*NEW* BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE REVIEW *NEW*

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Yawwwnnnnn of Justice. Oh dear. Oh dear. Was it a DC disaster? Or a misunderstood masterpiece?

There’s only one way to find out . . .

Fearing that the actions of Superman (Henry Cavill) are left unchecked, Batman (Ben Affleck) takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.

All that hype. All that anticipation. My brother fell asleep in the cinema. People argued with me on how terrible it was. The feeling of disappointment hit me in the gut like a punch from Supes himself.

Yet somehow on second viewing, it wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered.

The strong opening delivered everything I hoped. A brooding, dark, tense action packed sequence with stunning visuals and a menacing score from the Mad Max maestro Junkie XL and Hans “Gladiator” Zimmer.

While the credits rolled, we had the quickest recap through Batman’s origins. No matter how many sequels, reboots and remakes; it’s always the same story. I wondered why Snyder grabbed The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo as Bruce’s parents. A real waste. They didn’t have any more screen time in the Extended Edition!

However, I liked how the writers answered one question straight off the bat that bugged the hell out of me during the Man of Steel finale; “How have Superman and Zod not killed any people with all that destruction?!”

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The answer was simple. They did. The eerily 9/11 vibe to the Man of Steel’s destruction was unsettling as Zod (Michael Shannon – Midnight Special) and Superman ploughed through tower after tower. One of the buildings being none other than Wayne Enterprises.

A haunting image of a bitter Bruce Wayne cradling a child covered in rubble and carnage. Cue the movie title.

A shame that momentum couldn’t be carried on. I wasn’t overly impressed with Man of Steel BUT thought Cavill was brilliant as the man in the red cape. It was long at the tooth and far too serious for its own good. Only lightening up in the closing act.

Bit like this one, really . . .

BvS: Dawn of Justice should have been called Man of Steel 2 ft. Sulky Batman.

I liked the idea. It was just the execution that spoiled things. The whole debate about Superman being a false God and the security risks were all too realistic and the surprisingly bleak and cynical undertone offered a completely different direction to the Avengers.

This should have been a shot out of the ball park with the Watchmen (Very underrated film) director at the helm.

The main issue was the disjointed and incredibly convoluted plot. Amy Adams was completely wasted as Lois Lane. She was sent off on some uninteresting goose chase around the States bugging senators about experimental warfare and some ruse involving African terrorists and Russian gangsters that . . . basically was a shoddy excuse to force our two “heroes” to meet. Either that or fishing around for a spear of Kryptonite. Yup.

And the end result was so tragically predictable.

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Jesse Eisenberg’s (The Social Network) take on Lex Luthor was a mixed bag. I was always #TeamBatman BUT I did enjoy Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey’s take on Supe’s renowned foe.

BUT Eisenberg just flailed about and waffled insufferable verbal diarrhea. Applying his usual schtick. Instead of taking the opportunity to play a different character. There were moments where he showed potential. An interesting anecdote about Granny’s Peach Tea delivered an unexpected punch line.

Now onto the Dark Knight. Batfleck was superb. He was an excellent Batman and an even better Bruce Wayne. It was going to be tough to follow on from Bale BUT he nailed it. His Batman counterpart followed on from the Bale Bat quite well.

If anything his character had become embittered and disillusioned. Branding his victims with a mark of justice that was pretty much a death sentence. Brutal. Angry with the world. The good men are gone.

“Even you’ve got too old to die young. Not for the lack of trying”. There wasn’t enough Jeremy Irons as Alfred. Desperate for the billionaire to seek something other than vengeance.

“Crime spree in Gotham. Water is wet.” Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix) was on fine form as the Daily Planet Editor Perry White. I wanted more of Gal Gadot’s character. The mystery surrounding Diana Prince as she stumbled into Wayne’s dangerous game of chess was much more interesting than anything Luthor could conjure up.

It was at the half way marker where my patience was tested. It didn’t help having one of the most disjointed flash forwards (teasers) thrown into the mix. It didn’t fit in with the film at all. A bold statement by the producers (hoping that more movies will come to explain it) BUT it was completely out of sync with what was going on.

It certainly wouldn’t have made any sense to the DC newbies. I know it was played off as a strange dream sequence that introduced another Justice League member BUT it didn’t work.

“Black and blue. Fight night. The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world: God versus man; day versus night; Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!”

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The build up, the anticipation, two flippin’ hours of mindless exposition! All for an intense 15 minutes.

The brooding, the stare-offs, the tension. A training montage that could have parodied Rocky IV with ol’ Bruce dragging massive tyres and lifting weights while Kent traipsed around a snowy mountain.

The special effects were fantastic. The minute fight sequence was set up quite well as the Caped Crusader set up an obstacle course for the nearly indestructible son of Krypton.

Cavill and Affleck worked well off each other and made the fractious exchanges much more watchable and entertaining. I just wish they hadn’t spent so much of the film keeping them apart!

And the final 30 minutes offered more of what I expected from the get go. It took itself much less seriously and threw in some needed humour and once Wonder Woman got involved, it was a riot. That score every time she came on though. Talk about overkill with the horns. Jeez.

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Despite my initial disappointment and nitpicking, this wasn’t a complete write-off. It showed promise and offered a completely different direction to the Marvel movies. One that may be darker, broodier and bloodier.

By all means NOT a bad thing. BUT can they work on crafting the characters, a better story and the flipping pace first?!

3/5

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*NEW* THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER REVIEW *NEW*

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Two stars for the toonsters.

When a diabolical pirate (Antonio Banderas) above the sea steals the secret Krabby Patty formula, SpongeBob and his nemesis Plankton must team up in order to get it back.

Yeah, I know. How old are you?! Grow up! After watching this shambolic sequel, I think I will.

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I loved Spongebob Squarepants when it first came out in 1999 (That’s right 17 years ago!). It was random, funny and utterly bonkers. I even saw the movie when I was 15. I always loved the hidden innuendos and stupid gags and still watch the film every once in a while. Hell, I still quote it to my work colleagues (All surprisingly secret SS fans. Wait, hang on. Best not make that reference).

When I heard a sequel was in the pipeline, the silly teen nerd in me giggled like our spongey hero BUT once the opening sequence began with Banderas prancing around Sinbad style (with the mad energy that voiced the feisty feline Puss in Boots), I knew I was in deep trouble.

This really was one for the little ‘uns. The innuendos GONE. The humour silly and stupid. Banderas did his best BUT he was annoying. Narrating the dull and lifeless plot to the best of his ability. BUT thankfully he was nowhere near as irritating as the poorly CGI’d seagulls.

Normally I’m a fan of Alan Carr BUT his voice grated against me as the lead seagull. Apparently we couldn’t get anybody better to voice the rest of the lot. Or they read the script and scarpered. Instead we had YouTube sensations (Apparently) Joe Suggs/Thatcher Joe, Caspar Lee and X Factor/TV presenter Stacey Solomon. Greeeatttttt.

We had to endure the same old guff as Plankton makes his umpteenth attempt on stealing the Krabby Patty formula. However, this time the formula is successfully stolen. BUT NOT by the minuscule megalomaniac. With the town going crazy and looking for someone to flog, SpongeBob helps Plankton prove his innocence. Leading to a dreadfully mediocre movie.

The pace drudged along and took too long to get going. The time travel machine subplot was an extended segment that delivered more misses than hits. SpongeBob and Plankton’s partnership should have been better than it was and left us Patrick-lite. The songs didn’t help either. The bland Pharrell Williams backing track and that TEAM song was just plain cringe.

At least the first one had Goofie Gober Rock (I’m a Goofie Gober . . . ROCK!)

The post-apocalyptic Mad Max future sequence was a good touch; “Welcome to the apocalypse, Squidward. I hope you like leather”.

Some of the old gags worked. BUT the underwhelming supporting cast didn’t help lift things. With the original movie, we had Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), Scarlett Johansson (Avengers), Alec Baldwin (BT adverts. I’m kidding!). Hell, it even had the Hoff!

It didn’t help that the whole thing got ridiculously far-fetched. Out of desperation if anything else! I know. How can you say far-fetched? It’s a talking sponge causing havoc underwater. The film had David Hasselhoff acting as a Knight Rider speed boat hybrid that jettisoned our dim-witted duo back to Bikini Bottom with his chest (Told you I watched it!)

Instead we had Matt Berry (The IT Crowd) delivering his vocal gravitas to an interstellar galaxy protecting dolphin overlord. You read that, right?

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Shooting lasers out of his blowhole! Donning a cape and floating in the air with toilet roll hanging off his dorsal fin. I really thought I was trippin’ on acid BUT after that rather odd segment (To say the least), I found myself fidgeting and looking at my watch.

I wanted more of Karen (Jill Talley). Plankton’s computer wife. She was funny. “My hero. You obviously want something or else you wouldn’t be freeing me”.

The lack of double entendres was extremely disappointing BUT the silly puns had their moments: “You’ll be safe in this . . . safe”, “Is he an enemy or plankton?” BUT it just wasn’t enough. There were laughs to be had in the mental finale with our loveable gang bulked up to the max with superpowers BUT it was a case of too, little too late.

I was ready to leave the screen before the singing seagulls and Antonio Banderas could destroy the theme song. And the auto-tuning cameo from Berry was bloody dreadful.

Did you think that went well? This was definitely for the sprogs. I can safely say that I’ve moved on from SpongeBob.

2/5

*NEW* KILL YOUR FRIENDS REVIEW *NEW*

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Hoult delivers a killer performance. Shame. The rest of the film didn’t.

An A&R man (Nicholas Hoult) working at the height of the Britpop music craze goes to extremes in order to find his next hit.

He’s come a long way from About A Boy. Channeling his inner Patrick Bateman, Nicholas Hoult kills in this patchy BUT strangely watchable satire.

The demented opening sequence certainly set the tone. You knew what you were getting yourself into. Hoult’s cocky snake charmer had a hypnotic effect. He really carried the piece. Casually talking about how bad music has gotten while shooting up cocaine and urinating on a trampy looking James Corden.

You read that, right? Disgusted. Then this won’t be for you. That was just the tip of the iceberg. Stelfox is a monster. He has NO remorse and will NOT stop. Ambitious doesn’t even come close to describing how far the man will go to climb up the ladder.

The film gave an American Psycho meets 24 Hour Party People vibe. I’m NOT familiar with the John Niven novel BUT I will certainly be adding this to my reading list. Unfortunately book lovers, I can’t make comparisons. BUT when does a film ever top a book?

I did feel a little nostalgic as the film went back to the 90s indie scene. Junkie XL delivers another decent soundtrack. NOT quite Mad Max proportions BUT with Blur, Oasis and The Prodigy on the playlist, I was content.

The insults aimed at the music industry hit too close to home. Most notably with Moritz Bleibtrau’s (Run Lola Run) eccentric performance as the sex craved Eurotrash DJ Rudi. A derivative club anthem breaking the charts left, right and centre with some lazy bass and repetitive lyrics. Music really hasn’t changed.

Stelfox’s preaching about integrity and authentic music soon laughed off when he gets a nice pay check from signing the mad desk jockey. BUT at the same time, it did feel a tad dated with all the A & R scouting and sound house gigs. Not many sound houses going around my neck of the woods any more.

With Stelfox constantly breaking the fourth wall and narrating, it reminded me a little of Filth BUT the subject matter just wasn’t as controversial or satirical enough. His obsession to beat a rival A & R scout (Tom Riley – Da Vinci’s Demons) was ridiculous. Resorting to all sorts of desperate measures.

Hoult was a tour de force BUT after a while, there wasn’t much else going on. Once he snorted and swallowed some drugs here and effed and jeffed there, it soon got very repetitive. Despite being a great platform for an underrated British cast, they weren’t given the best characters. Craig Roberts (Submarine) might as well have been non-existent as Stelfox’s underling. Whether that was the intention is another matter. Edward Hogg’s (Bunny and the Bull) dimwitted detective was irritating. Every time he stumbled into a scene, I could feel my interest waning.

Corden was wasted in his role. He looked the part BUT was pushed into the background for the majority of the film. The only real laugh I got out of his character Waters was that despite Stelfox’s best efforts to destroy his reputation, the powers that be were still considering him due to experience.

Ed Skrein delivered a much more convincing turn than his performance in The Transporter Refueled as Rent. The self-made manager trying to find the next Spice Girls in a group of Jeremy Kyle rejects. Georgia King’s (Cockneys Vs. Zombies) didn’t do a bad job as Stelfox’s manipulative PA. It was a shame that her character only got interesting in the closing minutes when it was too little, too late.

The only problem with these sort of films was that there was only ever going to be two outcomes. And despite a ridiculously crazy and bizarre drug-induced finale, the end result was still a little too predictable and abrupt for my liking.

The pace may have lagged and the plot a little weak. BUT a stellar turn from Hoult makes this dark mess worth a watch.

3/5 (Just)

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD REVIEW

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Mad doesn’t even come close.

Feel the fury of the merciless car chases. The Road Warrior is back. But badder and better?

In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max (Tom Hardy), a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

George Miller brings his Road Warrior to the 21st Century. Rebooted, rejuvenated and relentless.

Hardy was the perfect choice. On paper. I felt his performance was a little shaky. His interpretation was a little disjointed. I’m not sure whether it was down to Miller’s direction or what?

Hardy seemed too mechanical. He barely said a word. Which wasn’t a problem but when he spoke, it was drivel. I preferred Mel Gibson. He may have played the mystery man but he did have some charm and charisma.

It didn’t help that Hardy had that metal mask on his face for the first 45 minutes. Badass, yes! BUT he looked like a post-apocalyptic Bane. He must be born into these roles 😉

John Seale’s cinematography was something else. Absolutely breathtaking. He really brought Miller’s dream apocalypse to life. Miller made full use of that mega million budget to make his future apocalyptic wasteland.

It’s great watching the original Mad Max trilogy before hand. Fans will know that it was all building up to this. I was still debating whether it was a reboot or a sequel.

If you are unfamiliar with the original films then it isn’t essential at all. But for MM fans, the car was there? So was it a reboot? The voices and the vision of the child asking Max to save them felt like a reference to the trilogy? So a sequel?

Either way, not a MUST!

The set pieces were intense. I was impressed by what Miller had done with the original trilogy. Proper cars, proper chases. For the majority of the action, it was still in that vein BUT on a biblical scale.

However, as with all blockbusters CGI inevitably makes an appearance. I only saw this in 2D. You could tell what bits would have been in 3D and to be honest, I’m a little miffed that I missed my chance.

BUT it also made everything look way too cartoony. The CGI in the sandstorm sequence was too much and killed the intensity of the chase. It was worse than the dated props and dummies of the 80s.

The Mad Max franchise may have been starting to show its age and what do you expect after 30 years?! It was always strange. I loved the nihilistic undertones. Dark, brooding, haunting with the right level of silliness.

Miller just cranks it up to 11 and revs the engines for sheer balls craziness. From the off, it’s fast, frantic and violent. I was hooked. Merely because it doesn’t give you a chance to take in all the quick-cut editing and sweeping shots.

Hugh Keays-Byrne was brilliant as the demented Immortan Joe. The patriarchal leader that rules all. Controlling the water supply. Turning it on at small intervals to watch the slaves fight for thirst.

And of course, in typical Mad Max fashion, he sends tankards out on quests to seek . . . that most precious of substances, gasoline!

Nicholas Hoult was superb as Nux. The ailing obedient servant hell bent on earning Immortan Joe’s respect. He really has excelled from About A Boy and Skins. Delivering another scene stealing performance.

There were a couple of angles that did intrigue me. The idea that this strange colony abduct people from the road and use them as blood bags was messed up. The weird mythology that Immortan Joe enforced about Valhalla was laughable.

I felt like I was on drugs watching the thing. His servants getting pumped before a gasoline siege by spraying some weird chrome stuff over their mouths while praying to the Gods of V8? What a lovel- strange film! And that dude with the guitar? WTF?! To remind you. Un pic below:

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Que?

I know the film has sparked debates with its feminist context. I merely review films but the idea of women against the patriarchy certainly made this installment stand out a little more. And let’s be honest Mad Max fans, it had been heading that way.

Let’s not forget Tina Turner’s surprising turn in Mad Max: Beyond The Thunderdome and maybe forget the Hook Neverland kids vibe in the last part.

If anyone could play a strong female defying the odds and breaking free, I couldn’t think of anybody better than Charlize Theron. She was very good as Furiosa. Immortan Joe’s most valued servant. Or so he thought.

My main issue was that the supporting ladies had such unmemorable characters. Zoe Kravitz was very weak. I think the only one that stood out was Rosie Huntington-Whitely (No, not because she’s the model. Although . . . NO! Focus) BUT because she was the only one who had a teeny tiny piece of back story to support the rather weak story line.

There were a few twists along the way. Miller may have lost it with the OTT demented silliness BUT he still wasn’t afraid to shake things up when the pace seemed to lumber. And unfortunately, it did in parts.

For MM fans, I felt that Fury Road was a revamped Mad Max 2. One of the best installments in my opinion. Immortan Joe felt like he had been torn from the same cloth of Lord Humungus. He even had a stupid and memorable mask as well!

The musical score by Junkie XL was incredible. I don’t normally commend movie soundtracks but it really made the chases that much more dramatic and engaging. Exhilarating and frantic. Very much like the movie.

I just wish there were more memorable supporting characters. The endless visions, hallucinations and flashbacks that Max experienced were really annoying. The more they popped up with that annoying kid, the more I could feel my patience wading.

Max only really got to shine in the last 20 minutes. I’m sure that was the point but Max was always the one you were routing for. The underdog. This time, you have Furiosa. Max just seemed so bland. He got lost in the mix. BUT how could he not with this demented wasteland?

Mad. Not at all. I was hooked. The action was intense. BUT Miller could tone down the craziness and crank up some plot and characters for the next post-apocalyptic western. Maybe.

3/5