*NEW* ALLIED REVIEW *NEW*

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I surrender.

Good chemistry does just enough to make this typical Hollywood war romance watchable.

In 1942, a Canadian intelligence officer (Brad Pitt) in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter (Marion Cotillard) on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.

Was this really penned by the man who gave us Peaky Blinders?

BUT at that same stroke, he gave us Locke and Mockingbird . . . So . . . yeah.

The opening act was slow burning BUT engaging as Pitt’s (incredibly bad CGI’d) Vatan descended onto the French Moroccan desert.

The tension slowly bubbling as the officer set out on his mission. The secret rendezvous. The cloak and dagger meetings. The questions piling up.

Cotillard stole the show from the get go. I expected nothing less as she did her best to hide Pitt’s school boy French. BUT it allowed for a nice icebreaker between the pair as they gathered Intel and rehearsed each other’s cover stories.

The detail was ridiculous from Vatan’s threads to perfecting his “Parisian” twang. He even had to sleep on the roof to establish the couple’s “reunion” as the neighbours watched from the windows.

The pace dragged BUT the pair’s blossoming partnership and chemistry made up for it as we played the waiting game. Cotillard’s Marianne proving she is more than just a piece of arm candy and up for the task in hand to the stern and dreadfully serious Vatan.

Don Burgess’ cinematography certainly left little on the eye. Casablanca didn’t look quite as romantic as the 1940s classic, that’s for sure. BUT that didn’t stop director Robert Zemeckis and co. piling on the cheese.

A little too Hollywood for my liking. No, really. I had to laugh at their whirlwind romance. Captured perfectly in a hilarious sandstorm bonk. Peer-leasseee.

Zemeckis’ track record has been hit and miss for the last 15 years BUT he knew how to deliver the suspense as the pair took on their risky mission. It was edgy, brutal and surprisingly violent.

BUT when the pair went back to London, the pace was tragically put on the back burner as they got hitched and had a child.

I had to cringe at Cotillard giving birth in the middle of an air raid. I’m sure it was meant to be a sweeping statement that war stops for no one BUT it was far too hammy.

Luckily it wasn’t long before the game was afoot again with a suspect Nazi agent in the ranks. The only problem was that the agent in question was Marianne.

Simon McBurney (The Conjuring 2) was quite creepy as the appropriately titled ‘Ratcatcher’. I wish he was in this more. Jared Harris’ (Mad Men) Frank Helsop, on the other hand, was a little tally ho and what for not. Shame.

The two men assigned to putting Vatan’s life in misery. My interest was finally peaked as Vatan sought to prove Marianne’s innocence; with failure to do so resulting in their execution. Grim stuff.

The final act delivered more of what I had expected from the get go. It was tense and, despite my grumbling, I was still guessing right up to the very end as Vatan had to re-evaluate the very woman he fell in love with.

I just wish Zemeckis had given us more suspense. I hadn’t been so anxious waiting for a phone to ring (Those who have seen it, will know what I’m talking about).

The lines weren’t quite as crisp or as memorable as I’d hoped and made some of the more dramatic scenes a little clunky. Oh . . . and Brad Pitt’s angry chair kick had me in stitches.

The supporting cast left little to be desired. Anyone could have played Lizzy Caplan’s (Now You See Me 2) part as Vatan’s sister. If at all. She was completely unnecessary and her silly romance with Charlotte Hope (Game of Thrones) felt tacked on and in the wrong film altogether.

I was more interested in Matthew Goode’s (The Imitation Game) disfigured war vet. He made more of an impression in five minutes than all of Caplan’s encounters combined.

I actually wanted to know more about his past with Vatan and the reasons behind his neglected hospital imprisonment. BUT alas, it was not to be.

Allied wasn’t as bad as I had originally anticipated. The two leads’ chemistry kept things watchable. It just felt like we had seen it all before and done much better.

Moments of quick violence and gore with patchy suspense sequences just didn’t quite cut it.

A watchable, if dreadfully muddled, affair.

So-so, all sport.

2.5/5

*NEW* NOW YOU SEE ME 2 REVIEW *NEW*

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And now for my next trick. Watch a franchise that nobody wanted . . . DISAPPEAR!

The Four Horsemen resurface and are forcibly recruited by a tech genius to pull off their most impossible heist yet.

Now You See Me was an enjoyable romp. Hardly ground breaking BUT easy going fun with a group of magicians hustling some rich conglomerates. I didn’t expect the finale and was even more surprised when a sequel was confirmed.

I hoped the next outing would carry that same level of energy and fun BUT this was utterly dreadful. Irritating characters, drawn out pace, a terrible story line, farfetched stunts that pondered all levels of plausible acceptance and really shoddy CGI made this one to avoid.

It’s not essential to watch the first outing. You get the entire plot summarised in the first 30 seconds. The opening showed promise as we explored Dylan’s (Mark Ruffalo) past and the reason behind his rivalry with Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman).

BUT once it flashed forward to the present, the intrigue was lost. Eisenberg’s Atlas was far too serious and sulky. I don’t know whether he was still getting over losing his hair for the shambolic superhero saga that was Batman vs Superman BUT his griping and silly backstabbing antics were dull as dishwater.

We had a new Horseman, person or Female Horseman (Whatever) in Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls). I thought she would be a worthy addition to the mix. BUT she was incredibly annoying. She wasn’t funny and her verbal diarrhoea was insufferable. I think Isla Fisher made the right decision not to come back.

What didn’t help was the agonizing pace. The film should have been cut by a good 30 minutes. Mark Ruffalo (Avengers) was the most interesting character and he was barely in it! Every time Dylan appeared, things happened and I was hooked. I was happy to follow his subplot NOT the Horsemen. Battling to keep his cover under the watchful eye of Sanaa Lathan (who was wasted in her role).

Proof in the pudding when one of the best scenes was Dylan causing havoc in a Chinese street brawl. The fight sequences combined with a series of magic tricks were well choreographed and stopped me fidgeting in my seat.

I have to admit the Horsemen really did infuriate me. Woody Harrelson had been on resurging form with his recent endeavours (True Detective) BUT this was a complete misstep. He went full retard as Merritt’s twin Chase with his Will Ferrell-esque wig and badly capped teeth. An unnecessary character that tested me in every scene.

Dave Franco (NERVE) did his best with his role BUT was lost in the mix. Eisenberg eventually lightened up and delivered his usual schtick BUT it was too little, too late.

You know you’re onto a loser when Morgan Freeman’s dulcet tones are doing your head in. His silky voice couldn’t save this leaden script. If anything, it highlighted the clunky exposition. A revelation about Bradley unintentionally undermined pretty much a good portion of the premise from the first one.

Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t too bad as the weasely Walter Mabry. He played the slimy techno villain well BUT he wasn’t in it enough. NOT even the return of Sir Michael Caine did anything for me. He was laughable. Doing his best Victor Meldrew impression. Dismal.

What made matters worse was that the actual hustle and magic tricks were far too OTT and farfetched for my liking. I know it’s only a movie BUT some of the big reveals defied physics or common sense to work even in a Hollywood universe.

An elongated card flinging sequence took the biscuit. Watching the gang flick a badly CGI’d card in the air and around their torsos to smuggle a computer chip was just plain terrible.

However, the finale delivered a little of what I expected from the get go. The effects actually did impress; especially when Eisenberg disappeared into a puddle of rain. Tense, engaging and watchable. WHERE WAS THIS FOR THE REST OF THE FILM?!

The characters were dull, the pace was too long, the effects were hit and miss and the twists were either too predictable or just plain ridiculous. They even missed a trick by not calling this Now You Don’t BUT if there any rumours for another; my title would be:

NOW, PLEASE STOP!

2/5

THE INTERVIEW REVIEW

The Interview Movie

The film that nearly caused a ”war”. With hype like that, it was never going to deliver up to it’s expectations. BUT it doesn’t help that it’s just not that great.

From the western capitalists that brought you Bad Neighbours and This is the End . . .

It really is what you think. Franco and Rogen apply their usual smutty spiel in a Pineapple Express meets Frost/Nixon mish-mesh.

All that controversy in the news and what do you know? It get’s released. Funny that its IMDb rating dropped from 9.2 to 6.9 after an official release date was agreed. Hmmm . . .

It’s not all bad. But my main quip with this film is that it’s the same old guff; F + R effing and jeffing, rants that go off on random tangents for far too long and, oh of course, let’s not forget the pill popping.

So what’s it about? (For those who may have missed the headlines) Dave Skylark (Franco) and producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen) run the celebrity tabloid show “Skylark Tonight.” When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park), they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission.

I knew from the get go what sort of film I was in for. The cartoon credit sequence with a Korean woman tearing up the American flag. Followed by a little girl singing “Death to America” while a nuclear missile was launched behind her said it all.

James Franco was fantastic. If not for him, this film would have bombed. Did anyone else notice how rough he was looking?

However, he played the deluded celebrity TV journalist Dave Skylark to perfection. A true egotist and simpleton. It seemed a little slow to get going. An interview with Eminem (who is looking old now!) soon livened things up.

A casual conversation inadvertently outing the rapper was a surprise. I did not expect The Real Slim Shady to suggest that his lyrics were a gay peekaboo. Brilliant.

Rogen plays Skylark’s best pal and frustrated producer. Desperate to be taken seriously and deliver real news; not that Rob Lowe is bald.

There are couple of cameos from Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s previous entries which deliver the odd chuckle. I’m not going to spoil everything now.

The bromance is still very much there. Rogen and Franco are still an entertaining couple. Normally their improvising did my nut in BUT this time around, I wanted more of it. The relentless Lord of the Rings references were starting to irritate me.

BUT it all seemed to be set up for a big punch line that I couldn’t help smiling over.

The other gags weren’t so hot. The inevitable “Me-so-sorry” lines rearing their ugly heads. Okay, the “Did you say Dong?” reference got a guilty titter. The pill popping and boozing was unnecessary and unfunny.

The alluring Lizzy Caplan did her best with her stocky CIA counterpart. If not for the “Honey Pot” debate gag, anyone could have played her. Or better yet, not needed her altogether. Shame.

The training session in which the pair must practice using Ricin was interesting but not very funny. It’s scary how poison can be transferred BUT come on, I watched 24.

So a Pineapple Express meets An Interview with a Vampire. Or reclusive maniacal leader.

How was the man in question presented? Well . . .

Randall Park was fantastic as Kim Jong-un. To be honest, he was the most entertaining character in it. BUT from a political standpoint, I could see how it could cause offense. However, I think Mr. Un needs to get a sense of humour.

I mean, come on. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, this ain’t. Hell, it doesn’t even cross Team America: World Police on the controversy scale.

He was merely a shy superfan with daddy issues. Hardly original.

Inevitably, Franco’s Skylark takes a shining to the misunderstood dictator as they bond over hookers and shooting missiles from tanks while drinking margaritas and singing to Katy Perry’s “Firework”. Yeah, you read that right.

Franco and Park were hilarious together with Rogen sitting on the sidelines. Some of Franco’s one liners were brilliant, “He’s peanut butter and jealous of us. He’s spreading KY jealous all over his balls.”

So is this really what all the fuss was about?

Well, not exactly. The final 20 minutes felt like two films meshed together and neither came off quite as well as you hoped.

The smiley superfan’s grin soon starts to crack, unearthing a demented maniac. It got a little more interesting with some actual satire. An incident involving a fake grocery store certainly got things moving in the direction I had originally expected.

There were a few moments that were just bizarre and f*cked up. They didn’t really fit in the film. Something I expected to see more in This is The End.

The strange Frost/Nixon set up at the end did throw in a few stats and suggested a little more to this chughead comedy. BUT that bubble soon burst with Jong-Un sharting on live air.

I think that controversy must have been an incredible PR stunt because beneath its fiery surface, there isn’t much else going on.

A sequence involving a drone pickup and a tiger was really funny and suspenseful. Once Diana Bang got over her “HOT” hard ass demeanour as Un’s head of communications, Sook, she was quite entertaining.

It’s big, dumb, at times quite funny but OTT and a bit of a let down.

If you were expecting something more, then you will be left disappointed. BUT if you love F + R and feel they can do no wrong then invest.

Mixed bag for me.

2.5/5