*NEW* PIXELS MOVIE REVIEW *NEW*

pixels_donkey_kong.0

Pick another movie.

When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

Has Adam Sandler given up? Has he finally succumbed to mediocrity and dire disasters? A lot of you will probably say, “Hasn’t he already?”

For those who do follow my reviews, I’ve declared my guilty fandom for Sandler movies numerous times. BUT even this feeble effort tested my patience. I can’t tell whether this was intentionally supposed to be this bad or just sloppy?

The opening really didn’t get things going with an 80s flashback to the World Video Game Championship with our young protagonist Brenner (Sandler) discovering his passion for arcade games and battling it out with his rival Eddie (Peter Dinklage).

It was cliched and unfunny. NOT even the cameo from Dan Ackroyd brought anything to the mix. I did get nostalgic when all the old game titles flashed across the screen; Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede. I think the only saving grace through this elongated sequence was Andrew Bambridge’s impression of Dinklage. It was spot on. It was easy to look the part but to sound like him and nail his expressions was something else.

And not before long, we’re back in the present. And it doesn’t get any better as we are force fed a ridiculously vomit-inducing love subplot between Sandler’s repair man and Michelle Monaghan’s military Violet. The pair may have had good chemistry BUT the terrible lines and schmaltzy scenes soon put out that fire.

Conveniently, or thanks to lazy script writing, Sandler’s best friend (Kevin James) is the President of the United States. This could have been ripe for gags galore. We know James can be funny. BUT flailing around, busting out stupid dance moves and shouting all the time doesn’t work. Come on. We had two Paul Blarts for that. Which were an improvement from this mess.

I was praying for the aliens to attack and when they did, it was brilliant. The only redeeming feature. Although 3D was definitely a waste of time. The sequences and effects were fantastic. The Pac Man Mini Cooper street race subdued my griping for a good ten minutes.

The Centipede laser gun shootout was also pretty decent. It was just a shame that a cringe-inducing cameo from Sean Bean took my attention away from it. Now the chap has done some bad movies in his day BUT even this one took the biscuit. Glad he was up for a laugh. BUT I was laughing for all the wrong reasons.

The little animated Cubert was certainly entertaining for the little ‘uns but its whiny Chipmunk voice did my nut in. The Tetris game attack was a particular highlight for me. Each line detonating a floor of a skyscraper. Fantastic.

Every time the aliens attacked, I was hooked. When they didn’t, it was tedious and dull. Every time the characters stopped to talk, the film was hampered down massively. It didn’t help that a lot of the Happy Madison regulars were missing. All those little in-jokes would have done this film a world of good.

Peter Dinklage. Ol’ Tyrion Lannister himself. He really gave it a go BUT he just annoyed the hell out of me. He had a couple of one liners here and there BUT I desperately wanted him to shut up. Pardon the expression but this was a massive step down from the Game of Thrones actor.

The cameos were wasted. I couldn’t believe Serena Williams and Brian Cox (Not the star man, the actual star) were in this. Williams didn’t have a bad stint as Eddie’s unimpressed love interest. While Cox was very dull as a bland general. Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars) may have looked stunning as Lady Lisa BUT she really was as one dimensional as her counterpart. And Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) might as well as have not been in it.

Josh Gad saved the day again as the unhinged conspiracy nut. He brought the schtick that saved the Wedding Ringer and did everything to make this lead balloon fly. There were a number of lines that got a chuckle out of me, “You’re the first person to come over . . . Voluntarily”. His reunion with Sandler and a bottle of chloroform was hilarious.

BUT alas it wasn’t enough. The gags were sparse. They even resorted to my pet hate of naff stereotyping with Aunt Petunia from Harry Potter playing the Prime Minister and talking utter jibberish. Well, the Queen’s English. Apparently. Sloppy.

Josh Gad, a silly nostalgic premise and some cracking effects may have made parts watchable BUT it just wasn’t enough. A wasted opportunity. Maybe more money should have spent on the script or the gags at least.

2(Just)/5

Advertisements

*NEW* THE MARTIAN REVIEW *NEW*

The-Martian-Launch-One-Sheet

BRING HIM AN OSCAR.

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. BUT Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meagre supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

A return to form from Scott and a stellar performance from Matt Damon makes this space flick one to watch.

For me, Scott’s films of late have not been up to much. They were certainly big, bold and beautifully shot pieces of work. BUT they were either ridiculously over complicated messes (The Counselor) or drawn out affairs (Prometheus).

Luckily, this latest offering had the perfect balance. Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography was fantastic. I didn’t think anyone could make a barren desert planet look so beautiful and deadly with the change of a lens. Superb.

The opening didn’t mess about. It set everybody up and got straight to it. It was tense, frantic and gripping as Watney is left for dead after getting caught up in a violent storm.

I know what you’re thinking. Matt Damon playing a stranded astronaut trying to sustain food and water on a barren planet. NO, it’s not the side story to Interstellar. If anything, it was Cast Away in Space. All that was missing was a volleyball named Wilson.

When telling the story of one man’s survival, it’s crucial that you have the right actor or the movie is ruined. I couldn’t think of anyone better than Matt Damon. He was charismatic and carried the film when it seemed to lull. Every time we went back to NASA, I wanted to see more of Watney.

It was interesting and engaging. I was hooked as we watched Watney battle to survive the next FOUR years from monotonous disco music . . . As well as his tempestuous planetary prison. His video logs were a good touch. Breaking the fourth wall as he explained what he was doing to stay alive. As well as keeping his sanity.

The science behind the crop planting and the water was very clever. You could almost believe that it could happen and be dealt with.

The only problem was that despite Damon’s excellent performance, some of the supporting characters fell into the background and didn’t really make a mark. Most notably in Watney’s crew with Kate Mara and Sebastian Stan.

Jessica Chastain nailed every screen opportunity she got. If anything I wanted to see more of her. BUT this wasn’t her story. Michael Pena did his best to offer comic relief and managed to make a memorable impression by the closing minutes.

Donald Glover, or should I say Childish Gambino, was a surprise supporting character. He seems to have a dab hand at this acting lark as the socially awkward super genius Rich Purnell. Kristen Wiig played the role of the PR advisor well and proved she can do serious acting. A nice change.

Jeff Daniels was a piece of work as NASA director Teddy Sanders. His sparring with Sean Bean and Chiwetel Ejiofor made for heated viewing. One primarily looking at the costs, the others concerned with the man on Mars.

The heavy theorizing and lab debates in NASA and the world did go on in parts for me and took the story away from Watney. And as Purnell tried to explain his rescue plan using two pens, I feared Armageddon story telling creeping out of the woodwork. It was only by the 1 hour 45 minute marker that I felt a little fidgety.

BUT the finale was just as enthralling and nail biting. If anything, it was everything that I wanted from Gravity. A film that failed to impress.

I was rooting for Watney through the highs and lows. This made me want to check out the bestselling novel. A must see and dare I say it.

4/5

P.S. I couldn’t fight it. I had to . . .

JUPITER ASCENDING REVIEW

Jupiter-Ascending-Movie-Poster

The only place this film is ascending in is my Worst Films of 2015 list.

Messy Matrix effects + a moody Mila = one moaning movie goer.

I always felt the Wachowskis never could reach the bar they set with The Matrix. The sequels; Reloaded and Revolutions were superb in visual and action set pieces but pace and plot? Meh.

I admired their execution of Cloud Atlas even if it was a bit of a mess. The pace and the disjointed story lines didn’t deliver for me.

Now we have Jupiter Ascending. The thought of a Matrix reboot may not be so bad if the guys will stop doing films like this.

A little harsh. It certainly zipped along for its 127 minute length BUT the story made no sense and had more holes than a sponge. And the cast?! My God. They must have been paid a lot of wonga to take on these poorly written characters.

*WARNING* RANT MAY CONTAIN POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

So what’s it about? In a bright and colourful future, a young destitute caretaker (Mila Kunis) gets targeted by the ruthless son (Eddie Redmayne) of a powerful family who lives on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior (Channing Tatum) to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.

What?!

From the corny opening, I could feel myself wincing. Maria Doyle Kennedy (The Tudors) and James D’Arcy (Broadchurch) had enough chemistry to make it bearable as they fall in love. Inevitably leading to Jupiter’s conception.

It is only as the film concluded that I realised that the first 10-15 minutes were completely unnecessary and contributed nothing to the story. Only why Kunis’s character is called Jupiter.

D’Arcy’s father figure was prepared to risk his life with some ultra-violent burglars for a golden telescope. The relevance of said telescope in the film? A cryptic map to the universe? A weapon? No, just something really nice and shiny.

The whole ironic illegal “alien” and actual alien status surrounding Jupiter was a nice touch. We soon get a sense of her hum drum routine as a fed up maid. While in a galaxy far, far – No, Saturn. We have the intergalactic royal siblings (played by Douglas Booth, Eddie Redmayne and Tuppence Middleton) squabbling over their inheritance. Their inheritance being planets of the solar system. The most precious, of course, being Earth.

After his Oscar winning turn as Stephen Hawking in A Theory of Everything, I had high hopes for Mr. Redmayne. BUT boy, oh, boy. This is a step down. Razzie well and truly deserved. He must have been trying to do his best (well, worst) Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg impression from The Fifth Element.

Certainly got the haircut. His gravelly gangly master villain was something I expected to see in a pantomine. His volatile behaviour was laughable. At one point, he has a fit of rage that mimicked Delia Smith at that infamous Norwich game.

And she still delivered that with much more gusto. Granted she had way ti many martoonis. To make matters worse, he was virtually absent throughout the film, dispensing his Paul-esque alien henchmen to do his bidding or shrieking on a sofa.

The squabbling royal family had heavy Shakespearean undertones BUT it was hard to take it seriously with Booth and Tuppleton camping it up to the max. The whole solar system as their playground subplot seemed to dampen what could have been a darker affair.

There was a revelation halfway through the film that made things a little more interesting BUT there were still too many issues.

Channing Tatum did his best as the mystery genetically spliced bounty hunter. I’m sure ladies will be happy to see him roller blading in anti-gravity boots with his shirt off for nearly half the film.

There was little chemistry between him and Kunis BUT I got to admit I found Kunis quite weak in the leading role. I know it didn’t help with weak jokes and hammy dialogue. BUT she didn’t deliver any of them with conviction. Too laid back and flat for my liking. I mean her reaction when she is surrounded by bees was worse than Marky Mark talking to a plastic plant in The Happening.

BUT she did look stunning in a bin liner. No, seriously. She wears a dress that looks like a bin liner. Must have spent the budget on the lavish sets. Because it weren’t on the clothes or the writers.

The special effects were, to be expected, superb. The 3D was a little lacklustre for the ticket price. I’m surprised cinemas are still bothering with this silly little gimmick.

The chase sequences were intense. However, they seemed to go on far too long and there was too much going on that it was a little disorienting. And by the end, the animation was so cartoony that it killed off some of the action.

It may have looked good BUT the story was a mess. For every question I had, it was eventually explained but the answer was so ridiculous that I had even more questions. BUT by the end, I couldn’t care less.

I mean there were scenes in which the siblings were controlling ships from their bathing pools? Why? Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s big ears? What up with that? Sean Bean’s space cop and, for some reason, bee keeper mumbling some mumbo jumbo about the history of the universe.

Or should I say, Sean Bee-n (A-ha! I’ll get my coat). Why the bees? Some rubbish about bees detecting royalty. WHAT? The more Sharp explained, the more I switched off. It just got sillier and sillier that it killed the fun and made me a little numb. I was more surprised that Bean managed to survive his movie curse!

Even Tatum’s back story surrounding the origin of his albino werewolf alien hybrid just put me into a mini coma. It just felt that it had too many ideas meshed together with none of them really working.

The creatures that featured in the universe (Well, Jupiter. I think it was Jupiter? And Earth) were brilliantly constructed. An action packed crop chasing sequence that rivalled Signs silenced my nagging voice until a lame punch line involving crop circles was delivered.

The bureaucracy segment in which Kunis must register her “royalty entitlement” in an intergalactic DMV with a robot that could trump C-3P0 in a robo-camp off just didn’t fit with the tone of the film and went on far too long.

The only explanation I could find for it was the surprise cameo from the legendary Terry Gilliam. A sight for sore eyes. Wachowskis trying to do a Brazil reference? If so, don’t do it again.

I know these sort of things are done with a level of exaggeration BUT it helps to have characters you care about. That’s half the battle. The other stuff could be as stupid as you like BUT alas, it was not to be.

It was all rushed and resolved so cheesily and predictably. Hinting for another like all the endless teen sci-fi flicks. But hopefully no one will take the hint.

2/5