*NEW* CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR REVIEW *NEW*

captain-america-civil-war-movie-poster

Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr).

The mega Marvel movie franchise have really hit their stride. Gripping, action packed and possibly the best film of the bunch.

Brilliant. It was good to see all that waiting pay off with subplots resolved, loyalties tested and great performances all round.

*HERE IS YOUR WARNING FOR POTENTIAL SPOILERS!* I DON’T THINK THERE ARE ANY BUT I’M WARNING YOU ALL THE SAME!

I’ve admitted numerous times that I had mixed feelings about the Marvel movies. I didn’t rate The Avengers BUT loved Age of Ultron.

Despised the endless Hulk reboots (Even though I enjoyed the Bana version. Whaaattt? I know). Loved the Thor movies. Loved Iron Man 1 and 3. Let’s not talk about Iron Man 2, eh? Felt Captain America was rushed to fit in with the first Avengers.

Thank God for Winter Soldier, one of the most underrated and unexpected surprise sequels of the year.

I was relieved to hear the Russo brothers was taking the helm again to bring Cap’s third outing to the fold and boy, oh, boy, what a treat!

It would help to watch the Cap movies to really enjoy the little subplots. My little brother had barely seen any of them BUT was still able to fill in the blanks and enjoy this just as much as I did.

Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely made this easily accessible for the less hardcore Marvel fans while not boring the hell out of the rest of us.

We finally got to explore the background of the mysterious Winter Soldier as the opening got straight to business flicking back and forth from the 90s to the present.

It was great to see Sebastian Stan (The Martian) take centre stage as the conflicted Bucky as his story line came to a head with Cap’s loyalty tested to the fore. Forcing him to make a choice between his old wartime pal and his Avenger colleague:

large

“Sometimes I want to punch in your perfect teeth”.

RDJ delivered a much more sombre turn as Stark. It made a fresh change as the millionaire faced some of his own personal demons as well as battling it out with his closest friends. His fractious relationship with the Cap reaching boiling point as the Avengers face disbandment after a botched mission. Evans nailed it yet again as the Cap.

You could argue that it was always going to be tough to give such a plethora of characters a chance to stand out BUT it didn’t come far off. I could have grumbled at the list of absentees; *cough* Thor *cough* Hulk *cough* Pepper Potts (again) *cough* BUT there was enough going on to make me almost forget about them. Almost.

I know the die hard comic book fans were ripping the small airport battle sequence with their own list of absentees in the mix BUT the fighting sequences were excellent. Well choreographed, fast, furious and intense. The special effects were decent. One particular highlight involving Hawkeye and Ant Man surfing on an arrowhead.

Everyone had their moment to shine. Even the newest addition Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman – Get On Up) impressed in a top heavy cast. They managed to make his slightly silly costume look badass. BUT there was one character that really took the biscuit.

I enjoyed the Maguire-Spiderman movies (Yes, even the third one. What do you mean? What’s wrong with me?) and liked Garfield’s performance BUT hated the reboot. When I heard that Spiderman was being rebooted again (Confirming my reservations about the Garfield efforts), I was annoyed. Really? Is this doomed to fail like the Hulk movies?

Tom Holland (The Impossible) . . . Well done. He may have had the cameo with the most lines BUT he stole the show and captured Spidey to perfection. I am actually looking forward to Homecoming.

I think the only characters that suffered a little and fell into the background was Jarvis/The Vision (Paul Bettany) and War Machine. Cheadle never really had a chance and wasn’t strong enough. Terrence Howard was the man for me. It didn’t help THAT Cheadle’s Rhodes was never really brought into the mix in the other movies.

Marvel have really struck a winning formula while DC continue to splutter (So far). It had a bit of everything and nailed the dynamic perfectly.

The humour was perfectly balanced against some of the more serious moments. It tied in a few loose ends that had bugged me and actually made Emily VanCamp’s (Revenge) role necessary after her lacklustre turn in Winter Soldier.

There were revelations and twists along the way. It was tense, engaging, riveting and, despite the odd niggle and the pace testing its 147 minute length, highly enjoyable. Best film of the year? It’s a strong contender.

And of course . . . persevere through the credits. Yeah, I didn’t think I needed to tell you either.

4/5

*NEW* THE TRANSPORTER REFUELLED REVIEW *NEW*

pOUkepb

The Transporter returns rebooted, recast and rehashed.

In the south of France, former special-ops mercenary Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) enters into a game of chess with a femme-fatale (Loan Chabanol) and her three sidekicks who are looking for revenge against a sinister Russian kingpin (Radivoje Bukvic).

I can remember watching the first Transporter. It was violent, fast, furious and with that bald chap from Lock, Stock. It was a cult action flick. Unfortunately they had to make more of them. Okay, Transporter 2 may have pushed it but it was an enjoyable thrill ride. And the less we say about Transporter 3, the better. Well, that was until I saw this.

I could see why a fresh start was needed. BUT why on Earth would Luc Besson give a reboot to the director that killed the franchise in the first place? I didn’t realise how big a void Jason Statham would leave. It wasn’t just his physical presence. His deadpan style. His humour. The guy can generally make the naffest lines sound cool.

The opening of this shambolic affair did everything to grab my attention with people being shot left, right and centre. It also flicked back and forth as we follow Anna (Chabanol) preparing her revenge on her handler. A plan ten years in the making.

Anna was probably the most interesting character in the whole piece. Only giving Frank little tidbits of her master plan. It may have been the same old guff. The young migrant forced into prostitution after the false promise of a new life. BUT she kept things watchable.

If anything, she made Frank Martin the supporting character in his own story. And the supporting ladies may have looked nice BUT they had no depth or character at all. Their sole purpose to be Stevenson’s lapdogs while they held him hostage.

From the moment the “resurged” Frank Martin made his introduction, I cringed. He may have looked the part. BUT for every cool punch and kick, Skrein’s horrific delivery would spew a cheesy one liner that just sounded terrible. It was laughable for all the wrong reasons. The car park scene (A complete rip off of Transporter 2 by the way) was cliched to death.

The story line was terrible. What didn’t help was the shoddy time frame. The writers’ maths must have gone out the window because this film was set in the year 2000. Considering this was supposed to be a reworking into the present day? Hmmm . . . By the end though, I couldn’t care less.

One thing director Camille Delamarre can deliver is set pieces. His only saving grace. The airport sequence was sheer bloody bonkers. The car chases were fast and furious. Even if the bank heist opener was a complete rehash of the first film. The only thing that infuriated me was the use of CGI. It wasn’t needed. It just spoiled the stunts for me.

It didn’t help that for every decent set piece, there was a hammy piece of dialogue or dull storytelling. Martin slamming his Audi into crawl mode and beating up all the baddies blocking his way. YES! Bickering to his dad about women and being late. NO!

That’s what really annoyed me. The Stath’s Martin tried to stick to the rules. Skrein never did. He kept changing the rules and was late every time. The iconic character’s gimmick and they messed it up. Gutted.

Chabanol and Skrein didn’t work too badly. They had good chemistry BUT I felt their love scene was forced. It was rushed and wasn’t necessary. Just like Stath and Shu Qi’s little tete-a-tete. Any excuse for a bit of skin.

I liked the mystery around Martin in the original. I could respect the attempt to bring in a different angle to his character BUT it just didn’t work. The endless bickering and “banter” between Skrein and Ray Stevenson’s father figure was terrible. It just made me miss Francois Berleand’s Inspector Tarconi. And Stevenson? What on Earth was he playing at? I’m sure he had fun and gave it a good old go. BUT he came off as a right old lech.

Radivoje Bukvic was a terrible villain. He failed to make any real impression. To be honest, Noemie Lenoir’s character did a better job. And no! Not just because she’s a model. I actually thought she was running things. She was doing a whole lot more than him. And put up more of a fight!

A steaming mess. I think they should let this sleeping dog lie. Laughable and cringe-inducing. If not for some cracking action scenes and one interesting character, this would have got nil points from me.

A rebooted franchise that was never needed and never wanted. No Stath? I lose faith.

2/5

THE OTHER WOMAN REVIEW

poster-for-the-movie-the-other-woman

Here come the girls yadda yadda yadda. I mean, here comes another generic OTT chick flick. But if you go in with the right temperament, it’s actually quite watchable, if ridiculous and a lot funnier than I anticipated. Hardly perfect. But with a lovely set of leading ladies who are game for a laugh, it just about gets away with it.

If you haven’t seen the trailer; firstly you’re lucky. Secondly, the gist is that after discovering her boyfriend is married, Carly (Diaz) soon meets the wife (Leslie Mann) he’s been betraying. And when yet another love affair is discovered, all three women team up to plot revenge on the three-timing S.O.B.

A slightly different take on it all. We follow Diaz falling in love with the charismatic Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, or Jamie Lannister to the majority. I can’t believe he was in this after Game of Thrones. Some will see it as a different turn from the actor, others a massive step down. The moment in which Carly finds out he is married is still entertaining, despite being flogged in the trailers. You can feel for both Mann and Diaz and their cringey first encounter makes for humourous viewing.

Cameron Diaz has proved before she’s game for a laugh and plays the straighter role and plays it well. However, the scene stealer is Leslie Mann. She has proven time and time again to be a talented and funny actress. Her introduction into the movie did come off very irritating at first.  Her running commentary was annoying and highly unfunny. However, once she meets Diaz, she steals the show. In one scene, she is able to play a remarkable drunk. I’m still convinced she was actually drunk. The next scene you see this vulnerable woman who is battling to come to terms with the fact her marriage is over. She soon grows on you and you do feel for her.

I mean the film could have gone down a more serious route, but I felt for most of the film, the balance worked. I mean it does get more ridiculous as the film carries on it’s running length, especially by it’s shattering climax, shall I say. Crazy. But it’s that sort of film, it’s silly, stupid but at least its fun. I mean the introduction of Kate Upton wasn’t really needed. I felt Mann and Diaz were a decent pairing and worked well off each other. However, Upton doesn’t do a bad job, as far as model debutantes go. She plays the airhead to her strengths and her slow motion bikini clad beach run was a fitting tribute to Bo Derek in 10. Surprisingly, she brings another angle. The trio work well together and manage to make silly jokes come off a lot funnier than they should be. Plus they’re not bad on the eye either. What? Ladies you got Lannister and Taylor Kinney (Chicago Fire) as Kate (Mann)’s brother.

Coster-Waldau plays the arrogant cheater very well. I mean, come on he is Jamie Lannister. The pranks and reconnaissance on him are silly but entertaining. It was surprising to see Nicki Minaj play a normal role. Looking lovely. What? Shame her acting left a little to be desired. I mean I knew she was robotic when she rapped but I didn’t realise she spoke like one?! Don Johnson (old James Crockett from Miami Vice)’s appearance was unexpected. He plays Carly’s crazy player of a father quite well.

It was never going to win plaudits. Nick Cassavetes’ directing efforts have always surprised me. The fact he can go from John Q to The Notebook still baffles me. Some will see it as another lazy chick flick that goes for lazy gags.  I mean scenes involving a badly behaved devil dog will split people. I didn’t know a certain moment with Diaz and the dog was not planned and unscripted. Brilliant. At it’s best, a well acted fun film. At it’s worst, thanks to the finale, ridiculous and predictably corny. If you love these sort of films, then give it a go. If you don’t, then this won’t change your views. But if you can take them with a pinch of salt, then give it a go. I’ve seen a lot worse this year.  3 (just) out of 5!

Currently ranks #123 out of 172!

NOAH REVIEW

noah-movie-poster

Woah . . . what the hell did I just watch? This shit just got BIBLICAL. Stupid one liners aside, a rather strange viewing experience. One that I’m not sure whether I enjoyed. Arguably Hollywood taking on the Bible is always going to get mixed results. However, that is not always the case. Examples such as Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, The Prince of Egypt (what? Don’t judge me) are exceptions to the rule. Now credits where it’s due. The film excels with its special effects and the cast do their best with the material at hand. Now understandably that material is the Bible. Now I’ll be looking at this primarily as a film text. I’m not an atheist nor am I a believer as such. To be honest, I thought both the idea of a world created by a “Creator” and an entire universe created by a “big bang” because a thing called science said it was so, equally ridiculous. But hey everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

I digress. However, the film is full of questionable plot holes that intentionally and unintentionally pokes holes at the Old Testament itself. Now be warned there will be SPOILERS! Not the Bible bits, certain film sequences. I will try and be as cryptic as possible and as objective. Now obviously the premise we all know, in a world ravaged of sin, Noah is given a divine mission: to build an Ark to save creation from the coming flood. The opening sets up the background of the origin story of . . . us, really. Most of it, I knew. Other parts I had forgotten. Russell Crowe is a powerhouse actor and he provides a stellar performance. My main quip is his representation. Now Darren Aronofsky’s previous works have always been . . . out there. Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The (mind numbing) Fountain, and the more mainstream but surprisingly entertaining Black Swan. Aronofsky has pretty much made Noah as mainstream as possible. However, he transforms a man torn between fulfilling his duty to his Creator and the livelihood of his own family, into a demented maniac hell bent on achieving all means regardless.

Even more bizarrely, while the world is ravaged with sin, yadda yadda, a group of fallen angels are left to roam the rocky desolate landscapes. Now this part I was not aware of. The fallen angels are brilliantly designed, even if they look like Sloth from the Goonies had mated with one of the rock things from the Never Ending Story. And I couldn’t believe the talented voice cast behind them; Nick Nolte, Mark “Breaking Bad Tio Salamanca” Margolis and Kevin Durand (Real Steel and LOST). The crazy fight sequences between them and the monstrous human race desperate to board the Ark was entertaining if completely ridiculous. Aronofsky managed to convey more emotion and sympathy out of them than a number of the cast. Sir Anthony Hopkins manages to make a memorable impression in the limited screen time of the minor role of Methusaleh. It did have me pondering if Noah was allowed to save his family, why not his grandfather? Punishment for not being able to get the human race to conform and follow the righteous path? However, he was bonkers and wondered off a lot. To be honest, the supporting cast were strangely passive until the hour mark. The film was very much on the shoulders of Crowe. It was only when the humans in the area finally caught wind (come on, we’re better than that) of the Ark that things pick up, making for a tense, racy, riotous sequence. The visual CGI with the animals and the infamous flood are fantastic.

Douglas Booth (Romeo and Juliet) was highly unmemorable and passive as Shem. Logan Lerman (Perks of a Wallflower) and fellow co-star the beautiful Hermione, I mean, Emma Watson played their parts well and when given the time to shine, delivered solid performances. Jennifer Connolly (Labyrinth, always) reunites with Crowe (A Beautiful Mind) and manages to make a nothingy character stand out, especially in one tense if undeniably bizarre sequence that understandably might be where the controversy is coming from. The pair work well but fail to reignite that Beautiful Mind spark. Ray Winstone, I thought, was wonderfully gritty and gruesome as self proclaimed King Tubal-cain. Now it’s all down to how much of a Winstone fan you are. But I was pleasantly surprised and he stole the scene every time. For once, his grizzly growling was used to his strength. If you want to show the humans as nasty pieces of work, Winstone san. Once the Ark ascends, it all gets a little slow and drawn out. A slow burning if entertaining hour does not a good film make. And after two hours this film does test your resolve, if not for a tense finale.

NOW SPOILER TIME! AVOID IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING WATCHING THIS MOVIE! FOR THOSE WHO AREN’T FUSSED OR HAVE SEEN IT. CONTINUE READING THIS PARAGRAPH. Noah does everything to the letter for the Lord. He saves the animals and his family have the unexpected blessing that their son’s (well I would have assumed) wife is pregnant. Fantastic. Oh no, no. no. The human race must be no more. Which means the baby can be no more. If it is a boy, no probs. Can’t reproduce. If a girl, watch out. A compassionate hero becomes a demented mad man with one click of a finger. Unexpected? Yup. Watchable. Strangely so. Necessary? Ah, there’s the rub. Cue the time on the Ark as we wait nine months for the child to be born. Ray Winstone’s sneaky stowaway king plotting revenge for nine months? How did no one know he was on there? Also they made a herb that could knock out animals, how come it didn’t knock them out? A herb that would make them sleep for nine months? Without food or water? I mean, it’s a film but surely they could have had another trippy dream sequence in which the Lord told Noah to use said herb. I don’t know.

Visually ambitious, brilliantly acted, if drawn out, OTT, and questionably full of holes. However, this ark should manages to stay afloat, just. 3/5

Currently ranks #65 out of 161

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER REVIEW

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-poster-cast-2

A welcome return from the First Avenger!

As Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with a fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to battle a new threat from history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).

An enjoyable action packed romp. I felt Captain America: The First Avenger showed promise with a good set of characters that I hoped would have exploited the untapped World War backdrop. BUT alas it was not to be. Rushed to meet that Avengers Assemble release date, I was left feeling a little disappointed.

Right up to this point, some of the entries had been mixed (Despite my love of the Marvel universe) from the rehashed Hulk origin stories (Team Bana all the way!) to the brilliant Thor films. The first Avengers was over-hyped, overlong and OTT for me. Redeemed by an action packed finale.

However, this inevitable sequel (in a number of relentless comic book movies in the pipeline) managed to stand on its own, improve on the Cap franchise and make itself a worthy addition.

Despite my grumblings at how swift Rogers was pushed from WW2 to the present, WS made up for it by focusing on his transition. Providing some much needed depth. A man catching up with the times. A joke involving a “Things to check out on the Internet” list was nicely done.

However, a new war is brewing under the clean streets of Washington, one that compromises the very organisation of SHIELD, leading to an action packed, octane thrill ride (that is a little long at 136 minutes) that questions the Cap’s very ethics and honour. With a new war comes a whole new set of rules and lines he doesn’t want to cross.

The action set pieces were great to watch. The fight scenes were intense and brilliantly choreographed. The 3D element left much to be desired, apart from the explosive finale. Not a necessity in your viewing experience.

Evans was fantastic. He is Captain America. His presence, his build (The dude is hench!) and his performance were spot on. He had great chemistry with ScarJo. Is there a brewing superhero romance on the cards?

The directing duo The Russo brothers even managed to introduce and revamp another Marvel addition quite well. It helped having Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) taking on the role. Not enough of Falcon in my opinion. I loved the partnership between him and the Cap. More please.

Samuel L (the L stands for Mother – you get the idea) Jackson unleashes the Fury (ah ha) at last. Finally being brought into the action and given more screen time.

It might help to have watched the other entries to fill in the gaps BUT it’s not essential as the film does recap over crucial plot points for those who haven’t (or might have forgotten).

The Winter Solider was a worthy foe. However, his big reveal was hardly a twist or a shock. A bit too much build up and emphasis on that moment. I was great to see Robert Redford and he played the sinister Congressman Alexander Pierce to perfection. He does unfortunately dither into the background BUT the guy is nearly 80 so I’ll give him a break.

The supporting cast was impressive, if maybe wasted a little. Cudos to Maximiliano Hernandez for his turn as Jasper Sitwell (Marvel Agents of SHIELD TV fans will know). I had to laugh at Pierce’s Board Room of Doom featuring the likes of Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf in London) and . . . Jim from Neighbours (Alan Dale).

Frank Grillo (The Purge) was menacing. While, the beautiful Emily Van Camp (Revenge), talented though she is, was given a relatively minor and passive role. Anyone could have played her. If not for a little twist, well if you can call it that, her character would have been pointless.

There may be plot holes and a questionable length BUT with decent set pieces, balanced humour and an actual story line that fleshed out the Cap, my faith has been restored in the First Avenger and I look forward to the next one.

3.5/5

Of course, stay for the credits for a mid-credit reveal. Don’t say to the very end, the clip was pointless. You might as well have had Stan Lee pop up and say, “You still here?”