*NEW* EVEREST REVIEW *NEW*

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This movie made me feel like I was climbing Everest. Exhausting, tough and an instant regret.

If NOT for its impressive ensemble, I don’t think this would have made the big screen.

A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm.

The opening certainly showed promise. It may have been slow burning but it was watchable as the gang ascended upon the monstrous mountain. I couldn’t believe the stars that popped up in this. The only problem is that you soon forgot them by the next frame.

Jason Clarke managed to make a memorable impression as the ultra sincere mountaineer Rob Hall. He had good chemistry with Keira Knightley. Shame that Knightley took the back seat in this arduous affair. She did her best with the minute role of the pregnant spouse and delivered a convincing accent.

Salvatore Totino’s cinematography was fantastic to look at as the crew passed through each base. Ascending further and further. The trivia and facts about the side effects upon reaching certain altitudes made for crazy but interesting stuff. BUT it also made me question why people do it in the first place.

However after 60 minutes of more statistics, more cliched banter and weak back stories (Doug’s postman on Everest story line being a particular highlight), my eyes began to wonder.

The main problem for me was that despite the cast’s best efforts, they were having to deal with such unmemorable characters. I understand that it’s hard to stray from the source material and I can respect Kormakur’s attempt to implore more realism BUT for a two hour feature you need more depth and interest.

The only other character I could remember after Rob was Beck. The Texan businessman played to perfection by Josh Brolin. BUT that was also down to the miraculous events that unfolded with him.

When the storm finally hit, a gigantic black cloud spewing hail and arctic winds, I was hooked. It was tense and nail biting. I wouldn’t know what to do in that situation. Nature being the true killer. BUT I am glad I didn’t invest in 3D. It wouldn’t have added anything to the experience.

After that cloud sequence, it became incredibly difficult to see anything. It was grainy and dark which certainly heightened the tension in some scenes. Especially as Beck battled to see through the blistering arctic conditions with his failing eyes BUT generally it was disorienting.

However, in between the volatile storm episodes, there wasn’t much else. You also started to pick out the errors. I was a little unsure about Kormakur’s intentions. What was he actually trying to say? This wasn’t a proper survival story. A lot of lives were lost.

The commentary on the competitive nature of guide tours impacting on deadlines was expertly personified in Jake Gyllenhaal’s hippie climbing instructor. It was a shame that the character was nothingy and soon got on my nerves.

BUT it didn’t excuse the fact that Hall ignored protocols that he had enforced. He delayed the climb down when he was told by his team about the storm. If anything, Everest showed how incompetent these guide tours really are and that the only people who climb it are idiots with death wishes and too much money.

There were some touching scenes BUT they were soon bogged down by monotonous talking that was tragically repetitive and hammy scenes that just came off unintentionally comical. I had to laugh at the fact that each character had to remove their masks just so the audience knew who they were. Even when they shouted each other’s name repetitively, I still struggled to remember which actor was playing who.

The helicopter sequence was tense and offered a little more in the vein of Vertical Limit. Suspense, tension, shame there wasn’t more of it. Martin Henderson, Sam Worthington and Emily Watson were wasted in their stocky roles. Disappointing.

The end credits were so downbeat and nihilistic that I actually wondered why they even bothered to make this movie in the first place.

A shambolic affair. For those familiar with the story and those who aren’t, stick with the book. I wasn’t expecting a big dumb blockbuster. I was prepared for a challenging drama of survival. Challenging was certainly right. Tragically, it offered little for me.

2/5

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SAY WHEN REVIEW

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WHEN! WHEN! WHEN!

When . . . will they stop churning films out like these?

A little harsh but oh so disappointing. (NOT Kevin Sorbo Hercules DISAPPOINTED!)

Keira Knightley certainly does her best but even with a decent supporting cast; you can’t help but feel that the film doesn’t deliver enough romance, enough comedy and enough of . . . anything really.

So what’s it all about? In the throes of a quarter-life (What?) crisis, Megan (Knightley) panics when her boyfriend (Mark Webber) proposes, then taking an opportunity to escape for a week, hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), who lives with her world-weary single dad (Sam Rockwell).

Knightley has already proven with Begin Again that she can deliver an American accent and handle a leading role with no qualms. She certainly delivers another solid performance which helps carry this lacklustre affair.

We start with the inevitable cheesy (and nauseating shaky hand held camera) montage of Knightley and her teenage friends having fun during their prom. A little unnecessary and overlong. That then skips to the present with Megan’s slacker plodding along through life. Flipping signs for her father’s business and constantly making up excuses as to why she hasn’t seen her career councillor.

A character I could relate to a little too easily. Her procrastination and immaturity becoming a bug bear for all who know her (Not that bit . . . I hope).

Ellie Kemper (Sex Tape) was probably the only high school friend who had any decent dialogue or actual substance. Constantly trying to control and push Megan to sort her life out. The sort of friend that we all have or (if you’re lucky) used to.

Her cringe-inducing wedding dance made for unsettling but laughable viewing. I’m never going to listen to Daniel Bedingfield’s “If You’re Not The One” in the same way again. But then again, I never liked that song. But that’s a different story.

The wedding was the perfect platform for Megan to hit breaking point. There was one unexpected revelation that I didn’t see coming which made for a surprise. The inevitable friends growing up and moving on spiel is playing to its heart content. Weddings, babies, etc. The usual guff.

However, it is at this moment that Webber’s Anthony (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) decides to pop the question to Megan. Her response? She runs away while pretending to be on a life changing seminar, of course!

Taking some time to re-think all her decisions and frustrations, Megan seeks refuge in 16 year old Annika’s home. Moretz doesn’t do a bad job but her character is a little weak, in comparison to the number of meatier and more memorable roles she has delivered.

Once Megan meets Annika’s dad, the legend that is Sam Rockwell. Moretz seems to be pushed into the background. Only to pop back up when the story is lagging. Her subplot involving a crush on one of her high school friends was all too tame and horribly cliched.

Sam Rockwell was . . . pretty much being Sam Rockwell. Which just about works this time round. To be honest, his role was a lot smaller than I expected. He’s instantly likeable and very entertaining. He works well with Knightley and they have great chemistry. He also delivers some funny lines and a couple of (definite) improvised moments. You could tell the cast were trying not to laugh.

I was frustrated that Megan and Craig had to fall in love with each other. It felt forced. We know Megan was unhappy with Anthony but he wasn’t a complete tool. It just seemed unnecessary. It would have been more of a twist if they didn’t get together. The friendship would have worked better. Don’t get me wrong, K & R do just enough to pull it off . . . and make it bearable.

I was hoping for more of an examination of Megan’s quarter-life crisis, as a lot more people in their 20s are going through this sort of thing, but it’s all resolved a little too easily and with a simple and lazy fling? Run out of ideas, maybe?

The gags are sparse and not very funny. One involving an anorexic tortoise just came off hammy and rather pointless. I mean come on! What was the point of it? A bonding prop for Knightley and Rockwell? And the naming a baby after planets gag wasn’t funny from the first planet. We didn’t need the entire solar system named at us!

In terms of drama, there were some good moments. An awkward encounter between CGM and (the alluring) Gretchen Mol’s (Boardwalk Empire) negligent mother showed promise and allowed Knightley’s Megan to step up but a few sobering words and that’s it? Really? Anyone could have played Mol’s character and to be honest, thinking back the whole scene was a little pointless as she doesn’t make a reappearance.

There was a turning point nearer the end of the film that allowed the little drama that there was to finally kick off. BUT again it’s all swept under the rug and resolved d far too easily. Leaving us with a cliched and highly predictable ending. Flat and expected.

There were some good performances from the rather bland characters. I couldn’t believe Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm was in this. It didn’t seem right without him shouting all the time. He didn’t do too bad a job.

Kaitlyn Dever (Justified) was quite funny and did well as Annika’s mad BFF. Webber played the dimwitted Anthony well. A change from Pilgrim. Completely oblivious to Megan’s feelings but not fully deserving of her frustrated temper.

There was certainly no issue with the pace. It zipped along well enough. I just wish it had a bit going on, that’s all.

Such a shame that it’s not as hard hitting or as offbeat as you wish. A mess but a watchable one. Say When? When you have the spare time and nothing better to watch, I’d say give it a go. They may have changed the title to Laggies but I just wish they could have changed the content instead.

2/5

BEGIN AGAIN REVIEW

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Better. We’re getting there. A nice film that delivers the feel good factor without laying on the cheese too much but not without its imperfections.

A somewhat slow burning opener turns into an easy going well acted and well sung summery movie with a different ending, if a little abrupt in my opinion. John Carney may not have surpassed Once but he hasn’t made a bad follow up. If Keira Knightley actually sang, then what a voice. Her voice with those Norah Jones-esque lyrics were sublime. She can’t stop doing the pouty face but a beaut all the same.

What’s it all about? A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive (Ruffalo) and a young singer-songwriter (Knightley) new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.

Knightley and Ruffalo are, to be expected, superb together. They have fantastic chemistry and work well off each other. Ruffalo is a very charismatic actor and has proven time and time again to be a reliable lead. He delivers the goods yet again. The time spent building up as to why these two characters are in their situations and meet at that point in their lives is a little long at the tooth but once we get the gist, it allows the film to flow a bit more and makes for good viewing.

The lyrics are well written, the songs are fantastic. A movie soundtrack that I would actually consider downloading. Carney catches the energy and buzz of New York City and uses it to his full potential. He even manages to have a cheeky pop at the music industry and the corporate labels. A nice commentary, if a little out of place in this feel good film. Hailee Steinfeld unfortunately seems to play the same estranged daughter role. I mean, if you have seen 3 Days to Kill, it is virtually the same character but replace the bike with an electric guitar.

Catherine Keener does her best but has such a mundane supporting role. Cee-Lo Green and Adam Levine, on the other hand, do a great job. I mean they have proven that they can act in other movies (Hotel Transylvania for Green) and TV shows (American Horror Story for Levine) but it helps in bringing their characters to life. Levine, in particular, as the sleazy rock star lothario that breaks Knightley’s heart. Mos Def, unfortunately for me, was very dull and I always feel like he can’t be arsed to be in the film. Sighing and rolling his eyes and mumbling with no conviction.

James Corden was hilarious as Knightley’s comical side kick. He provides the usual spiel but it still works and brings the odd laugh. What was interesting is that with the attraction and chemistry between the leads and with these sort of films, you expected the inevitable. Only this time, it didn’t happen. A surprise but I felt that with this sort of film, I would have accepted it. And it all zips along and you’re getting into it; only for it to end quite openly and rather abrupt for me. It just seemed to fizzle out.

However, it’s fun, entertaining, easy going. Worth a watch 3.5/5 for me.

Currently ranked #49 out of 196!

*JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT REVIEWED AND REVISITED*

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New recruit. Same problems. Hardly the best Ryan outing but it wasn’t a complete misfire.

Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), as a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

Jack Ryan has been brought back numerous times and always (shamefully) fails to stick around as a continuing franchise, much like the Alex Cross series. There have been some great installments with Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck taking the helm. Clear and Present Danger being a personal favourite.

Pine (Star Trek) was an engaging and very likeable Ryan. His charisma carried the film when the pace slackened. Something that happened far too often.

We flashed through Ryan’s origins (A nice change) as he became a “shadow recruit”. Working for the CIA on an unofficial capacity (In a nutshell). Harrowing images of 9/11 spurring our protagonist to drop his economics degree and join the Marines.

You could argue that it wasn’t needed as Ryan’s commitment and patriotism were established early on BUT it did present a post 9/11 reboot of the travelled Clancy icon.

All the training montages zipped along nicely and breezed through the usual cliches. BUT that was soon thrown out of the window when Ryan fell for his doctor in training, the beautiful Keira Knightley (who delivered a convincing American accent).

Kevin Costner’s (The Untouchables) mysterious Colonel Harper was heavily underused. Not nearly in it enough. It took a good half hour before the film really picked up as we drudged through economic gobbledygook as Ryan gathered Intel at Wall Street.

I didn’t need a retread of The Big Short. All that complicated jargon to explain that a bunch of Russian terrorists were funding their next attack through their corporations. I had to laugh at the irony when said attack was on the US economy.

Thankfully as soon as Ryan reached Russia, I got a bit more of what I expected. A bizarre hotel ambush fight sequence was a much needed catalyst and my griping soon subsided.

Kenneth Branagh (Valkyrie) was perfect as the maniacal Viktor Cherevin. Tattooed up and looking bad ass. Every time he shared the screen with Pine, there was suspense and tension. The pair worked brilliantly together.

A nail biting sequence in which Ryan infiltrated Cherevin’s office had me on tenterhooks. Tragically, it was bogged down with hammy dialogue and more of Knightley (Pirates of The Caribbean) and Pine’s cheesy romance.

As much as the couple had good chemistry; it was the same old guff. Juggling ‘the girl over the job nonsense’ with Knightley inevitably roped into the chaos.

It was a little disappointing as the plot suggested something darker with sleeper terrorists hiding in the US but that was soon cast aside with a predictable twist and endless punch ups and explosions.

Don’t get me wrong. It was fast and furious with an all out frenzy of a finale. All be it a rushed one BUT Branagh wasn’t even in it. Ryan ended up fighting a generic underling in a rapid city chase. Disappointed, to say the least.

A mixed bag. Watchable if flawed to bits. I mean these actioners are supposed to be good fun but this was adapted from a Tom Clancy novel. Novels that could deliver action as well as engaging suspense-filled political story lines.

This felt like a taster of things to come. It set out some good groundwork BUT why didn’t it hit the ground running? A little more effort, a meatier story line and a super villain that could actually be involved in the finale would certainly make for a decent sequel BUT, as things stand, I don’t think that will be happening any time soon.

Pine was a solid lead BUT the plot, tone and pace made this a missed opportunity to reboot a character that should be on the silver screen. Maybe a TV outing have been better?

Don’t get me wrong, it killed the time and was a fun enough ride. Just not one that you’ll remember long after.

3/5 (just)