MAGIC MIKE XXL REVIEW

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Too many problems but somehow (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, you could say it was . . . Alright, alright, alright.

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Three years after Mike (Channing Tatum) bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, he and the remaining Kings of Tampa hit the road to Myrtle Beach to put on one last blow-out performance.

I never expected to enjoy a film about male strippers and I didn’t. The first time. I finally mustered the strength to see Magic Mike a week ago. I didn’t expect to be impressed by the gyrating movements of Tatum’s torso but I was hoping after all the hype for something a little more.

It was boring. Reprieved by McConaughey’s Dallas and some entertaining song and dance numbers. Everything else was far too tame, corny and drawn out.

BUT of course, I’m a movie masochist. My vow to try and review as many films as possible biting me on the backside. So a second helping of stripping. Greeaaaattt.

However, I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. A vast improvement on its predecessor. I laughed a lot more (For the right reasons) and didn’t find myself half as bored. BUT it doesn’t get off the hook that easily.

Credit where it’s due. The film got straight to business as we follow Mike struggling to make ends meat. A quick phone call. A few passing comments explaining the absence of three characters. Bye Bye, Dallas, The Kid and Cody Horn’s Brooke. And we were good to go.

To be honest, Horn’s absence was a relief. I found her acting terrible and she lacked any real chemistry with Tatum. The endless staring and mumbling did my head in. McConaughey was a missed presence but it did give Joe Manganiello a chance to step up. It was a shame that Pettyfer didn’t return but rumours suggested that he and Tatum didn’t get on during the filming of the first one.

For those who haven’t seen Magic Mike (How can I say such a thing?), it isn’t crucial for the sequel. There are just little bits that might skim over your head but somehow I don’t think this is the sort of film where plot is imperative.

Within 15 minutes, the gang were all back together! So it made the finale of MM a little pointless really. But there are no guarantees for success in life. Plus Hollywood really wanted a sequel. For the first half hour or so, it zipped along. The camaraderie and banter (That appealed to me the first time round) was very much on fine form.

Tatum can dance. Unfortunately Step Up hasn’t been top priority on my movie list. What? Anyway, he delivered the charisma yet again and you could tell he was having fun doing it. His reaction when his trade mark stripper song Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’ came on the garage radio said it all. That inevitable dance imminent as soon as the beat dropped. It was like something out of Flashdance.

Tatum had good chemistry with the lovely Amber Heard but her character was a little weak. I feared a retread of the Horn disaster with the pair muttering and mumbling away. However, despite their improv going on for too long, they still delivered enough charm to keep it watchable. Just.

Matt Bomer’s character Ken was a bit shady to start with. Jealous of Mike’s return. I was hoping for some of that heated tension that Dallas and Mike shared in the closing minutes of MM. Plus let’s not forget that Ken wasn’t that squeaky clean.

But it was resolved far too quickly. A quick slap with some wood. Hang on, let me rephrase that. A testosterone/drug/drink-fuelled stand off in a beach with a log of wood and a jab in the gut and the pair were all smiles. Boy, Bomer can sing though.

Jada-Pinkett Smith may be rocking it at 44. Even if she might have had work done. BUT I found her character Rome very annoying. Every scene involving her went on far too long. It was obvious within 30 seconds that Mike and Rome used to work together. I didn’t need 30 minutes of mindless chatter in her strip club with a shirtless Childish Gambino doing some long winded rap that wasn’t that good.

I can’t believe I’m writing this but the strip dance offs in Rome’s club were the only redeeming moments. Childish Gambino fared better when he just sang.

The dance routines were actually well choreographed and quite entertaining as the gang decide to jazz up their stale material. The ladies will definitely love them. Manganiello’s set pieces had me shaking my head. And not just out of jealousy for his toned bod. His attempt to woo an attendant at a gas station was ridiculous but hilarious.

Kevin Nash (Kevin Nash? WWE Kevin Nash?) can’t dance to save his life but at 6 foot odd, the 50 something former pro wrestler gave it a good old go. The final 20 minutes was cheesy but fun enough. I got a smile. I know the ladies certainly were. The gang must have had a good laugh while filming this.

I couldn’t believe the cameos that popped up in this. Elizabeth Banks? Andie MacDowell as a bitterly divorced MILF?

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It’s flawed beyond belief and that’s not coming from a jealous heterosexual but it was a vast improvement from the original and wasn’t all bad. Don’t expect too much in terms of character development and plot but I’m sure that the audience, it’s aiming at will not care one little bit.

2.5/5

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3 DAYS TO KILL REVIEW

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It will take 3 days to kill the pain of watching . . . No, it’s not that bad. Unfortunately not that great either. Kevin Costner plays the hard man as well as he can. It’s just a shame that it’s the same old recycled clichéd action movie garbage that we’ve come to accept. By all means, it’s certainly watchable but that’s because I knew what to expect going in.

The trailer inevitably made it look bad ass but I didn’t really get what was promised. The joy of a shoot em up soon sithered away with that beautiful 12a certificate rearing its ugly head. McG has never been subtle. I mean this is the guy who brought us the Charlie’s Angels reboot franchise. And that’s also the problem, this is the guy who brought us the Charlie’s Angels reboot franchise. Credit where it’s due. Terminator Salvation was actually not that bad. Could have done with a little bit of that dark undertone in this.

We have the usual opening stake out that sets up bad guy, good guy. Costner playing a trained killer with . . . a cold. That’s right, coughing and spluttering away. Inevitably that would lead to something more important. But for an opening, I was thinking how did he kill all those bad men? Simple. They don’t show you it. Just a room with 30 dead men and Costner strolling out while blowing his nose. The cringe-inducing birthday phone call with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) was terrible and so corny. Doing it while people are being shot up and explosions above him. Tut, tut, tut.

Tomas Lemarquis made a great bald, I mean Bond, villain with a dark signature move. But never going to its full gory detail. After all, it was a 12a. Inevitably the stake out goes wrong. Costner loses baldy, collapsing for some reason. That reason is that he is suffering from a terminal illness. So a botched op and a dire diagnosis, not looking good for Kev. Of course, he decides to pack it in and reunite with estranged daughter after neglecting her for 15 years. But . . . oh no. He’s needed for one last job. Deal breaker. Get this. They have an antidote that will help give him more time. Aww.

Costner plays it well. You can tell at points he is just going with it. At one point, he has to write a nice big purple bike in Paris after his daughter rejects his attempts at fatherhood. Old Cossie’s face with a nonchalant shrug says it all. The alluring Amber Heard plays the mysterious femme fatale to perfection. Not enough of her in my opinion (What?). However, once you get past her beauty (Don’t judge me), you realise her character doesn’t do much. Other than look incredibly sexy and inject Mr C with the magic antidote to keep him going. All for her own diabolical plan. Diabolical in the sense that she basically got him to do her work.

Steinfeld, the talented actress that she has proven to be in the past, is incredibly annoying. Unfortunately, it’s mainly because it’s all so predictable and clichéd. Their father/daughter relationship just seems to break up what little action there is. The bickering and snipping works well, at points, but all to an inevitable cause.

Costner’s killer soon turns into a parody of himself. The jokes in which he kidnaps a contact, chucks them in the truck work at first. But then when he keeps doing it, it gets old really quick. The action is also a little lacklustre. Costner grins like a Cheshire cat. And . . . quick edit. Bodies on the floor. Only a couple of scenes where Cos gets to kick ass. And when that happens, it’s not bad. Entertaining enough. The car chase was so quick and flat. Could you really call it one?

Also what infuriated me was, understandably, Costner’s character is ill but collapsing every time he comes close to the bald baddie? Annoying. Connie Nielsen (The Following) wins Mother of the Year for leaving her daughter with an estranged father who has been unreliable and has a mysterious past. Hmmm. Cudos for Steinfeld getting the title of the movie into her lines. The tone at times, jumps from darkly comical to straight balls out (not literally) crazy. An inevitable, and much needed, shoot em up finale boosts the slackening pace.

It’s watchable guff. Nothing more. Costner has enough charisma to carry this bullet ridden mess. Amber Heard is . . . to be expected. There are some good bits but that’s the problem, it’s a film of moments. A funny one, an action packed one, etc. I thought the scenes in which a group of squatters invade Costner’s apartment was quite funny. However, they soon overstay their welcome. Shame. 2.5/5

Currently ranks 103 out of 190!