*NEW* LOGAN LUCKY REVIEW *NEW*

Is this really the movie that drew Soderbergh out of “retirement”?

Meh.

Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Ocean Eleven goes Deep South.

This had all the Soderbergh traits. The dry humour, the stylish look, the crazy characters.

I enjoyed the Ocean movies BUT always felt they were a little overhyped (Sacrilege, I know).

BUT despite the director’s best efforts and ol’ Mike trying to work his magic, this crime caper just didn’t quite work.

A real shame as I was looking forward to seeing what these guys could do.

  

What? Hehehe. Moving on . . .

The pace was a real drag. The opening 30 minutes was a real bum-number. The slow style didn’t help matters despite Jimmy’s (Channing Tatum) luck fading fast. Battling unemployment and a possible custody battle.

Tatum delivered a sterling turn and carried the film as much as he could BUT it just wasn’t enough.

I was disappointed in Jimmy and Clyde’s fraternal relationship. Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Tatum had good chemistry BUT they spent too much of the movie apart.

Riley Keough, I’m in love. What? She was heavily underused as the other (resourceful) Logan sibling.

“I know all the Twitters”.

The soundtrack was decent and the script did deliver some funny quips. Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson were hilarious as the dim-witted Bang brothers. I think the movie focused on the wrong family. Seriously, I’m not even joking.

The actual heist was okay and made for an entertaining and silly middle act. My grumbling was subdued and there were some suspenseful moments BUT it all felt a little too easy.

The strangely disjointed subplot (if you can call it that) with Sebastian Stan’s (Captain America: Winter Soldier) frustrated racer was terrible. It bared no significance to the plot and felt like a poor interlude between the heist sequences. It didn’t work for me. I would have preferred the flicking back and forth focusing on the actual protagonists instead.

Speaking of terrible? What was the deal with Seth MacFarlane’s dreadful Mockney accent? You can normally bank on the Family Guy comic to deliver the goods BUT he really got on my nerves as the pretentious British racing tycoon.

I was happy to see James Bond take a complete change in role as the eccentric Joe Bang. BUT despite a reasonable performance, Craig just wasn’t as good or as funny as I’d hoped. From the trailers, I expected something more. Wasted opportunity.

His heated debate with the Logan brothers over explosive ingredients (mid-heist) was entertaining enough.

I just wish there was more of that. Sarcastically doodling chemical compounds while making a bomb out of blue tack and gummy bears drew a titter from me.

There was too much smoke and mirrors guff that (despite preaching boredom) I was actually getting a little lost in what was going on.

BUT thankfully the unravelling of the mad robbery redeemed a real droll affair.

I knew things were getting desperate when Soderbergh threw in a cheeky Ocean’s Eleven reference to get a laugh (Admittedly it did get a guilty chuckle from yours truly).

Hilary Swank was completely wasted in her role. She literally appeared in the final act. Promising so much and giving us absolutely nothing. To be honest, her character’s frustration mirrored mine as she scratched her head at this ludicrous heist. I really hoped her hard ass FBI agent would bust some balls and pick up the tempo. BUT alas, it was not to be.

The female roles were pretty weak in general. Katherine Waterston’s (Alien: Covenant) character was reduced to nothing more than a forced cheesy romance that felt tacked on. Katie Holmes’ scornful ex wasn’t too bad BUT again more could have been made out of her.

And that’s my review in a nutshell. More could have made out of this. It wasn’t quite as gripping, funny or as clever as it could have been.

It passed the time, delivered the odd quip and had the odd moment. BUT there was something missing.

Watchable but memorable? If it wasn’t for this review, I probably would have forgotten it already. Unlucky.

2.5/5

THE GIVER REVIEW

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Hollywood gives us another post-apocalyptic teen franchise to sink our teeth into but does it make you want to?

In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world.

Jonas: “If I’m the receiver of memories. What does that make you?”

The Giver: “I guess I’m the giver”

Childish laughter aside (I can’t believe they actually put that in there), we are handed another sci-fi teen flick with a protagonist who battles against conformity disguised as peace by a conniving dictatorship.

It certainly zipped along and wasn’t a bad way to kill 90 minutes but as I was watching I found it incredibly tough not to make comparisons to Divergent and Ender’s Game and as it concluded, all I could think was Hollywood better quit while they’re ahead before they kill more franchises.

Director Phillip Noyce has a great cast at his disposal; a mixture of fresh talent with the experienced Oscar veterans . . . and Katie Holmes. It was a surprise to see Holmes. Released from the Cruise cage to do a spot of acting. In all fairness, she doesn’t do a bad job. Let’s be honest, her acting was never brilliant. Meryl Streep does her best to make the role of Chief Elder engaging but the character is so mechanical and one dimensional that not even the Oscar winning starlet can work her magic. A shame as Streep is remarkable. She is able to pull in some emotion with her encounters with the gruffly Giver (Jeff Bridges).

Brenton Thwaites is a likeable lead. He has certainly been making the right impressions. Just not in the right films. Oculus was a dud no matter how hard Thwaites tried. Maleficent was actually not bad but his character was a little hammy. Yes, he was Prince Charming. However, he finally gets given a character he can work with and delivers a memorable performance. One to watch. Once Jeff Bridges gets over sitting looking angry and staring out Thwaites in a chair for 15 minutes, he delivers the goods yet again.

Odeya Rush (The Odd Life of Timothy Green) is also quite likeable and has some good chemistry with Thwaites. It’s a shame that there is always an inevitable romance brewing but if you finally fight conformity and stop taking a pill that suppresses emotion (Yep. I was thinking Equilibrium too), you would suddenly feel attraction, love, etc. Just a little corny for my liking.

Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) was surprisingly wooden and seemed to be sleep walking the role but for those you have seen the film, I think there may have been a point to that. Speaking of which, I did not expect a cameo from a particular pop star as Rosemary. Let’s just say she made a swift impression.

Ross Emery’s cinematography is to die for. His use of monochrome juxtaposed against the introduction of colour as Jonas (Thwaites) begins to experience feelings and visions was a nice touch. The panning out to view the remaining colonies was a feast for the eyes. The 1984 overtones around the film was one aspect that did keep me intrigued and the idea of censoring people’s memories and using precision of language to specify exactly what they mean is something that feels all too real. And with the way political correctness is going . . . (REDACTED)

What I hate is that they give us little tidbits in the hope that we will be interested in another installment. Wrong. I want the first installment to hit the ground running and get me wanting another. NOT think that was okay. Maybe the next one will be really good. Noyce certainly ticked the boxes on pace. 97 minutes certainly breezes by with enough content to keep you watching. But the content, despite being brilliantly shot, has been done to death and so much better. A mesh of Divergent meets Equilibrium. I mean even the process in which the kids are given positions was just a futuristic sorting hat scenario from Harry Potter.

The film seemed all too nicey nicey. Until . . . a twist. A predictable one in hindsight. But a twist that turned the cheesy overtones to something much darker and it did make for a thrilling finale. However, it all ended too quickly and flatly for my liking. Now, unfortunately I haven’t read the Lois Lowry bestseller but I have it on good authority from fans that the film remains true to the source material. In that case, I will not be rushing to get the book.

At it’s best, it’s well acted, zips along, has moments of clever satire and action. At it’s worst, it’s predictable, a mix of teen and sci-fi flicks with an inevitable foot note that reeks of “THERE WILL BE A SEQUEL”

My main gripe with films like these is that they are just being churned out with no real attempt to be different. Originality is tough these days but I think Hollywood should spend a little more time looking at the source material, making a stronger film instead of relying on the same old guff or ripping off classics in such a lazy way. This is why The Host, Mortal Instruments and Ender’s Game all failed to earn another sequel. All best selling novels with die hard fans in their own rights. It’s always tough to impress fans but you can at least try NOT yammer on with corny dialogue, poor pace or stretching out a story to milk more movies. You need to impress us with the first. IF The Giver earns one, then they better come out guns blazing. A comment I use too often. (Even for Divergent).

3 (just) out of 5