*NEW* JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 REVIEW *NEW*

He’s back! But bigger and better?

After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

They certainly cranked the gun-fu up to 11 BUT “The Raid 2 of action movies”. I don’t think so.

The opening threw us right into the mix following straight on from the first film with our main man chasing after a motorcyclist to retrieve some medallion or something.

It didn’t really matter what he chasing after because it was all for a car. Remember the car? He didn’t actually get it back.

Does Peter Stormare (Prison Break) even realise he’s becoming a cliche of his own cliched character? Another hilarious generic Eastern European mob boss.

His comical rendition of his last encounter with the Matrix machismo was too much; “He killed a guy with a pencil. A f*cking pencil!”

The scrap yard sequence was ridiculous, OTT but it set up one thing. Old Keanu can still kick ass. It was like something out of a video game. Entrapped in a mosh pit of taxi cabs, waiting for a bigger and nastier villain to deliver the next punch.

The action set pieces were intense enough. BUT the only problem was that the first John Wick came out of the blue and revamped some of the old action cliches and made it into something different.

With the expectations a little higher, Chapter 2 didn’t quite meet up to them this time around. Don’t get me wrong, it still did the job and it is what it is.

A high octane punch em shoot em up but it still toyed aspects of Wick’s past that I wanted exploring. What was this impossible task?! Who decided these rules on territories and why isn’t Ian McShane (Deadwood) in this more?

Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt) played the smug Santino well. Another unwanted blast from the past. Calling on an old debt to demand one last job from the Boogeyman.

Unfortunately, this was where the pace lagged for me. We had to watch Wick’s inevitable refusal and the predictable outcome that followed. Before reluctantly accepting the task at hand.

The Rome reconnaissance was watchable enough BUT the director stretched out the build up to the point that I was screaming for a shootout.

Less of the flat cryptic dialogue, more of the bang for your buck please!

For the animal lovers, the Boogeyman has a new companion in a loveable blue staffie. Does he suffer the same fate as his furry predecessor?

Well, there’s only one way to find out BUT I’m not saying.

The gun kung fu or gung-fu was brilliantly choreographed. Just when I thought certain scenes were getting a little repetitive, there would suddenly be a new creative and ultra-violent kill that had me wincing.

Stormare wasn’t kidding about that pencil!

Common (Smokin’ Aces) played a worthy adversary. I loved the camaraderie between him and Wick; “Consider this a professional courtesy”.

However, their initial (and incredibly brutal) fist fights soon went on too long and felt more like something out of the Peter Griffin vs Giant Chicken saga. Especially when they were rolling down the stairs. My God!

Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black) had potential as a mute assassin BUT never really got going. Shame.

Laurence Fishburne was not in this enough. He stole the show in his minute cameo. I was disappointed that we couldn’t get one little Matrix quote from ol’ Morpheus.

A shady friend in Wick’s desperate time of need with an alarmingly impressive army of militant homeless men.

The fiery and frenetic closing act certainly made up for the lumbering middle act. It was everything I hoped from the get go.

Relentless, violent and bloody fun. Especially when the bounty was put on Wick’s head. Everybody in New York given the green light to take out Neo.

Mental. I don’t think it would be a spoiler to say that things have been left open for another.

And despite my grumbles, I will be looking forward to the next installment.

BUT is pace and a little more exploration into Wick’s past too much to ask? Don’t make just another generic shooter.

3/5

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*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

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES REVIEW

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Turtle-y awesome. Cool as shell.

Right, enough reptilian punnery! Let’s do this!

Critically, it’s not perfect. Come on! It’s a film about teenage mutant ninja turtles.

BUT on the criteria of being a fun and entertaining family movie? I came out smiling and that’s saying something.

Now I grew up with the Turtles and was a particular fan of the original 90s movies. Well, the original 1990 movie. The sequels after that were . . . Well, meh. The Secret of the Ooze, oh dear.

Over the years, we have witnessed endless reboots and reworkings that were frankly doing my nut in and when I heard that Bay was bringing them back, I was livid!

I mean he already killed the Transformers franchise. Something that seriously needs to be scrapped.

The trailers gave me hope. They appeared to catch the essence of the gang but their 6 foot gargantuan Hulkesque appearances? Uh oh. But none the less, I went in. A 25 year old with my own gang of miscreants averaging the age of 22.

And I was surprised. Firstly, that there were no kids. All adults. Further cementing the cult status of these iconic reptiles. And secondly, in the film itself.

From the opening introduction, you knew what you were getting yourself into.  A quick explanation of some “scientific” mumbo jumbo about genetic engineering and the inevitable origins of some kung fu fighting critters. Some exposition about a crime syndicate known only as the . . .  Wait for it! The Foot Clan.

Okay, the story is ridiculous. I mean, come on. Any Foot related murders? Really? At least the writers allow the characters to poke fun at the stupidity of it all. A hilarious encounter between Megan Fox (Wowewow. What?) and Whoopi Goldberg (You read that. She’s back . . . in small roles) exemplifies that perfectly as April tries to explain about our heroes in a half-shell (Turtle Power!) to her editor.

Now this is not directed by Bay. It is a Bay produced movie. To be honest, the only thing director Jonathan Liebesmann has borrowed is the special effects, Megan Fox and the wafer thin plot line . . . Oh wait? I can see why the pair have been mistaken.

But Liebesmann and the writers have certainly skipped over the plot holes by filling it with comical scenes, action packed CGI sequences and fun. Something Bay has failed to deliver. Just boredom with overlong running times.

My main qualm was making sure that the essence of the turtles was captured and to that I must commend all involved. The voice cast were spot on. I felt each character was done justice. Some people had found it hard to distinguish between the turtles if not for the different coloured bandanas. I didn’t expect Johnny Knoxville from Jackass as Leonardo. But he certainly brought his gruffy gravitas to the role.

Noel Fisher (Twilight) however . . . TAKE A BOW! He was brilliant as Michaelangelo. Hilarious and instantly loveable. Scene stealing at every possible opportunity. His obsession with a cat playing chopsticks with chopsticks was one gag that did not get old.

The animation was fantastic. The expressions and movements certainly brought the green gang to life.

Megan Fox didn’t do too bad as April. However, just like the Transformers you could feel her character being pushed further into the background as the big guys went to battle. Her insufferable screaming did get a little irritating near the end. It felt like nothing more than a reminder that she was there.

It did feel that Fox was chosen to appease the fan boys of old and new. A news segment in which she must wear yoga pants and pounce on a trampoline said it all about female news anchors and a little about Fox. But she does look a damn sight better without that trout pout now. Anyhoo . . .

Will Arnett (Arrested Development/Lego Batman) was a perfect comedy sidekick and worked well with Fox. Not enough of him and his one liners, to be honest.

I was happy that the whole Raphael/Leonardo fraternal headbutting was breezed over. We had a lot of that in the original 1990 installment. Raphael was always the hot head but we didn’t need to tread through too much old ground.

Tony Shalhoub (Monk) brought some noble gravitas to our favourite furry fighter Splinter. He was certainly not as weak or as feeble as his 1990 movie counterpart. The fact his tail is now a fast moving weapon of its own accord made all the difference. Well, it would have to when he’s dealing with 6 foot muscle bounded turtle teenagers?

But of course, if the others have had an upgrade. That means the infamous sinister samurai Shredder will have one too. To be honest, they seemed to spend so much time on the heroes that Shredder seemed to be nothing more than an afterthought.

An expensive, gigantic mechanical master with several super swords afterthought. A visual threat. It’s just a shame his dialogue is as mechanical as his suit. William Fichtner (Prison Break) made more of an impression as his hammy minion.

Good to see Fichtner back in movies and not giving a stuff. Hamming it up to the max!

The special effects are brilliant. The ice truck chase was hilarious, entertaining and a visual feast for the eyes. However, it does get a little too cartoony by the end and the endless explosions do get a little much. Bay’s influence creeping in?

It kept my interest, had me laughing and to be honest I wanted more. The gang were done to justice. From their elevator beep boxing to spontaneous sewer dancing, they stole the show and are back for business.

Just next time (If there is one) give them a better baddie, a better plot and I’ll be happy to see more of this.

I’ve got to say it, “Kawabunga!” or “Give me another”

3/5

INTO THE STORM REVIEW

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Into the Bore-m for me. I knew I was heading into something stupid but this is just ridiculous and not even the good kind. A concept that was promoted as Twister meets The Day After Tomorrow and yet this turgid drip of an affair managed to make them look like epics by comparison. Oh my goodness.

The special effects are brilliant. That is when the shaky camera work focuses enough to actually see what’s going on or when it decides not to suddenly stop recording (The budget must have ran out). You know you’re in trouble when the highlight of the film is two dumb red necks with a Go Pro camera trying to get a million views on YouTube.

Look, I know that these films are supposed to be big and dumb. The sort of films you switch off and bask in the action and visual imagery. But for the opening 30 minutes of an 84 minute film, I was force fed corny, clichéd characters that grate on you with predictable and trashy hokum in a lazy attempt to feel some emotion. All the generic stereotypes are there. Geeky video club student with daddy issues. Hasn’t spoken to crush. Chooses the last day of graduation to try one last gesture to show affections. That and restricted video footage of little freak weather occurrences in the form of heavy rain and screaming high school students. Eurgh.

Now I accepted all the ridiculous scientific mumbo jumbo explaining why there are four tornadoes hitting one spot and when we finally get to see the storm hit full force; it’s watchable and suspenseful enough. It’s just a shame I couldn’t give a stuff about any of the characters. I was praying that a stray cow may take a couple of them out for me (Yep, there were cows flying around. Lazy) Nathan Kress (you may remember him from iCarly) was one of the more memorable characters with his witty banter and comedy commentary. Any other movie, it wouldn’t have worked.

This reeked of a straight to DVD B-Movie with TV actors chucked in. The main actor that I was surprised was actually dragged into this was Richard Armitage. Must have wanted to top up his bank balance in between Hobbit movies. His accent is impeccable but he plays it straight faced which makes him incredibly bland and comes off more comical than it should. A stain on his other wise reputable movie career. Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead/Prison Break) plays the attractive meteorologist that no one listens to. She spouts her clichéd background and random weather terminology with as much gusto as she can but let’s face it, who cares? The lines are bland and flat. The characters are stupid and irritating.

It’s so stupid that the situations that the characters find themselves in are so unrealistic. I mean for an example, the crew have a tank called The Titus (the all singing, all dancing advancement in weather combat blah blah blah). A tree lands on it. The doors are still accessible. In all fairness, the Titus is a cheap knock off of the Bat Mobile from the Nolan universe. So instead of running round and getting into the still accessible Bat Mobile, I mean, Titus. What do our crew do? They run 300 yards in the opposite direction to a tatty old church where the impending fire tornado is spitting cars like rain (A cool little scene of special effects).

But little moments don’t prevent what is a dull and laughable affair. I can laugh because I have a cinema pass but if I had to pay for that, I would be livid. I mean they have a camera man (Jeremy Sumpter – Peter Pan/Friday Night Lights) whose scared of thunder and lightning?! Films can’t go on like this with lazy writing, moronic characters that are so droll and predictable and the hope that some glossy blockbuster effects will cover it up. If you want a stupid B-movie, then invest. But if you’re expecting Twister . . . then go rent or buy Twister

1.5/5 for me

Here is a video simulating my reaction after seeing said film