PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 REVIEW

Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 Movie

What a load of old cop!

Ba-dum-tsssh! If you thought that was bad, you won’t like this!

After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart (Kevin James) has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter (Raini Rodriguez) before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers.

Back, definitely bigger but better?

In a word, NO! God, no! But it wasn’t all bad. Just . . . Not that good.

I’ve been a fan of Kevin James ever since King of Queens. His movies may not have earned critical plaudits but as long as they were funny, I didn’t care.

I finally got round to watching the first Paul Blart not too long ago. It was okay, I guess. James using his size to his advantage for some Die Hard buffoonery.

It was watchable but the biggest joke was the amount of money it took! For all the hype and recommendations, I was left scratching my head. It delivered the odd titter but it went far too long. Too long at 90 minutes? Ouch. Inevitably, with all that box office wonga, a sequel was on the cards.

Now bearing in mind, I wasn’t that keen on the first, I found that better than this instalment.

The slating PB: MC 2 (Looks like an equation) has received was a little overkill. I did laugh. A couple of times. BUT it tried to outdo the first one and made the same silly mistakes.

The opening ten minutes certainly didn’t get things going. It was a little dark and random. Two cast members from the original removed in a matter of seconds.

One with a truck. The other . . . Obviously read the script and didn’t want to come back. Let’s be honest, Jayma Mays. You weren’t that good the first time round.

BUT she still dodged a bullet. Some lazy plot writing about anxiety and demanding a divorce after a six day vomit inducing marriage or something or other.

Yeah. Stupid and not very funny. See where I’m going.

James’ OTT and deluded alter ego Blart did enough to preserve through the drudge. I can’t believe how big he’s got again! I thought he was shedding the pounds after Here Comes The Boom! Clearly, the film needed those infantile fat jokes. That popped up at every opportunity.

However, considering his size, I couldn’t believe how quick James was on his feet. A scene in which Blart raids a hotel room for clues was hilarious. Running up the steps, throwing himself around, getting back on his feet. Damn!

His buffoonery did get a few titters. But it was too much of the same thing. Tripping over the carpet in an epic hotel lobby punch up? Good. Continuing to trip over every object every 30 seconds afterwards? Boring.

There wasn’t much of a story. Not that I expected one. But a lazy convention invitation to get Blart for more Die Hard shenanigans in a Vegas hotel was naff.

It didn’t help that it was so predictable and schmaltzy. Rodriguez and James work well as a father/daughter unit but why did it have to be so revoltingly cheesy?

Maya (Rodriguez) falls for a valet in a hammy and uninteresting sub plot. In fact you can hardly call it a subplot as Bakay and James couldn’t be bothered to put any effort into it. She inevitably avoids her blundering control freak of a mall cop dad who is in the middle of having a mini breakdown after losing the love of his life . . . after six days. Bleurgh.

BUT that’s okay. She gets kidnapped . . . AGAIN! And it’s up to dear old dim-witted dad to save the day whether she wants him to or not!

It’s just a mess. The main problem for me was that I was trying to work out how bad this film was. Let me explain. Nick Bakay (Salem! Salem from Sabrina. I know. GAY!) and Kevin James are funny. Surely, the dialogue and story line were written badly on purpose?

You can see where James is ripping off the old clichéd action B-movies. His slow motion leap from a “fast moving” Segway got a chuckle out of me. BUT everything else just came off unintentionally bad. Boring and unfunny. It was as if they took all the bad bits out of the bad action movies to make something even worse. A comedy masterpiece or just bad?

Either way, it didn’t really work. I mean, come on. Robert Rodriguez knew what he was doing when he made Planet Terror. It was a deliberately awful Grindhouse flick. Blart, on the other hand . . . Meh.

The daughter getting kidnapped spiel didn’t work in Taken and certainly didn’t work in this. It had potential but never really got anywhere. The only redeeming feature was the fact she wasn’t a complete moron and did some clever MacGuyer stuff to try and escape.

The supporting cast were a little hit and miss.

Shelly Dusai was funny as Khan Mubi. Not enough of him to be honest. His impromptu hug and greets and inability to stay awake at even the most intense situations was a much needed comedy injection. I could have done with more of him than Gary Valentine or Loni Love.

Love was brilliant when she was first introduced into the mix but after that, she soon got on my nerves. Yelling out, “This is real” and “That’s not real” got very old very quick.

Neal McDonough was a cracking little villain. His different coloured eyes and deadpan delivery trounced the mall muppet that we had in the first one. But he wasn’t used to his full potential. He had keyed in his inner Hans Gruber and deserved more lines and screen time. Disappointed.

I mean, his mad shout off with James showed McDonough’s potential. “I’m so crazy, I have two different coloured eyes. I don’t know what I’ll do next”. It doesn’t sound so good out loud but his delivery made it work. However, the shouting soon went on too long. AGAIN.

D.B. Woodside should have stayed in Suits. Old Wayne Palmer was so bland and unmemorable. He was nothing more than a henchman.

Daniella Alonso. Mamma Mia! Steady now. She played the alluring hotel manager well. What? It was a little funny when Blart kept insisting that she was hitting on him. His endless put downs and talks got a chuckle. The punchline inevitably being that she actually was hitting on him made me smile a little. Blart’s realisation at the mistake of turning her down was up there with Harry and Lloyd giving directions to that tour bus of models.

I know James and Sandler have been slated for years. They don’t care. And to be honest, I’ve enjoyed quite a few of their efforts that have been rated incredibly low on IMDb but although this was watchable, it wasn’t memorable.

It was along the lines of Grown Ups 2. It had a couple of laughs but went on too long and you couldn’t wait for it to end. BUT there were still laughs to be had. If you like your comedy silly and OTT and you liked the first one (A lot of people will be saying No one), then give it a crack.

Blart getting in a punch-up with a peacock was hilarious. Its velociraptor-esque roar as it stalked the mall cop made it for me. That and the smiling pianist who offered no help and merely background music wasn’t bad. Looked like someone out of The Shining!

James knows how to ride a Segway. I had a crash course on one of those. No, literally I crashed onto the floor. To be able to do the silly little tricks he does was fun to watch.

Running into clean glass doors and sliding across hotel lobby floors were (Pardon the expression) hit and miss but they still got a little smile out of me.

BUT James’ farting, tripping and blundering did annoy more than entertain. His ridiculous speeches were the sort of thing I fast forward through a naff B flick.

The corny confrontations with Maya over moving away to college was so tedious and hammy. I really didn’t care. Oh and the final punch line, I say punch line was terrible. James chatting up a mounted policewoman could have had potential. BUT nah. Let’s just have a terrible CGI horse kick James’ terribly CGI’d body into a car. Shame. A missed opportunity.

If there is going to be another, take another 6 years on top of another 6 years and find some better material, Messrs James and Bakay.

2(Just)/5

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WILD CARD REVIEW

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I’m losing faith in the Stath.

Well, in his movie choices anyway.

So what’s it all about, san? When a Las Vegas bodyguard (The Stath) with lethal skills and a gambling problem gets in trouble with the mob, he has one last play . . . and it’s all or nothing.

I should have known what to expect when I saw the name Simon West pop up across the silver screen.

At his best, Con Air! One of the most iconic action movies of all time! Why didn’t he put the bunny in the box?

At his worst, Stolen. One of my worst films of 2013. Ironically both involving Nicolas Cage.

West normally has the right balance of cheese with all out action. Silly but fun. While Wild Card, on the other hand, was just terrible. My DISAPPOINTED Kevin Sorbo Hercules video doesn’t even come close to showing my frustration.

A slow opening sequence involving Stath and a little “matchmaking” hustle with the alluring Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) was silly but easy going.

For a minute, I thought it was going to be a little like Better Call Saul. They even had a similar office set up.

Jason Alexander! Good old George Costanza as a Saul Goodman type showed all the potential.

BUT oh no! All he did was introduce the Stath to Michael Angarano’s (Sky High) retarded tweenie gambler.

Leading to an uneven, badly acted and badly written film that failed on everything BUT the violence (The little that there was).

Okay, retarded was a little harsh. Angarano’s dweeby laugh and lead dialogue didn’t help me like his one-dimensional character.

Meanwhile, a more interesting subplot seemed to be emerging as we see Dominik Garcia-Lorrido’s call girl battered, bludgeoned and dumped outside a hospital.

However, before we get to find out the who, why and how? We have to drudge through mindless exposition and pointless sweeping night shots of the Stath driving around Las Vegas.

The cinematography was outstanding. I must commend Shelly Johnson for making this mess worth looking at.

But it didn’t stop me picking at the poor script. Written by William Goldman. A two time Oscar winning screenwriter penned this? (All The President’s Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)

Anne Heche and Hope Davis. Two talented actresses reduced to nothingy supporting roles.

Heche as a waitress. Purpose? To serve the Stath some lemonade and give him a break from talking to himself.

Davis as a card dealer. Purpose? To remind us that the Stath gambles. Go figure. I could tell that by the fact he was gambling!

And if that wasn’t bad enough, I was fed up with listening to Angarano’s insecure rich boy desperately seeking a friend.

However, we finally get back to Garcia-Lorrido. She seems to have inherited her actor father’s deadpan drawl. Yep, lifeless and dull.

She tried to pull off the femme fatale vibe but she didn’t have the conviction.

In between Stath’s babysitting subplot, we have a little vengeance ploy as his services are required to teach a harsh lesson to a deluded mafia monster.

Well, I say monster. More like moper.

Peter Petrelli? What happened? Milo Ventimiglia was such a whiney little nob. I couldn’t stand him. He played the douchebag mafioso well but he was just so irritating and pathetic.

I could understand him being a quivering whimp in one scene as the Stath and Garcia-Lorido dispense some justice with his manhood and some garden shears but otherwise, he lacked the conviction to be taken seriously as a scumbag.

It was such a shame considering the back story that Lorrido built up around him. The detail on what he did to her was gritty and gruesome. And then we see him and he’s an absolute plonker.

The film kept changing in tone and flitting about. Ridiculously silly one moment, brooding and menacing the next. I wasn’t sure what it was trying to be. It failed anyway.

I think the only reprieve for this film was the fight sequences. There weren’t enough but when the Stath did kick off, it was brutal, intense and brilliantly choreographed.

One particular highlight involving Stath using a knife to jam up a hitman’s firing pin.

To be honest, Stath deals with Ventimiglia too easily and we are left watching him gamble his life away.

The gambling scene was ruthless, tense and probably the most suspenseful sequence in the whole film.

However, I expected more of this in the horrendous remake that was The Gambler.

I’m sure Goldman was trying to make Wild Card a philosophical journey of one man’s decent but it was too pretentious, too hammy and just plain terrible.

I mean Stanley Tucci? What was the point of his character?

Donning another bad wig and smirking. With a look that said; “Am I really in this? Is this all they need me for?” A mediator for the mob who didn’t do any proper mediating and was only in the film for two minutes.

Easy money for the Tuc.

The frantic (and forced) fiery finale was manic, violent and everything I expected for the other 90-odd minutes.

Stath does his best to make it watchable and nearly pulls it off. BUT he gambled on the wrong project.

They didn’t even explain his knack for disposing of baddies by flicking cards.

I’m not even going to get into the fact that it’s set during Christmas and was released in March.

Too many questions, not enough action, story or character to keep me quiet, engaged or caring.

1.5/5

THE RAID 2 REVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Currently ranks #22 out of 165!