*NEW* ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY REVIEW *NEW*

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Good film this is.

BUT cut pace they should.

Right, enough of that! In a nutshell, the Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

If I could post a sound clip of that shrill Death Star siren for my spoiler warning, I would BUT I can’t . . .

So heads up, I may mention plot points.

When I heard that Gareth Edwards was at the helm, I had mixed feelings to say the least.

Monsters and Godzilla delivered on the special effects, creatures and set pieces but on characters and story . . .

Let’s just say Godzilla was in my worst films of 2014 (https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/godzilla-review-2/)

I enjoyed The Force Awakens BUT felt the whole final act was one big retread of A New Hope(https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/new-star-wars-th…akens-review-new/)

None the less, I was still excited for another Star Wars flick (Lucky because we’re going to be getting a whole lot more).

I sat down awaiting the infamous and iconic opening theme music. Ready for the credits to deliver those tiny chunks of back story that scroll up into the ceiling.

However, NOT THIS TIME! I know, whaaattt? Edwards got straight to business. No messing about.

The only problem was that it was all a little bit slow . . .

I found myself a little fidgety as we followed another rebel origin story. It felt like it was going through the motions. Loss of loved ones. Tough upbringing. Believe in the force. Been there done that. Got 7 movies now.

It didn’t help that I just wasn’t emotionally caught up in Jyn (Felicity Jones) and Galen’s (Madd Mikkelsen) relationship. A shame considering the two leads involved.

I mean, come on. Even Attack of the Clones left me with a little lump in my throat when Anakin finally reunited with his mother.

Edwards and co certainly delivered on the effects and the creatures.

It flicked about from one wonderfully shot planet to the next as our rag team bunch of dysfunctional rogues were introduced and inevitably united. And what a supporting cast?!

BUT as well as new faces, we had a new (and annoyingly quotable) phrase: “I am one with the Force; The Force is with me”

I’m sure you’ve seen that mantra all over the Twitterverse. I could have done a drinking game with the amount of times that quote was uttered.

All thanks to Donnie Yen’s blind Kung Fu fighting kick ass Jedi, Chirrut Imwe. A legend in the making. I will say no more.

Riz Ahmed has come a long way from Four Lions and was very good as the defected Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (What a name!).

BUT there was another character that just stole the spotlight for me. No, not Felicity!

Alan Tudyk delivers his vocal gravitas to yet another memorable robot (Another? Sonny from I, Robot? No?).

I don’t know what it is with Star Wars movies BUT they always have a knack for making scene stealing robots.

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K-2SO was brilliant as the re-programmed Imperial droid. Every time the pace (tragically) lagged, this long-lost relative of The Iron Giant would stumble in with some quick-witted one liners and sarcastic jibes. C-3P Who?

Ben Mendelsohn (Mississippi Grind) wasn’t as strong or as memorable a villain as I’d hoped. Shame. BUT he was always going to play second fiddle when the darkest intergalactic duo in cinematic history were involved.

Oh yes, Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth are back!

Cudos to the visual effects team. A CGI’d Peter Cushing drew more chills than anything Mendelsohn’s Krennic could muster. The CGI was a little cartoony BUT what do you expect when bringing back an actor that has long passed? If anything, it made him even creepier.

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And as soon as that rift blared out of the speaker, goosebumps were on the back of my neck. Darth Vader proved in his minute and savage cameo why he is still one of the most iconic super villains going.

If it wasn’t for all the little nods and cameos that popped up in this, I don’t think I would have quite enjoyed Rogue One as much. It tried to stand on its own two feet BUT the story was still the same old guff.

BUT the last 30 minutes, however, had me in awe. It was racy, riveting, action packed and delivered a fitting finale that led perfectly to the next chapter.

It certainly pushed the 12A marker with its darker undertone. BUT SW films have never been afraid to take risks with characters (Jar Jar Binks, no! I’m kidding).

Felicity Jones played a solid heroine BUT I felt her character got lost in the mix. There was almost too much going on with the Scarif beach battle that I actually forgot what Jyn and Cassian (Diego Luna – The Book of Life) were up to.

Luna and Jones worked well together. I just wish there was more of that relationship between the two.

Forest Whitaker’s strange performance as Saw Guerrera left question marks. I mean what did he actually do? Seriously. We didn’t see anything. And for those who have seen Rogue; what was he inhaling in that mask?

It’s always tough to follow on from such an iconic trilogy (*COUGH* Ep IV, V, VI *COUGH* Obviously. Just making sure) BUT Rogue One does enough to stand out in this ever-growing series.

The final act was fantastic and delivered that emotional punch I was looking for and I have to say I enjoyed it just a tad more than The Force Awakens.

A little long at the tooth BUT the force is still very strong with this latest adventure.

3.5/5

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*NEW* JASON BOURNE REVIEW *NEW*

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Jason Boreeee-neeeeee.

I know. That pun was as lazy as the plot line. Bourne is back but bigger and better? Not even close. Blander and boring. Definitely.

The CIA’s most dangerous former operative is drawn out of hiding to uncover more explosive truths about his past.

That synopsis failed to deliver anything that I’d hoped. I loved the Bourne series. Not quite up to the ridiculous hype BUT intricate adrenaline pumped little thrillers that (very) loosely adapted a bestselling Robert Ludlum franchise and took it in a completely different direction.

When I heard that Matttttt Damonnnnnnn and Paul Greengrass were to reunite for a fourth outing after the misfire that was The Bourne Legacy, I was elated. Ultimatum left such an open ending that resolved the story arc for the trilogy BUT suggested an opportunity for his return. After watching this, I really think he should have kept swimming.

A promising opening, with a dishevelled (and hench) looking Bourne knocking people out with one punch, soon simmered into a snoozefest. 20 minutes of mindless computer jargon, lazy references to Edward Snowden and a lot of flicking about with Alicia Vikander’s (Ex Machina) analyst hacking in Langley to Julia Stile’s (10 Things I Hate About You) hacking in Iceland and our main man . . . battling night terrors.

What infuriated me the most was that despite Bourne supposedly remembering everything, he seemed even more disoriented and out of it than the other movies combined. The repetitive flashbacks unearthed a little more into his past BUT the revelations were hardly shocking and so predictable that it brought nothing to the mix.

Stiles’ character was completely wasted and nothing more than a mere plot device to spur our troubled ex-CIA asset. Some mumbo jumbo about another Treadstone programme in the pipeline which even our own hero asked in one scene; “What that has to do with me?” And by the end, I wondered the exact same thing.

Tommy Lee Jones’ CIA Director Robert Dewey should have been the game changer. A turning point after FOUR movies of seeking answers and closure for Bourne. Nope. He did his best with the role BUT his character was too busy meddling in some feeble and uninteresting subplot with social media mogul Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed – Four Lions).

Ahmed delivered a convincing accent BUT his character was far too weak and frankly unnecessary by the closing act. His moral and ethical conflict tied in with the increasing pressure from Dewey’s interference had potential BUT went nowhere.

The film really did go through the motions. Teasing Bourne’s introduction then holding him back in multiple (and brilliantly shot) locations and forcing us to drudge through dull exposition with a group of generic and stocky CIA types that literally did the exact same thing as the other films.

Alicia Vikander played the ambitious operative well BUT her attempts to try and bring Bourne back in from the cold to add as a feather on her cap could have been so much more. She got pushed into the background far too much. Quickly thrown back in for the final act. Shame.

Vincent Cassel’s (Black Swan) bloodthirsty mercenary was the only interesting addition. He literally shot anyone in his path to pursue Bourne. His ruthlessness revealing an ulterior motive that was much more than securing a contract killing.

The set pieces were the only things that kept me awake. Barry Ackroyd’s cinematography beautifully captured the chaos; especially during a violent street riot in Athens. The frantic shaky handy cam shots combined with David Buckley and John Powell’s thrilling movie score certainly ticked the boxes.

BUT after a while, even the chases seemed drawn out and repetitive with Bourne bludgeoning people and causing carnage with no remorse or second thought. And if it wasn’t him, there were random people creeping out of the woodwork ready to throw a few flying fists here and there.

The Vegas police car chase was probably the best sequence of the film. It was brutal, frenetic and nail biting. All that meandering for an explosive finale.

All a case of too little, too late. Two hours of patchy pacing that retreaded all the story lines of the other movies with Bourne failing to remember and the CIA going out of their way to remove his presence. I actually preferred the Bourne Legacy. Jeremy Renner was a likeable lead and at least the hokey super soldier subplot was different.

I don’t think it was even that vital for newcomers to bother watching the other movies. This latest outing was like the protagonist; cold, befuddled, isolated and tired. Even when that iconic Moby track rung through the cinema speakers, I couldn’t help BUT feel deflated and disappointed.

I think Bourne should stay in hiding for the foreseeable future.

2/5

NIGHTCRAWLER REVIEW

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Donnie’s really gone Dark-o

Jake Gyllenhaal manages to do his best Patrick Bateman impression and out-Bale Bale in one of his best performances to date.

Dark, demented and very good. If a little predictable.

So what’s it about? When Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.

Within the opening sequence, we get the essence of Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal) as he is caught stealing copper fencing from the train tracks. Flashing that Cheshire cat smile and pleading innocence, you can see the cogs turning. And in the bat of an eye, that smile fades instantly and a monster is unleashed. Cool, calm and collected. Striking when the moment arises.

A true American psycho. A smooth talking charmer with ambitions that he will stop at nothing to achieve.

An impressive and well written debut from Dan Gilroy. Fantastically shot. The cityscape at night was captured brilliantly by the cinematography of Robert Elswit.

Nightcrawler is somewhat of a slow burner as we watch Bloom climb the social ladder for fame and glory.

It starts with our sociopath desperately seeking a job and smooth talking his way into anything. That is until he witnesses a crash. Those flashing lights and ruthless nightcrawlers (Freelance cameramen preying the streets for horrific accidents, murders and crime scenes) creeping out from the urban underworld, craving for a pay check soon sets our protagonist on his path.

Bill Paxton plays the relentless Joe Loder brilliantly and it’s good to see him back in movies. His character dispensing the mantra: “If it bleeds, it leads” unwittingly sets up a competition for carnage.

Gilroy does make some fantastic commentary and satire on the censorship and attitude of the news media. The public’s obsession for blood and trauma constantly pushing them to distort moral and ethical boundaries for fifteen minutes of fame.

The film builds up and up as the madness ascends to crazy and scarily realistic levels. Where Bloom first intervenes small car accidents with a little handheld camera; it soon escalates to breaking into live crime scenes and moving pieces of evidence (and even bodies) to make the perfect shot.

It was great to see Riz Ahmed (Four Lions). He plays the clueless sidekick with aplomb. Oblivious to Bloom’s ambitions and unaware of what lay in store. Some of his encounters with Gylenhaal make for dark but comical viewing.

Rene Russo also stood out as Nina Romina (Awful name. Didn’t realise that until I saw the credits). Questioning the morals behind Bloom’s actions but desperately enabling him for the sake of keeping her job and bringing in the ratings.

SMALL BIT OF TRIVIA: Dan Gilroy is the husband of Rene Russo and brother of Tony Gilroy who is responsible for Michael Clayton and The Bourne franchise.

The chase sequences are intense. Especially in the closing moments as Bloom’s descent into darkness reaches breaking point.

There are suspenseful moments to be had. The sequence in which Bloom and his sidekick are filming the police attempting to apprehend a murder suspect. A scenario the pair set up. I was hooked. Nail biting stuff. Executed perfectly. The tension mounting as you wait for the fireworks to go off.

At times, it did feel like the trailers did show too much of the film. You knew when to expect several of the bigger moments in the film. That’s not to say there aren’t more surprises along the way.

Bloom is intelligent and some of his speeches rival Bateman. But crafty and calculated he may be, they go on far too long. Especially in his dinner date with Nina. We get it. You’re mad. Get on with it.

One major qualm is that with a film like this; there are only ever two outcomes. It seemed to go down the Bad Lieutenant (Cage Lieutenant) route which makes for a surprisingly flat (if typical) and slightly abrupt ending.

Don’t get me wrong. Gyllenhaal is a tour de force and should be commended. The weight loss added to his creepy demeanour and shark toothed grin. Gilroy has written and directed a visceral descent into the dark side of the American dream. Something we haven’t seen for a while. A resurgence? Maybe.

As Lou Bloom says, “If you want the lottery, you have to make the money to buy a ticket”. Well, if you have the money, buy a ticket and go see it.

Certainly worth a watch. And we are live in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

3.5/5 (But this may change)