JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE REVIEW

Welcome to the Jungle. We’ve got fun and Dwayne.

Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game.

When I first heard the rumours circulating about a Jumanji sequel/reboot/whatever, I screamed to the movie gods . . . Why?! Do Hollywood hold nothing sacred?

Jumanji was one of my favourite childhood movies that featured the late (BUT always great) Robin Williams.

BUT then I saw the cast and thought, “This could work”. And it did.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect by any means BUT Jumanji: WTTJ offered big, dumb fun by the bucket load.

I liked how the team tried to make the premise their own. Taking it in a completely different direction BUT still throwing fitting nods to the 1995 classic (Classic? It’s only 95 mate).

The opening set the tone as the dusty relic of a board game realized that it was behind the times. Morphing instead into a vintage 80s video game console . . .

Yeahhhh BUT it worked. Pulling four dysfunctional youths into the abyss.

I loved how the different personalities took over the wrong avatars. Delivering the laughs straight off the bat.

The nerdy hypochondriac Spencer taking on the unit that is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

The Rock knows how to deliver a popcorn movie. Embracing the ridiculousness of it all as his avatar has no weakness and endless abilities. The smolder . . . Seriously? Only the Brahma Bull could pull that one off.

The dumb arrogant high school jock taking over the miniscule servant Kevin Hart. An avatar riddled with an array of weaknesses (No pace, no stamina and . . . CAKE. That’s right. Cake). Brilliant.

You knew you were in for a treat when The Rock and Kevin Hart were involved. They work so well together and you couldn’t tell how much of the banter was part of the script or just off the cuff. Judging by the Rock’s face . . . A lot of improvisation was going on.

The shy academic nerd taking on the Lara Croft bad ass avatar (Karen Gillan). I know Gillan had a little backlash over her skimpy outfit BUT The Rock was poking fun at his physique. Plus the joke picked out some of the sillier aspects of early video games/imagery.

Gillan owned it. The only thing I could pick at her performance was not anything she did BUT her character’s fighting tactic. Dance fighting?

Beating people up to the sweet sounds of Big Mountain’s Baby I Love Your Way? The first sequence wasn’t too bad BUT the several that followed . . . Yeah, not so much.

However, her exchanges with Jack Black were fantastic. Especially when Black gave her lessons on how to attract a man. I was in stitches.

And despite how good everybody was . . . Jack Black, take a bow.

He stole the show as the photogenic selfie taking high school beau Bethany took over his overweight professor avatar. Even when he went to the toilet in the jungle with the lads, I was howling. The School of Rock star has been missed.

I don’t think this would have worked without the cast. Nick Jonas didn’t play too bad a part BUT his character was a little bit boring for me.

The limited lives threat gave it a little more edge as the gang had to adapt to their avatars fast! You die in the game, that’s it!

It was entertaining with enough thrills, spills and avatar kills. Seriously, I wasn’t joking about the CAKE thing.

The special effects and fun set pieces delivered enough ooohhs and aaahhhs.

The stampede sequence will never top the original. BUT it was still mental to watch (Even if it was a little disorienting and packed with some shoddy CGI). Bearing in mind, the orignal is now 23 years old (23! Now I feel old), the effects looked more dated in this one.

However . . .

Flight of the Conchords’ Rhys Darby was completely wasted as a virtual avatar.

And Bobby Cannavale as Van Pelt? Now you could have banked on the Boardwalk Empire maestro to inject some villainy to his sinister demeanour. BUT maybe this was a miscast?

His freaky warlock bugged me. No literally, what was the deal with all those bugs crawling around him and in his ears? *Shudders* Yikes.

We needed someone with the pantomine delivery of Jonathan Hyde. He had the right balance of mayhem. Crazy but cold blooded. The dynamic (That chemistry) between him and Alan was missed in this. Cannavale’s Pelt was too bland and generic. Shame.

  

My main issue was the pacing. It took a while to get going as we had to endure the build up and get a sense of the teens. Easygoing stuff BUT you couldn’t help BUT think, “When are they going to find the flippin’ game?”

When it was funny, it was hysterical. When it was action packed, I was riveted. BUT all the stuff in between lumbered the whole thing and got me a little fidgety.

BUT a great cast, top laughs and some mad fun made this one to watch for everybody.

Enjoy!

3/5

Advertisements

*NEW* CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE REVIEW *NEW*

a806cc8e441e920feb4e42081c6837af

A little Hart + one BIG Johnson = one big dumb fun movie.

After reconnecting with an awkward pal (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) from high school through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant (Kevin Hart) is lured into the world of international espionage.

I was a little anxious about seeing this movie. Not quite sure whether I was in the mood for another OTT Hart comedy vehicle. The opening didn’t build my hopes up. A naff high school flashback sequence involving a horrifically superimposed Rock on the body of a dancing fat kid didn’t do anything for me. (No, not like that).

It wasn’t long before the dancing chubster fell victim to a traumatizing high school prank. The only person to help him; Mr Popular and all round achiever Calvin (Hart).

Flash forward back to the present to an older and miserable looking Calvin as he drudges through a mid life crisis, office politics and the joys of accounting. Hart played the straight faced role quite well. And for a moment, the high school reunion and nostalgia subplot could have easily made this a different movie altogether.

BUT this was never going to be that kind of movie and once the Brahma Bull came steam-rolling into Calvin’s lacklustre life like a unicorn T-shirt wearing, bumbag carrying tank, I was sold!

It made a change to see The Rock playing such a dim wit. Bob uses the high school reunion as a chance to catch up. BUT of course while bonding over a shots and a bar brawl (You read that right), we discover that the simple Samoan needs a favour from Calvin. A favour that throws Calvin’s world into chaos with espionage, carnage and a pretty predictable terrorist plot line.

The pair worked really well together and had some cracking one liners. They made a great duo and weren’t afraid to poke at each other. There was also a nice dynamic between them as Bob needs help from the only friend who bothered to help him all those years ago.

The action set pieces were brilliantly choreographed and highly comical as Hart’s unintentional fumbling causes more harm than good. To make matters worse, ol’ Bob might not be telling the whole truth. Calvin’s reluctance and numerous escape attempts from the overbearing and resourceful Bob was hilarious.

I couldn’t help but laugh at Rocky using Hart as a prop. Chucking him in cars, mail carts and out of windows. Mental. Bob’s obsession with Sixteen Candles (That’s right, the Molly Ringwald movie) was a running gag I didn’t expect.

Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) played the uptight generic CIA director as well as she could and the writers tried their best to shroud a little mystery over Bob’s intentions. Deliberately making us question his motives. BUT there was only ever going to be one outcome with the loveable dud-head.

The inevitable backstabbing and revelations were tragically too predictable and cut into the zippy pace and laughs, hampering things slightly. I could feel my eyes wandering to my watch.

BUT thankfully some crazy cameos from a surprising cast did enough to bring me back into the mix. I could drop names BUT it would spoil half the fun.

The finale was frenetic, mad and funny. There were some genuine laugh out loud moments and you can’t go wrong with a bit of blooper reel during the end credits.

The story line may have been a little weak and predictable and the pace may have tested in parts BUT it was silly fun and with Hart and Rocky on fine form, I could have think of worst ways to kill the time.

Not quite on the same level as 22 Jump Street BUT definitely worth a shout if you’re in the mood for a shoot em up laugh fest.

3/5

*NEW* RIDE ALONG 2 REVIEW *NEW*

Ride-Along-2-Movie-Poster

The brothers-in-law are back. BUT bigger and better? Not even close.

As his wedding day approaches, Ben (Kevin Hart) heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James (Ice Cube) to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.

Kevin Hart stole the show yet again and did just enough to keep things watchable BUT memorable? Let’s be honest, the first Ride Along wasn’t perfect. It was silly, OTT BUT (for a good portion of the movie) funny. Worthy of a sequel? Not so much. BUT a smash hit at the box office meant one thing. SEQUELS, baby!

A promising opening sequence hit the ground running. A vast improvement from the original. Trading cliched cop guff for a hilarious Fast and Furious style stake out. It even came with a Tyrese Gibson cameo. I just wish more was made of it. BUT how was he going to compete with Kevin Hart in a ridiculous low rider?!

It’s just a shame that as this second helping chugged along, it failed to reach any level the original set. It was incredibly patchy and no where near as funny. Hart and Cube did their best BUT it wasn’t enough. Cube’s stone cold pallor got a few laughs and he did seem to lighten up this time round.

BUT the real scene stealer, other than Hart, was Ken Jeong (The Hangover). He wasn’t in this enough. From his nerdy improv to drunken madness, he was brilliant. When teamed up with Hart, they should have been as annoying as hell BUT it was comedy gold. Their stake out debates ranging from ranking Star Wars movies to Biggie or Sir Mixalot being the better artist delivered the chuckles.

Benjamin Bratt’s bland drug kingpin was weak. He delivered more sinister conviction as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. Olivia Munn (Magic Mike) was stunning BUT her character was terrible. Desperate to be the female equivalent of Cube and we all knew where that story line was going to lead. Besides, we already had Cube, we didn’t need another. She only really got to shine in the closing minutes. Too little, too late.

The pace and gags, like Kevin Hart’s shooting, were incredibly hit and miss. It didn’t help that we had a complete retread of Ben trying to win James’ approval. James desperate to see the back of him. Secretly hoping Ben will mess up the next mission. The lovely Tika Sumpter was tragically pushed into the background yet again.

The high speed Miami police chase sequence wasn’t bad with Ben having to visualize everything in a virtual Grand Theft Auto video game style. Signalling every direction he was going. Hart kept things above water. From flailing around in a silk kamino to pretending to be a demented foreign dignitary for his cover.

It just felt that for every good gag, there were a dozen duds. Hart’s dignitary spiel was funny BUT it was soon milked to death once he entered the embassy. The joke was dead and buried once a badly CGI’d croc was thrown into the mix.

The action sequences dragged on and failed to grab me. It reeked of desperation as the film rushed to its flat finale. We even had a regurgitation of the same old gag with Ben shooting another person by mistake. Really?

It was watchable enough and fun in places BUT the plot was dull and cliched to boot. And when the jokes fell flat, the film drudged along and the last 20 minutes really fizzled out with cliched speeches galore.

Move along, more like.

2/5

GET HARD REVIEW

get_hard_movie_poster_1

It’s going to be hard to say anything good about this one.

When millionaire James King (Will Ferrell) is jailed for fraud and bound for San Quentin, he turns to Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) to prep him to go behind bars.

Oh boy, what a mess!

It was never going to be a satirical masterpiece that tackled the issues of race and poverty. Come on. At best, it could have been something OTT, stupid but funny.

A lot of people dodged a bullet from the heavily flogged trailers but I thought, “You never know”. Won’t be saying that anytime soon.

I was a big fan of Ferrell and Hart (Notice I put was). The thought of them working together should have been comedy gold.

The premise was weak with nothing but lazy jibes about how the rich are destroying the country and naff stereotypes that have been done to death.

The racial jokes weren’t controversial but they weren’t clever either. Just went for any old area and milked it dry.

Not even the talented supporting cast made much of an impression. You know you’re onto a loser when T.I. is the only actor getting things going.

Alison Brie looked stunning. Oh my goodness. But she wasn’t funny at all. Effing and jeffing and playing a manipulative gold digger.

Don’t get me wrong. She played it as well as she could. BUT there were no laughs. A shame considering how funny we know she can be. Just look at Community and The LEGO movie. Gutted.

While Craig T Nelson just played a clichéd and uninteresting evil corporate businessman. I’m getting bored just writing about him.

John Mayer made a highly unfunny cameo. I mean, if his goal was to be a douche then bravo! But it wasn’t funny and his improvised song about Ferrell was juvenile. It didn’t help that the guy can’t act.

There were a few chuckles BUT every time that I did laugh, I then realized, “Wait. That wasn’t funny”. My anticipation getting the better of me.

My smile faded more and more as the film continued to pull every unfunny gag out of every orifice.

An impromptu teaching session at a gay hook-up spot was completely unnecessary and revolting.

“When life gives you dick, you make dick-ade” Haha. Ha- No!

Will Ferrell trying to sing songs to a penis probably sounded good on paper. BUT it was just uncomfortable viewing and not even in the guilty “I shouldn’t have laughed at that” sense.

The prosthetic penis popping up in the scene was even worse than the glory hole sequence in Unfinished Business.

When Ferrell and Hart were allowed to improvise, I was finally rewarded with what I expected in the first place!

They weren’t a bad pairing but their gags went on too long; an elongated prison sketch with Hart pretending to be three different “prison gang” members should have been a minute at a push NOT five.

Ferrell resorted to mindless swearing just to get a quick titter, “I’m going to punch you in the f**k!”.

To be honest if Ferrell hadn’t applied his delivery, I don’t think I would have laughed at all.

Hart’s role seemed a lot more straight faced. A change. It worked. Using the plot of Boyz in Da Hood as his prison cover was hilarious.

Some gags did work. Will Ferrell dressed as the lovechild of Lil’ Wayne and Tim Westwood was hilarious. Deluded to the max with an “El Mayo” emblem stamped on his head. His pose for a gang picture got a guilty smile from me.

King’s naivety in the whole fiasco could have got a lot more funnier moments out of it. Shame.

The gag in which he is forced to pick fights with people in the park was hilarious (To begin with) but the more fights he got into, the worse it got.

The endless height gags and watching Hart being used as a gym weight just bored me. Lazy.

BUT Hart being used as a prop to dispense off some unlikely foes, on the other hand. That was an unexpected sight that tickled me.

The last 20 minutes finally seemed to hit its stride and I found myself actually laughing. It was ridiculously OTT and stupid as hell but it was better than what I’d had to endure.

Ferrell and Hart fighting on a yacht was the most random thing I’d seen in some time. Ron Burgundy flailing around and dispensing foes with some strange Brazilian dance fight technique was brilliant.

The Wedding Ringer bitch slapping people and smashing them round the head with computer monitors was mental.

BUT the story was so flat, predictable and lazy that it killed any enjoyment I managed to muster out of it.

Not good enough boys.

Sloppy and unfunny for the majority of the time. If not for the two comedy actors, this wouldn’t have made the DVD bargain bin at my local corner shop.

2/5 at a push

RIDE ALONG REVIEW

Ride-Along-Movie-Poster-HD-Wallpapers-1280x800

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)

GRUDGE MATCH REVIEW

grudge_match_0

The Raging Bull vs. The Italian Stallion. Better late than never?

A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout . . . 30 years after their last match.

Two of the greatest boxing movie icons finally come face to face. In the red corner, two-time Oscar winner and mafia kingpin Robert “Jake La Motta” De Niro. In the blue corner, two-time Oscar nominee and action movie macho man, Sylvester “Rocky Balboa” Stallone. Did we get a tense ten round punch up? Or was it another hyped up dud with a shoddy KO in the first round? LET’S GET READDDDDYYYY TO REVIEEWWWWW.

Watchable if a little disappointing. De Niro and Stallone made a frankly dull, predictable and by the book boxing dramedy a lot more entertaining than it should have been. 

The opening sequence (delivered in a flashy sports feed) quickly established the pair’s rivalry. The CGI and make up actually made the leading men look like they did in the 70s. The quick 30 second boxing skits were quite convincing. We watch Henry “Razor” Sharp (the not so sharp Stallone) battling it with his greatest nemesis, Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro), both one a piece in their victories, with one final grudge match on the cards. BUT out of nowhere, Razor retires. 

30 years later and Razor (a hench looking Stallone) is still happy to forget and work at the local steel mill. While Kid (an overweight De Niro) is still living off the fame BUT unhappy about the match that never was. He may still be a unit BUT Stallone hasn’t aged well. However, he delivered some of the best acting I’ve seen him do in some time. While De Niro played the arrogant Billy with aplomb.

An unexpected reunion at a video game commercial shoot set fists flying between the retired boxers. It was hilarious watching the pair flail about like two wrinkly Buzz Lightyears in those ridiculous green suits. Inevitably, the spat goes viral and the grudge match is very much back on.

De Niro and Stallone sparred well off each other. The insults and jibes were snappy and quick witted. It wasn’t long before we discover the real reason behind their rivalry. What could possibly put two men against each other? Bingo, a woman. In the form of the lovely Kim Basinger, who still ain’t looking too bad. What? She had good chemistry with Stallone and made the cliched cheesy romance subplot a little more bearable.

The grudge match opened opportunities for the old codgers. For the Kid? A chance to appease his ego. For the Razor? Money to help take care of his old trainer. The scene stealing Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine). And once Kevin Hart was thrown into the mix, the lumbering pace picked up. I never thought Arkin and Hart would make such an entertaining duo.

For all the negative press, I expected something worse. Grudge Match was hardly original. The pace was patchy and the cliched schmaltzy guff was a little predictable BUT it was still easygoing enough and delivered the odd chuckle. Stallone’s training montage was brilliant. A perfect Rocky parody by the man himself. Struggling to drink eggs and wondering why the hell he’s punching meat in a freezer.

The fight scenes weren’t bad BUT I was left wanting by the finale. It was all build up with some promising sequences as the old boys gave it a good ol’ go. BUT it was rushed and quick cut. Whether that was to make up for the ailing actors? I’m not sure. Shame. The tone was all over the pace. The video game scrap. Good. Fighting while skydiving? OTT and stupid. The subplot involving Billy’s newly discovered son (Jon Bernthal – The Walking Dead) was wafer thin and dreadfully cliched.

A mixed bag. Easygoing enough BUT if you were expecting Motta v Balboa, you’ll be left disappointed but give ’em a break. They do their best with the material. It’s just a shame that the material was a little weak. For the boxing nuts, hang on for the credits if you want to see a proper boxing rivalry revisited.

2.5/5