*NEW* INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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We waited 20 years for this?!

Two decades after the first Independence Day invasion, Earth is faced with a new extra-Solar threat. But will mankind’s new space defenses be enough?

It is what is. A visually stunning and ridiculous cliched mess of a guilty pleasure. Fun viewing regardless.

Independence Day was an Oscar winning (Yup. You read that, right?) blockbuster that delivered one of the most iconic movie shots of all time. Albeit an alien death ship blowing up the White House.

The only problem is that it has been 20 years since Independence Day opened the door for bigger blockbusters with even more ridiculous effects and sillier plots that have milked every stupid cliche dry. A couple of them penned by Roland Emmerich himself.

I’m not going to lie. This was probably the one guilty pleasure I was actually looking forward to. BUT did it deliver? After the long wait and the return of some old faces, I can say with full fervour . . . Meh.

Let’s start with the good. This won’t take long. The effects (of course) were fantastic. Visually stunning. The alien technology from the ‘War of 96’ creating an ultra-futuristic 2016 (Well, Washington DC) with hovercrafts, spaceships and giant floating jumbo screens. Crazy.

The 3D was quite good especially when our green friends made their proper introduction. Missiles and tentacles flying out left, right and centre. It was great to see Goldblum, Pullman and Spiner back in the mix.

Pullman looked rough. He tried his best to work with the “serious subplot” as the tormented ex-President still plagued by strange visions. BUT it didn’t really work and there wasn’t even a “Today, we celebrate our Independence Day” speech. One of the greatest speeches in movie history!

Spiner (Star Trek) hasn’t aged a day and was just as nuts as he was the first time round. Goldblum’s dry Ian Malcolm wit has been missed and was definitely needed to poke fun at this!

In a ridiculous scene involving a 50 foot alien chasing a school bus of children (Yup. That stupid), our hero can’t leave until the kids save their dog. “Let’s not forget the dog. There’s always a dog”.

If anything that scene summed up the movie. It felt like one big parody of the original. Emmerich and co must have banked everything on Will Smith’s return. BUT studio rumours speculated that the Hollywood megastar demanded $50m (Whaaat?!!) to appear in two sequels.

Once they turned him down, the writers just put any old thing together. You could tell that Emmerich was still sore about Smith’s absence as he wrote the resilient Captain Steven Hiller off in an embarrassing fashion. The bad ass, that welcomed an alien to Earth with a punch in the face, bumped off in a botched test practice. Ouch.

He seemed to punish the Hiller clan full stop. Jessie T. Usher was terrible as Dylan Hiller. It didn’t help that his character was so weak and by the closing minutes, you soon realised how unnecessary he was. Vivica A. Fox didn’t receive any better treatment with her cameo.

All the old faces tried to do the exact same thing with worse results. And when they weren’t involved, they were replaced with annoying new faces. William Fichtner (Prison Break) was wasted in his role while Sela Ward (House) was a highly unmemorable President.

Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist) was a weak and needless character. The whole Africa subplot was a joke and a bad one. Kicking alien ass with an African warlord? Really. I’m either making that sound better or worse. Even if Areo Hotah (Deobia Oparei – Game of Thrones) was said warlord.

Liam Hemsworth (Hunger Games) stole the show and managed to work his charisma on a dull role. Maika Monroe (It Follows) wasn’t too bad. I wish more was made out of the pair as they had good chemistry and were the least annoying out of the bunch.

Goldblum wasn’t really in it as much as you’d think. His presence missed in every frame. Smith and a character of Randy Quaid’s gusto was also missed and needed in this messy retread.

This sort of film is what my mate would call, ‘a sh*t BUT good’ film. It was a laugh (probably for all the wrong reasons) and it killed the time. BUT when you compare it to Emmerich’s weaker efforts *cough* 2012 *cough*, it still fell short.

There were astronauts drinking moon milk, for God’s sake. Seriously? The questions? I know Independence Day wasn’t a work of art by any means. Goldblum destroyed an alien mothership with a computer virus. Because all alien death machines have USB ports, right?

*POTENTIAL SPOILER* Things were left open for another BUT they’re going to have to cook up something pretty damn special after the poor box office takings and mixed reviews. That might be put on hold or the SyFy channel.

Despite all the crazy visual effects and silly fun; this sequel was an empty vessel that lacked the charm and energy of the original. Worth a watch for the die hard fans and B-movie cineastes.

2.5/5

*NEW* THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART TWO REVIEW *NEW*

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The relentless bestselling blockbuster franchise comes to a close. Did it fly high or flop like a turkey?

As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow (Donald Sutherland), while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

And now it comes to an end. A billion dollar franchise that spawned more bestselling adaptations than I could take and launched the career of one of Hollywood’s top leading actresses. Was it all worth it? After four films with one being split into two parts, did it conclude to my liking?

To an extent, it did. A mixed bag would be the best phrase to sum up my thoughts. A little disappointing after all that promise and build up. Now, I will admit straight off the bat. Like I normally do. I have never read the books BUT speaking with fans, they have generally been impressed with the adaptations.

I have enjoyed the movies. The first installment reminded me of a Twilight take on Battle Royale which worked a lot better than I expected with a stellar turn from that girl from Winter’s Bone. The pace was always a killer for me. BUT there was always something that made me want to see the next one. A twist, a revelation. And now here I am. Desperately seeking the finale to a franchise I never expected to enjoy.

Now, hardly a shocker BUT Part Two follows straight on from Part One with Katniss recovering from a vicious attack from Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). The opening was dreadfully slow but did just enough to keep me subdued as Everdeen watches from the sidelines. The war on the Districts pushing for more aggressive action.

Things did take a slightly more interesting turn as Katniss began to question the agenda of the movement and Coin’s motives (Julianne Moore). Forcing her to make a drastic decision. To go it alone and seek out Snow.

Once the decision was made and the hour marker hit, the film took things up a notch. It was fast paced, tense and gripping. Everything I expected from a finale. The sewer chase was exhilarating stuff as the gang battled demented white zombie creatures. BUT of course, Katniss was not alone.

Who on Earth in their right mind would bring along a brainwashed Peeta? Hutcherson did a great job as the traumatized fighter. His failure to grasp reality and continuous questioning was interesting to start with. BUT the endless “Real/Not Real” quid pro quo with Katniss soon dragged and annoyed the hell out of me.

But then there wouldn’t be any drama, would there? With a more infuriating love triangle than Lost, things come to an ugly head as Katniss is torn between the loyal Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and the volatile Peeta. It was good to see Hemsworth have a chance to step up after being in the background for the majority of the films.

My main issue with Mockingjay Part Two was that it seemed to suffer from the same problems that the final Harry Potters did. It skimmed past too many characters’ back stories and then quickly threw said characters back into the mix for one last hurrah. Jena Malone and Sam Claflin finally reappeared and made more of an impression this time around. To be honest, I had almost forgot about them after Catching Fire.

Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci were virtually absent in this one. Tucci was merely a passing cameo and Banks only reappeared to say farewell. Not even Haymitch’s advice was that memorable or entertaining. Merely regurgitating what we already knew. He literally just disappeared into the background. Shame.

The media or PR team led by Natalie Dormer added absolutely nothing to it at all. If anything, it made me question the relevance of them altogether by the end.

However, it wasn’t all bad. Jennifer Lawrence was superb yet again. The film took a much darker turn than I expected and there were a few shockers in the closing half hour. BUT what didn’t help matters was that we didn’t see half of them. It was merely implied or reported back to us by some extra. Infuriating after all the build up that things were happening off screen.

It killed off a good portion of the tension. There were still some touching moments BUT it came off a little flat and disjointed. I wish there was more of a showdown between Snow and Katniss. I really loved their fractious relationship and their final confrontation was certainly not to be missed BUT somehow despite some revelations, it just didn’t quite satisfy me as much as I thought.

It was also quite sad to see someone else taking a final bow. It may have been some time since his passing but it was a fine performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch. I’m not sure how much of his performance was altered to complete the movie BUT it didn’t spoil the character one bit.

I really do think it will come down to how much of a Hunger Games fan you are. As the credits rolled, a majority of the audience applauded. Guess what part of the audience, I was in. It was certainly watchable and there were some tense and brilliantly acted moments. It is tough to please everyone when wrapping up a series BUT for all the build up and insufferable Part 1 and Part 2, I was a little disappointed and left wanting.

Close BUT no cigar.

3/5

*NEW* THE DRESSMAKER REVIEW *NEW*

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Winslet is dressed to impress in this quirky little drama.

A glamorous woman (Kate Winslet) returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.

This one nearly slipped my radar. If not for a recommendation by a family member, I would have missed out on one of the better films of the year.

Winslet delivers a stellar performance as Myrtle ‘Tilly’ Dunnage. The shunned schoolgirl reformed and ready for revenge. As soon as she stepped onto the station platform, dressed like Mildred Pierce with her sewing machine in tow, you knew you were in for a treat.

I never expected to enjoy this at all BUT it was quirky, funny and engaging. Highly recommend. We join Tilly as she returns home to try and piece together the reasons why she was forced out of the small dust bowl in the first place.

The mystery behind her past helped break up the (surprisingly enjoyable) Desperate Housewives style melodrama in the community. BUT as well as having to deal with the locals, Tilly must also face her mother, Molly (Judy Davis).

Davis played the reclusive and volatile Molly superbly. She was a monster. Abusive and ignorant in one moment. Troubled, neglected and lost, the next. Davis and Winslet were a great pairing. Their fractious relationship certainly spiced things up as you soon realise that maybe Tilly wasn’t the only one traumatized by the incident. The more we delve in their troubled past, the more you feel for them.

Tilly’s dressmaking inevitably makes her the talk of the town as her dresses transform their owners. Changing how they are perceived. It made for interesting and comical viewing, most notably with Gertrude’s (Sarah Snook) transformation. It was unexpected but not surprising. The glamourous women strutting around the town was brilliant. Especially when the town looked like it had been plucked straight out of a Western.

I loved how colourful the characters were in the community. Hugo Weaving was superb as the flamboyant Sergeant Farrat. The man with a passion for fashion. The lecherous hunchback pharmacist Percival Almanac played repulsively by Barry Otto. I could go on.

Liam Hemsworth was very good as Tilly’s inevitable love interest Teddy McSwiney. It was good to see him NOT involved in a Hunger Games love triangle and have the chance to act. He had great chemistry with Winslet and they made a good pair.

I have to agree with Mark Kermode’s review that this film must have contained every genre bar science fiction. In fact, it almost came off like a Western. The little nods were fantastic. Especially when a rival dressmaker is brought into the mix to challenge the ‘gunslinger’.

However, the pace did drag and by the 90 minute marker things were starting to meander along. The unraveling was interesting enough BUT the big reveal was a little disappointing after all the lies and deceit. I expected something a little darker and more dramatic. I also expected Shane Bourne’s Evan Pettyman to be more of a villain. For all the talk from the town about the man, he didn’t live up to the hype. But then again, who does?

Despite being watchable, I did start to wonder where there was all going. BUT thankfully, the film took an unexpected change in direction. Delightfully dark, touching and macabre with everything coming to a head for a thrilling and satisfying finale.

I was pleasantly surprised. The Dressmaker was a breath of fresh air in the drudge of regurgitated rehashes and remakes filling up the film schedules.

It may not have been perfect BUT great characters, a fresh take on an old story, lots of humour and a whole load of quirkiness makes this one to put on the list.

3.5/5