*NEW* BABY DRIVER REVIEW *NEW*

Oh baby, that weren’t too shabby.

Fast, furious if a little frantic. One of the better ones.

After being coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), a young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

I’m not going to lie. The opening 15 minutes didn’t really give me high hopes.

Despite ticking all the boxes on the Edgar Wright movie checklist; cracking soundtrack (check), quick-cut editing (check), great humour; I wasn’t convinced about the main man.

Watching Elgort strut, prance around and mime badly to some killer tracks annoyed the hell out of me. I was actually wondering whether I was going to be able to put up with this cocky pillock.

However, as soon as the heist began and the chase was on, my griping subdued.

The car chases were exhilarating and tense with some brilliantly choreographed stunts and set pieces.

I was more empathetic towards Baby after we delved into his past and discovered the reason for the “hum and the drum” (Or should I say the reason for his insufferable need to have a music device plugged in his ear holes).

Baby’s relationship with his deaf foster father Joseph (CJ Jones – if you have a spare minute, read up on this guy. Inspirational) allowed the Fault in the Stars man to work his charm and charisma.

The supporting cast was an incredibly talented mixed bag. What the hell was Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers doing in this?!

Kevin Spacey was fantastic. Not enough of the big man. He almost stole every scene he featured in.

I was a little disappointed at how small Jon Bernthal’s (The Walking Dead) role was. I kept waiting for his character to return. Reduced to nothing more than a measly cameo.

Eiza Gonzalez was mere eye candy. Nothing more than a trigger to set off the tumultuous partnership of Jon Hamm’s (Mad Men) Buddy and Jamie Foxx’s Bats.

It made a change to see Don Draper go dark. Hamm nailed it. BUT in the battle of scene stealers, Foxx won the prize. He was menacing and brought uneasy tension to the piece. He channelled a lot of Motherf*cker Jones (Horrible Bosses fans, am I right?). The cogs always turning.

Lily James (Cinderella) was a little lost in the mix. Some of the dialogue didn’t quite come off as clever or as cool as it should have BUT the pair had great chemistry.

I felt their blossoming romance was rushed to catch up with Baby’s ongoing drama. I would have been happy to have a little more time spent on them. Anything over Elgort’s song and dance numbers.

The pair’s relationship had an echo of Scott Pilgrim as they bonded over music. Steven Price’s selections were a mad mix of hits from T-Rex to Golden Earring. Hell yes!

BUT despite my grumblings about their rushed romance, I did like the conflicted Bonnie and Clyde set up as Baby’s life of crime reached breaking point.

And this is where the film really won me over (as did the protagonist).

The quick witted humour, along with Bill Pope’s glossy cinematography, made this seem like an easy going crime caper.

Especially when one of the criminals made an almighty howler with the Michael Myers masks. Brilliant.

BUT the second half of the film (without spoiling anything) took a darker and more violent turn than I expected. The light super cool tone completely changing.

I should have realised that Wright was never shy of blood and gore. I forgot how brutal Hot Fuzz was (Man, I love that film. Need to watch it again . . . Moving on).

I was hooked. Hell, there were even a few twists along the way.

It was a fast and furious riot that made up for a stumbling and predictable middle act.

And by the time the credits rolled, I actually walked out the cinema smiling.

3.5/5

PLEASE ENJOY THIS KILLER TRACK (AND MY FAVOURITE) FROM THE ECLECTIC MOVIE SOUNDTRACK

 

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ANNIE REVIEW

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I think I’m going to like it here. Well, I didn’t like this.

A needless remake of a classic musical. OTT, ridiculously cheesy and to make it all worse, it was just rubbish.

From the opening musical number with the sassy Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) making all the class clap and stomp in tune (The front row the rich, the rest of the class poor) I was cringing. I believe a face palm may have occurred.

Really, Hollywood? An urban take on Annie. On paper, I thought why not? There hasn’t been one BUT rehashing the classics badly with auto-tune? This could have been an opportunity to make a statement on foster care or the social care system under the veil of song but no, no, no.

A poor rehashing of the same old story line that felt even more dated and hammy than the original.

The music wasn’t bad but the “Hard Knock Life” remixed with “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” didn’t do it for me. I felt the choice of Hard Knock Life was a little lazy considering one (of a long list) of the producers was Jay Z.

The whole spring cleaning routine to it was choreographed well but it just didn’t work. “The City’s Yours” sung by Jamie Foxx and “Opportunity” by Wallis were very good.

I did warm up to Wallis by the end but I found her a little annoying and too headstrong for my liking. Look at me, I sound like an old man. But something just didn’t sit right until she was paired up with Foxx. They worked well together and made the predictable cheesy relationship a little more bearable.

Foxx delivered on the singing. Of course, he would. The man won an Oscar for Ray BUT his character Will Stacks was almost a caricature. A deluded politician out of touch with the people.

Hardly original but guzzling hand sanitizer after touching and kissing a few voters? Spitting food at the homeless? Too OTT for my liking.

The auto-tuning video of said food flinging incident did get a chuckle.

Cameron Diaz overacted to the max. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a musical but I couldn’t take her seriously as the volatile foster parent, Hannigan. I winced every time she came on wailing at the kids.

The conviction wasn’t there and she annoyed the hell out of me. That was until she sang. When she first started, I thought “Bloody hell” (Well there might have been a few other choice words) but as the song carried on, her voice got better.

And credit where it’s due. She hadn’t got a bad singing voice. One actress I wouldn’t have minded hearing sing a little more was Rose Byrne. In the scenes she supported, she had a nice voice.

I would have preferred to hear more of that than her long winded stereotypical Oxford talk about being a workaholic and having no friends. That was irritating.

Look, I know musicals are always exaggerated and in your face BUT normally you can switch off and be immersed in it. And that is because as much as the songs stand out, the characters do too but I felt they strung any old cliched character together and just thought “It’s a musical, they’ll love it”.

Let’s not forget Glee is going. The musicals losing their magic once again.

There were watchable parts and the pace zipped along for its two hour length. You could tell the cast were having fun and there were scenes where you got caught up in it NOT just poking fun at it.

The cast choices surprised me. They sung very well even if the reworkings were a little hit and miss. I think I’m Going To Like It Here wasn’t bad, bar Stephanie Kurtzuba’s ridiculous impromptu social worker performance. She did my nut in.

The cameos were a little random. Patricia Clarkson (The Maze Runner) as a focus group member suffering bad side effects after using one of Stack’s phones fell flat on it’s backside. Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje (Mr Echo from Lost) was nothing more than a smiling chauffeur. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

David Zayas (Dexter) didn’t do too bad with his flower shop mope role with a vendetta against the powers that be. Michael J. Fox popping up in a satirical PR campaign segment was a clever touch.

A mermaid movie premiere that ripped off Twilight involving Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher and Rihanna wasn’t bad. It certainly poked fun at the guff that makes money these days.

BUT the rest of the actual movie was just like it!

Bobby Cannavale was on scene stealing form until the last 15 minutes of the movie. Boardwalk Empire’s Gyp Rosetti singing and dancing?! Madness. His song and dance number with Diaz did leave a little to be desired.

But the whole PR campaign in which they used Annie as a marketing tool was a good little bit of satire. Shame there wasn’t more of that to make up for the lifeless characters. Cannavale’s ruthless PR executive certainly kept things moving.

Some of his one liners were spot on; “There have been worst politicians. I know. I got them elected. Schwarzenegger, Kim Jong-Il, that blood diamond guy”. It got one of a few chuckles.

The story was weak. Little orphan looking for parents that left her. Befriending a man out of touch and out of love. Finding each other. Yawnnn.

Plus the plot holes were terrible. Annie sings about the note left by her parents. BUT then later on, reveals she can’t read?! What?!

Granted. Someone could have told her what it said. It would have been more of a twist if the note actually said something else. OR if all the sub-plotting and twists weren’t revealed in song. Seriously you knew everything that was about to happen. Would have been nice to have a little mystery.

Still would have been predictable BUT something.

The film ended so frantically and cheesily that I was shaking my head. All logic out the window for a racy finish. It was stupid. BUT no worries. Throw in some schmaltzy dialogue and a few jazz hands and everything will be okay.

Shudder.

It will be a while before the sun will come out on messy musicals like this. Not a complete write off. There will be enough for the little ‘uns and the hardcore musical maniacs who are not deterred by this review. Sorry, it’s a no from me.

2/5

HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 REVIEW

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Meh, it wasn’t all horrible, I guess.

The gang are back. Ruder, louder but funnier? Well . . .

What are they up to this time?

Dale (Charlie Day), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Nick (Jason Bateman) decide to start their own business but things don’t go as planned because of a slick investor (Christoph Waltz), prompting the trio to pull off a hare-brained and misguided kidnapping scheme.

I really enjoyed the first one. It was stupid but funny. The plot was a demented version of Strangers on a Train and Jennifer Aniston completely broke out of her comfort zone as the sex addict dentist, Julia.

Inevitably, a sequel was soon on the cards. The first half of the film was actually quite entertaining. Crude, OTT but funny. En par with the first film.

The banter and exchanges between the gang were all there and I was laughing a lot more than I expected to. Sudeikis was on form yet again with his zippy one liners; “Holy shit, he fight clubbed himself! We have a fight clubber!”

However, Charlie Day really got on my nerves this time around. His high pitched screeching and yelling was irritating. I felt he was overcompensating with noise just to remind us he was still in the movie.

The whole Dale/Julia thing was starting to go on a little bit. And after a while you felt that was all his character was bringing. A re-tread of the same old subplot.

The opening news TV segment was hilarious bar a somewhat lazy shower sketch that reeked of the old Austin Powers movies. It got a guilty chuckle but we’ve already had a whole franchise of that.

Bateman was good as Nick. Playing it straight faced with his deadpan delivery made some of the sillier moments and exchanges a bit more entertaining.

Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine were very good. Waltz played the slick smooth talking businessman well. I expected nothing less. However, I felt his character was a little nothingy after the inital con and was pushed to the background. Shame.

I mean, come on. You have Colonel Hans Landa at your disposal.

Chris Pine was something else. Crazy Kirk. Up for a laugh and providing one of the most bonkers performances I’ve seen in some time.

And of course, there was a reunion of some familiar faces. Kevin Spacey made a comical cameo as the gang desperately seek advice. However, where Spacey had me in stitches with his put downs. I felt his “No balls” rant went on far too long.

It just about got away with it BUT I felt that the film had to rely too heavily on these faces to fill the rather thin and flimsy story line. Don’t get me wrong. It’s watchable but the gags are soon far and few between and the bickering between the guys soon gets irritating really fast.

Jennifer Aniston looked stunning yet again and tried to outdo her previous performance in vulgarity but it just didn’t come off as funny or necessary for that matter.

I mean her sex addiction rehab scene with Bateman was hilarious as Nick mistakes the session for an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Plenty of sordid innuendos that had me cringing but laughing.

However, her pursuit of Dale was old hat and after a while, you wondered why Julia was even in this sequel? Jamie Foxx also returned and was in fine form as Motherfucker Jones.

BUT again by the end, I felt he overstayed his welcome. A high speed police chase sequence was way too OTT for me and just wasn’t that funny. Texting one handed while driving? Woah. We got a badass over here. Or an idiot.

Jonathan Banks even made an appearance and seemed to do his worst impression of Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad. His character may have been small fry but he was dreadful. I had to double check IMDb to make sure it was definitely the same actor.

For every good gag, there were dozen duds and I felt like it tried to break from the first film’s style (Good) then chickened out and did exactly the same stuff which made the last 20 minutes really flat, predictable and unfunny.

Not completely horrible but not that great either. So-so at best.

2.5/5

RIO 2 REVIEW

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Enough silly animation to entertain the little ‘uns. A watchable, colourful sequel that fails to beat the original but just about gets away with it.

Here we join Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway), now complete with three loveable kids, as they trade the frantic festival city life of Rio de Janeiro for the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel (Jermaine Clement), and meets his most fearsome adversary of all: his father-in-law, Eduardo (Andy Garcia).

The animation is brilliantly detailed and very colourful, providing luscious landscapes which makes for great viewing. The story is hardly original but with likeable characters it just about gets away with it as everyone can relate to feeling the outsider or having to face their partner’s in-law or parent.

There’s enough action, gags and musical numbers to keep the movie flapping along nicely. Miguel Ferrer plays a relatively generic and stocky sinister logging constructor who is threatening to destroy the natural Amazonian habitat. Hardly memorable for the Kojak cherry lollypop sucking fiend. The real devil in this is the hilarious scene stealing Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords).

Always hilarious with his “altered” Shakespearean soliloquies and parody song numbers ripping a number of movies, it was a shame that Nigel was not in it enough. It felt like he was forced into the subplot a little. Luckily so.

His crew of misfits brought the odd laugh; the hyperactive poisonous frog with verbal diarrhea, the appropriately named Gabi (brilliantly voiced by Kristin Chenoweth – Pushing Daisies) and the silent Charlie Chaplinesque ant eater. Gabi’s infatuation with Nigel and song number, “Poisonous Love” was funny, if incredibly corny.

The cast bring the characters to life. Eisenberg and Hathaway convey the loving couple and Eisenberg is always good at playing the neurotic worrier, with his fanny pack in tow. The plot is corny, cheesy and predictable. What does stand out for Rio 2 is the supporting characters.

Will.i.am is dope as the pop-pop-poppin’ Pedro with the funky flapper Jamie Foxx. The talent show sequence was funny alone from the slow high-fiving tortoises, the wrecking ball swinging monkeys and a rapping Nicki-Minajesque sloth (Amy Heidemann from Karmin) that drops off after a rap that will have Busta Rhymes tipping his cap. Bruno Mars was hilarious as Roberto. His singing was decent, to be expected and his voice acting was actually pretty good as the lothario swooping in on Blu’s family.

However, certain characters were pushed into the background. George Lopez’s Rafael and Tracy Morgan’s dribbling pitbull, especially, were barely in it. While Tulio (I can’t believe it was 300’s Rodrigo Santoro) was unfortunately in it too much with his incessant squawking and stupidity. Andy Garcia was a surprise as the frustrated father-in-law. A nice change from the slimy slick roles we know and love him for. Leslie Mann also did her best with the limited screen time.

Not bad. Enough to keep the little ‘uns entertained for 90 minutes. If adults can get past the usual predictable guff then there’s just about enough to keep you giggling an’ all but hardly groundbreaking or outstanding.

Not the worst by a long shot but seen it a lot better. Got enough to keep flight but hardly soaring high or flopping like a turkey. Enough avarian based punnery, you get the gist. 2.5/5

Currently ranks #123 out of 168!

THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 REVIEW

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The-Not-So-Amazing-And-Incredibly-Corny-Spiderman.

Stunning special effects and 3D trickery does not a good movie make.

Certainly made it watchable BUT with a gushy teen romance subplot dominating an overlong screen time, villains that hardly threatened or entertained and a plot that was nothing more than build up for another inevitable installment, you can’t help but question why they bothered rebooting it in the first place?

Now, I loved the Sam Raimi trilogy (well Spiderman 3 was watchable. Seen a lot worse. Let’s not forget Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin, guys).

Tobey Maguire was an excellent Peter Parker (although he has been subject to some hilarious memes for his infamous face pulling).

When I heard there was going to be a reboot, I was baffled. Why? No need. Just carry on from Raimi and replace the cast if they want to leave. However, Marc Webb’s first installment was actually quite good. For an origin story, it did something that quite a few comic book adaptations don’t and that’s go back to the source material.

Andrew Garfield was a very likeable lead and a cooler, more laid back version of Maguire’s Parker. For its two hour-odd length, I could have happily watched more. My only qualm was that the villain was a little naff and the story was rushed. BUT I wanted to see more. And here we are . . .

An exhilarating (if mental) opener delving into Peter’s parents “accident”, and Spidey dealing with a crime spree, delivered high hopes. Cheesy, watchable and entertaining. BUT that soon spiralled into mediocrity.

Garfield and Stone had great chemistry and were a likeable couple in the first part. Inevitably their chemistry turned out to be more and they’re a real life couple. However, this time, the teen angst and will-they-won’t-they?-back story felt repetitive, tedious and incredibly cheesy. The sort of syrupy stuff you’d expect to see in a Twilight movie.

The way the movie was promoted, I expected something bigger, darker, badder. Bigger? Certainly. Darker? Hardly. The pair do their best and the chemistry was still very much on. BUT it felt because of the teen gossip, Webb allowed a little too much time on them. I mean we had all that will-they-won’t-they? stuff in the Raimi trilogy with Dunst and Maguire. Been there done that.

This was supposed to be a reboot. Doing something different. I know Parker’s torn loyalty between the woman he loves and saving the city was always going to be at the forefront. BUT it felt slapped together. Even the uneasy tension between Parker and Stacey’s dad (Dennis Leary) went nowhere. He just kept popping up, grimacing menacingly.

The visual effects, the set pieces and 3D were fantastic with bits flying out (steady now) all over the place. The camera work as Spidey swung around the New York cityscape was fantastic. However when some of the bigger battles commenced, the CGI got a little much and cartoony in places.

Webb reduced Peter and Aunt May’s relationship to nothing. A shame considering he had Sally Field in the role. Anyone could have played her.

The lovely Felicity Jones (Chalet Girl/Cemetery Junction) was reduced to playing a stocky, generic secretary. The same can be said for Colm Feore (The Borgias/The Chronicles of Riddick). He made more of an impression BUT a nothingy role nonetheless.

The villains, on the other hand, in the words of George Takei, “OH MY!!”

Jamie Foxx did his best with the material. His nerdy counterpart Max Dillon was incredibly weird. If anything he reminded me of Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma from Batman Forever. His obsession with Spiderman, after a brief life saving encounter, bordered on creepyville.

However, once he transformed into Electro  (Fantastic visuals by the way), he got better. But memorable? The best villain in Spiderman history? Hardly. He came off more like a demented electrolysed Mr Freeze with a sore throat.

Don’t get me wrong. The fight sequences were decent BUT the dialogue and exchanges left little to be desired.

Marton Csokas’ evil scientist came off more like a pantomine villain. Paul Giamatti? What the hell? Legend that he is. His part was incredibly irritating and OTT. A change from his usual roles but really? The money must have been good.

Fair play to Webb for reworking the Osbourns. BUT Chris Cooper was reduced to a passing cameo as Norman. I know we had the talented Willem Dafoe BUT I would have been happy to see his portrayal. At least the origin of the Green Goblin was different.

Dane DeHaan (Chronicle/Kill Your Darlings) wasn’t a bad Harry. He looked shady enough with his slimy grin and slick back hair. BUT even ol’ squinty eyed Franco did a more menacing job. Plus the Green Goblin? Really? Again? I suppose he was one of Spidey’s biggest adversaries.

My main problem was that Spiderman was rebooted for its silly, OTT, ridiculous third installment. BUT this very film did the exact same thing. Bar a redeeming closing act.

I’m fed up of films building up for another one. The film I’m watching should make me want to watch the next one.

Garfield was still a likeable Spiderman that delivered some cheeky one liners. BUT the quick-witted banter was very hit and miss. It was all a little tame (Spiderman light) until the finale. An unexpected twist gave me hope. But it wasn’t enough.

I fear this franchise is heading for Schumacher territory. This ship needs moving into Nolan/Raimi waters or I fear it will sink. Get some better baddies and this reboot might just prove it’s worth.

At its best, watchable guff with some decent visual set pieces. At its worst, overlong, schmaltzy and all done before and much better. This Spidey fan is reaching for his bug spray.

2.5 out of 5!