THE EQUALIZER REVIEW

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Denzel + Hit Girl = a dull long winded action flick. Redeemed by a few moments of carnage.

The Equalizer or Man on Fire 2 (if Creasy chose retirement and decided to work in a DIY store) proved one thing. That Denzel Washington is still very much the man.

He provides yet another powerhouse performance proving why he is one of the best actors going. But I fear he may have taken too much on with this one.  Normally you can bank on Washington to carry films that (on paper) may be a little lacklustre but this really did test me.

Washington’s presence certainly makes this just about watchable but it’s still a disappointing mess reprieved by two good performances and some moments of mayhem.

An agonizing coma-inducing opening did not help matters. We get an idea of Washington’s life in a few shots that should have taken up a couple of minutes not twenty. It meandered along as Washington keeps up appearances blending in and trying to maintain a peaceful (and incredibly boring) life.

It was incredibly clichéd and predictable as Washington banters with the staff. That and a tedious subplot in which he helps his best friend Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis) train for his security guard exam. However, his little improvised dance routine is one I will be busting out the next time I hit the town.

Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick Ass) and Washington worked well together. You felt for her character instantly but the constant café meetings to build up a relationship that was clearly established just further slackened things.

I was waiting for the inevitable incident that would activate Washington to take action. An incident that would put Moretz out of action until the closing minutes when she pops back up as a mere afterthought. It’s surprising to see how grown up she has become but anyone could have played her. Anyhoo . . . By the 45 minute marker. FINALLY things got a little bit more interesting with Washington cracking skulls, taking names and dispensing B-movie one liners.

To be honest, every time he glared and tortured someone, I saw Creasy. The frenetic fist-fighting was a feast for any action junkie. The only problem is that the disposing of unmemorable henchmen was dealt with too quickly.

One niggle that irritated me through this. The Equalizer’s thing was his timing. In one particular scene, he threatens to dispose of the East (Or West. Not relevant) Coast Russian mafia in 16 seconds. Washington does his business in a bloody and incredibly violent fashion. BUT in . . . 30 seconds?

This happens constantly. He says 90 seconds to one person and takes five minutes instead. Is Washington getting too old for this shit? I may not have seen the famous TV series starring Edward Woodward (The Wicker Man) but messing up one of his hallmarks does not bode well.

The final 20 minutes made up for a film that desperately wanted to be cooler than it was. The DIY Die Hard sequence offered everything I expected throughout the film . . . NOT just for the ending. I am happy to wait for the violence and destruction.

BUT only if there is enough story or something going on that’s worth filling in that time. 132 minutes is far too long. The action that was delivered was fast and furious. Washington can most definitely still play the hardened action movie veteran.

Antoine Fuqua may have reunited with Washington for their second outing but Training Day, this ain’t. All the other supporting characters were so unmemorable and clichéd that it frustrated me. All except for Marton Csokas (XXX)

He was absolutely brilliant. A worthy adversary to Washington’s peace-keeping protagonist. His lines may have been hammy in parts but Csokas’ expressions and dead pan delivery made him a villain to remember. His presence in every scene created tension and suspense. Something that was much needed.

After commending David Arbour (End of Watch) for his performance in A Walk Among The Tombstones, I found his character in this very dull, passive and generally unnecessary. David Meunier (Justified) made a more memorable turn in just one scene.

I was annoyed that we barely scraped the surface of McCall (Washington)’s past and the only taster we get is a boring encounter with Melissa Leo telling us what we already knew. And Bill Pullman? Remember him? President of America in Independence Day (Or the dad in Casper). A mere chess playing cameo? Terrible.

Washington makes it rain with quality acting, charisma and some fist-fighting, blood curdling violence. Csokas offers a villain that makes up for the lumbering pace. However, all it made me want to do is watch Man on Fire.

It got there in the end but boy, oh boy. If the credits suggested another one in the pipeline, get a better storyline. Or least some more action. Give it a go but me . . . I’m going to get Man on Fire out of the DVD cupboard.

2.5/5 for me.

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INTO THE STORM REVIEW

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Into the Bore-m for me. I knew I was heading into something stupid but this is just ridiculous and not even the good kind. A concept that was promoted as Twister meets The Day After Tomorrow and yet this turgid drip of an affair managed to make them look like epics by comparison. Oh my goodness.

The special effects are brilliant. That is when the shaky camera work focuses enough to actually see what’s going on or when it decides not to suddenly stop recording (The budget must have ran out). You know you’re in trouble when the highlight of the film is two dumb red necks with a Go Pro camera trying to get a million views on YouTube.

Look, I know that these films are supposed to be big and dumb. The sort of films you switch off and bask in the action and visual imagery. But for the opening 30 minutes of an 84 minute film, I was force fed corny, clichéd characters that grate on you with predictable and trashy hokum in a lazy attempt to feel some emotion. All the generic stereotypes are there. Geeky video club student with daddy issues. Hasn’t spoken to crush. Chooses the last day of graduation to try one last gesture to show affections. That and restricted video footage of little freak weather occurrences in the form of heavy rain and screaming high school students. Eurgh.

Now I accepted all the ridiculous scientific mumbo jumbo explaining why there are four tornadoes hitting one spot and when we finally get to see the storm hit full force; it’s watchable and suspenseful enough. It’s just a shame I couldn’t give a stuff about any of the characters. I was praying that a stray cow may take a couple of them out for me (Yep, there were cows flying around. Lazy) Nathan Kress (you may remember him from iCarly) was one of the more memorable characters with his witty banter and comedy commentary. Any other movie, it wouldn’t have worked.

This reeked of a straight to DVD B-Movie with TV actors chucked in. The main actor that I was surprised was actually dragged into this was Richard Armitage. Must have wanted to top up his bank balance in between Hobbit movies. His accent is impeccable but he plays it straight faced which makes him incredibly bland and comes off more comical than it should. A stain on his other wise reputable movie career. Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead/Prison Break) plays the attractive meteorologist that no one listens to. She spouts her clichéd background and random weather terminology with as much gusto as she can but let’s face it, who cares? The lines are bland and flat. The characters are stupid and irritating.

It’s so stupid that the situations that the characters find themselves in are so unrealistic. I mean for an example, the crew have a tank called The Titus (the all singing, all dancing advancement in weather combat blah blah blah). A tree lands on it. The doors are still accessible. In all fairness, the Titus is a cheap knock off of the Bat Mobile from the Nolan universe. So instead of running round and getting into the still accessible Bat Mobile, I mean, Titus. What do our crew do? They run 300 yards in the opposite direction to a tatty old church where the impending fire tornado is spitting cars like rain (A cool little scene of special effects).

But little moments don’t prevent what is a dull and laughable affair. I can laugh because I have a cinema pass but if I had to pay for that, I would be livid. I mean they have a camera man (Jeremy Sumpter – Peter Pan/Friday Night Lights) whose scared of thunder and lightning?! Films can’t go on like this with lazy writing, moronic characters that are so droll and predictable and the hope that some glossy blockbuster effects will cover it up. If you want a stupid B-movie, then invest. But if you’re expecting Twister . . . then go rent or buy Twister

1.5/5 for me

Here is a video simulating my reaction after seeing said film

GODZILLA REVIEW

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Godzilla? God help us. I really wanted this to work but yet again another reboot fails to hit the mark by it’s hero’s gargantuan tail. A drawn out, plot holed mess that if not for a promising 15 minute finale would have been a complete fossil. This poor piece of dino doodoo goes out with a yawn than a ROAR!

When I heard that Gareth Edwards, the man who gave us the low budgeted apocalyptic cult creature feature Monsters, had been green lit to direct the Godzilla reboot, I was excited. Monsters gave us a taster of his visual brilliance. Granted the story was nothing new but give him the right material and a bigger budget and Godzilla could be something. It is such a shame that I report that even with an impressive cast, this film will sink and should stay in the underwater prison that kept Godzilla away for most of the movie (You read that right).

Bryan Cranston does his best to make the technical mumbo jumbo sound interesting and plausible. Hell, the guy even speaks Japanese. But you can’t help but feel it’s just Hal from Malcolm in the Middle as an engineer. Especially when he is running, panting, and screaming quite high pitched. It’s all unintentionally hilarious. I mean it was always going to be hard for Cranston to find a suitable follow up project after the excellent Breaking Bad.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I actually preferred it’s ridiculously corny and OTT 1998 blockbuster brother, Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla. It deliberately poked fun at the hokey concept while this takes itself far too seriously (which wasn’t a problem to begin with. I mean if Christopher Nolan can do it, why not?). It just highlights the number of plot holes in the loose story line to give the humans something to do. Look I don’t care about the concept of a giant dinosaur causing havoc on the world’s major landmarks. But the problem when you have giant dinosaurs or robots (I’m looking at you, Transformers) that can survive nuclear bombs (pretty much the biggest weapon we can launch at the buggers), the only thing the human race can do as Ken Wantanabe rightly says, “Let them fight.”

Edwards obviously intended to wet our whistles, stalling the inevitable appearance of the gargantuan giant. I’m fine with that but not when we are left with naff, generic character regurgitating scientific mumbo jumbo that bores the living stuffing out of you. I mean a beautifully shot scientific expedition with Ken Wantanabe (The Last Samurai/Batman Begins) and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) that skims across The Philippines and Japan teases us with a dino skeleton here, a trail of destruction there but as you’re waiting for the hero, you realise there is no point in the scientist’s journey as it makes no sense and is completely necessary. That big budget being put to use. Alexandre Desplat’s score is suspenseful and pacey but there isn’t much suspense or tension to keep you hooked.

I mean the opening sequence with the redacted 1950s footage was a complete rip off of the Emmerich rehash. I won’t spoil too much. That being said, there wasn’t much to spoil. This was advertised all wrong. The main creatures that we are stuck following are mutated parasites, well giant cockroach things that feed off radiation and it’s up to good ol’ Zilla to sort them out. At a two hour running time, there just isn’t enough going on. Every time we see those cockroach things, we get two minutes of carnage then they fly off to another expensive location for more blockbuster budget spending. When Godzilla finally appears, the animation and visual effects are impeccable, from his expressions to his incredibly loud roar. Seriously I nearly went deaf in the cinema.

But every time he looks like he’s going to do something. The camera cuts away or flashes to the aftermath. Screw that, I want to see it! Instead we get a rather hench looking army chughead Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick Ass) sleepwalking through his lines as he suffers daddy issues with his paranoid skeptic of a father, Mr Bryan Cranston. Cranston’s angry scientist was the only thing worth watching in between the creatures popping up as if to say, “We will be fighting . . . eventually”. An unexpected twist got my attention, only to leave it open for more . . . monotonous drivel that went nowhere. Wantanabe looking white as a sheet petrified of Godzilla just becomes a parody in itself. The talented David Straitharn (The Bourne Ultimatum/Alphas) plays a stocky grunting general that asks the main question every film goer is thinking, “Where’s Godzilla?”. A character that has spawned numerous movies and hit movie history is left making a short 15 minute appearance for the “big finale”.

The little details soon irritate. When you first see the tip of his spine arise out of the ocean like something out of Jaws, a smile cracks but after half an hour, you end up screaming (quite ironically), “Get out of the water!”. When Big G gets to fight, the special effects are brilliant. But I can’t help feel that it’s a little too dark (in the visual sense, literally) to see what’s going on.

The fighting does appeared laboured and mechanical but that’s where the fun came from the classics. The special effects do nothing to spoil that. In fact they improve it. I wouldn’t waste your money on 3D, apart from the opening, where smoke and ash rains out the screen, everything else is just a little more prominent but not a massive investment.

The HALO jumping sequence was decent, especially when it flicked to the first person angle, in which we see the soldiers dive out of the plane into the ensuing fog and debris left by Godzilla and co. However, when you think back, they didn’t need to do it. Seriously.

Unfortunately, before people realise the mess that this film is, it will have already made its money and a sequel has already been green lit. But this offering has not heightened my excitement to fish out the next one. Edwards excels at the effects yet again but the love of God, give us some characters we care about.

It doesn’t offer anything for the leading ladies at all. I mean Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) had such a pointless part, anyone could have played her. The same can be said for the beautiful Elizabeth Olsen (Oldboy remake), who was left either staring blankly, screaming or waiting on the phone. A shame. This had all the potential to start the blockbuster season with a BANG but only went with a BOO! Let’s hope X Men or Transformers can reward our patience. 2/5 for me.

As a side note, how cool would it have been if Heisenberg squares up to Godzilla and screams, “SAY MY NAME!”. To which Godzilla roars in subtitles, “HEISENBERG”. Then skulks away. “THIS IS MY TERRITORY!”. Maybe it will be in The Director’s Cut?!

Currently ranks #117 out of 174!

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!

NON STOP REVIEW

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Well it didn’t make me say STOP. Hardly in-shite entertainment and it didn’t have me soaring for the exit. I went in expecting the worst and came out surprised. Neeson is back and badass BUT better?

An air marshall (Neeson) springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account.

Look, these sort of films were always going to be guilty pleasures. Being a critic, I get it. Films shouldn’t be big, dumb and cliched. BUT if you want a silly little B movie thriller that you can switch your brain off to then look no further.

The opening ticked all the boxes on the cliched checklist. Emotionally scarred air marshall harbouring a deep trauma from his past. Check. Little girl flying on her own with cute teddy bear in tow. Check. (Who in their right mind would let a kid fly on their own?). Scarred marshall becoming instant father daddy figure. Check. Stereotypically suspicious looking foreign terrorist guys. BIG CHECK!

BUT once the plane took off and Neeson’s feeble attempt at some casual banter/flirting with a neurotic Julianne Moore was done and the first creepy text was sent, it was actually quite tense, suspenseful and surprisingly watchable. The texts flashing across the screen was like something out of Hollyoaks. It annoyed me in that and it did in this. Especially as the messages got bulkier.

The guessing game ticked over for a little while BUT there are always confinements when doing a thriller on a plane. A great concept if executed properly. When Neeson initially tried to fish out the anonymous texter, it was quite clever and almost believable. The killing a passenger every 20 minutes spiel should have been done in real time. The 24 style edge would have kept my attention when the pace lagged.

It didn’t help that a talented supporting cast were wasted as dull and lifeless red herrings. Anson Mount (Currently featuring in one of my favourite shows, the underrated Hell on Wheels) was wasted in his small role. Julianne Moore did the best she could and worked well with Neeson BUT her character got too annoying as the film progressed. The lovely Michelle Docherty (Mary from Downton Abbey) was highly unmemorable. As were Scoot McNairy (Monsters) and Corey Stoll’s (Ant Man) characters’ shame.

This was always going to be a Neeson action flick. Proving that Taken wasn’t a one time thing. (Apparently it’s the only thing now). As more people get bumped off and time is ticking away, he takes matters into his own hands yet again by . . . Oh yes. That’s right. Kicking ass and taking names.

His behaviour was questionable and OTT. A marshall on the brink of destruction asked NOT to cause a panic and secretly seek out a terrorist? Come on. His character caused more problems than were necessary. Even by action movie standards. Non-Stop ended up like one big 90s throwback B-movie. Hardly a bad thing. The fight sequences were pretty good. One particular highlight being a hand to hand cubicle combat scene.

There was a lot more suspense, tension and pace than the coma-inducing Flightplan. BUT it was never going to top the epic blockbuster that was Con Air. It seemed the writers thought (as the pilot so rightly said) “F~@k it!” as the final 15 minutes climaxed into pure bedlam with slow mo gun fights in zero gravity, double crossing, triple crossing, fingers pointing and Neeson punching answers out of people. The BIG REVEAL wasn’t that surprising BUT the motive was unexpected and frankly a little strange. BUT it was never going to be that type of movie.

If you want Taken on a plane, then you’ll enjoy it. BUT if you were expecting a slow burning claustrophobic thriller then move on. No points for originality BUT NOT the worst way to kill a couple of hours.

2.5/5

I, FRANKENSTEIN REVIEW

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I want my money back.

I can’t find the words. I can’t believe something that looked so good, could be so bad.

That’s 90 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. A dull, plot holed mess with a decent cast playing poorly written and stocky characters. The 3D was wasted on the fantastic set pieces. BUT that doesn’t excuse a bad movie.

Despite a reasonably watchable opening sequence, you can’t help but pick at the endless plot holes. Look, I know these sort of films were never going to win critical plaudits. And I went in hoping for big, dumb fun monster movie. BUT even as a B-movie, it struggles to intrigue or entertain.

As soon as I saw those five wonderful worlds, my heart dropped. “From the producers of Underworld”. Okay, I actually didn’t mind the first Underworld. Kate Beckinsale’s my Kryptonite. What can I say?

Anyway, I, Frankenstein throws us straight into the Creature’s “birth”/”rebirth” back in the 18th Century. It zips along quite well and skims straight through the familiar drivel. Creature hates inventor. Inventor chases after creature. Hunts creature down. Creature falls in ice. Realises he is immune to extreme temperatures and suddenly has incredible super strength. Wait, whaaaatt?

However, this is soon shoved aside for a mental creature combat sesh with funny looking demon things and gargoyles fighting over the Creature. The special effects are decent and the only thing I can commend is the action. BUT once Eckhart’s creature is picked up by the Gargoyle Order, my interest plummeted.

Now Aaron Eckhart (you may remember him as Two Face in The Dark Knight) is a very good actor BUT even his deadpan grimacing only made things worse. He delivers the lines with conviction. It’s just a shame that the lines were so bad. My personal favourite being, “I think your boss is a demon prince”.

Once he is abducted by the Gargoyle order led by their Queen (Mirando Otto – The Lord of The Rings), you soon realise the mess you’re about to sit through. She explains the plot in a swift minute that evil demons want to destroy mankind and they need the Creature or his inventor’s “How to Resurrect Dead Bodies” diary to help. Simples.

Nah, The Creature ain’t got time ‘fo dat. He hates everyone and everything. So it flashes forward 200 years. 200 years?! Really? Which means 20 mindless minutes of Adam (Oh yeah they call him Adam because he is the first of his kind. Nice touch) moping around and hiding. Until he decides, “I’ve had enough”.

Slays some gargs which was pretty good to watch. Blades flying, demons evaporating in flames, gargoyles grunting, more please! Only to get caught by the Order. Again.

Cue more cliched talking with our “loner hero” refusing to take the call and save the day. That and the endless to-and-fro of Adam being captured by the demons, then the gargoyles, then some scientists.

All I kept thinking to myself was they have Frankenstein’s book to resurrect the dead. So why do they need Adam? This must have been a flaw that the writer couldn’t decide on. He’s proof that the book works so we need him, right? Nah, kill him. No, wait! We do need him. Make up your mind!

The beautiful Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck) does a passable English accent. Better than Amy Adam’s Oscar nominated one in American Hustle anyway. She is completely wasted as a generic scientist thrown into the mix. There is zero chemistry between her and Eckhart. The only surprise after all the predictable luvvy duvvy guff was that they didn’t get together!    

Bill Nighy just “Nighy-ed” it up as the evil demon prince Naberius and when he transformed into his demon form . . . My God! He looked like Ivan Ooze. I couldn’t fight back the belly laughs.

Otto’s Gargoyle Queen was one of the most pointless characters going. All she does is pull blank faces and stare into space. Not to mention the repetitive one liners and unnecessary regurgitation of obvious plot points.

I could go on, but I’m exhausting myself. Jai Courtney (Terminator: Genisys) was terrible as the Gargoyle Queen’s protector, Gideon. All he did was pout and sulk. His character looked badass. BUT he’s not even allowed to intervene. The Queen gives him the key to everything. And he can’t use it. Come on! Even if it looked like an amazing battle axe. Nope, still can’t.

Also, the Gargoyles are supposed to fight in the shadows. Yet by the frantic finale, they are flying openly around in broad daylight. Hovering outside a public train station because no one will report it or take pictures on their phones, right?

Eckhart may have looked hench, but they didn’t bother sorting out his scars that magically reappeared at different areas of his face! This was a joke. If only, they played it out as one. It was far too serious for its own good. Even when the Creature tries to explain the situation to Strahovski’s scientist, you just cringe.

Dull, uninteresting, hilarious for all the wrong reasons. I hope a sequel is not in the works. If there is, god help us all!

1.5/5