’s The Hour and Legacy) was nice to look at but incredibly dull, which was a shame as there was some chemistry between her and Schreiber. Johnny Harris (The Fades, This is England ’86) was disappointing. Typically shady and dark. An unexpected twist made a momentary shock before realising that it had no point and was completely stupid. Schreiber attempting to fight off the alien zombie things was laughable. “Fucking hell, stay down”. The make up on the aliens were awful. They looked more like those slave zombies from the Mummy movies. The special effects with the space ships and the stations was actually very good and great to look at.

Also *WARNING AGAIN* Schreiber’s character – for those who have had the displeasure of viewing this. The endless flashing back and forth wondering why he freaked out in dark spaces, only to find out something happened on the space station years before and he got locked in a pod. Bearing in mind, he was crammed in a tight space fixing parts and those buggies weren’t spacious. Absolutely stupid and ridiculous.

The last ten minutes brought the violence and a little bit of gore but only kept you intrigued for a minor moment before it’s let down by hammy acting, naff visuals and an inevitable and tragically shit ending. Shoddy acting, naff characters, no tension, throw in some recycled plot lines off naff B movies. The only thing it had going for it was the visual design but no matter how good it looked, it was still dire. AVOID. Even Mission to Mars was miles better than this. If you want to invest in a sci-fi movie involving Mars THEN GET TO THE INTERNET and watch Total Recall. Hell even the remake. Also the film is called Last Days on Mars and yet when we join them, they are 19 hours away from going home so surely THE LAST DAY ON MARS. Couldn’t even get the title right. 1/5

Currently ranks #163 out of 163!

THE QUIET ONES REVIEW

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The Quite . . . Rubbish Ones, really. A real shame, a rebooted Hammer brings us a jumpy, if tragically predictable and disappointing affair.

With the inevitable tag line, “Based on actual events”, we follow an Oxford University professor and a team of students in the 1970s as they conduct an experiment on a young girl who is believed to be possessed with a demonic force. I had so much hope for this. To be honest, horror films of late have hit an all time low, in every aspect, but the main one being scares.  I was relieved (how wrong I was) when I heard this little demon was created by the producers of the Woman in Black. A genuine suspenseful film that told a story and had scares. I mean it wasn’t that scary but the tension and performances were fantastic.

I hoped with the charismatic Jared Harris (Mad Men) at the helm of this low budget British horror, there could be something but alas it was not to be. It’s not a complete write off. I felt Sam Claflin (Hunger Games: Catching Fire) was a very likeable lead as our conflicted hero. Olivia Cooke (you may remember her from the inaccurate but surprisingly watchable hit, Bates Motel) was fantastic as the vulnerable victim. You do actually care what happens to the pair. The opening half hour builds up the suspense and sets the premise quite well. The unexpected jump here and there kept me on my toes. It made me for watchable viewing. You felt for Cooke’s character as she is interrogated like a Guantanamo Bay victim; forced to stay awake with the endless droning of Slade. I mean, come on it’s bad enough at Christmas.

The sultry Erin Richards with her diva-ish antics is easy on the eyes but nothing else. In terms of story, there isn’t much of one and when plot points are revealed, it’s quite obvious and uninteresting, most notably *FLASH! SPOILER ALERT! SKIP PAST PARAGRAPH IF INTERESTED IN VIEWING* on the reveal of a former patient’s identity. All the build up and flicking back was merely a device to spew up some much needed scares. Where the pace went along quite well, it meandered by the hour marker. Harris is entertaining, if incredibly creepy as his intent to disclaim the supernatural pushes him to the brink. It inevitably occurs in one creepy house. It was nice to see the film try and recreate the old school horror but that is soon thrown out of the window in one scene as we get a handheld camera sequence. Really? I mean, okay, Claflin is carrying a big arse camera but the effect still reeks of Paranormal Activity. Come on, we’ve had a franchise of that. BE DIFFERENT!

There’s enough tension to get the cheeky nibble on your nails or excuse to look at your mate to see if they’re scared, while waiting for impending jump moment. However, it all builds up to the same old guff with the expected, but still makes you bloody jump, last second scare. Once it’s all done, you sit back and think it wasn’t that scary. Not going to be dashing in the house and flicking on lights. It’s been done to death time and time again. Need a break altogether from this genre. Wait for us to miss these or . . . learn from them and make something much better because I know we can. Come on. 2.5/5 for me.

Currently ranks #120 out of 162!