*NEW* BATTLE OF THE SEXES REVIEW *NEW*

A sterling turn from Stone lifts this easygoing sports biopic from TV movie-land.

The true story of the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell).

The opening got straight to it. Clocking bonus points for shooting the opening credit sequences in all its 70s glory. Retro.

Stone was brilliant as King. You really felt for her as the world’s number one female tennis champion threw everything on the line to make a stand. She carried the film and, if anything, her Oscar was awarded for the wrong film.

It bumbled along at an easy going pace as King argued biology and tackled sexism. A simple request. Same stakes. Same prize money. As the women were only awarded an eighth of the mens’.

I’m not the biggest fan of Sarah Silverman BUT she delivered a decent turn as King’s long suffering agent. Doing her utmost to source an alternative tournament with no backing or money.

The risk King took. Jeopardising the chances of Grand Slam and Wimbledon for her cause. I couldn’t believe it.

I’m sure it was supposed to be a stark contrast watching King struggle to make ends meet while Riggs (Carrell) smoke, drank and gambled in the background.

BUT it felt like a waste of Carrell’s talents. Anyone could have played him. It was only at the 45 minute marker that the man had a little more meat to chew on. His outburst at a gamblers anonymous meeting spoke volumes: “You’re not here because you gamble. You’re here because you lost!”. Mental.

Carrell played the part well BUT I didn’t know what to make of Riggs. A washed up chauvinist? Or a player in every single aspect?

It felt like Riggs used the chauvinism angle as a mere ploy to antagonise his opponents and help ramp up the PR. By the end, I didn’t know whether the sports star was really that deluded or just desperate for one last pay out.

The ultimate irony being that Riggs was burning through his wife’s (A role that was a waste of Elisabeth Shue’s talents) inheritance to fund his expensive habits while she continued to make a living. Quietly observing from the side lines.

I was surprised at the star-studded cast involved; Bill Pullman, Andrea Riseborough, John C. McGinley and Alan Cumming. It was a shame that they didn’t really bring much to the fold.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Riseborough had good chemistry with Stone as King came to terms with her sexuality after falling for a hairdresser.

I was actually on tenterhooks when King’s husband unwittingly stumbled upon their union.

The only problem with BOTS was that in an attempt to focus on every aspect, it didn’t really provide much depth to the majority of the characters involved other than Riggs and King.

I couldn’t believe the PR up to this “Battle of the Sexes” match. I was baffled when the end credits showed the real life footage of the promotion (I thought the majority of it had been exaggerated for dramatic purposes).

The celebrity endorsements surprised me! Oh Lloyd Bridges, say it ain’t so!

Riggs wasted so much energy on showboating and mockery instead of on the actual match. I have to commend King for trying to change opinion and making a stance.

It was engaging enough BUT I expected (with the talent involved) this biopic to pack more of a punch. The social commentary still struck chords with the present. A shocking comparison by its own right.

BUT it was all rather tame. After all that build up, the BIG match was brushed over so quickly that the ending went out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still rooting for King. And surprisingly, I didn’t know the outcome of this historical game.

I was mortified at the change of tide during the match commentary as they realised Bobby was feeling the strain. I couldn’t believe after all those jibes and digs about King’s looks and build that they used Rigg’s age as an excuse when she was getting the better of him?!

Madness. Funny that wasn’t an issue when he beat Margaret Court in the same year. Hmmm . . .

If this biopic didn’t have such a talented cast at its disposal, I felt this premise may have gone straight on the box.

It certainly killed the time and entertained BUT will stand the test of time like the very much it focused on? Not so much.

A stand out performance from Stone does just enough to serve up a watchable drama.

3/5

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*NEW* INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE 3D REVIEW *NEW*

independence-day-poster

We waited 20 years for this?!

Two decades after the first Independence Day invasion, Earth is faced with a new extra-Solar threat. But will mankind’s new space defenses be enough?

It is what is. A visually stunning and ridiculous cliched mess of a guilty pleasure. Fun viewing regardless.

Independence Day was an Oscar winning (Yup. You read that, right?) blockbuster that delivered one of the most iconic movie shots of all time. Albeit an alien death ship blowing up the White House.

The only problem is that it has been 20 years since Independence Day opened the door for bigger blockbusters with even more ridiculous effects and sillier plots that have milked every stupid cliche dry. A couple of them penned by Roland Emmerich himself.

I’m not going to lie. This was probably the one guilty pleasure I was actually looking forward to. BUT did it deliver? After the long wait and the return of some old faces, I can say with full fervour . . . Meh.

Let’s start with the good. This won’t take long. The effects (of course) were fantastic. Visually stunning. The alien technology from the ‘War of 96’ creating an ultra-futuristic 2016 (Well, Washington DC) with hovercrafts, spaceships and giant floating jumbo screens. Crazy.

The 3D was quite good especially when our green friends made their proper introduction. Missiles and tentacles flying out left, right and centre. It was great to see Goldblum, Pullman and Spiner back in the mix.

Pullman looked rough. He tried his best to work with the “serious subplot” as the tormented ex-President still plagued by strange visions. BUT it didn’t really work and there wasn’t even a “Today, we celebrate our Independence Day” speech. One of the greatest speeches in movie history!

Spiner (Star Trek) hasn’t aged a day and was just as nuts as he was the first time round. Goldblum’s dry Ian Malcolm wit has been missed and was definitely needed to poke fun at this!

In a ridiculous scene involving a 50 foot alien chasing a school bus of children (Yup. That stupid), our hero can’t leave until the kids save their dog. “Let’s not forget the dog. There’s always a dog”.

If anything that scene summed up the movie. It felt like one big parody of the original. Emmerich and co must have banked everything on Will Smith’s return. BUT studio rumours speculated that the Hollywood megastar demanded $50m (Whaaat?!!) to appear in two sequels.

Once they turned him down, the writers just put any old thing together. You could tell that Emmerich was still sore about Smith’s absence as he wrote the resilient Captain Steven Hiller off in an embarrassing fashion. The bad ass, that welcomed an alien to Earth with a punch in the face, bumped off in a botched test practice. Ouch.

He seemed to punish the Hiller clan full stop. Jessie T. Usher was terrible as Dylan Hiller. It didn’t help that his character was so weak and by the closing minutes, you soon realised how unnecessary he was. Vivica A. Fox didn’t receive any better treatment with her cameo.

All the old faces tried to do the exact same thing with worse results. And when they weren’t involved, they were replaced with annoying new faces. William Fichtner (Prison Break) was wasted in his role while Sela Ward (House) was a highly unmemorable President.

Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist) was a weak and needless character. The whole Africa subplot was a joke and a bad one. Kicking alien ass with an African warlord? Really. I’m either making that sound better or worse. Even if Areo Hotah (Deobia Oparei – Game of Thrones) was said warlord.

Liam Hemsworth (Hunger Games) stole the show and managed to work his charisma on a dull role. Maika Monroe (It Follows) wasn’t too bad. I wish more was made out of the pair as they had good chemistry and were the least annoying out of the bunch.

Goldblum wasn’t really in it as much as you’d think. His presence missed in every frame. Smith and a character of Randy Quaid’s gusto was also missed and needed in this messy retread.

This sort of film is what my mate would call, ‘a sh*t BUT good’ film. It was a laugh (probably for all the wrong reasons) and it killed the time. BUT when you compare it to Emmerich’s weaker efforts *cough* 2012 *cough*, it still fell short.

There were astronauts drinking moon milk, for God’s sake. Seriously? The questions? I know Independence Day wasn’t a work of art by any means. Goldblum destroyed an alien mothership with a computer virus. Because all alien death machines have USB ports, right?

*POTENTIAL SPOILER* Things were left open for another BUT they’re going to have to cook up something pretty damn special after the poor box office takings and mixed reviews. That might be put on hold or the SyFy channel.

Despite all the crazy visual effects and silly fun; this sequel was an empty vessel that lacked the charm and energy of the original. Worth a watch for the die hard fans and B-movie cineastes.

2.5/5