*NEW* THE INFILTRATOR REVIEW *NEW*

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Terrible title for a terrible movie. Not even Heisenberg could save this cold and disjointed crime thriller. Watch Narcos instead.

A U.S. Customs official (Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad) uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

A meandering and uninteresting crime biopic. Shame. Let’s start with the positives (That will be about a paragraph).

The opening was engaging enough as we watched agent Robert Mazur in play (Even if it was Hal in a badly dyed wig and tash). I couldn’t believe the number of British actors popping up in small (and tragically meaningless) roles; Daniel Mays (Dad’s Army), Leanne Best (Line of Duty) and Joseph Gilgun (Misfits).

I was intrigued as Mazur had to fake a heart attack to cover up the fact that the bug he was wearing was actually frying his chest. You could feel for the chap as retirement reared its ugly head. Desperately seeking one operation, one bust that will truly make a dent on this relentless drug war.

It was interesting to see the strain that the scheme took on Mazur’s wife. Juliet Aubrey (The Constant Gardener) and Bryan Cranston had good chemistry. At first, Evelyn was understanding and supportive as Bob confides in her every detail BUT as he delves deeper into the underbelly and his cover became entwined with his personal life, things began to take their toll.

An uncomfortable anniversary dinner took a turn for the worse as the couple bump into one of Mazur’s targets. A moment involving a birthday cake was probably one of the best scenes in the film. Cranston was able to show why he won all those Emmys and highlight the pressure of keeping two personas.

It was a little disappointing that the momentum couldn’t be carried. The agonizing pace really didn’t help the piece. There were good portions of the film that dragged unnecessarily.

I’m not sure whether it was a case of writer Ellen Sue Brown sticking too close to the original novel based on Mazur’s life BUT it really wasn’t an interesting one. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to establish that Escobar was filtering his money through America and various places around the world. Once we witnessed Bob initiate a few shady deals and droll out some financial statistics, there wasn’t much else on offer.

John Leguizamo’s character was the most interesting one as the unstable Emir Abreu. BUT he still annoyed the hell out of me. The banter and one liners not quite jumping out at you and coming off flat and unfunny. BUT at least his character got things going. Introducing Mazur to the very underworld he wants to bring down.

There were a couple of tense moments as Abreu had to protect Mazur’s cover and deal with his own C.I. that was going out of his way to cause problems. BUT for all the potential trouble it suggested, nothing really came of it. Once Mazur got to the people he needed to, Abreu was pushed into the background and only brought back for the dismal finale.

And that was the main problem. It was all build up with no pay-off. It spent so long setting everything up and then ended abruptly with some mind-numbing disappointing statistics and bio footnotes in the closing credits. BUT by the end I couldn’t care less.

Diane Kruger did her best as Kathy Ertz; Mazur’s undercover wife. The writer teased a growing closeness between the pair BUT it was never really explored. Some much needed drama that could have added to the strain on Mazur’s real wife. However, it was reduced to an awkward encounter between the two ladies that just didn’t work.

Benjamin Bratt did his best with the role of Roberto Alcaino BUT he delivered more gusto and tenacity as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. The promising cast were wasted. Amy Ryan was reduced to playing a stocky CIA operative. Dull. Gilgun wasn’t in it enough as Dominic. He has come a long way from Emmerdale.

Joshua Reis’ cinematography was great to look at BUT there were only so many badly choreographed flashy neon stripper dances to cracking 80s tunes that could distract me from the monotonous clichéd and generic crime drivel that we’ve seen time and time again.

A movie of mere moments that never really took off. It was a little infuriating to see the Breaking Bad star take another foray into the drug business BUT at the same time if anyone could have made it work, you would have banked on Walter White.

You know you’re onto a loser when the main villain is reduced to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it walking cameo.

2/5

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*NEW* SISTERS REVIEW *NEW*

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Two stars for . . . the two stars.

OTT, stupid and dreadfully unfunny. I can’t believe that this was the last film I saw in 2015.

Two sisters (Amy Poehler and Tina Fey) decide to throw one last house party before their parents sell their family home.

I really wanted to like this. Poehler (Parks and Recreation) and Fey (30 Rock) are funny ladies. BUT what drove them to do this? The money must have been good. I don’t care how ridiculous a film gets. As long as it’s funny, I can go along with the madness. This just made me mad.

The best one liners and gags only really came from their improvisation. Fey and Poehler’s commentary while they were shopping for dresses was brilliant. BUT it was far too juvenile. It didn’t work for Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in Bad Neighbours and it certainly hasn’t here. The kids getting back at the adults. Even though the kids are adults.

It didn’t help that the hokey story line was far too dull and cliched. Poehler playing the uptight obedient daughter who never really acted out while Fey was the hothead party girl. On paper, yes. BUT the end result? Meh. Fey’s mother/daughter issues were weak as her character was never really fleshed out enough for us to actually care.

Poehler was certainly the funniest out of the pair and managed to make a more likeable and entertaining character to Fey’s loud mouthed obnoxious one. Fey’s endless tantrums and shouting just went through me. While her put downs and insults, on the other hand, were actually not bad. Especially when Maya Randolph (Bridesmaids) entered the mix.

“That’s a snazzy belt. Yeah, congrats on your wrestling championship”.

I loved Randolph in Bridesmaids BUT if it wasn’t for all the hilarious put-downs, I would have found her character annoying as well. The whole non-alcoholic gluten free drinks and Game of Thrones marathon desperate housewife gag was just boring.

I can’t believe Dianne Wiest (Edward Scissorhands) and James Brolin were in this as the parents. Wiest actually surprised me and gave it a good ol’ go BUT Brolin was terrible. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

John Cena has really gone up in my estimations. He almost topped his cameo in Trainwreck as psycho drug dealer Pazuzu. He really doesn’t care and ain’t afraid to poke fun at himself. I wished he was in this more. He worked well with Fey and you know what? The guy is funny.

Bobby Moynihan was definitely another scene stealer as annoying school chum Alex. An incident involving a tiny bag of cocaine triggered an ongoing gag that did deliver the laughs. A ticking time bomb. Never knowing when he’ll explode. Or pop up doing something crazy. John Leguizamo has a habit of popping up with naff cameos. American Ultra, anyone? His character didn’t bring anything to the fold and was completely unnecessary. Shame.

Ike Barinholtz (Bad Neighbours) and Poehler were a great couple and really saved the day. Poehler’s awkward flirting and pick up lines were fantastic. A feeble attempt of being sexy ended up with a music box going somewhere it really shouldn’t for Barinholtz. That bit did have me in stitches.

I’m sure that this big party was supposed to be a big stand against ageing, growing up, responsibility and being overlooked BUT by the end, you just felt that maybe they bloody should. The longer the movie went on, the worst it got. The damage and mayhem was good (to begin with) BUT it just went too far. Overkill. It even resorted to lazy racial profiling with Greta Lee’s nail beautician Hae-Won.

Poehler and Fey did their best and weren’t afraid to get down and dirty. BUT it was just too immature, OTT (That’s coming from an American Pie fan) and, most importantly, just NOT funny. A disappointing dud from the divas.

2/5

*NEW* AMERICAN ULTRA REVIEW *NEW*

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Ultra-boring, more like.

A stoner (Jess Eisenberg), who is in fact a government agent, is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he’s too well-trained and too high for them to handle.

Eisenberg and co do their best BUT for all the promise, it fails to reach anything you could have expected.

The slow opener didn’t get things going BUT it suggested a Burn After Reading meets Pineapple Express vibe. Unfortunately it offered little on both. Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart reunite (Adventureland) and make a watchable couple. BUT it wasn’t long before I got bored of all the pot smoking and arguing. Especially when it wasn’t even funny.

The first 20 minutes was mind numbing. Connie Britton did her best to make the CIA back room melodrama seem interesting BUT it was dull as dishwater. Some waffle about a “project spring clean” and Eisenberg’s sleeper agent facing termination. This was thankfully reprieved by a fantastic turn from Topher Grace (That 70s Show). There wasn’t enough of him. He really took things up a notch and played the douchebag supervisor brilliantly.

I prayed for Eisenberg’s “activation” to come quicker. Watching the stoner smoke pot and battle his fear of flying while doodling graphic novels about a monkey astronaut was just terrible. Trust me. I’m making it sound a whole lot better than it was.

FINALLY after Britton’s funny rendezvous with a stoned Eisenberg, the film appeared to offer more of what I expected from the get go. Emphasis on the word appeared.

Eisenberg proved he can do fight sequences and do them well. I actually had doubts about the chap playing the iconic role of Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman Vs Superman movie but the supermarket shoot em up sequence reassured any anxieties I had. He looked sinister and completely bad ass as he crept out of the smoke grenade ridden mist.

Normally I’m a fan of Britton BUT her character was far too serious for its own good. Arrested Development’s Tony Hale, who played her partner in crime, was tragically unfunny and completely irrelevant by the time the credits rolled. Shame.

John Leguizamo was also incredibly annoying as Eisenberg’s dealer Rose. He had one funny exchange with Eisenberg and then went on far too long. The bullets not coming quick enough.

It felt like the writers didn’t know what tone to take with the piece and tried a dab hand at everything. The action scenes were fantastic. The kitchen ambush sequence involving a bullet and a frying pan was cool. BUT they were few and far between.

As were the gags. It wasn’t funny enough. The best gags were heavily flogged in the trailer. Stewart and Eisenberg’s relationship was put to the test BUT their bickering just hampered things terribly. There was a twist half way through the film that was so dreadfully predictable that it added nothing to the mix.

Walton Goggins’ (Justified) Smiler had the potential to be a decent little villain with his hyena-esque laugh BUT it was a wasted opportunity and the character was far too weak.

The finale did deliver some frantic fist fighting and utterly bonkers shoot em ups. BUT it felt like a case of too little, too late. And it was still light on the laughs. DISAPPOINTING.

Unfortunately, American Ultra was very much like its protagonist; messy, all over the place and annoying.

2/5

JOHN WICK REVIEW

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Woah! If you’re looking for a half decent action flick, I’d pick Wick.

An ex-hitman (Keanu Reeves) comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Reeves’ deadpan delivery and ultra-serious demeanour have finally found its home.

This is probably the best I’ve seen him act in some time. His whispery voice, stone faced pallor and wooden delivery suited the mystery action man.

What I liked about John Wick was that it didn’t mess around. It set the premise up and got down to business. The only gripe I had about the opening was that it was a flashback. We watch Wick collapse to the floor bleeding out while looking at a video of his wife.

It wasn’t necessary and while everything else was entertaining enough, that little niggle kept reminding me that this was all a flashback. The hitman will get hit.

Wick gets the adorable little beagle within the first few minutes. And loses him with fifteen. I kid you not.

We get a sense of the isolated life that John has made for himself straight away. You could relate to his frustration and aggression quite easily. His angry test track burn out on an empty airfield demonstrated that perfectly.

I expected more flashbacks or flickers between him and his wife. Bridget Moynahan (Blue Bloods) had the easiest job going. What is it with directors giving talented supporting actresses meaningless roles? An extra could have played her part.

Now I must reiterate that this is not just a revenge movie over a dog. Apologies to the RSPCA lovers but the dog is merely a symbol of John’s love and grief. The fact he was not allowed to grieve.

That right metaphorically taken from him in the form of a bludgeoned beagle. The death was off screen and done as subtly as possible for anyone who doesn’t fancy seeing a little pup punished. So John seeks out vengeance on the idiots who thought it was funny to cross him.

If anything, it was all over a car. A Mustang. Wick didn’t want to sell and Alfie Allen’s cocky spoilt gangster brat Iosef Tarasov REALLY wanted it. What a fool. He really picked the wrong guy.

Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) may be getting type cast at the moment with playing creeps but he does it so well. A snarly little toe rag in desperate need of a slap or two.

The mystery surrounding Wick and his past are never really explained or explored. It’s infuriating in one instance but great in another. I loved the respect and code of honour among the gangsters and assassins in this seemingly ruthless and cutthroat business.

Michael Nyqvist (The original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) was superb. A perfect adversary to Wick. His reaction when his son informs him that he has stolen from Wick. Fear, terror and anger.

The build up was just right. The gangsters preparing for battle. Wick breaking up a hidden briefcase with gold and guns under his concrete floor. You know. The usual.

The gold? Some strange currency that the assassins pay each other off with. Baffling. A gold coin here and there. No questions asked.

I like to have everything resolved. It’s not as if everything wasn’t self explanatory. BUT I wanted to know more about the underbelly and society that Wick desperately tried to escape. Not bad for a shoot em up. I actually wanted to know more about the story.

The hotel was an interesting set up. It added an extra dimension to something that should have been a bog standard actioner. The establishment even has rules. No killing without cause or authority. Mental.

There was quite a good supporting cast. Shame that some weren’t really used to their full potential. Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) was stunning as the sultry assassin out to break said rules. Ian McShane (Deadwood) was pretty much Ian McShane but played the hotel owner Winston with aplomb. I wanted more of him. Scene stealing at every chance.

John Leguizamo and Lance Reddick (Fringe) were reduced to small roles. They did their best with the parts. Reddick with his stern prowess as The Hotel Manager being a particular highlight.

Considering Reeves is 50, he can still kick an ass or two. Not quite ready for the Expendables scrap heap yet. If a Matrix reboot (Because let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time) was ever on the cards, he could still do it.

The fight sequences were fast, frantic and furious. If a little repetitive. There are so many hand gun combinations you can do in a fight scene without them being flat out ridiculous or just tedious.

It was a lot better than I expected. Violent, brutal and mental in one instance. Mysterious and intriguing the next. The pace may dither in parts and the end result was always going to be a predictable one but I can certainly commend the writers for trying to do something a little different or at least make it worth watching.

3/5

CHEF REVIEW

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Jon Favreau cooks up another treat, a little overcooked and missing a little seasoning. This meal may be a little overhyped but a treat none the same.

Don’t worry, there will be more food punnery somewhere. Overall, not bad. An easy going, nice film. Makes a change to have an upbeat movie. The only problem is that it may be too nice and gets absorbed too much in it’s running length and preparation that it forgets to deliver the dessert (There we go) or in my case, drama or conflict.

The film is about . . . let me guess, a chef? Come on, stop it now. A chef (Favreau) who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative premise, while piecing back together his estranged family. Favreau plays a likeable lead and the initial preparation in which we see his character’s relationship with his son and torn obligations between cooking the set menu and being creative makes for a watchable, if a little long, opener. However, once he ends up getting into a Twitter feud with a pestilent food critic (Oliver Platt) and has a Gordon Ramsey-esque meltdown, it all kicks off.

Favreau has a fantastic cast at its fingertips. Dustin Hoffman plays the arrogant owner to perfection. Scarlett Johansson is hot . . . What? And plays a restricted supporting role but pulls off the tattooed dark brunette look. Platt doesn’t really get to say much as Favreau’s chef lays into him before he has a chance. A shame as we know Platt could have done more with that role. His grimacing and face pulling were convincing, if that’s any comfort. Sofia Vergara (you may remember her from Modern Family) was surprisingly not irritating at all. I expected her to be whining and yelling like Gloria. Nope, a much more subdued role and to be honest, I wanted to see more of her. Not like that . . . well a little.

The main focus is on Favreau finding his passion again but also restoring his relationship with his son (Emjay Anthony). Anthony and Fav work well together and there are some nice moments. One critic did mention how this film was like food porn and my word, some of the dishes that are prepared, I was sweating and panting. My lord. Anyway, moving on. John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire) plays Fav’s knuckle head sous-chefs well. Leguizamo, in particular, proves yet again to be a good supporting choice. He doesn’t quite get enough of the laughs or time that his character deserves.

The only problem is the length for me dragged in parts. Once they have got on the road with the truck and served a few people, it gets repetitive. Mainly because everything is all tickety boo. No real drama along the way. Vergara is very supportive. Every one is getting on. The police appear at one point but only in the form . . . of the hilarious comedian Russell Peters. His Lady and the Tramp pic with Fav brought a chuckle. It’s all too nicey, nicey. Favreau seems to suddenly realise at the end. Hang on, can’t make it that easy. Let’s throw a quick spanner in the works but still make it alright in the end. It leaves little in plot development or surprises and gets a little predictable.

But it does keep you watching. The scenery and the dishes look fantastic. There are some funny moments. Robert Downey Jr makes a five minute, if slightly overhyped, cameo. He does deliver the laughs with him bumbling and baffling poor Fav. Friends doing what they do best. A nice touch.

The whole social media jibe worked really well, especially in this day and age with Favreau failing to understand the impact of one tweet and the issue of becoming a viral phenomenon. Favreau’s previous works have always seemed to suffer from either an overlong pace with little story or too much story and not enough pace. This was a mish mesh. Started off with a story but then the pace dragged it out that for a certain moment, I felt I was just watching two chefs work. But it’s not all bad. Chef is a nice movie to look at but just not as tasty as you hoped. Still worth a bite or two. 3/5

Currently ranked 63 out of 196!

RIDE ALONG REVIEW

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Chug along? Cube and Hart make a cracking good duo. Fun enough BUT will it compare to the relentless list of cop comedies?

Security guard Ben (Kevin Hart) must prove himself to his girlfriend’s brother, top cop James (Ice Cube). He rides along with James on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta.

A mixed bag. It all starts off very predictable, formulaic and unfunny with a deal gone wrong, an inevitable car chase and Cube tearing the place up. He played the straight faced Payton perfectly. BUT beneath the bravado there wasn’t much to his character.

A groggy start (with a feeble story line about infiltrating a crime ring and a rat in the office) is given a fresh boost when Hart is thrown into the mix. His military style precision on a Call of Duty style video game under the alias Black Hammer had me in stitches alone. I’ve been a fan of Hart for some time ever since the Scary Movie films. It’s great to see how far the little man’s gone.

He pretty much steals the show. His verbal diarrhea and high pitched screeching can get a little irritating. Inevitably, it took a little while for Ben and Payton to warm up to one another and the gags were few and far between. I could feel my excitement dropping quicker than Cube busting out a fresh freestyle.

Once the pair got going (Luckily) so did the film. There was a fantastic scene at the shooting range in which Hart is trying to show off. His feeble attempt blowing up in his face . . . literally. They did their best and it’s not a complete write-off. Hart upsetting a biker gang and picking a fight with a child. Brilliant.

Being held up in a warehouse in a battle of wits. Done to death. They had a nice angle with the Training Day parody but never really took full advantage of it. Maybe the 12A rating softened it all up but more could have been made. Hart being thrown about was only funny up to a point. He’s little. We get it. It got a chuckle. BUT doing it several more times? Come on now.

I liked the chemistry between Hart and Tika Sumpter (Salt). I would have been happy to see a little more of that than Cube’s stone cold expressions. Pardon the expression. BUT it was great seeing Cube keeping it dead pan with Hart coming out with all sorts of crazy stuff. Brilliant.

I was surprised to see the likes of John Leguizamo and Laurence Fishburne in this BUT they struggled to make a real impression with their dull and unmemorable characters. And that’s part of the problem. The terrible plot about a generic arms deal with the “surprise” twist being some predictable double crossing stretched the film out. It left little opportunities for gags and wasted a good cast.

When it was funny, it was on fire but when it’s wasn’t, it was slow and repetitive. Less Ride Along and more chug along. Hart was the man. I just wish he’d had better material. It did just enough. But if you’re looking for a consistently laugh out cop comedy, check out The Heat.

Cube and Hart did their best. And it did enough to get me excited for the upcoming sequel. Let’s hope they make amends with more gags or a better plot. If you’re up for a laugh, give it a go. Just don’t expect too much.

3/5 (Just)

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS MOVIE REVIEW

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What a pile of . . . That was HorRAAWWWrendous. You know that scene in Jurassic Park where Laura Dern’s character was fishing through that triceratop’s excrement? Yeah, well the people who made this, must have done a similar process to make a film that bears similar properties. You get the idea? Good? A little extreme? Maybe. What infuriates me is that family movies are always outstanding examples to go by because they always have something for everyone. Unfortunately parents; if you are dragged to this particular film, grab your phones, Kindles, iPods and let the 80 minutes rush through. This will keep the little ‘uns happy, after all it is dinosaurs!

The opening scene is incredibly corny in which a frustrated teen doesn’t want to help excavate fossils with his uncle, played by the wasted (waste of talent. Not wasted, drunk. Although he must have been to accept this. That or the money) Karl Urban. The teen is left sulking by the car and along comes a talking crow, voiced by John  Leguizamo (who voiced Sid in the vastly superior and coincidentally prehistoric Ice Age Franchise). The lad doesn’t have time to question why a crow is talking to him (if he’s talking to him, is it a Stewie from Family Guy thing?) before he tells a story of his ancestors cue a million year flashback to the runt Pachyrhinosaurus of the litter, Patchi (voiced by Justin Long) as he rises through the ranks of his herd and goes on a journey of love, loss and . . . the usual rubbish.

Considering the cast of voices supporting these wonderfully animated creatures, they are incredibly annoying and spew constant verbal diarrhea of cliched, corny lines that grate and make you tut and sigh. The visual world that is created, is stunning to watch. Unfortunately our cinema did not feature the 3D version but you could see how much better the film would have been for it. The voices call out every dinosaur that comes across the screen. However, the screen decides to pause and they are then labelled and read out by kids. It was completely unnecessary. Even the young ‘uns knew what the dinos were! It kept breaking up what little action there was. Strangely, the parental figures do not speak, somewhat Charlie Brown-ish? Why? I do not know.

For every good gag or one liner, there are dozens of bad ones. The fact the dinos admire a beautiful natural landscape and the Leguizamo voiced bird quickly replies, “Don’t admire it too much. It’s a future oil fill site”. Good. But that is soon let down by a ridiculous and corny OTT soundtrack of generic pop songs. For example, Patchi sees the love of his life cue Barry White. Laughable, but for all the wrong reasons. The animated breakdown of the Gorgosaurus (T-rex) had some interesting facts but was voiced by irritating commentary. A little joke about their small hands soon goes on way too long. The film skims through plot points and cliches and pretty much covers the same old flawed story of Disney’s Dinosaur (in comparison, a much more enjoyable  and that was better than this. and the commentary gets more and more irritating; “Weeks turned into weekends and weekends turned into long weekends, you get the picture”. Unfortunately, yes. There is a typical story of loss that is not really explained very well nor was it needed (without spoiling the film, despite not being a fan). And the point of the family at the beginning to cue a story from a crow was unnecessary.

To be honest, I would be preferred to see that story. I couldn’t help but feel that was a lazy corny Americanized 3D adaptations of a fantastic television series. To be honest, it was a big of an insult. Would have been easier just to give the original series the 3D treatment. Sorry but this a big NO from me. See Ice Age, or go back and watch Jurassic Park or the original WWD series. Please bring back Jurassic Park! 1/5.

Currently ranked #120 out of 123!