INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 REVIEW

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Spook me once, shame on you. Spook me twice, shame on me. Spook me thr- If you can do that, then you’re doing something right.

They still got it! The third (Well, first) installment of the relentless Insidious franchise haunts the silver screen yet again. And let’s just say, I wasn’t screaming for my money back.

A prequel set before the haunting of the Lambert family that reveals how gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) reluctantly agrees to use her ability to contact the dead in order to help a teenage girl (Stefanie Scott) who has been targeted by a dangerous supernatural entity.

If you had asked if there were any decent horror films about these days? Insidious and The Conjuring would have probably been the only examples my brain could muster. Okay maybe Paranormal Activity (The original and the third at a push).

I went in to the first Insidious expecting nothing after so many demonic duds and was rewarded with nail biting tension, jumps, a story and characters I actually gave two monkeys about. Understandably it fared well. Bringing back the old school haunted house horror genre with a bang!

I liked how writer/director Leigh Whannell put a fresh spin on the whole thing by incorporating the idea of the paranormal dimensions and The Further. It really stood out for me even when the scares may have been a little lacklustre. Inevitably a sequel was soon green-lit and a franchise was born.

I won’t spoil too much for those who haven’t seen the other films or Annabelle (The less we say about that, the better. The only disappointment of Whannell’s creepy collection). If anything, this would probably be the best one to start with.

Recurring characters and little references may spoil the experience a little but you can fill the blanks quite easily. BUT the opening of Insidious 3 didn’t really get things going and I could feel my hopes wading fast. NOT even the opening score that used to scare the living daylights out of me did anything. It seemed like someone had forgot to turn the volume on. Normally, I dread the opening titles. Can’t remember. Let’s remind you . . .

A weak Lin Shaye performing a reading with Scott’s peppy acting student was cliched and slow. Not a great start. We had to watch minutes tick by as Scott spoke about her family and the recent passing of her mother. It was all by the book and predictable.

The broken family dynamic with Delmot Mulroney’s dreary (No seriously. Was he on something?) dad unable to cope was unintentionally comical. Scott’s flirty exchanges with the boy next door. Sigh. Boring. Thankfully Whannell didn’t bother focusing on that love angle at all. A relief.

BUT then strange things began to happen. Weird figures waving (No seriously. What was the deal with the waving?) Disappearing and reappearing. AND out of nowhere. BAM! One nasty accident. The film found it’s form. And I was an anxious mess.

Before I knew it, the jumps flew in thick and fast. The tension and suspense may have been predictable but it still got my heart racing. The sly hand across face to wipe hair that wasn’t there. Just in case something lashed out from under the bed or something.

Scott played the role well and managed to make a memorable turn. It was just a shame that her character was so cliched and when she had the leg cast, there wasn’t much she could do. If anything, this wasn’t really her story.

It was the story of one of my favourite characters in the franchise, Lin Shaye’s medium Elise Rainier. As soon as she appeared in the first Insidious, I was intrigued. A well written character that had an interesting and mysterious back story.

Whannell finally shows us that very back story that the previous two merely hinted at. He also creates a new creepy demon to give people sleepless nights with The Man Who Couldn’t Breathe (Michael Reid MacKay). The demon that has taken a shine to Scott’s Quinn.

Despite a slumbering start, Insidious Chapter 3 did something that other horror films have failed to do. Keep me interested. It was tense, suspenseful and creepy. You could argue the build up was predictable. The figures in the curtains. The faint little voices. The OTT and incredibly loud movie score making you tremble if the scare didn’t.

BUT believe me there were a quite few scares that got me. Normally I can sit there and deliver a countdown before a jumpy bit emerges. Not this time. It’s good when you fear that all the best bits have been flogged in the trailer. Only to be proved wrong in the first 30 minutes.

For Insidious fans, we finally understand Rainier’s reluctance to help the Lambert family from the earlier films (No, get this right. Later films). If anything, you have more respect for her. Either that or you’ll think she’s even more bonkers for venturing into the Further again.

Tom Fitzpatrick’s The Bride in Black makes a very unwelcome return. Only because the b*stard kept making me jump. No seriously, he made me jump twice doing the exact same thing. And be warned a certain Darth Maul looking like demon does make a surprise appearance.

The only problem with The Bride in Black was that the more he appeared, the funnier it got. An encounter with Rainier should have a pivotal moment but it came off like something out of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. I would show the clip BUT the horror, the horror!

And of course, we get to see how Rainier got together with Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). Their presence did lighten things up but didn’t spoil anything. To be honest, the film was strong enough without them but it was nice for Whannell to make everything come full circle.

The pace may have been patchy. The opening a little slow. More could have been made from Rainier’s past. BUT once it got going, I was one happy horror fan. And I felt the film got stronger like it’s demented host as it drew to it’s frantic (and slightly corny) close. I actually preferred this outing to Insidious Chapter 2.

And you know what? I can’t wait for another spooky encounter.

3/5

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ENTOURAGE MOVIE REVIEW

 

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The boys are back but bigger and better than ever? I can answer that in one simple word.

VICTORY!

My mates were always going on about this show. 8 series and a Golden Globe. It must be doing something right. With trailers for the movie popping up left, right and centre, I thought let’s give it go.

4 series boxsets later and I’m hooked. It’s not as if viewing the series is a MUST for newbies or non-Entourage fans. BUT what I love about Entourage is that it is so easy to get into. A simple premise. Four friends trying to make it in Hollywood.

You get a sense of the guys within the first few minutes. There are a few in-jokes from the series and recurring characters that do pop up (Thank you Mr Ellin) that might skim over the heads of the noobs. BUT you can still connect the dots.

It got straight to business and it felt like they never left. The only difference is that Turtle isn’t fat. The lads were on form. The celebrity cameos are endless. The story . . . Well, let’s forget about that, shall we?

So what happens this time? Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), together with his boys Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny (Kevin Dillon) are back in business with super agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) on a risky project that will serve as Vince’s directorial debut.

Just when things seemed to be going so well. Vince has to put a spanner in the works yet again. Over-spending budgets, inflating costs, manic financiers. This won’t be a walk in the park.

Grenier played Vince with aplomb but, this time round, he seemed to be very much in the background. Strange considering he is the main focal point. BUT how many times can we watch him pull crazy hot models? This time, it’s none other than the Blurred Lines music video pin up Emily Ratajkowski.

Turtle’s love story with Ronda Rousey may have seemed like filler to break up the main story line but the pair had enough chemistry to make it watchable. I haven’t really rated Rousey’s acting in the past but the MMA maestro won me over. She even stole my heart. Maybe because she was able to let her guard down and poke fun at herself. A misunderstanding with Turtle at a dinner date leads to him making the ultimate apology in the Octagon. Brilliant.

Dillon. Ah man. He was always the scene stealer for me as Vince’s half brother Johnny Drama. Forever lurking in his shadow. Desperate to make his own mark. Will Drama have his day? His one liners were snappy. His warped outlook on life and crazy face pulling delivered the laughs yet again.

Connolly finally got to lighten up as Vin’s moody manager E. The will-they-won’t-they? rift between him and Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui) seemed a little old hat (For old and new fans). Mainly because you always knew what the outcome was going to be. I was a little annoyed with E’s subplot because more could have been made out of it. A few crazy flings led to an incredibly awkward lunch date (Without spoiling too much) but it was resolved way too easily for my liking.

BUT there is one character. One monstrous personality that the guys would always fall short to every time. The man, the legend. Ari Gold. Piven was perfect. The guy must be tapped. Fiery, frantic and flipping mental. Every time he was involved, sh*t went down! His put downs, his tantrums, his banter with E. I was in stitches. His breakdown during a therapy session (Another one?!) had me howling!

His ongoing battles with movie stars, writers, studio heads and executives were always the biggest highlights for me. And after 8 series, you’d think it would be getting old. BUT nope! They still got it.

The cameos were crazy. It really is a case of blink and you will miss them. Anything from Liam Neeson’s sardonic drive by, Arnie Hammer’s pyscho greeting, Kelsey Grammer’s miserable marriage counselling to Pharrell Williams. The list goes on.

I couldn’t believe Billy Bob Thornton and Hayley Joel “I can see freakin’ dead people” Osmont were in this as Ari’s crazy Texan film financiers. Osmont has grown up (Obviously). Big, bearded and a bad ass. He was a real piece of work in this. Bravo. Not enough of Thornton for my liking in a rather subdued role.

The claims of Entourage being a sexist fantasy was a little much. Had people forgotten that despite Ari’s outrageous ego, his wife Mrs Ari (Perrey Reeves) still rules the roost. Constance Zimmer’s Dana Gordon is in a highly influential role in the business that Ari desperately needs. An area he never could crack.

The girls, the cars, the mansions. It’s nothing I wouldn’t have expected from the four guys from Queens. It’s not as if the ruthless side of the industry wasn’t highlighted in Ari’s endless confrontations with the boards, stars and agents.

It was never thought-provoking drama. It was always an easygoing glossy comedy with celebrities poking fun at themselves. Some might say lazy, pretentious even. BUT I thought it was fun. It really was just a feature length episode. And one of the better ones.

I liked all the little references and a return of a fan favourite *COUGH* LLOYD! *COUGH* (No, not Billy Walsh. Thankfully that mad cretin was very much in the background) Rex Lee was back and on fire as he gets ready for his big day. In the words of Ari, “OH GOD!” Also, no spoilers but do hang on during the credits for a little treat.

The film certainly wasn’t perfect. The plot was wafer thin and things did get a little too serious in the middle slackening the pace of what had been a snappy comedy. Emmanuelle Chriqui wasn’t in it enough (What? I liked her character) BUT it was everything I’d hoped. An absolute riot.

A side note to the fans, it seems to be all wrapped up. BUT I’m still not quite ready for it to go. It would be a major VICTORY if Ellin would consider a sequel. And if they stay at this standard, more please!

3.5/5

THE LONGEST RIDE REVIEW

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It really was the longest ride.

Easygoing enough but memorable? Another Nicholas Sparks adaptation hits the silver screen and it’s everything you could expect.

Schmaltzy, cliched, predictable and far too bloomin’ long!

After an automobile crash, the lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man (Alan Alda), as he reflects back on a past love.

As you might not have gathered, these sort of films are not my cup of tea. They will always be corny and cringe-inducing BUT I’m happy to keep my thoughts to myself if the characters are interesting enough. Or the story.

Okay, the characters were not that interesting. Or the story. BUT the cast played their parts very well.

Scott Eastwood (Yes, the son of the legend of all legends Clint Eastwood) will soon be in the scopes of young teen girls everywhere. And for the lads . . . Britt Robertson.

I’m kidding. I was happy to see Robertson take on a leading role. She even managed NOT to annoy the hell out of me. Her turn in Tomorrowland left me anxious. I didn’t think she would be strong enough. BUT she excelled in this. All aided by some cracking chemistry with Eastwood.

I cannot believe how much he looks like his old man in his hey day. Crazy.

Robertson and Eastwood did their best with the ambitious career-minded college girl meets rugged daredevil rodeo cowboy love story. It really is as predictable as you could imagine. Not to say there weren’t moments to be enjoyed. When the leads were allowed to break free from the bland rom drom checklist, they were brilliant.

BUT their romance was always going to play second fiddle to the other (and slightly more interesting) love story of Ira and Ruth. A car crash and one befuddled (and incredibly old) Alan Alda later and we are thrust back to the 1940s.

Alan Alda (M*A*S*H) was brilliant. Bringing a much needed sincerity to the miserable pensioner Ira. A man who lost his love. It isn’t long before a slow burning but charming journey is set. Robertson begins to read all the letters that Ira wrote to his wife over the years.

Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) and Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones) were fantastic together. Chaplin played the vibrant and passionate Ruth to perfection. The woman that would change the life of a shy store clerk for the rest of his life. Aww. Yuck.

Their story was hardly groundbreaking but we see their initial introduction and their blossoming romance. We laugh at their highs and get a little teary eyed at their lows (If you’re into that sort of thing). The pair do endure some struggles along the way which made for some interesting moments.

BUT it never really hit the heights I expected nor was it as dramatic as I hoped BUT the will-they-won’t-they? with Eastwood and Robertson soon became nothing but filler by comparison.

Their relationship ironically hits little snags alongside the retelling of Ira and Ruth’s. A perfect example being when Eastwood’s cowboy is invited to an art gallery. He soon makes his views known with the pretentious admirers. One of them being none other than Jeanie from ER. Ol’ Gloria Reuben. Yes, I’m a ER fan. Make of that what you will.

There wasn’t a bad supporting cast. The soon to be Supergirl Melissa Benoist managed to make a memorable turn as Robertson’s crazy college room mate. BUT more could have been made with Lolita Davidovich as Eastwood’s mother. She seemed too passive and laid back but with a son so stubborn, passivity seems to be the only route.

The problem with these sort of films is that no matter what hardship the couple endures, the result is always the same. I’m not for cynical and miserable endings but to do they have to be so sugary sweet?

The closing minutes were unbelievably corny BUT nicely done. A little side story from the ailing Ira came full circle and made a nice surprise. I will stay as cryptic as possible with that one.

I haven’t read the book and this . . . doesn’t make me want to BUT if you love romantic dramas and easygoing stories than I can think of worse ways to kill a couple of hours.

But unlike the adorable romance of Ira and Ruth, I don’t think this film will stand the tests of time. The cast do their best and have cracking chemistry but we’ve seen it all before.

2.5/5

MR HOLMES REVIEW

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Can one of Britain’s biggest screen icons take on one of the most iconic literary figures? The answer is elementary, my dear movie minions.

Sublime. From the moment, the stern sleuth corrected a child on his error for mistaking a wasp for a bee, I knew I was for in a treat. A superb performance from Sir Ian McKellen.

An aged, retired Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) looks back on his life, and grapples with an unsolved case involving a beautiful woman (Hattie Morahan).

I’m not the world’s biggest Sherlock fan. The endless entries and reboots in both TV and film, despite having two charismatic leads, in Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch were overlong, over-hyped and needlessly complex. Watchable enough.

However, this take on the man behind the myth made for good viewing. McKellen’s charisma really carried the film as Mr Holmes attempts to recollect the details of his last case. The case that he never solved and forced him to exile to the pastoral countryside.

If you’re expecting an affair like the RDJ movies and Cucumberbatch TV series, you may be left disappointed. This is very much a slow burning yarn as Holmes must re-evaluate his life’s work and come to terms with his own mortality.

They really made McKellen look old and haggard. I mean obviously the screen icon is 76 but it’s mad how a few more lines and a hunched posture can change everything.

The story line flicks back and forth. Each flashback a little disjointed piece of a bigger puzzle. The only niggle I had with the continuity is that McKellen only looks a few years younger when the case is supposed to be 30 years old. Tut tut tut. McKellen can act as spritely as he wants. He can’t hide those greys. But only a niggle.

The structure worked really well as each development of the case coincided with a development in Holmes’ condition.

The case appears relatively simple. A suspicious husband curious of his wife’s activities. BUT of course in typical Holmes fashion, not everything is as it seems.

Hattie Morahan (The Bletchley Circle) played the wife well. BUT the case, for all its anticipated mystery and suspense, was a little disappointing. The puzzle solving was fun enough. BUT the unravelling wasn’t really that riveting or as rewarding as I hoped.

I was left wanting. There was one sobering moment that did surprise me. BUT the fantastic supporting cast were not used to their full potential and that was down to their poor characters.

Frances De La Tour (Rising Damp) certainly did a better job at a German accent than she did an American one in Survivor. BUT for all her flamboyance, the character was merely a weak red herring.

Roger Allam (The Queen) did the best that he could with his stoic doctor role and Philip Davis (Vera Drake) was merely a passing cameo with his detective. Shame.

What did stand out for me was the myth breaking of the man. The jokes about his deer stalker hat and pipe were brilliant. Merely for McKellen’s reaction. “I don’t smoke a pipe! I like the occasional cigar”.

I did get a chuckle as the miserable mystery man laughed at one of his latest screen offerings at the local pictures. Tutting and sighing away at the stupidity and inaccuracy of it all. His constant complaining of Watson’s exaggerations on his appearance, cases and life were entertaining.

Holmes’ memory loss made for sombre viewing. Forced to write dots in a diary when he forgets a name, place, date. It really hit home when Holmes couldn’t even remember the name of the housekeeper’s son Roger (Milo Parker) whom he had grown fond of. Quickly looking to the name he had written on his cuff.

McKellen and Parker were brilliant together. A stubborn old man versus a deductive, energetic fan. Parker will certainly be one to watch for the future. A strong performance. I really liked their relationship and it lightened the tone of a very serious case. A surrogate Watson, if you may.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I was too impressed with Roger’s mother. Laura Linney’s housekeeper was a mixed bag. I loved her in The Big C and I certainly felt for her character as she struggled to keep up with her son’s developing intellect. BUT what didn’t help was that her accent was so muddled. She really couldn’t grasp it and you could tell. It really grated against me. Each line felt like the bellow of a strangled cat. Well, maybe not that bad.

The story did lag in places and dither into random tangents which did have me questioning, “Where was this going?”. A quest for a miraculous herb known as ‘Prickly Ash’ in Japan felt a little out of place. BUT it allowed for a harrowing, if brilliantly shot sequence as Holmes ventures through the aftermath of Hiroshima.

It also unearthed Holmes’ desperation to fight his ailing condition. Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai)’s herb finder role seemed too tame and a thin subplot involving his father didn’t seem to make much sense.

However, the final quarter was unexpected. And all the little questions I had soon fell into place rounding everything perfectly. I went in expecting nothing and was rewarded with something more. I just wish that Holmes’ last case was much more memorable for the cast and the man. BUT the closing moments were written brilliantly and acted to perfection.

McKellen is everything you could imagine. The cast did their best. The case left little for desire.

BUT I would still recommend.

3/5

SPY REVIEW

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I Spy a surprisingly entertaining comedy.

A desk-bound CIA analyst (Melissa McCarthy) volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer (Rose Byrne), and prevent diabolical global disaster.

McCarthy takes on the spy genre and it’s everything you could expect. If you’re a fan, that is.

I love McCarthy. The Heat was one of the funniest films I’ve seen in quite some time. BUT then she made Tammy. A major step backwards. When I first saw trailers for Spy, I feared the worst.

And as the opening sequence began, my anxieties were justified. Jude Law’s Bond doppelganger Bradley Fine (Nicely done) was certainly entertaining enough. Delivering the naff punch lines with a cheeky wink.

McCarthy’s analyst commentary was a little flat. Her swooning over Fine was a little bland for my liking. And when their room was infiltrated by a swarm of bats from the ventilation shaft, I could feel my hopes fading fast. Not even Miranda Hart was doing it for me. (Comedically speaking. Oh, grow up).

And the opening theme song was awful. Clearly a homage to the classic Bond movies BUT they could have made the song funny or done a proper one. A little weak. Sung well though.

BUT as soon McCarthy was brought into the fold, things got a lot better and a whole lot funnier. The supporting cast were a mixed bag in every which way.

I really thought Miranda Hart would be a lot more irritating. I loved the first series of her self-titled sitcom Miranda but she soon regurgitated the same old spiel for two more series and really killed off the buzz. She was excellent. I expected a lot more silly buffoonery and endless collapsing with the occasional faint spell. There was only one moment where she got carried away as a bodyguard.

Otherwise, she came out with some corkers and worked really well with McCarthy. The pair complimented each other perfectly. And Hart’s unexpected hook up with a celebrity rapper was the most random and funniest thing I’ve seen in some time. NO SPOILERS on the rapper but what a good sport.

Jason Statham. Where do I begin? I have never lost the faith with the Stath. If I was wearing a hat, I would take it off to the chap. It’s great when you get to that stage in your career that you can play a parody of yourself. He was hilarious. Imagine Jay from the Inbetweeners with spy status. His endless BS and bizarre stories that get crazier by the minute had me in stitches.

His endless attempts to swoop in and save the day and belittling put downs on McCarthy took things up a notch when the film seemed to get a little too bogged down with the story. He was like a Crank-ed up Clousseau. A completely different side to the British bad ass.

Rose Byre looked stunning (if a little thin) as the villainous Rayna Boyanov. Even with a strange bee hive on her head. Cue endless one liners from McCarthy on that one. Her put downs with Byrne were great. “Did your father get you to dress like a slutty dolphin instructor?”.

McCarthy’s reactions and improvised banter got a lot more laughs than I expected. Sometimes when she is let loose, it can be very hit and miss. Most notably when she tries to play the tough guy. BUT her confrontation with a Swedish contact reduced him to tears and me. Fantastic.

There were so many set pieces. And the stunts were not bad. If anything, they were relentless. Seriously, Paul Feig wasn’t afraid to throw some carnage in there. The pieces were made better by the fact that McCarthy was doing them.

Her normal woman spiel really worked for this film and balanced the ludicrous humour and mad set pieces. When she tries to jump into a scooter and tumbles over, it shouldn’t have worked as much as it did but I was in stitches. “Why do you have a roof on these things? Who do you think you are? The Pope!”

I couldn’t believe that a certain Ukrainian dance group that featured in Eurovision a few years back made an appearance during a Parisian gig sequence. No spoilers. *Cough* DANZEN! *Cough*

Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead) was great as the eccentric Italian contact, Aldo. His infatuation and sexual advances on McCarthy’s Susan. Words escape me.

However, there were a few things that let the side down.

Morena Baccarin (Homeland) was reduced to a nothingy role. Merely the spy candy that Hart and McCarthy despise. She didn’t look even that great and her character was highly unmemorable.

Bobby Cannavale managed to make more of a impression with his weak Bond villain in the fiery finale. For most of the film, he was non-existent. His mincing about in a pursuit chase did get a chuckle.

Alison Janney’s hard ass CIA boss role was so bland. It only worked because she would pass McCarthy’s new identities. Seriously every one brought a smile.

The story was weak. The whole double crossing/triple crossing spiel was predictable. It may have happily poked fun at the endless spy plots from yonder years but it wasn’t really that interesting and slackened the pace and killed the jokes.

It was OTT, manic, random BUT funny which covered the dud gags (which there weren’t a lot) and to be honest, those two hours flew by and I came out smiling.

Mission Accomplished, Ms McCarthy

3.5/5 (Just)

JOHN WICK REVIEW

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Woah! If you’re looking for a half decent action flick, I’d pick Wick.

An ex-hitman (Keanu Reeves) comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Reeves’ deadpan delivery and ultra-serious demeanour have finally found its home.

This is probably the best I’ve seen him act in some time. His whispery voice, stone faced pallor and wooden delivery suited the mystery action man.

What I liked about John Wick was that it didn’t mess around. It set the premise up and got down to business. The only gripe I had about the opening was that it was a flashback. We watch Wick collapse to the floor bleeding out while looking at a video of his wife.

It wasn’t necessary and while everything else was entertaining enough, that little niggle kept reminding me that this was all a flashback. The hitman will get hit.

Wick gets the adorable little beagle within the first few minutes. And loses him with fifteen. I kid you not.

We get a sense of the isolated life that John has made for himself straight away. You could relate to his frustration and aggression quite easily. His angry test track burn out on an empty airfield demonstrated that perfectly.

I expected more flashbacks or flickers between him and his wife. Bridget Moynahan (Blue Bloods) had the easiest job going. What is it with directors giving talented supporting actresses meaningless roles? An extra could have played her part.

Now I must reiterate that this is not just a revenge movie over a dog. Apologies to the RSPCA lovers but the dog is merely a symbol of John’s love and grief. The fact he was not allowed to grieve.

That right metaphorically taken from him in the form of a bludgeoned beagle. The death was off screen and done as subtly as possible for anyone who doesn’t fancy seeing a little pup punished. So John seeks out vengeance on the idiots who thought it was funny to cross him.

If anything, it was all over a car. A Mustang. Wick didn’t want to sell and Alfie Allen’s cocky spoilt gangster brat Iosef Tarasov REALLY wanted it. What a fool. He really picked the wrong guy.

Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) may be getting type cast at the moment with playing creeps but he does it so well. A snarly little toe rag in desperate need of a slap or two.

The mystery surrounding Wick and his past are never really explained or explored. It’s infuriating in one instance but great in another. I loved the respect and code of honour among the gangsters and assassins in this seemingly ruthless and cutthroat business.

Michael Nyqvist (The original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) was superb. A perfect adversary to Wick. His reaction when his son informs him that he has stolen from Wick. Fear, terror and anger.

The build up was just right. The gangsters preparing for battle. Wick breaking up a hidden briefcase with gold and guns under his concrete floor. You know. The usual.

The gold? Some strange currency that the assassins pay each other off with. Baffling. A gold coin here and there. No questions asked.

I like to have everything resolved. It’s not as if everything wasn’t self explanatory. BUT I wanted to know more about the underbelly and society that Wick desperately tried to escape. Not bad for a shoot em up. I actually wanted to know more about the story.

The hotel was an interesting set up. It added an extra dimension to something that should have been a bog standard actioner. The establishment even has rules. No killing without cause or authority. Mental.

There was quite a good supporting cast. Shame that some weren’t really used to their full potential. Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) was stunning as the sultry assassin out to break said rules. Ian McShane (Deadwood) was pretty much Ian McShane but played the hotel owner Winston with aplomb. I wanted more of him. Scene stealing at every chance.

John Leguizamo and Lance Reddick (Fringe) were reduced to small roles. They did their best with the parts. Reddick with his stern prowess as The Hotel Manager being a particular highlight.

Considering Reeves is 50, he can still kick an ass or two. Not quite ready for the Expendables scrap heap yet. If a Matrix reboot (Because let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time) was ever on the cards, he could still do it.

The fight sequences were fast, frantic and furious. If a little repetitive. There are so many hand gun combinations you can do in a fight scene without them being flat out ridiculous or just tedious.

It was a lot better than I expected. Violent, brutal and mental in one instance. Mysterious and intriguing the next. The pace may dither in parts and the end result was always going to be a predictable one but I can certainly commend the writers for trying to do something a little different or at least make it worth watching.

3/5

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD REVIEW

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Mad doesn’t even come close.

Feel the fury of the merciless car chases. The Road Warrior is back. But badder and better?

In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max (Tom Hardy), a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

George Miller brings his Road Warrior to the 21st Century. Rebooted, rejuvenated and relentless.

Hardy was the perfect choice. On paper. I felt his performance was a little shaky. His interpretation was a little disjointed. I’m not sure whether it was down to Miller’s direction or what?

Hardy seemed too mechanical. He barely said a word. Which wasn’t a problem but when he spoke, it was drivel. I preferred Mel Gibson. He may have played the mystery man but he did have some charm and charisma.

It didn’t help that Hardy had that metal mask on his face for the first 45 minutes. Badass, yes! BUT he looked like a post-apocalyptic Bane. He must be born into these roles 😉

John Seale’s cinematography was something else. Absolutely breathtaking. He really brought Miller’s dream apocalypse to life. Miller made full use of that mega million budget to make his future apocalyptic wasteland.

It’s great watching the original Mad Max trilogy before hand. Fans will know that it was all building up to this. I was still debating whether it was a reboot or a sequel.

If you are unfamiliar with the original films then it isn’t essential at all. But for MM fans, the car was there? So was it a reboot? The voices and the vision of the child asking Max to save them felt like a reference to the trilogy? So a sequel?

Either way, not a MUST!

The set pieces were intense. I was impressed by what Miller had done with the original trilogy. Proper cars, proper chases. For the majority of the action, it was still in that vein BUT on a biblical scale.

However, as with all blockbusters CGI inevitably makes an appearance. I only saw this in 2D. You could tell what bits would have been in 3D and to be honest, I’m a little miffed that I missed my chance.

BUT it also made everything look way too cartoony. The CGI in the sandstorm sequence was too much and killed the intensity of the chase. It was worse than the dated props and dummies of the 80s.

The Mad Max franchise may have been starting to show its age and what do you expect after 30 years?! It was always strange. I loved the nihilistic undertones. Dark, brooding, haunting with the right level of silliness.

Miller just cranks it up to 11 and revs the engines for sheer balls craziness. From the off, it’s fast, frantic and violent. I was hooked. Merely because it doesn’t give you a chance to take in all the quick-cut editing and sweeping shots.

Hugh Keays-Byrne was brilliant as the demented Immortan Joe. The patriarchal leader that rules all. Controlling the water supply. Turning it on at small intervals to watch the slaves fight for thirst.

And of course, in typical Mad Max fashion, he sends tankards out on quests to seek . . . that most precious of substances, gasoline!

Nicholas Hoult was superb as Nux. The ailing obedient servant hell bent on earning Immortan Joe’s respect. He really has excelled from About A Boy and Skins. Delivering another scene stealing performance.

There were a couple of angles that did intrigue me. The idea that this strange colony abduct people from the road and use them as blood bags was messed up. The weird mythology that Immortan Joe enforced about Valhalla was laughable.

I felt like I was on drugs watching the thing. His servants getting pumped before a gasoline siege by spraying some weird chrome stuff over their mouths while praying to the Gods of V8? What a lovel- strange film! And that dude with the guitar? WTF?! To remind you. Un pic below:

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I know the film has sparked debates with its feminist context. I merely review films but the idea of women against the patriarchy certainly made this installment stand out a little more. And let’s be honest Mad Max fans, it had been heading that way.

Let’s not forget Tina Turner’s surprising turn in Mad Max: Beyond The Thunderdome and maybe forget the Hook Neverland kids vibe in the last part.

If anyone could play a strong female defying the odds and breaking free, I couldn’t think of anybody better than Charlize Theron. She was very good as Furiosa. Immortan Joe’s most valued servant. Or so he thought.

My main issue was that the supporting ladies had such unmemorable characters. Zoe Kravitz was very weak. I think the only one that stood out was Rosie Huntington-Whitely (No, not because she’s the model. Although . . . NO! Focus) BUT because she was the only one who had a teeny tiny piece of back story to support the rather weak story line.

There were a few twists along the way. Miller may have lost it with the OTT demented silliness BUT he still wasn’t afraid to shake things up when the pace seemed to lumber. And unfortunately, it did in parts.

For MM fans, I felt that Fury Road was a revamped Mad Max 2. One of the best installments in my opinion. Immortan Joe felt like he had been torn from the same cloth of Lord Humungus. He even had a stupid and memorable mask as well!

The musical score by Junkie XL was incredible. I don’t normally commend movie soundtracks but it really made the chases that much more dramatic and engaging. Exhilarating and frantic. Very much like the movie.

I just wish there were more memorable supporting characters. The endless visions, hallucinations and flashbacks that Max experienced were really annoying. The more they popped up with that annoying kid, the more I could feel my patience wading.

Max only really got to shine in the last 20 minutes. I’m sure that was the point but Max was always the one you were routing for. The underdog. This time, you have Furiosa. Max just seemed so bland. He got lost in the mix. BUT how could he not with this demented wasteland?

Mad. Not at all. I was hooked. The action was intense. BUT Miller could tone down the craziness and crank up some plot and characters for the next post-apocalyptic western. Maybe.

3/5