*NEW* CREED REVIEW *NEW*

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We may have seen it all before BUT Jordan’s performance packs a punch and does enough to hold its own.

The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).

From the opening sequence, I knew Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) was the perfect choice. Prepping for a underground boxing fight in the deep Mexican underbelly. Built like a machine and punching walls to psych himself up.

Presence, charisma and charm. I knew he had the potential and Creed was the perfect platform. His back story had enough to hold its own. The boy desperate to forge his own legacy. The illegitimate son of a boxing legend. A hot head creating his own destruction.

The slow burning pace had the tendency to drag in places BUT I was still engaged as Don tried to make his own way from his tough upbringing. In and out of foster care. I felt his relationship with Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad – The Cosby Show) wasn’t explored enough. More could have made. Especially after rescuing the poor boy from a detention facility. She was only really brought back in the closing minutes after a harsh warning about following in his father’s footsteps.

The sparring sequences were done well. The little stats and figures flashing up over each boxer that Creed challenged was a good touch. Desperate NOT to use his father’s name, Don struggles to get any one to train him. That is until he gets in touch with an old friend.

Welcome back Rock. As soon as the Italian Stallion made his intro, I was hooked. Jordan and Stallone made a great duo. The usual training montages were funny and still entertained. The punching bag, the skipping rope BUT alas! NO meat punching in the freezers (Steady now) this time. Ol’ Sly’s running commentary kept things light. I was gutted after all the little nods to Rocky that he didn’t make Don drink raw eggs.

The problem was that being a Rocky fan, he was always going to steal the show. You really felt for the old boy as he sat alone at the cemetery reading the paper to Adrian’s grave. And when the Champ received some bad news, it got me a little bit. It was a fitting swansong for the iconic and ageing boxer. One of Stallone’s best performances from arguably one of his best characters. He was funny, charming and there were some genuinely touching scenes.

I liked the blossoming romance between Don and Bianca. Jordan and Tessa Thompson (Selma) had great chemistry. It was a shame that her character got pushed into the background as the film carried on.

Tony Bellew played the cocky light heavyweight champ Conlan to perfection. The perfect villain for the piece. Making money out of fighting a Creed. Despite Don only having one official fight under his belt. The fight sequences were brilliantly captured. You could hear and feel every punch. A bit of a contrast from the dated Apollo/Rocky boxing scraps. The camera angles were a little disorienting at times. You just wanted them to stay static and film the match.

Coogler did indulge in the schmaltz a little too much for the closing act. Johnson’s Rocky homage came off a little hammy. Running up a battered street with a bunch of kids on mopeds just didn’t quite have the same buzz as the famous step run. 

Some might argue that Creed is just a continuation. BUT is there any other way to tell an underdog story in boxing? If the characters are interesting enough, I’m happy to roll with the punches. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. As finales go, it was a little too corny. BUT you still couldn’t help but get caught up in it. Rooting for the underdog. Yet after all that build up, the big fight was a little too quick cut and rushed for me.

Creed tied into the Rocky anthology well and was even able to make its own mark. Very much like the protagonist. BUT that wasn’t going to be hard. Come on. Rocky III, IV and V were guilty pleasures.

A little predictable and corny in parts BUT a fitting swansong from Sly and a fresh blood performance from Jordan makes this worth a watch.

3.5/5

*NEW* THE 5TH WAVE REVIEW *NEW*

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Corny, dull, laughable. Another Hunger Games inspired mess floods the silver screen.

Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz) is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother (Zackary Arthur).

The premise seemed a little hokey BUT with Hit Girl at the helm, I thought this could be watchable. Oh how wrong I was. The first half hour wasn’t too bad and zipped along and after a strong and tense opener, my hopes were still quite high. BUT it just went downhill from there.

The quick cliched set up through flashbacks did the job. The inevitable high school guff was a little dull BUT was quickly skimmed through. Thankfully. Watching Chloe loving life, soccer and boys. Awww. Yuck. That was until the end of the world.

The four waves of attack were quite frantic and pacey. The CGI wasn’t too bad either as tsunamis consumed cities and the aliens made their tacky Independence Day introduction. The virus outbreak through strains of bird flu was an interesting prospect that was breezed over. Things looked to pick up when the aliens began to control the remaining survivors. Looked being the primary word.

Moretz did the best with her role BUT the cliched high school girl spiel can only be done so many times. She may have got away with it in If I Stay BUT it didn’t work this time around. Her droll diary entries put me into a mild coma.

Ron Livingston (Office Space) and Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy) were wasted as Chloe’s parents. They did their best BUT anyone could have played them. It didn’t help after all the promise of alien attacks, we were subjected to a mindless romance subplot that went nowhere.

Alex Roe played the charismatic stranger Evan Walker well. BUT the inevitable blossoming romance was nauseating. I was bored. I wasn’t interested. It might have worked better if it wasn’t so corny or laughable. The endless staring and cheesy exchanges was too much. A scene in which Evan is cleansing himself in the lake with his shirt off was hysterical. Come on.

I was more intrigued with the idea of kids being recruited as soldiers to fight off the enemy. A daunting prospect with children being the only ones able to detect who are being controlled by the aliens. It wasn’t explored enough or used to its full potential.

A shame considering Maria Bello (Coyote Ugly) and Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) were the leading authorities. Bello made a more memorable impression as the sinister sergeant than Schreiber. He was reduced to standing in a command centre and looking menacing. The guy can act. Let him. Dreadful.

Instead we had another dull subplot with Chloe’s high school flame Ben or Zombie (Nick Robinson – Jurassic World) endure military training. Robinson was a likeable lead BUT the cliched military montages and his clashes with Maika Monroe’s (It Follows) bratty army reject just slowed this piece down to a snail’s pace.

The twists, if you could call them that, were terrible. You could see them coming a mile off. This felt like another regurgitation of Hunger Games and Divergent with much weaker results. I couldn’t understand why this received a 15 rating. It wasn’t that violent or dark enough.

We know that Moretz can play a strong female lead. So why did we have a whiny, pining teenage girl? She only really got to step up in the final 20 minutes as she attempted to rescue her brother. A case of too little, too late for me. Rushing for a frantic finale that left everything open.

For those familiar with Rick Yancey’s novel, you already know that there’s more to come. BUT if the next offering is going to be anything like this feeble effort, then the plans for a franchise might be end quicker than the aliens’ plans for Earth.

And I thought The Host was a chore. An adaptation that earned no sequels. The endless teen bestseller adaptations is getting silly. Retreading and replicating the same old spiel. Give us something different. Original if possible.

Weak characters, a laughable story and a cliched premise makes this one to forget.

2/5

A LONG WAY DOWN REVIEW

The MAD MOVIE RANTER

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A little long at the tooth BUT a pleasant surprise. A well acted and cheesy little drama.

Four people meet on New Year’s Eve and form a surrogate family to help one another weather the difficulties of their lives.

If you can get past the rather dark premise (which is delicately dealt with), this makes for good viewing. Inadvertently contemplating suicide at the same place. Four strangers decide to make a pact. A pact NOT to kill themselves before Valentine’s Day. A strange, unexpected BUT entertaining journey.

It’s a little corny and the schmaltz does overdo it in places BUT a perfectly chosen cast does just enough to keep things watchable. The surrogate family angle was a nice touch. Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding) was brilliant as the over anxious Maureen. Imogen Poots (Need for Speed) who, at first was a little irritating, soon grew on me as the utterly bonkers…

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*NEW* THE LAST WITCH HUNTER REVIEW *NEW*

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Hopefully this will be the last.

The last witch hunter (Vin Diesel) is all that stands between humanity and the combined forces of the most horrifying witches in history.

I really wanted to like this. This had the perfect ingredients for a guilty pleasure. BUT all it did was leave me screaming like one of the tortured witches.

The opening was ridiculous. Come on, Vin Diesel with hair? Farfetched already. BUT it was watchable enough as Vin’s Kaulder and his band of miserable medieval men stake out a coven. Despite the frenetic violent sequence, it was too dark and disorienting to see who was doing what. I lost track of who was killing who? Heavy censorship to keep the 12A rating? Maybe.

It wasn’t long before our hero was cursed in the dying breath of a bizarre looking witch. Cursed with immortality. Flash forward to the present with ol’ baldy. Not sure what accent Diesel was trying to pull off BUT either way you couldn’t tell because he was so inaudible. His gruffest yet. He was far too serious for his own good. Laughable for all the wrong reasons.

Michael Caine’s priest was one of the better characters and he was barely in it! He quickly set up the back story about the truce between the witches and humans, cracked a couple of one liners and then sat this one out. His presence was sorely missed. Shame considering how well he worked with Diesel. They would have been a great duo and Vin seemed to lighten up with the old chap.

Instead we had Elijah Wood. Now, don’t get me wrong. I would have banked on Frodo to deliver the goods BUT his squeaky clean priest was too weak and annoying. BUT he didn’t come quite as close to irritating me as much as Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) did.

She tried to provide a much needed comic relief as Chloe the witch barmaid roped into Diesel’s chaotic world. BUT her voice grated against me and frankly did my nut in. I kept expecting her to say, “You know nothhhinggg”.

Julie Engelbrecht’s appropriately titled baddie Witch Queen was terrible. She may have looked the part with her messed up make up BUT she was far too bland and unmemorable to make a real impression.

I really hoped that this would have been like Constantine. That perfect balance of dark and crazy. BUT for the majority of the piece, I was bored. The pace dipped in and out. The story was weak. And even when the action kicked in, I had already lost interest.

That’s NOT to say it didn’t have its moments. BUT there weren’t a lot. A scene in which Diesel must get information from a witch at a fashion show allowed for a demented encounter in which the mirrors showed the models’ true reflections. I wanted more of that.

BUT even then the CGI tested Van Helsing levels. Incredible in one shot, cartoony and naff the next. There was a revelation 75 minutes into the movie which made the last 30 minutes a little more bearable.

Wood and Diesel’s partnership only got going in the final act. BUT even then the corny exchanges were too much. It was too generic, predictable, cliched and dull.

NOT Diesel’s worst BUT it wasn’t far off. I’m digging through my old DVDs for Constantine to erase the memory of this mess.

2/5

*NEW* HE NAMED ME MALALA REVIEW *NEW*

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An interesting if patchy insight into the influential teen.

A look at the events leading up to the Taliban’s attack on Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking out on girls’ education followed by the aftermath, including her speech to the United Nations.

A wonderfully animated opening didn’t really set the pace for me. BUT it showed the origins behind Malala’s name. Influenced by the Afghani folk hero Malalai of Maiwand who rallied the local people against the British soldiers in 1880. A touching but disjointed sequence.

Malala was an entertaining and engaging presence. It was a nice touch seeing her with the family. Laughing and joking with her little brothers who drop her in it at every possible opportunity. The first hour was slow burning but very interesting as the documentary flicked back and forth from the Yousafzai’s Birmingham retreat to the Taliban militancy controlling the Swat Valley in Pakistan.

We all know the story of Malala to some capacity. BUT I didn’t truly understand the events or the background that led to that fateful day. I didn’t realise what the Taliban were actually doing. Misinterpreting the Qur’an for their own agenda. Banning TV, girls’ education and women from shopping. Dictating from their speakers to the village below on what shall be.

I was shocked at what happened to her. Shot for going to school. It was tense watching her go through surgery even though we knew the outcome. To be so understanding and calm knowing that she might not be able to smile properly again or feel on one side of her face. Her Nobel Peace prize acceptance speech gave me goosebumps and with all the Cyruses and Biebers of the world, it was good to see a proper role model for the younger generation.

BUT as much as Malala’s defiance marked a turning point. There wasn’t much else to the piece. Repeatedly regurgitating the same news footage and providing different animated segments and cartoons of the same story got a little tedious.

It didn’t really feel like a rounded argument. Just one perspective. What disappointed me was that Malala was pushed into the background of her own story. We were force fed a lot of the same debate by her father who took a more prominent turn. I have to agree with some critics that the film seemed to lose its voice.

Understandably, this issue has only scraped the surface and for all of Malala’s campaigning, there is still a lot of work to do. Her tours around the world meeting significant political figures hampered down the pace and talking can only get things moving so far. It allowed for some surprising statistics as we explore other countries that share this backward way of thinking. 

This brave girl has done so much and she’s only 18 BUT as a film and a commentary, it felt incomplete. The pace dipped in and out and despite a cheesy and empowering message to the little ‘uns out there, it just didn’t quite fit the tone. Interesting BUT muddled.

3/5

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT REVIEW

The MAD MOVIE RANTER

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Awkward film altogether.

A talented cast do their best with the muddled material BUT it misses the mark completely. Corny, cheesy, predictable. A missed opportunity.

Efron plays the charismatic lead well as the typical commitment phobe and womaniser Jason. He quickly sums up the plot while freezing his backside off on a bench in the middle of Central Park. Some waffle about “So moment”. What? You know that so moment. So . . . where is this relationship going? Is it time to shape up or ship out? Move forward or move on. Cue a flashback and a mediocre movie. 

Miles Teller (Whiplash) played the oblivious Daniel with aplomb. Providing a much needed comic relief. We join the pair as they enjoy sleeping around with their “roster” of women. While Michael B. Jordan’s Mikey, a depressed 20-something married man has just discovered that his wife (Jessica Lucas – Pompeii) has been cheating on him.

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ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES * REVIEW

The MAD MOVIE RANTER

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Was it an Anchorman too far?

Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you’re doing and listen. Cannon- No, the verdict is in! The streets, I mean, the box offices will rain with Burgundy’s blood.

A mixed bag. From the get-go, it was random, mental and funny as hell. It ticked all the boxes; the epic voice over, the crazy soundtrack and all the original cast back. But bigger and better? Well . . .

The first 45 minutes were epic. I was worried that this sequel would suffer from a case of “all the best bits in the trailer” syndrome BUT the Winnebago scene was so much funnier than I thought it would be. In fact, some of the trailer tasters weren’t even used. For example when the news anchor…

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