*NEW* POWER RANGERS REVIEW *NEW*

Go, go . . . Watch something else.

Another reboot bites the dust. Messy, corny, long at the tooth. How could a movie involving alien superpowers and giant robots be so god damn boring?

A group of high-school students, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world.

I grew up with the Power Rangers. The original TV show. I had all the merch; the Red Ranger outfit, the little gloves that made the karate kick sound, the MegaZord, the Green Ranger’s Dragon sword. The list goes on.

To cut a long story short, I’m a fan. Well, was. Of course nearing my 30s, the cynicism was always going to be there. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see my childhood TV show get the Hollywood reboot treatment.

The disorienting shaky handicam opening with bad boy Jason being pursued by the police didn’t build my hopes up.

The pace was a little long at the tooth, to say the least. I understand that the characters are teenagers and the original Power Rangers team never really had a lot of depth to them. Too busy punching putty people to worry about who doesn’t like them at school.

The movies were hardly perfect and got increasingly worse as the franchise turned to Turbo Force, Jungle Rangers and God knows what else.

I could respect that the writers tried to inject some teen angst on these social outcasts BUT it was far too corny and dull for the film. Too serious for its own good.

When things kicked off, my griping was subdued. BUT I didn’t really like the new faces. I did approve of the reshuffling of the colour assignment. A running gag that did draw a cheeky grin. A sly dig at the original show’s writers.

Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things) didn’t do a bad job as Jason. His character was just such an immature airhead that after all the build-up, his swift transformation to leader of the pack was rushed.

Even I was as cynical as Zordon at his sudden change in behaviour.

Naomi Scott played Kimberley well. Her melodrama was a little tame after all the sulking and acting out. Some cheerleader hazing after sharing a “dodgy” picture. Bleurgh.

I actually liked RJ Cyler (Me, Earl and the Dying Girl) as Billy. A complete change in character. The socially awkward nerd with a suggested learning disability. The glue that kept the gang together.

Trini’s (Becky G) sexuality question mark felt lazy and tacked on. It failed to add any depth to her character. Her parents’ OTT behaviour didn’t help matters either.

Ludi Lin was incredibly irritating as Zack. The one performance that surprised me was Elizabeth Banks. I thought the Pitch Perfect princess would ruin the role of Rita Repulsa BUT she nailed it. Her cold stares, her whispery voice. She was actually quite creepy.

It was only in the silly finale when she tried to apply her comedy schtick that I felt it killed a reasonably decent performance. Shame.

Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston was brilliant as Zordon. The Emmy award winning actor was heavily underused in his role. He managed to bring gravitas to a naff grainy PC background.

His frustration and cynicism towards his new found army was a breath of fresh air – “These kids are MY rangers?! They will never be ready”.

Maybe his frustration was genuine after being roped into this movie?

NOT even Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) could work his voiceover magic as Alpha Five. The CGI on the android looked terrible. What’s wrong with props and costumes?

 

Yikes!

The gang’s training montages were watchable and entertaining enough. It just didn’t help that the characters were so bland and irritating.

The special effects weren’t too bad. Especially when they finally got to be Power Rangers! Zordon’s underground lair discovery was also quite impressive.

The only problem with a 124 minute film, the Rangers only morphed in the last 20 minutes (If that!). By the time that horrendous remastered theme song blared through the speakers, my fan boy excitement was already gone.

I was fidgeting in my seat for a good portion of the film. Let alone the little ‘uns.

When it got going, it was watchable and the fun if ridiculous finale delivered more of what I expected from the get go. Action packed punch ups, crazy effects and silly banter. If there was to be another, there’s going to be a lot of work to do.

I had to smile at the blink and you’ll miss it cameos BUT I was left disappointed and wanting. No Bulk and Skull? No putty people? Just some stupid rock things.

This could have been so much fun. Alas, it was not to be.

2.5/5 (Just)

*NEW* SAUSAGE PARTY REVIEW *NEW*

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One of the most outrageous, ridiculous, stupid BUT funniest films I’ve seen this year.

A sausage (Seth Rogen) strives to discover the truth about his existence.

If you’re a fan of Rogen’s crass drug induced humour and want to see him take on Toy Story BUT with talking food, then this is right up your street. Anybody else, serious movies are on Aisle 3.

The opening lulled you into a false sense of security as all the various supermarket food products burst into song praising the Gods (Us) for choosing and taking them to the “Great Beyond”. BUT as the lullaby progressed, I had to do a double take to make sure I heard that right.

And before I knew it, the song turned into something from South Park with a Sauerkraut in the guise of Adolf Hitler plotting the extermination of the J(ew) uice. And we hadn’t even got to the noodles yet.

It really was ridiculous BUT fun. We had the blossoming romance between Frank’s (Rogen) sausage and Brenda’s (Kristen Wiig – Ghostbusters) sexy bun as they prepared to go to the Great Beyond and finally get together. Crude innuendos aside.

However, things don’t go to plan as the pair fall out of their trolley cart. Leading to one messed up little cartoon.

The trolley crash looked like something out of a battlefield. You had a banana’s face hanging off. Peanut Butter scooping up his wife Jelly’s squishy remains. So stupid BUT it got me! With a handful of food goods, Frank and co. travel across the supermarket to discover the horrible truth.

The pair fearing they had upset the Gods by breaking out of their packages and “touching tips” (Relax. Touching hands. Yeah, they have hands).

Along their way, they meet Lavarche (David Krumholtz – Numbers) and Sammy (voiced by none other than Edward ‘Fight Club’ Norton). A perfect encapsulation of the Israeli/Palestinian crisis. The commentary and jibes were pleasantly tongue in cheek “You come into our aisle and take our shelves” and “There are 72 extra virgin oils waiting for me on the other side”.

The supporting characters were fantastic. Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) was hilarious as Chief Firewater. The ancient whiskey that knows all. Salma Hayek delivered her sultry tones to a lesbian taco and Craig Robinson as the ‘un-perishable’ Mr Grits (They call me Mr Grits!). My God!

It took me a while to recognise the voice of Barry the deformed sausage. Michael Cera – where has he been? The scared little sausage who faces the great Beyond. A mad little subplot that I’m surprised I didn’t pick at more. I mean, come on. There was a drug dealer, tweaking on bath salts, who was able to talk to them.

The endless movie references. The unbelievable gore. Even though it was food literally getting prepared. A potato being skinned alive. Carrots being diced and sliced. Brilliant.

Nick Kroll did a decent job of voicing a Douche. No, really. As well as dealing with accepting that all his friends were being cut up, fried and boiled for his Gods’ sustenance, Frank has to fend off a vengeance seeking douche bag who he knocked out of the cart. Killing juice boxes, tequila bottles and ‘roiding’ up to accomplish this vendetta.

The only problem was that his character became increasingly less funny as he kept popping up. His running gag with random fruit appearing at the end of his punch lines was fun BUT it got worse: “How do you like them apples?” Cue a bag of apples turning round smiling. “No, not you!”

If none of this is winning you over (and no, I’m not making any of it up!), then this is definitely not for you.

All the sly digs at Disney were there with all the food smoking herbs, getting smashed and screaming profanities for 90 minutes. There was even a car bumper sticker with ‘DIXAR’ spread across it.

The finale was utterly outrageous. Words cannot describe what I watched. It was f*ked up. It’s not as if Rogen and co haven’t gone for the shock factor before. I mean, This is the End cut it pretty close. BUT I was still surprised of what lied in store.

Mental, stupid, it’s the closest you’ll get to a stoned Rogen giving a Pixar style movie the VIP treatment.

3/5

*NEW* THE BFG REVIEW *NEW*

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The BIG FLOPPIN’ MESS

On paper, the dream of Roald Dahl’s works and Steven Spielberg’s direction should have spelled perfection BUT despite Rylance’s brilliant performance, there was something missing.

A girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) encounters the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kind-hearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.

Definitely one for the little ‘uns. It has been a long time since I read The BFG. I loved Dahl’s books as a child and genuinely enjoyed the film adaptations. Some I still watch as guilty pleasures BUT this won’t be one of them.

The opening 30 minutes was everything I expected. It was exactly how I remembered. The animation and cinematography (from regular Spielberg stalwart Janusz Kaminski) were fantastic. The BFG’s introduction was lifted straight from the book. His eyes twinkling in the dark alleys. The giant hand clambering through the curtains. The sweeping shots across the beautiful English countryside.

It was delightfully easy going. Barnhill carried the role as well as she could. It’s an incredibly difficult task for a child actor to get the balance right. Whether it was the script or her performance BUT there were moments where the poor girl just got on my nerves. BUT it was still a commendable debut for the little lass.

After his Oscar winning turn in Bridge of Spies, Mark Rylance reunited with Spielberg yet again. The animation and effects were impeccable; mixing live animation with Rylance’s facial expressions. His delivery really made all of Dahl’s insanely ridiculous jargon almost believable. He really was the BFG. Perfect.

However, the main issue was the pace. It went on far too long. This would have been much better if it was reduced by a good 30 minutes. If anything, the meandering pace gave me time to pick at how nothingy the story of the BFG really was. Apart from catching dreams and eating whizpoppers (a horrible looking cucumber), there wasn’t really much going on.

What was originally a beautiful scene with the BFG and Sophie chasing after the pixie like dreams flying around the trees, I found myself nodding off. I hate to blame the twinkly lullaby score of John Williams. The maestro providing yet another wonderful score. It just didn’t grab me. The CGI and effects were marvellous BUT it wasn’t enough.

NOT even the giants made enough of an impression for me. Considering the talented supporting cast voicing the eclectic bunch of fantastically designed beasts, the only one that made a memorable impression was Flight of the Conchord’s Jermaine Clement as Fleshlumpeater. The only giant with any depth or dialogue.

I didn’t even realise until the closing credits that Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) was voicing Bloodbottler! I wanted more of them. There were opportunities for the BFG to overcome the years of bullying. I know it was only a kids’ films BUT I couldn’t help but ask endless questions; Why did the giants hate rain so much? (Especially when the BFG wasn’t fazed at all). Why catch dreams and give them to people while they sleep?

The giants weren’t really as intimidating as I’d hoped. If anything, they were irritating. Despite a wonderfully animated sequence with the dimwitted dirt dwellers throwing the BFG on a digger and Sophie in a battered car and racing them around the hill, they didn’t do much at all.

It was the meeting with the Queen that made me feel my age. For the first time, I actually felt uncomfortable watching a children’s film. I always enjoy family films because they always have something for everyone. BUT this time, it really was just for the sprogs.

Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) was brilliant as Her Majesty. It’s just a shame she was playing her in this. Rafe Spall and Rebecca Hall were completely wasted (and unnecessary in their roles). And once everybody was guzzling frobscottle (a strange fizzy drink with bubbles that float down) and farting green smoke including the bloomin’ Corgis, I knew I was getting too old for this.

I know I’m heading towards my thirties and I’ve become an older and more cynical movie goer BUT I can still watch The Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Wilder version, of course. RIP) as guilty pleasures. BUT the meandering pace and silly little gags just didn’t deliver. The giants were barely used and weren’t really as much of a threat as they could have been.

It was watchable guff BUT I’m afraid to say that Spielberg’s dry spell continues. The little ‘uns will love it BUT the older Dahl fans will be disappointed.

2.5/5

*NEW* TRAINWRECK REVIEW *NEW*

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Was it one big train wreck?

I was a little anxious to see this. I couldn’t get into Girls, didn’t mind Bridesmaids but have always found Apatow’s works a little hit and miss.

BUT it’s always good to be proved wrong. Move over, Miss McCarthy. I have a new lady in my life. Well played, Miss Schumer.

Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman (Amy Schumer) may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy (Bill Hader).

It’s hardly perfect but I can actually say that I came out of the cinema smiling for the right reasons.

I wasn’t convinced by the opening as we watch a young Amy and Quinn (Brie Larson) being educated by their deadbeat dad (Colin Quinn) after being caught cheating. His analogy using dolls was hilarious.

From that moment, we see the anti-monogamy chants drilled into a young Amy Schumer. 20-odd years down the line and we have our protagonist. Sleeping around, getting drunk, and effing jeffing. I’ve never really found that stuff funny. It got a little repetitive BUT it introduced the selfish and quick witted monster perfectly. Her one liners rolled off a little too fast for me. They didn’t really flow.

HOWEVER, once the film found its tempo, I enjoyed it. Schumer’s improvisation and messing around were generally on the ball. There were patches where she went on just a little bit. There was a moment where Larson and Schumer were looking at pictures of their mother and Amy starts talking about her boobs. It ruined a nice moment and wasn’t that funny.

It’s always a gamble on calling a scene when you’re firing off belters; “Stop walking like the Hulk. I can see that you’re mad”. BUT what helped was that Schumer was assisted by a surprisingly funny supporting cast. John Cena. Words escape me. He was absolutely brilliant. Some of the best acting I’ve seen him do. EVER. Well, since WWE.

He stole every scene from failing at dirty talk in the bedroom to his homo-erotic put downs during an altercation at the cinema. I also loved the short film being played in the cinema scene. The “pretentious” Dog Walker skit featuring Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei got a chuckle. If anything, I wanted to see more of that.

Tilda Swinton as Amy’s boss Dianna was a mixed bag for me. Her put downs and random story telling were bloody mental. BUT I couldn’t get over her raspy Cockney accent. She made the regulars in Eastenders look like Oxford scholars. What was she playing at?

There wasn’t enough of SNL’s Vanessa Bayer for me as Amy’s naive work colleague. LeBron James was very funny. Not all athletes can make the transition to the big screen but he nailed it! From his strop about Downton Abbey to his endless scrimping and bickering over paying the bill. Scrimping? With all those millions? Come on.

It was also good to see Bill Hader playing it straight faced. It was a fresh change and proved the guy can do deadpan and do it well. The crazier moments were certainly left for Miss Schumer. And she most certainly delivered. They had excellent chemistry which really made their inevitable pairing that much more enjoyable.

My main problem with Apatow’s movies is the running length. This is 40 and Funny People were okay films but went on far too long. This film did not need to be two hours long. After the hour marker with the relationship unwittingly taking hold, things did slacken.

It’s all relatable as Amy tries to fight her feelings but it wasn’t very funny. Easygoing enough. I had hoped that the scenes with Brie Larson would have been more entertaining. If it wasn’t for the odd witticism from Schumer, I would have cut them. And things did seem to take a more serious turn.

The subplot involving their dad in a care home never really got going for me. Amy’s character had more than enough flaws to keep things watchable. It felt tacked on and did hamper things. Even if Method Man was his nurse. You read that right.

BUT luckily the film found a second wind as Amy inevitably goes out of her way to complicate matters. The squabbling and tests certainly added an extra depth to the couple. BUT the only problem was that the end result was always going to be the same.

The closing scene was unbelievably corny. I mean it totally fit for all the in-jokes that Schumer and Hader had between each other. BUT at the same time, it didn’t quite fit the overall tone of the film after such a serious middle act with Amy re-evaluating her life. It was all or nothing.

When it’s funny, it’s on fire. When it’s not, it’s a little more testing but certainly watchable. I’ll be more looking forward to Schumer’s next offering.

A trainwreck? Hardly.

3/5

INSIDE OUT REVIEW

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It’s time for me to examine this piece inside out. Get ready for Pixar to play with your emotions again!

Funny, endearing, it looks like another winner on the cards.

After young Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

I will confess. I am a huge Pixar fan. I love how they are always able to make films that have something for every one. Telling simple and predictable stories in such complex and wonderful ways with humour, heart and fantastic animation.

BUT that isn’t to say they’re perfect. Cars may have been watchable but it was certainly one of Pixar’s weakest entries. I still haven’t bothered to view the sequel. Unlike Toy Story and Monsters Inc.

Of course when going to the cinema, you don’t just get a Pixar movie. Oh no! You have a delightful animated short first. Their latest offering? A Hawaiian sing song volcano short called Lava.

BUT this time, it didn’t do much to get things going. This musical interlude nearly put me into a lull before Inside Out had even begun. I can’t believe I’m saying this but Lava was actually quite a drab affair.

The animation and visual design may have been beautiful BUT it was literally five to ten minutes of ukulele and two volcanoes falling in love. Awww. Nope. Funny enough, did anyone else notice that the male volcano bared a striking resemblance to Jabba the Hutt.

BUT after the hilarious Geri’s Game, the origins of Lupo the leaping lamp and hell even that Blue Umbrella with that annoyingly catchy tune; I felt Lava just didn’t quite hit those levels. Regurgitating the same predictable tripe. Not a good start. My fears rising.

BUT finally Inside Out started and . . . Not bad, not bad at all.

The opening act may have been a little slow burning but it was wonderful watching baby Riley develop over the years and most importantly her emotions. Her first emotion being Joy. Poehler (Parks and Recreation) played her with aplomb. Her enthusiasm and sheer bonkers personality really brought the character to life.

Before we know it, the other emotions are not far behind. I don’t think there was one character that didn’t steal the show at some point throughout the film. They were all perfectly cast. BUT Phyllis Smith (The American Office) certainly made a memorable impression voicing the appropriately coloured blue emotion Sadness.

What I love about Pixar is the detail that they put into every project. I won’t say too much
(If I can help it). BUT the little things. Riley’s train of thought being an actual train. The islands of personality. The memory balls. The forgetters that deal with the faded memories. The long term memory servers. Brilliant.

The mind workers. Oh the mind workers. Ever wonder why your mind will suddenly think of a jingle or a song out of nowhere? Blame these little devils. A recurring joke involving a gum commercial jingle delivered the laughs throughout.

I loved how the world of Riley’s mind and her own world tied in. The impact of her move affecting every emotion. An unfortunate sorting incident with the memory balls and Joy and Sadness are sucked into the back of Riley’s mind. Without their presence, the poor girl will not be able to express those two emotions. Cue one crazy journey.

Smith and Poehler worked well together. I loved how Joy always questioned the purpose of Sadness and did everything to make sure she didn’t ruin anything. “Why does anyone need such an emotion?” The debate has handled with the right balance. After all, this is still a kid’s film. Of course, on the positiveness of having such an emotion. In other hands, who knows?

The animation was superb. The abstract thought sequence in which the emotions were forming into all sorts of shapes and two dimensional objects was brilliantly done. The 3D was hardly a must. It certainly made things more prominent on screen but the animation was good enough anyway.

BUT for all the praise, there were still little niggles. The middle act did meander in places and although Pixar has the ability to take us on these fantastic journeys. These journeys are starting to get a little predictable. You could almost time when the bickering would begin. That moment when a character would experience a revelation. And of course, it ends oh so cornily.

I loved Richard Kind as the fluffy and affable imaginary friend Bing Bong who helped Joy and Sadness on their quest. And also . . . could anyone else believe that Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers was in this?!

I wish there was more of the mind stuff between other people. A scene in which Mum and Dad try to deal with a frustrated Riley was fantastic. The closing credits certainly offered an insight into all sorts of people and animals with hilarious results.

Speaking of closing moments. Words . . . . Escape me. Pixar still have the ability to reduce a man to tears. I’m not afraid to admit it. The opening of Up, the finale of Toy Story 3 and now this. These films should come with a warning. Contains mild threat and scenes that will turn you into a blubbering wreck.

It’s great to see an original take on a film. Not a rehash, remake, regurgitation or sequel. A breath of fresh air (Even if it did bear a striking resemblance to Osmosis Jones).

A fun, entertaining and charming family movie that will keep the little ‘uns and the big kids occupied over the holidays for a couple of hours. Go see it.

3.5/5

With room to change to a 4