*NEW* SABOTAGE REVIEW *NEW*

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This was sabotaged from the start.

Members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house.

From the guys who brought you End of Watch and Training Day. That tagline delivered so much promise BUT failed on so many levels.

From the opening, I felt like I joined the movie halfway through. It certainly grabbed my attention BUT only because I was so bloody confused.

It kept flashing forward as we follow a botched raid on a Mexican cartel safe house and the ongoing investigation after a $10 million overhaul went missing.

Considering the strong cast consisting of; Terrence Howard (Empire), Josh Holloway (LOST), Sam Worthington (Avatar), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Mirielle Enos (The Killing US) and Arnold “GET DOWN!” Schwarzenegger, I haven’t seen such an UN-interesting bunch of characters in quite some time.

The cliched macho talk and poor banter did nothing to win me over. The cartel stuff was so generic. It was merely used as a poor plot device to hide the inevitable backstabbing that would inevitably happen among the team.

This could have been a perfect platform for Arnie to have a pop at some serious acting. I couldn’t think of anybody better to play the head honcho of a dysfunctional and deadly team BUT I have to say that this was one of his most wooden performances to date. And that is saying something! He made something that should have been a sure thing on paper seem like such a stretch.

After watching Big Love and the American remake of the Killing, it made a change to see Enos play a drug addicted adrenaline junkie on the verge of a breakdown. Tragically, the more we saw of her character, the more annoying she got. So annoying in fact that I prayed for her swift exit.

Worthington’s performance was laughable from his mangled accent to his horrendous beard. A shame, really. His character was the only one that had a little bit of depth. Albeit, a cliched one.

The story line involving corrupt cops should have been writer David Ayer’s forte (by now) BUT alarm bells were ringing at the obvious plot holes – it had to be a team member that stole the payload. Because every other cartel member was butchered.

After a stupid BUT watchable first act, it took a good half hour before anything really happened. My curiousity was finally peaked when (out of the blue) a team member was bumped off in a highly gruesome manner. Olivia Williams’ (Rushmore) introduction was a much needed trigger and certainly got the ball rolling.

BUT I was too distracted by her nauseating accent. Her character was a total bad ass. BUT she caved into Arnie’s “charm” so easily and had a terrible sidekick in Harold Perrineau.

The wafer thin characters and agonizing pace didn’t do the movie any favours and even when the body count rose, my interest sank. The cloak and dagger stuff behind the task force had potential as Williams’ investigation was hindered by red tape.

I don’t mind dodgy and corrupt antagonists BUT I just didn’t care by the end. The Shield (one of my favourite shows) had me secretly rooting for the bad guys BUT the only rooting I did for Sabotage was for it to finish.

It felt like Ayer was poking fun at the very genre that he has been so accustomed to. For all their flaws, Harsh Times and Street Kings were solid efforts by comparison.

A dull story line with poor revelations was thankfully thrown out the window BUT replaced with an even more ridiculous shoot em up and a laughable street chase with incredibly dire techno video game music.

The ending was horrendous. It was supposed to be this big unravelling moment and a huge sombre footnote to the piece BUT it was just terrible. The overlong pace and poor storytelling literally left a stellar cast waiting around for Arnie to show more life than an IKEA table.

I’ve never been so disappointed in a Swarnie flick and it’s not as if the expectations were ever high in the first place.

2/5

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MAN UP REVIEW

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Right leads. Wrong film.

An easygoing, if incredibly silly little rom com that does just enough to keep you smiling for 90 minutes.

A single woman (Lake Bell) who’s mistaken for a stranger’s blind date (Simon Pegg), leads to her finding the perfect boyfriend.

When Bell’s character Nancy first graced the screen, I could feel my face burrowing into my hands. And no! Not even in the guilty cringe manner. Her monotonous warbling and silly face pulling really didn’t sell it for me. Or get things going for that matter (I meant, in the context of the film. Come on, we’re better than that).

Her introduction didn’t fare well. It seemed to be needlessly rude. Desperate to keep in the same vein as The Inbetweeners. But that was only because it was made by (What do you know!) the same people.

Her impromptu comments about blow jobs and dead sisters at a wedding reception clearly established her poor social interaction skills but it was unnecessary. Especially when you could already relate to Nancy’s isolation and loneliness in her overlong opening conversation with the hotel room mirror. Luckily, her character does grow on you.

Lake Bell had an impeccable English accent. Rumours were that she kept in character until post production so no one knew she was American. Maybe a little too serious on the method acting but it worked.

Fed up and giving up on love at 34, things don’t seem to be going too well for Nancy. That is until a chance meeting with an insufferable chatterbox (The lovely Ophelia Lovibund. What?). Some waffle about a blind date and a self help book as their call sign. One things leads to another. Girl leaves book. Nancy tries to catch her. Cue Simon Pegg. Welcome, bienvenue.

As soon as Pegg entered the mix, sparks flew. Bell and Pegg had fantastic chemistry and really worked off each other. Things thankfully perked up. It was funny watching Nancy trying to blag through the date and pretending to be a 24 year old triathlete.

For a good portion of the film, it was easygoing, funny and I actually gave two monkeys about the couple. The premise was a little farfetched with everything supposed to happening during one night. Their silly theories, movie quotes and banter stood out the most for me.

My little gripe was that there wasn’t enough of Nancy’s family. Ken Stott (The Hobbit – the films. Not the man) was hilarious. The family angle was something that could have been tapped into a lot more. A missed opportunity.

A shame considering the talented supporting cast at the director’s disposal. Sharon Horgan (Drop The Dead Donkey) was playing it surprisingly straight faced which made a change. It proved she can do normal but I expected better lines and quips from her.

When the family were involved, it was comedy gold. Especially with Nancy’s breakdown. Unsure whether to cheer or boo from her reaction. Brilliant.

Simon Pegg was superb. His nerdy verbal diarrhea and mad impressions really made his character stand out. To be honest, he was pretty much playing himself. His perfectly choreographed dance-off with Bell to Duran Duran’s The Reflex was nauseatingly cheesy but got a guilty grin.

Inevitably as Nancy’s web of lies begin to unwind, it isn’t long before fists are flying! BUT Pegg’s character Jack has his own secrets. An encounter involving his ex wife (Olivia Williams) certainly turned the tables and made for entertaining viewing.

However, the film tragically got sillier and more ridiculous by the minute and the last 20 minutes really killed off what had been an entertaining rom-com.

Rory Kinnear’s weird stalker character was unnecessary. He was funny when he was first introduced. The desperate little man still swooning over his old secondary school crush. But he soon became a moronic blackmailer demanding a blowjob in exchange for not spilling the beans!

Stupid. And when he was waiting naked in a toilet, the joke went too far. It would have been better if he was the scorned crush but Google tracking her location and driving around a BMW like an nutter? NO.

What was with the Game of Thrones actors popping up in this? John Bradley? That’s right Samwell Tarly as a hotel bell boy (Uncredited. I can see why) and Dean-Charles Chapman (Martyn Lannister) as a pissed up youth crashing a house party.

Oh God, the closing scenes were terrible. Seriously, it was so OTT and vomit inducing. A simple request for directions at a house party led to Pegg running around the streets with a massive entourage of drunken kids.

It was needlessly silly and corny and ended with all the things you could think off to fill the chick flick checklist. Cliched speeches (Tick), the “Will-they-won’t-they?” (Of course), the bickering and splitting up (All within one night, might I add).

BUT great chemistry from two excellent leads certainly made this one to see. But with all the silly guff, it soon became one to forget.

By all means, it’s watchable. I laughed quite a bit but I just wished the last 20 minutes didn’t happen. That’s all.

Thumbs up for Man Up? More like a shaky hand.

2.5/5

SEVENTH SON REVIEW

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Not as you bad as you think. Or just as bad depending on your outlook.

Okay, it’s not great. BUT . . .

It killed the time, zipped along, didn’t mess about and knew exactly what it was. A big, dumb, action packed supernatural blockbuster.

Seventh Son is very much in the same vein as Van Helsing and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Ridiculously stupid but entertaining at least.

So what’s this one about? Young Thomas (Ben Barnes) is apprenticed to the local Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn to fight evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

From the OTT opening music score, I instantly thought of the classic monster movies.

Not long before you’ve sat down in your seats, you’re soon jumping out of them as an imprisoned dragon breaks free to unleash mayhem.

Smaug got nothing on this one. However, the dragon soon transforms into a vamped up femme fatale. In the form of Julianne Moore.

Moore went completely against type and proved she can play the seductive vamp role well. (What?)

She camped it up and stole every scene. You could tell she was having fun.

BUT Jeff Bridges? Face palm. What on Earth is he playing at?

The reunion of The Dude and Maude Lebowski may have excited the movie nerd in me BUT it’s just a shame that Bridge’s character was so terrible.

He just about pulled off the no-nonsense embittered mentor with a terrible accent in RIPD. But he should have known not to pull the same trick twice.

I had no idea what accent he was trying to do. It was hysterical for all the wrong reasons. Half the time, I couldn’t understand him. The other half I couldn’t care.

Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) was quite a charismatic lead. Even if his character was a little bland.

Luckily the chemistry he had with Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) sparked a bit more life into him.

There wasn’t enough of Vikander. And no! Not because I have a little crush on her. I felt that with Barnes, they made a good couple. Barnes and Bridges, on the other hand? No.

She was feisty and not too shabby to look at either 😉

The special effects were actually pretty good. Unfortunately, I saw the 2D version. A decision I instantly regretted. You could pick out several moments that would have been great to see in 3D.

The plot was pretty naff and full of plot holes. I could jot down the amount of questions; Why the seventh of the seventh son? What was the purpose of John DeSantis’ (The 13th Warrior) Tusk? Why did he have tusks? Why was he indebted to the Spook? How did he keep popping up when the Spook hadn’t told him where they were?

Little niggles, you know.

I wasn’t bored and certainly couldn’t knock Seventh Son for pace. It zipped along, and if I’m honest, a little too rapidly. The story was always going to the same old predictable guff. Young man sent on a quest and enduring love, loss and blah, blah, blah but they could have allowed a little more time on certain characters.

Most notably, Olivia Williams’ Mam Ward. Her forced mother/son relationship could have been a little more meaningful and interesting if they had allowed a revelation to develop. BUT instead, they focus on the monsters and the fight sequences.

Don’t get me wrong. Fun and violent they may be. It doesn’t help when you don’t really care about the characters. Mam Ward reveals something about her character halfway through the film that could have added something BUT instead she is pushed further into the background until she is no more.

A missed opportunity.

Kit Harrington. That’s right. Jon Snow. Had the easiest cameo going. I couldn’t believe he was in this. They must have grabbed him while filming Game of Thrones. His role was nothing more than a plot device to show how relentless Mother Malkin is.

Djimon Hounsou is reduced to nothing more than another angry servant. Pretty much the same character from Guardians of the Galaxy. Just an irate troll this time.

Also, why was everyone speaking with American accents? Especially when the majority of the cast were English or Dutch? But that’s just a continuity quip. Another niggle, that’s all.

It was hammy and OTT but gained points for fun.

It had the odd chuckle, zipped along and kept me quiet. However, a lot more points were lost for consistency, plot holes and direction.

The ending wrapped up far too quickly and was surprisingly open. With a faint hint of another?

I would be intrigued and if (A BIG IF) the gang were to return, they would need a lot of work. I enjoyed Van Helsing a lot more and we never got a sequel for that. So, don’t hold up your hopes.

This is definitely a teen fantasy epic if ever there was one. BUT we have had far too many. And even though they were flawed messes, they were still a little more memorable than this, I’m afraid.

BUT give it a go if you want a big silly creature feature to kill 90 minutes. BUT Jeff Bridges, come on man. You’re the Dude! Sort it out.

2.5/5

THE LAST DAYS ON MARS REVIEW

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The . . . last film they should do about Mars. Oh my days. The next contender for worst film of 2014 and we’re only into April. Shambolic. The pain endured watching this space turd was like having a xenomorph burst out of my chest and that still would have been more entertaining than this drivel.

Slow, tension less, shoddily acted, more holes than a sponge. This film should be jettisoned into space. Okay, rant over. Better? Better. It is such a shame that an underrated cast have the opportunity to shine in a perfect B movie-esque vehicle and miss at every angle. They could have done a shot for shot remake of Alien and they still would have messed it up. If it wasn’t for the fact it was funded by the BFI and Irish Film Board, this definitely wouldn’t have made it to the big screen and rightly so. The fact it’s only featuring at my cinema for five days says it all.

The premise (if you can it that) is basically; with hours before disembarking back home, a group of astronaut explorers succumb one by one to a mysterious and terrifying force while collecting specimens on Mars.

Liev Schreiber (X Men Origins: Wolverine, The Manchurian Candidate) – a highly underrated actor – grunts and grimaces through the dreadful script, desperately attempting to bring something to his wooden character, only to come off with a panto performance. His face pretty much shows the distaste. He looks like he knew how bad this movie was. Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense and soon to feature in the Swarnie macho movie Sabotage) is the most realistic and interesting character. Only because of the fact she was the only one who had common sense. Scientists trained to endure the conditions of space and creating ecological systems but can’t run away when their mutated colleague is trying to bash them with a hammer.

The opening starts off slow and I expected a tense build up brewing into a crazy finale but no! Every possible scene where a little tension could be created. They crush it. Skimming across or revealing the dark shadow before any suspense. All the clichéd one liners (We’ll be home soon!, You’re not going to die! And so on). The acting varied from bland to OTT. I mean *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* at one point the crew are screaming about their colleague falling down an apparent precipice and declaring him dead. No one checked how deep it was or if he was dead or alive by simply calling out his name. Nope let’s go straight to flimsy scuffs and yelling at each other. Terrific.

Elias Koteas (The Haunting in Connecticut, Let Me In) was wasted. Anyone could have played him. Romola Garai (BBC’s The Hour and Legacy) was nice to look at but incredibly dull, which was a shame as there was some chemistry between her and Schreiber. Johnny Harris (The Fades, This is England ’86) was disappointing. Typically shady and dark. An unexpected twist made a momentary shock before realising that it had no point and was completely stupid. Schreiber attempting to fight off the alien zombie things was laughable. “Fucking hell, stay down”. The make up on the aliens were awful. They looked more like those slave zombies from the Mummy movies. The special effects with the space ships and the stations was actually very good and great to look at.

Also *WARNING AGAIN* Schreiber’s character – for those who have had the displeasure of viewing this. The endless flashing back and forth wondering why he freaked out in dark spaces, only to find out something happened on the space station years before and he got locked in a pod. Bearing in mind, he was crammed in a tight space fixing parts and those buggies weren’t spacious. Absolutely stupid and ridiculous.

The last ten minutes brought the violence and a little bit of gore but only kept you intrigued for a minor moment before it’s let down by hammy acting, naff visuals and an inevitable and tragically shit ending. Shoddy acting, naff characters, no tension, throw in some recycled plot lines off naff B movies. The only thing it had going for it was the visual design but no matter how good it looked, it was still dire. AVOID. Even Mission to Mars was miles better than this. If you want to invest in a sci-fi movie involving Mars THEN GET TO THE INTERNET and watch Total Recall. Hell even the remake. Also the film is called Last Days on Mars and yet when we join them, they are 19 hours away from going home so surely THE LAST DAY ON MARS. Couldn’t even get the title right. 1/5

Currently ranks #163 out of 163!