MAD MAX: FURY ROAD REVIEW

The MAD MOVIE RANTER

mad-max-fury-road-poster2

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…

View original post 944 more words

Advertisements

*NEW* RIDE ALONG 2 REVIEW *NEW*

Ride-Along-2-Movie-Poster

The brothers-in-law are back. BUT bigger and better? Not even close.

As his wedding day approaches, Ben (Kevin Hart) heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James (Ice Cube) to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.

Kevin Hart stole the show yet again and did just enough to keep things watchable BUT memorable? Let’s be honest, the first Ride Along wasn’t perfect. It was silly, OTT BUT (for a good portion of the movie) funny. Worthy of a sequel? Not so much. BUT a smash hit at the box office meant one thing. SEQUELS, baby!

A promising opening sequence hit the ground running. A vast improvement from the original. Trading cliched cop guff for a hilarious Fast and Furious style stake out. It even came with a Tyrese Gibson cameo. I just wish more was made of it. BUT how was he going to compete with Kevin Hart in a ridiculous low rider?!

It’s just a shame that as this second helping chugged along, it failed to reach any level the original set. It was incredibly patchy and no where near as funny. Hart and Cube did their best BUT it wasn’t enough. Cube’s stone cold pallor got a few laughs and he did seem to lighten up this time round.

BUT the real scene stealer, other than Hart, was Ken Jeong (The Hangover). He wasn’t in this enough. From his nerdy improv to drunken madness, he was brilliant. When teamed up with Hart, they should have been as annoying as hell BUT it was comedy gold. Their stake out debates ranging from ranking Star Wars movies to Biggie or Sir Mixalot being the better artist delivered the chuckles.

Benjamin Bratt’s bland drug kingpin was weak. He delivered more sinister conviction as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. Olivia Munn (Magic Mike) was stunning BUT her character was terrible. Desperate to be the female equivalent of Cube and we all knew where that story line was going to lead. Besides, we already had Cube, we didn’t need another. She only really got to shine in the closing minutes. Too little, too late.

The pace and gags, like Kevin Hart’s shooting, were incredibly hit and miss. It didn’t help that we had a complete retread of Ben trying to win James’ approval. James desperate to see the back of him. Secretly hoping Ben will mess up the next mission. The lovely Tika Sumpter was tragically pushed into the background yet again.

The high speed Miami police chase sequence wasn’t bad with Ben having to visualize everything in a virtual Grand Theft Auto video game style. Signalling every direction he was going. Hart kept things above water. From flailing around in a silk kamino to pretending to be a demented foreign dignitary for his cover.

It just felt that for every good gag, there were a dozen duds. Hart’s dignitary spiel was funny BUT it was soon milked to death once he entered the embassy. The joke was dead and buried once a badly CGI’d croc was thrown into the mix.

The action sequences dragged on and failed to grab me. It reeked of desperation as the film rushed to its flat finale. We even had a regurgitation of the same old gag with Ben shooting another person by mistake. Really?

It was watchable enough and fun in places BUT the plot was dull and cliched to boot. And when the jokes fell flat, the film drudged along and the last 20 minutes really fizzled out with cliched speeches galore.

Move along, more like.

2/5

*NEW* MACBETH REVIEW *NEW*

macbeth-2015-poster-2

I think I’d rather fill my mind with scorpions than sit through this again.

Despite a powerhouse performance by Fassbender, Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of the renowned Shakespearean play didn’t quite do it for me.

Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland (David Thewlis). Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife (Marion Cotillard), Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

Fassbender (Steve Jobs) was brilliant. I couldn’t think of anybody better to take on the iconic role of the demented King. This adaptation brought back school boy nostalgia. Unfortunately NOT in a good way. Macbeth is certainly not the best Shakespearean play to break into for a newbie. This only reminded me of what an arduous chore it was to analyse and decipher the soliloquies back in GCSE English just to get the gist of what was going on.

Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography was sublime. It really made the murky Scottish back drop a sight to see. After a strong and graphic opening with the Thane claiming victory on the battlefield, the film soon set off on a snail’s pace. The elongated panning shots. The long stares. I could feel my eyes drooping.

Maybe I wasn’t as much of a fan as I thought. I preferred Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Hamlet. An overtly lavish and grandiose affair BUT at least it was riveting and mesmerizing. For a story of betrayal, greed and madness, not a lot happened. A lot of the gruesome stuff was told in the horribly droll speeches and never shown. That’s not to say I need gore to keep my attention BUT it was incredibly hard going, dull and drawn out.

As much as Fassbender’s performance kept things watchable, I felt Roman Polanski’s 1971 version tackled the subject matter a lot better and was much more engaging and accessible. The screenwriters tried to make little changes BUT it just didn’t work. The witches’ coven, for example. I always remember there being three. Instead we have an ensemble of women and children. BUT what was the relevance? None, apparently. Even more ironic when only three of them spoke.

Paddy Considine (Dead Man’s Shoes) wasn’t in this enough as Banquo. His absence was sorely missed in this lifeless affair. David Thewlis (Seven Years in Tibet) had the easiest job going as Duncan. He didn’t do a bad job for the two scenes he featured in.

Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) was the perfect choice for Lady Macbeth. A role I hoped she would sink her teeth into BUT she was far too passive and weak. I always perceived Lady Macbeth as this devious and influential mastermind. BUT in this adaptation, she did absolutely nothing. A shame. I’m not sure whether it was the writers or Cotillard’s interpretation of the role BUT it didn’t work and she didn’t deliver the lines with enough conviction.

It was strange to see Sean Harris (Prometheus) as a good guy. BUT his demeanour and performance as MacDuff made me root for Macbeth more. By the end of the play, I knew Macbeth had lost it. BUT whether it was down to a lack of chemistry from Harris or too much charisma from Fassbender, the drawn out combat sequence was a real challenge as my loyalty was already decided NOT torn.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to wash my hands clean of this mess. Tough viewing. Any newbies thinking of trying to approach Shakespeare on the big screen may want to steer clear. This is one for the die hards.

2.5/5

*NEW* POINT BREAK 3D REVIEW *NEW*

point_break_poster

What was the point?

A young FBI agent (Luke Bracey) infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists.

Woah. This was bad. I don’t know why I expected anything else. A needless remake of an iconic action thriller that did nothing to justify its production.

Now credit where’s it due. The opening was actually quite watchable and zipped along. A silly introduction made full use of the gimmicky 3D. Something I haven’t been able to say for the majority of these heavily flogged features. Bracey’s Utah blazing sand and gravel from his dirt bike straight out at the screen.

It was a little corny BUT it set up Utah’s thirst for adrenaline. A necessary skill set. Apparently. A botched stunt soon sets him on the straight and narrow. And we flash forward to the present with Utah now enlisted in the FBI. Woah.

Bracey (The Best of Me) was perfectly cast as Utah. And for the first 30 minutes, I was actually NOT hating it. He looked like a surfer dude and channeled his inner Keanu. Oh, how wrong I was. Like the great (and dare I say, CGI’d?) waves that Utah and Bodhi surfed, the pace meandered along and had little to offer in plot, action or quotable dialogue. Even the little nods to the original came off half-arsed. Okay, the President faces laminated on the motorbike helmets wasn’t a bad touch.

Now the heists were actually quite good. The special effects were brilliant. A fantastic sequence in which the suspected criminal gang of adrenaline junkies unleash millions of dollars from a plane stopped my griping for a moment. The 3D gimmick flickering dollar bills at my face. BUT the problem was that there wasn’t enough of these moments.

One good scene does not a good movie make. Ray Winstone’s performance as Pappas was dreadful. It didn’t help that he had to drawl out some cliched and incredibly naff dialogue BUT his character had nothing on Gary Busey. Speaking of drawls; was Winstone supposed to be American? His mish-mash accent didn’t work at all. Just keep it cockney, Ray.

Delroy Lindo (Gone In Sixty Seconds) was completely wasted in his role as Instructor Hall. He should have been in it more. His reaction when Utah tries to explain the incredibly hammy plot entertained me more than the rest of the cast.

Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Ultimatum) was always going to struggle to match Patrick Swayze’s charm BUT he didn’t do a bad Bodhi. A charismatic presence in a lifeless piece. His relationship with Utah didn’t have that natural chemistry like the original. It felt rushed and was cliched to death. The macho street brawls, ridiculous ‘hippy’ mantra and cheesy bro-mantic hugging was too much.

The pace dragged when the heists weren’t taking place. We had to drudge through droll dialogue, cheesy exchanges and a laughable plot line that went no where. Utah’s romance with Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies) was completely unnecessary. It added nothing to the mix and the pair didn’t even have the same chemistry as Reeves and Lori Petty (Free Willy).

The premise was weak. A group of adrenaline junkies attempting to complete a teaching called the Ozaki 8. Eight ordeals to honour the forces of nature. Yeah, I know right? The whole taking from the rich and giving to the poor spiel was fine BUT it was so obvious that it was Bodhi’s gang doing this and yet our hero couldn’t see it. Even when he was taking part in one of the crimes?!

Ericson Core’s cinematography made this like something out of a Michael Bay flick and there were a couple of decent set pieces BUT otherwise, this remake was terrible. Boring, predictable and thoroughly disappointing.

A washout indeed.

2/5

*NEW* CRIMSON PEAK REVIEW *NEW*

Crimson-Peak-Movie-Poster-2

A return to form (of sorts) from the master of horror.

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author (Mia Wasikowska) is torn between love for her childhood friend (Charlie Hunnam) and the temptation of a mysterious outsider (Tom Hiddleston). Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds and remembers.

As soon as the blood soaked Universal logo flooded the screen, escorted with the creepy children’s choir singing, I was transfixed. A wonderfully Gothic opening ticked all the boxes for me. Suspenseful, menacing and eerily beautiful as a young Edith (Wasikowska – Stoker) receives a spooky warning from her dead mother. The effects were fantastic.

The first act was slow burning BUT watchable as we flash forward to a now twenty something Edith striving to make a career as a writer. Dan Laustsen’s cinematography was stunning to look at. It really captured the epic and lavish set designs. The Pride and Prejudice melodrama with Edith trying to avoid marriage was a little cliched and slackened the pace BUT it was entertaining enough.

Charlie Hunnam’s Dr McMichael (Sons of Anarchy) was weak. I’m sure his bashful crime enthusiast was supposed to make the charismatic Sharpe look more appealing. BUT his character didn’t have to be such a drip. His Sherlock inspired ramblings didn’t get things going either.

As soon as the illustrious Thomas Sharpe made his introduction, my interest was properly Peak-ed. Tom Hiddleston (Only Lovers Left Alive) played the mysterious count with aplomb. Charming his way straight into Edith’s heart. The whirlwind romance and shotgun wedding was a little rushed. BUT luckily there was always a bigger plan afoot.

And once Sharpe’s strange sister (played by the ever talented Jessica Chastain – Mama) was brought into the mix, I was in for a suspenseful middle act. The whispering, the glances, Chastain’s cold demeanour. Once her muddled English accent was tuned, she was brilliant. She worked well with Hiddleston and the pair made a notorious duo.

It was everything I expected from the moment Edith stepped foot in Alderdale Hall. A wonderfully Gothic setting. A dilapidated manor with a haunting presence complete with rotten mould, decay and dead bugs. It wasn’t long (Thankfully) before things went bump in the night. It was hypnotic viewing. The mystery behind the Sharpes and the house kept me intrigued. The long Shining-esque hallways, the cold dark passages, the scuttling crimson soaked skeletons. Creepy. Brilliant.

BUT for all the mystery and suspense, I was left wanting. After all that build up and Del Toro toying with us, the big reveal was a little disappointing and predictable. Tragically, the final minutes were also a little laughable with Edith squealing and flailing around the ‘Crimson Peak’ estate. A shame considering the picturesque winter setting. The snow bludgeoned with crimson clay. Or was it?

The supernatural element was the redeeming feature as the ghosts desperately try to relay messages to Edith. The unearthing of the puzzle was fun enough as we tried to suss out Sharpe’s intentions. A little twist about the Sharpes was certainly different BUT it only created more holes in the already wafer thin plot. It was never really explained properly. A shame after all that promise.

This is a vast improvement from Del Toro and a return to form (of sorts) after the monstrosity that was Pacific Rim and the Fringe inspired vampire TV series The Strain. Crimson Peak was a wonderfully shot old fashioned Victorian horror story. The leading cast were superb, the cinematography was to die for.

BUT the pace meandered along and the end result just didn’t quite deliver a satisfying enough climax after all that promise. Watchable though.

3/5

*NEW* THE HATEFUL EIGHT REVIEW *NEW*

the-hateful-eight-poster-2

Well, I didn’t hate it. QT is back and bigger than ever. But better?

In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.

From the beautifully shot opening, I was entranced. The 70mm film format capturing the picturesque cinematography of QT stalwart Robert Richardson perfectly. The credit sequence accompanied by an original Ennio Morricone score (The first in 30 years) brought back that old school nostalgia of the classic Westerns.

However that nostalgia soon dissipated when Russell’s John Ruth crossed paths with Samuel L Jackson’s Major Warren sitting on a cushion of dead bodies. After an initially tense and intriguing introduction with QT’s chapters popping up left, right and centre, the first hour soon churned along at an agonizing snail’s pace.

There wasn’t enough tidbits, stylish dialogue or suspense to keep me going. It was almost mind numbing. I felt a sick feeling in my stomach. Russell, Leigh and Jackson were doing their best BUT it wasn’t entertaining enough. A running joke about Jackson receiving a letter from Lincoln did the job BUT I found the first act lacking. That was until they reached Minnie’s Haberdashery.

A grotty shack with even grittier lodgers. It really was a case of the waiting game. BUT was it going to be worth it? Trapped for the next few days during a blizzard, the tension bubbling. Each shady individual casually interrogated.

Russell and Jackson were superb. They had a real rapport and ran the show for me. Leigh was brilliant. A real rough looking menace with an acid tongue. It was great to see a good portion of the QT regulars popping up in this. What a supporting cast. However, some characters didn’t quite deliver as much as I had expected.

I have been a big fan of Walton Goggins for some time after some cracking turns in The Shield and Justified. QT finally gave him the platform he deserved as the gullible dim wit Sheriff Chris Mannix. He was perfect. His dumb theorizing and poor deducting skills delivered the laughs.

Tim Roth was great as the delightfully flamboyant Oswaldo Mobray. If anything, I wanted more of him in this.

Bruce Dern (Nebraska) and Michael Madsen weren’t quite as interesting as I’d hoped. Once Jackson delved into Dern’s past a little more, things got going BUT Madsen was a highly unmemorable red herring. Mumbling and grimacing away to no avail this time.

I was more entertained by James Parks (Kill Bill) as the unlucky stage coach driver O.B. and Demian Birchir’s (The Heat) Senor Bob.

At first, it had my curiousity. BUT once Jackson’s Major began to suspect foul play and connect the dots, it finally got my attention. It was funny how convenient everyone’s back stories were. Ruth conveniently bumps into the town’s new sheriff and hangman at the same time that he’s bringing in a huge bounty? Hmm . . .

After that insufferable and completely unnecessary intermission*, the second act redeemed itself. A tense little nail biter with a few twists here, some grandiose Jackson monologues there, and all the demented mayhem you could expect from a QT flick. It was bloody, violent and ridiculous. Typical of the man and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You really couldn’t take your eyes off it. Lulled into a false sense of security. The finale was every bit as outrageous and brilliant as I could hope for.

I was ashamed to doubt QT. It was always going to be tough to top Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction BUT this certainly wasn’t QT’s weakest effort. That honour goes to Jackie Brown or Death Proof.

Overlong and a little patchy in parts BUT once it going, it was everything you could want from a Tarantino penned Western.

3.5/5

*The intermission was a joke. I don’t know whether in the States QT did something special in those 15 minutes BUT over here, it did nothing. Probably didn’t help that the cinema had already closed the food and drink stand. Logic? None, apparently.

*NEW* JOY REVIEW *NEW*

tumblr_o0q3eyGhTH1v2wwqmo3_1280

I didn’t find much joy in this. A stellar turn from Lawrence did just enough to keep this mediocre mop yarn watchable.

Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is the story of the title character, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.

A silly opening with a dated soap opera parody didn’t really set the tone or get things going for me. BUT it did give an indication of what to expect. An OTT, patchy and drawn out affair. Jennifer Lawrence was superb and this piece definitely proved one thing. She is one talented actress. She had the charm and presence to carry this biopic along.

The endless soap opera sequences were unnecessary. I could get the connection that Joy’s life was like a soap opera. The dream sequence in which Joy became part of the soap would have sufficed. The repetitive use of it just hampered things.

Desperate NOT to be like her reclusive mother (Virginia Madsen – Sideways). Shut away from the world and reduced to watching soaps in her room. Madsen did her best with the role BUT she wasn’t given enough screen time or depth to make a proper impression. And that silly little subplot with Jimmy Jean-Louis’ (Heroes) Haitian plumber didn’t help.

Bradley Cooper didn’t do too bad in his ridiculously small supporting role. He was able to make such a weak character watchable with his sheer enthusiasm. He even managed to make the history of QVC sound interesting. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about the origins of the renowned TV shopping channel. There were some good little tidbits.

The real problem for me was that all this drama was over a mop? It sounds bad when you say that Joy is a biopic about the woman who invented the miracle mop. Plus you can’t help BUT question how much of this was exaggerated and given the David O’ Russell treatment. As much as we felt for Joy’s struggle to be accepted for something more than just a housewife, there wasn’t much on offer.

It wasn’t all bad. There were some engaging moments and if Joy really went through that turmoil then I still wouldn’t believe it. The back stabbing from lawyers, suppliers, QVC and even her own family. There wasn’t enough of Elisabeth Rohm (American Hustle). She was very good as Joy’s conniving half sister. I wanted more of that. The green eyed monster desperate to bring Joy’s empire down from day one.

Robert De Niro was on scene stealing form as Joy’s obnoxious father. Arrogant, petulant, a monster. It was a shame that he was pushed into the background by the end after dominating the screen from the get go. Diane Ladd’s Mimi (Chinatown) was a little weak. She was nothing more than a narrator. BUT there were still some nice moments between her and Joy. The only rock in Joy’s hectic life.

Isabella Rossellini’s Trudy (Blue Velvet) got on my nerves. Not so much her performance BUT her character. The silly questions she grilled Joy with before investing was stupid. “Do you pick up the gun, Joy?” She picks up the gun, apparently. I’m sure the dialogue sounded better on paper.

There were so many different characters thrown into the mix and none of them were really developed or explored enough. Joy’s relationship with Tony (Edgar Ramirez – Point Break) had potential. Faring better as friends than they ever did married. Still standing by her side despite everything.

For every high and low, you were still rooting for Joy to succeed (Despite knowing the end result). Especially in the closing act when things came to a head. BUT it helped to have an engaging character and a great actress at the helm. However, I was still left a little disappointed. After all that build up, it just ended. I mean obviously there was only ever to be one outcome BUT it just rushed to tie in everything after throwing several random subplots that went nowhere. Shame.

Not O’Russell’s worst. I still enjoyed this a fraction more than American Hustle. Lawrence was on fine form. The supporting cast did their best. BUT the overlong pace and structure made this an uneven and dis-joy-nted piece.

3/5 (Just)