*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

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*NEW* ASSASSIN’S CREED 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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For the love of all that is holy, AVOID this movie.

Another failed video game adaptation bites the dust.

When Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin; he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.

We’re only a couple of weeks into the new year and I already have a nominee for worst film of 2017.

On paper, I honestly thought we had a winner. Oh how wrong I was. What is it about video game movies? Why are they so bad?

They have the fan base, the concept, a plot. All packaged and ready to go and yet it still doesn’t cut the mustard.

I’m a big fan of the AC franchise. It was a crazy premise. BUT when you’re jumping off towers and free-running up buildings while disposing of targets with cool gadgets, who cared?

BUT somehow this dull and meandering affair managed to make that concept seem even more far-fetched and uninteresting.

From the opening 10 minutes, you knew what you were in for. A disappointing, disjointed and poorly CGI’d movie.

Now credit where it’s due. The writers actually kept to the story line. The only problem was that (as a gamer) those were the bits I’d skip. If it didn’t have anything to do with training or the Assassins, that START button was getting a hammering.

It didn’t help that it took itself too far seriously. Cal’s drawn out back story didn’t really set the tempo. And that was the problem, it never really got going!

His mother was bumped off (for no valid reason). We had mindless exposition and dull dialogue as Fassbender did his utmost to keep things watchable.

I still think he was the right choice for the role. I just wish he had better material. I was 30 minutes in and already nodding off!

Even when Cal was picked up by the sinister Illuminati-esque Abstergo Organisation, it was hard going. They managed to make all the fun stuff with the Animus a bloody chore.

A talented cast squandered. Not even Jeremy Irons and Marion Cotillard could save the day. Cotillard was wasted in her role. Anyone could have played her.

Irons did fare a little better and could have been an excellent adversary. BUT he was pushed into the background far too much. And by the time he was brought back for the shambolic finale, he was nothing more than a quick witted panto villain.

Charlotte Rampling was completely unnecessary as the leader of the Illuminati . . . Or whatever she was supposed to be. Brendan Gleeson actually looked like he was on drugs in his meaningless cameo.

There was one thing that bugged the hell out of me the most. What’s the title of the film? ASSASSIN’S CREED. So where the hell were the ASSASSINS?!

The mixed CGI effects and frantic camera work may have been disorienting to watch BUT, at least, it was entertaining.

When the assassins were able to do their thing, it was watchable. The rooftop chase was exactly like the game play. A real shame that we had only two or three sequences. Not enough wall sprinting and hay jumping for my liking.

The 3D was a waste of time. It definitely wasn’t worth the money for bits of wood and the occasional arrow flying out at you. Dreadful.

Every time that blasted eagle soared across Adam Arkapaw’s horribly grainy 15th Century Madrid, it just reminded me how much of an eye sore the visual effects really were.

Even the infamous “leap of faith” was a massive let down. It was either disrupted by a quick flick back to Cal messing around with the Animus or hampered down with blurry CGI.

It failed to impress on both fronts with the present AND the Assassin stuff. Throwing in characters you couldn’t care about.

There was a really flimsy and cliched relationship between the assassins Aguilar and Maria (Ariane Labed) that went no where. No memorable villain. Just a stocky armour-clad henchman and a lechy monk with a really bad bald piece.

Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire) and his highly unmemorable bunch of Abstergo inmates were a complete waste of time. All they did was moan at Cal and waffle on about the Apple. A stupid relic that can end free will. Yawn.

IT JUST DIDN’T WORK. By the time the closing credits rolled, I felt as empty and angry as the protagonist.

And once Justin Kurzel’s name flashed across the screen, the die was cast. Reuniting with Fassbender and Cotillard to fail with another adaptation. First Shakespeare, now one of the highest grossing video game franchises in the last decade.

Third time’s the charm? I wouldn’t bank on it.

The cast did their best BUT they were always going to fall short. Poorly executed, dreadful CGI, a meandering pace makes this one to AVOID.

The only good thing to come out of this was that it made me want to revisit the old games.

2/5 (Just)

*NEW* MACBETH REVIEW *NEW*

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I think I’d rather fill my mind with scorpions than sit through this again.

Despite a powerhouse performance by Fassbender, Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of the renowned Shakespearean play didn’t quite do it for me.

Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland (David Thewlis). Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife (Marion Cotillard), Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

Fassbender (Steve Jobs) was brilliant. I couldn’t think of anybody better to take on the iconic role of the demented King. This adaptation brought back school boy nostalgia. Unfortunately NOT in a good way. Macbeth is certainly not the best Shakespearean play to break into for a newbie. This only reminded me of what an arduous chore it was to analyse and decipher the soliloquies back in GCSE English just to get the gist of what was going on.

Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography was sublime. It really made the murky Scottish back drop a sight to see. After a strong and graphic opening with the Thane claiming victory on the battlefield, the film soon set off on a snail’s pace. The elongated panning shots. The long stares. I could feel my eyes drooping.

Maybe I wasn’t as much of a fan as I thought. I preferred Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Hamlet. An overtly lavish and grandiose affair BUT at least it was riveting and mesmerizing. For a story of betrayal, greed and madness, not a lot happened. A lot of the gruesome stuff was told in the horribly droll speeches and never shown. That’s not to say I need gore to keep my attention BUT it was incredibly hard going, dull and drawn out.

As much as Fassbender’s performance kept things watchable, I felt Roman Polanski’s 1971 version tackled the subject matter a lot better and was much more engaging and accessible. The screenwriters tried to make little changes BUT it just didn’t work. The witches’ coven, for example. I always remember there being three. Instead we have an ensemble of women and children. BUT what was the relevance? None, apparently. Even more ironic when only three of them spoke.

Paddy Considine (Dead Man’s Shoes) wasn’t in this enough as Banquo. His absence was sorely missed in this lifeless affair. David Thewlis (Seven Years in Tibet) had the easiest job going as Duncan. He didn’t do a bad job for the two scenes he featured in.

Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) was the perfect choice for Lady Macbeth. A role I hoped she would sink her teeth into BUT she was far too passive and weak. I always perceived Lady Macbeth as this devious and influential mastermind. BUT in this adaptation, she did absolutely nothing. A shame. I’m not sure whether it was the writers or Cotillard’s interpretation of the role BUT it didn’t work and she didn’t deliver the lines with enough conviction.

It was strange to see Sean Harris (Prometheus) as a good guy. BUT his demeanour and performance as MacDuff made me root for Macbeth more. By the end of the play, I knew Macbeth had lost it. BUT whether it was down to a lack of chemistry from Harris or too much charisma from Fassbender, the drawn out combat sequence was a real challenge as my loyalty was already decided NOT torn.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to wash my hands clean of this mess. Tough viewing. Any newbies thinking of trying to approach Shakespeare on the big screen may want to steer clear. This is one for the die hards.

2.5/5