*NEW* JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK REVIEW *NEW*

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Generic by the book (OR NOT if you’re a fan) actioner that killed the time BUT offered little else.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. BUT on the run as a fugitive from the law, he uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.

I’ve never read the Lee Child novels and I know a lot of fans were not happy to hear that the six foot blonde super soldier was being taken on by the 54 year old hobbit Tom Cruise. BUT I really liked Reacher’s first foray onto the silver screen. It was quick witted, dark, gritty and action packed.

I was actually looking forward to the sequel BUT by the time the credits rolled, I was left feeling disappointed. Reuniting with The Last Samurai director Edward Zwick, I expected so much more from Cruise and co.

The opening delivered with Reacher held up at a diner. A trail of unconscious men welcoming the local law enforcement. “There are two things that are going to happen”. Once that phone rang in the background, I cracked a grin.

It felt like we hadn’t left him. A shame that momentum couldn’t be carried on. While the elongated title sequence and credits flashed across the screen, we watched Reacher finding solace in talking with Major Turner (Cobie Smulders). It was a little too corny for my liking as the pair struck up a friendship and agreed to meet for a date. Awww. Yuck.

However, things did pick up as Reacher finally arrived at Washington only to discover that Turner had been arrested for treason.

The next 30 minutes or so I was engrossed in the cloak and dagger stuff as the military went out of their way to stop Reacher sniffing around. Holt McCallany (Gangster Squad) was brilliant as the slimy Colonel Morgan.

If anything, I wish his character was in it more. He was a better villain than Patrick Heusinger (Black Swan). He may have had a cool title as The Hunter BUT he was too one dimensional to care about. He did his best BUT he was just another stock baddie. It didn’t help that the script didn’t have any clever dialogue. The lines were so flat and dull.

It was missing something. Christopher McQuarrie’s (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) direction. The snappy one liners. The suspense. Even the car chases didn’t impress. It was watchable and the shoot out sequences and punch em ups were entertaining enough BUT they soon grew tedious and predictable as the running time staggered along.

Whilst trying to discover the reason for Turner’s incarceration, Reacher was sandbagged with the news that he may have a daughter. Danika Yarosh (Heroes Reborn) played Samatha well and there were moments to be had as the hard man struggled to impose control over a teenager BUT it was cliched to boot.

Cobie Smulders (Yes, she does. What?!) wasn’t too bad as Turner. It was good to see the How I Met Your Mother star finally get a meatier role. A shame that her character was too much like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Maria Hill. She just tried to out-Reacher Reacher for the majority of the film BUT it just didn’t work.

The machismo talk between the pair did spark a snappy little argument on who would protect Samantha. Reacher telling Turner to stay behind on the grounds of being a woman. In a different film, this could have been something BUT it came off hammy and poorly timed.

Even the story line didn’t offer that much. I actually got lost at one point as Reacher and co found a lead out of nowhere BUT it was merely another excuse for another drawn out ultra-violent punch up.

And after all that mystery and build up, the reveal was so disappointing and predictable. Another generic thriller with a bog standard twist. Cruise did his best with the part BUT I have to agree with my mate who said that Reacher has become nothing more than an Ethan Hunt spin-off series.

It wasn’t bad by any means. If you’re in the mood for a frantic shoot em up to kill the time, then give it a go. Just don’t expect too much.

2.5/5

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SELMA REVIEW

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David Oyelowo delivers an outstanding performance in this highly watchable biopic.

So what is it about? Selma is a chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.

I am a little ashamed to say that I knew nothing of the Selma March. I know who Martin Luther King is and what he stood for. BUT I didn’t really know the full extent of what the man accomplished. Other than deliver the “I Have a Dream” speech.

Farewell, Danny from Spooks. I was afraid that David Oyelowo would never be able to shake off that iconic TV role for me. BUT in the last two years, I have seen him popping up in films more and more with his performances getting better and better; Jack Reacher, Interstellar, The Butler.

I was waiting for him to get a meatier role to sink his teeth into and nothing could be bigger than the role of Dr King.

He was fantastic. I went back to watch the infamous speeches of Dr King and Oyelowo captures his posture, his voice, the little pauses and tone perfectly.

I am surprised that he didn’t at least receive a BAFTA nod for his performance.

I mean if Laura Dern could get a Best Supporting Actress nod for Wild, then the man definitely deserved one. No disrespect, Miss Dern.

The opening sequence surprised me in which we see Dr King receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Another fact I did not know. This is soon followed by the unexpected (No, seriously. I jumped out of my seat) and harrowing 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

Director Ava DuVernay handled the material delicately. Four little girls killed through brutal ignorance. Subtle but tough viewing.

To be honest, Selma was a little slow to get going. Considering the powerful opening, the drama seemed to be put on the back burner. The back room politics was interesting enough with King attempting to peacefully negotiate the black vote.

BUT the constant flicking back and forth soon put me into a lull.

Tom Wilkinson played LDJ brilliantly. The very definition of a politican. Promising to do his utmost but afraid to make any drastic changes as *cough* another election *cough* is on the cards.

Giovanni Ribisi wasn’t bad. The only thing that was bad was his combover.

The conspiring between LDJ and Edgar Hoover was unsettling. It will always remain suspect what happened to Malcolm X and Dr King. Allowing Dr King to continue to be the face of black rights until he began to challenge everything.

While this is happening, we see the treatment of black voters in the southern states as they try and register.

Oprah Winfrey was very good as Annie Lee Cooper. She wasn’t in it enough to be frank. Her treatment was unnecessary. Having to learn and recite the constitution. Fill in every detail of her form. Quizzed on how many members in a particular state and their names. Doing everything within their power to stop her getting the register to vote.

King soon focuses his attention on Selma. A hot spot brewing with racial tension. The place where he will hold a peaceful march.

The fact he was put under heavy surveillance by the government was shocking stuff. Branded as an agitator for failing to listen to reason and disrupting the peace. A joke.

I thought King’s phone call with singer Mahalia Jackson was a little strange. Calling her in the middle of the night to hear a little gospel? BUT the stranger revelation out of the scene that it was logged in a surveillance report!

I always thought Malcolm X and Dr King were not just fighting for the same thing BUT fighting the same way.

I didn’t realise that King detested X’s violent methods and refused his help during the “peace” protests.

Mr X even tried to rationalize with King. Trying to offer his militant ways as a distraction. To stop the wrong attention being focused on King’s cause.

Tim Roth was very good as Governor George Wallace. He carried the accent well and brought a subtle menace to the role. Not enough of him to be honest.

BUT of course the real battlefield was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Truly horrific stuff. The riots that ensued before and after the incident were bad enough but the attack on the Bridge was tough viewing. The sequence meshed in actual footage which really brought it home. Knowing that this actually happened. Shot for shot.

However, in between these horrific moments, there wasn’t much else.

It felt like they tried to piece more around the events of Selma.

The dynamic with King and his wife wasn’t explored enough for me. The threatening phone calls and the constant fear of what would happen was certainly a catalyst.

BUT there was a scene in which the government are desperate to destabilise his marriage by sending a recording of King with another woman. He doesn’t deny it very well. A mild insinuation that I wanted explaining.

No one is perfect BUT was it mind games? Or did the government find something on the pastor?

It was great to see Cuba Gooding Jr. and Martin Sheen in this BUT the roles they took on were so unmemorable and small that anyone could have played them.

The sermons, although brilliantly executed by Oyelowo, were a little long at the tooth for me and didn’t hit home as much as I had wanted.

Don’t get me wrong. Selma is still worth investing.

There were some interesting developments that I didn’t know about. The constant mind changing of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who supported the cause when the odds looked good. Only to pull out when King and the protestors decided to take on the Bridge a second time.

The closing credits around particular protestors had some shocking revelations that I did not anticipate.

The march itself was tense to watch. BUT it just wasn’t quite as hard-hitting as it could have been. I understand that it is based on true events.

BUT it felt like something was missing. The length was a little long for my liking. The politics and sermons seem to kill the tension and pace that was spurning Selma on for me.

However, that doesn’t stop a sterling performance and interesting if (in parts) brutal re-telling of a crucial moment in history.

3/5

EDGE OF TOMORROW REVIEW

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The End of Tom Cruise? Not today. This little timey wimey special effects action flick is pretty much Groundhog Day meets a 12A equivalent of Starship Troopers. If that sounds terrible, then move on. If not, welcome.

If you love the Cruise, he still does his best and proves yet again that he can still be the leading man. If you don’t, well you get to see him die 200 times so win-win. To call this a blockbuster with brains is a little bit of an overstatement. To me a blockbuster with brains was Inception or The Matrix (Well the first instalment anyway).

It’s certainly delivers a different premise. But as typical timey wimey spiel goes, the plot holes still rear their ugly head. Despite being written by the legendary scriptwriter that is Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects/Jack Reacher/Jack and the Giant Pile of Sh -)

For every little plot point about the rapid Squidee like alien entities terrorising the beaches of Normandy, I couldn’t help but think . . .  oh, no wait a minute. Hmmm . . . That doesn’t make sense.

The D-Dayesque battle may be a little bit mocking. I say satirical, if a little lazy but the special effects are fantastic and the 3D sequences really shine, especially when those Squidee things scuttle about with their mechanical legs (shudder). Cruise and the BEA-utiful Emily Blunt are a good pair together and share some decent chemistry.

It isn’t really that schmaltzy or thrown in your face. Quite subtle as these big luvvy duvvy blockbusters go. It was interesting to see Cruise’s character actually turning out at the beginning (not a spoiler – DON’T PANIC) an egotistical media whore who is forced into using the very weapons he’s been flogging on the battlefield.

It all zips along quite well and once the timey wimey thing kicks in (without divulging the plot) it gets crazy, at times quite funny but eventually after an hour of it, a little tedious. It’s weird because I loved Source Code and Groundhog Day, which this film is very much like.

However, after you’ve seen Cruise reboot a few times and experience deja-vu, it gets a little annoying. Understandably, if you were ever in that position, it would be but as a viewer, come on. BUT, a few twists and turns, and we are back on track for a fast paced, exhilarating finale which may have been a little too abrupt.

Doug Liman (Jumper/The Bourne Identity) manages to bring an entertaining, if flawed, blockbuster that does rise above the number of duds that have disgraced the silver screen this summer . . . so far. And it’s a vast, vast improvement from Jumper. I was also surprised at the talented supporting cast.

Bill Paxton playing the slick toothed Sargeant. Game over, man (See what I did there). The legendary, if limited, Brendan Gleeson (The Guard/In Bruges) playing a corrupt military figure to perfection. But at the same time, did anyone else feel that he looked like he couldn’t be arsed? No? Moving on . . .

There was a number of British actors popping up in this. I mean, obviously it was a UK/US collaboration but still, great to see them making a mark.

Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood), Tony Way (Ali G), Franz Drameh (Attack the Block) all managed to make memorable grunts. Charlotte Riley (Martina Cole’s The Take) unfortunately did for all the wrong reasons with her horrific American accent and strange face pulling. Ripley gone wrong, maybe.

Laura Pulver (Sherlock/Da Vinci’s Demons) in a blink and you’ll miss it cameo? Was her scenes removed in the final cut or something? Or was she in the studio at the time? Strange. Noah Taylor finally reappearing (probably something to do with a recent appearance in a certain Game of Thrones) in a somewhat subdued role.

All in all, not bad, if a little overhyped. At its best; fast, action packed, entertaining, at its worst; all gloss not enough lacquer on the inner workings and character depth and a little rushed by the end. Run out of steam?

Well I got two things out of it; Tom Cruise screaming like a little bitch and Emily Blunt . . . she will be my future wife. What?

But still worth a gander 3.5 (just) out of 5 for me! Currently ranks 36 out of 183!

DIVERGENT REVIEW

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Dull-vergent. A watchable if highly predictable affair. It’s all been seen before but it helps when it’s reprieved by likeable characters and a well acted cast. However, it felt more like Di-Verging on Being a Hunger Games Rip off.

In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it’s too late.

I haven’t read the book. And after watching this, I don’t think I will any time soon. For those who also haven’t; the film is set in a post apocalyptic future Chicago. In order to maintain peace, the city has been split into five factions and shielded with a giant wall (Game of Thrones, this ain’t). From what? Nobody knows. Spookaay. No, seriously. Nobody knows.

The factions are; Arudite, Candor, Dauntless (the irritating and OTT Dauntless), Amity and Abnegation. However, introduce the lovely (and my new crush) Shailene Woodley as isolated teen Tris who is struggling to fit into her faction, the selfless Abnegation. For those who haven’t swallowed a dictionary, this particular faction helps the homeless or Factionless, in this case.

In all fairness, the pace chugged along and I wasn’t bored as Tris is torn between fulfilling her obligations to her parents and finding her true calling, her identity (Zzzzz). Lucky for her there is a big test in which she can change factions. BUT everything is NOT what it seems.

Woodley is a very likeable lead and there were a couple of moments I didn’t expect to happen, which made a nice surprise from my teen blockbuster check list that I’ve accumulated over the years. Theo James played the brooding bad boy (check) well as the mysterious (BUT NOT really that mysterious) Four.

He has come a long way from the dud of a demon disaster TV series that was Bedlam and his a**hole turn in The Inbetweeners Movie (Yes, the guy . . . Yeah, nose. That guy). He even mastered a flawless American accent.

There was good chemistry between him and Woodley as inevitably sparks flew (check). The fighting through the ranks of the factions was very Hunger Games. The dinner halls were something out of Harry Potter, only more macho and messier. The action sequences were entertaining enough; the Inception-esque dream sequences were interesting (if a little repetitive). The big twist reveals were predictable but the ending still kept me from twiddling my thumbs with a racy finish.

Kate Winslet played the icy bitch role with aplomb and frankly she wasn’t in it enough. For someone of her gravitas, the role seemed minute. BUT of course, there is always a reason. Hint, hint. Alright watch out, SPOILERS! The inevitable Twilight/Hunger Games vibe meant one thing. That’s right! SEQUEL!

The ending was racy, action packed and picked up a meandering pace that was putting me into a mini-coma. Two and a half hours? Really? Is there a Hollywood rule that decrees that these all best selling teen novel adaptations must be said length? Must be for the die hard book fans after the mistakes HP made.

In all fairness, there wasn’t a bad supporting cast attached to this. Jai Courtney (Die Hard 5, Jack Reacher, I, Frankenstein) is popping up everywhere and played the nasty Eric to perfection. Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd were good BUT anyone could have played them.

Miles Teller (Whiplash) was pretty much playing the same old character type. The smarmy cocky fast talker. Zoe Kravitz, the only actor to come out unscathed from After Earth (and rightly so), gave her all. BUT Mekhi Phifer was terrible and, with Courtney being all evil and sh*t, unnecessary but again if more is to follow then that might be justified.

And if there will be more, I hope that more will be made of Four’s past. We got a measly taster and was one of the more interesting subplots going on. My main quip however; if this was supposed to be the opening movie for an ongoing franchise, it needed to come out guns blazing.

This didn’t BUT it did just enough to pique my interest to see the next movie but any more and they’ll be milking it.

A mixed bag. We’ve had all the build up. Now surprise me.

3 (just) out of 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