*NEW* HOT PURSUIT REVIEW *NEW*

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Pursue no further!

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Well, Reese Witherspoon anyway.

This feeble affair desperately tried to be a sillier version of The Heat but it just left me cold. From the opening montage, you knew what sort of film you were getting yourself into. A bad one.

An uptight and by-the-book cop (Witherspoon) tries to protect the outgoing widow (Sofia Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen.

This should have been called Hit and Miss. We follow a young Cooper (Witherspoon) as she is practically raised in the back seat of her father’s cop car. We have the delightfully dull and predictable snippets of Cooper’s prom dates, her first encounter with a transgender individual, oh and sharing Christmas with a drunken Santa.

Now credit where it’s due. I respect Witherspoon for going back to her comedy roots. Let’s not forget Rushmore and Legally Blonde. Maybe forget Legally Blonde 2. It was good to see that she’s still game for a laugh after achieving Oscar status. BUT the money must have been too good to turn down.

She does her best but overdoes it with every gag. Maybe to compensate for the fact that the gags were really not that good. Plus she does not stop talking. Her verbal diarrhoea really went through me. At 87 minutes, I feared that this would go on too long.

From the moment we watch Cooper chase after a suspect that turned out to be her date, I could feel my hopes dying. A misunderstanding with the phrase “I’ll call shotgun” set up an incident with a taser that I didn’t see coming. An incident that would make Cooper a laughing stock among the force; “Hey. Don’t Cooper that sh*t!”.

BUT now she has a chance to redeem herself. By helping escort a witness to a safe house. That witness being Gloria from Modern Family. Sorry, Sofia Vergara.

I really hoped she would play a different character. I love Gloria. But in small doses and on Modern Family. Not in this. It felt like a prequel of Gloria’s life before Jay. As soon as I heard her shrill cry through the security intercom, I feared the worst. Stunning though she may be, the shot of her wailing in a Cadillac will haunt me for some time.

The plot was by the numbers and boring. The double crossing and triple crossing was so predictable. Dodgy coppers, murderous hitmen, yawn. And what the hell was Sean (Robert Kazinsky) from Eastenders doing in this? He still hasn’t mastered a Southern accent. You would have thought he’d have enough practice after True Blood.

It was all over the place. Just like the tone of the film. I don’t think it knew what it wanted to be. It was silly and OTT in one instant with Reese caked in “sugar” from Vergara’s briefcase. Her insufferable verbal diarrhea now ignited into a full frenzy.

And then macabre and violent in the next with a red neck shooting his finger off after Vergara and Witherspoon fake being a pair of lesbians to avoid revealing their identities. Strange but it got a little chuckle.

What annoyed me was that the pair had good chemistry and sparked in certain scenes. And they seemed to work better when they improvised. Vergara actually grew on me as the film chugged along. It did try and get a little too actiony and serious in the finale which only came off incredibly hammy.

The jokes about shoes and sex were a little repetitive and stale for my liking. Lazy. The gag about Witherspoon’s “diaper” panties was a complete rip off of The Heat. I appreciate that they tried to follow in it’s footsteps. But all they really did was stumble and trip up in it’s shadow. A running gag with the media messing up the duo’s descriptions was okay to start with but it soon got old really quick.

The only real laugh that I got out of it was when Cooper had to wear a disguise to infiltrate a Columbian cartel. She looked like Justin Bieber and a wardrobe malfunction in a ladies toilet delivered. A diamond in the rough, apparently.

I think the closing credits summed everything for me. Before anyone could escape (If they hadn’t already), we had five to ten minutes of outtakes. I laughed more in those ten then I did in the 87. The improvising and mucking about should have been in the film. You saw a completely different and less annoying side to Vergara. She was actually quite funny. Why didn’t we get that in the film?

Instead we had the odd gag among a dozen duds spread across a dull and lifeless cop thriller. I would definitely say the mismatched tone really hampered things.

BUT I wouldn’t say that this was a mismatched pairing and for all it’s flaws, it was watchable. Thankfully to a short running time. If you’re looking for another Heat, then watch The Heat.

Two stars for the two leading ladies for doing their darndest.

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WILD CARD REVIEW

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I’m losing faith in the Stath.

Well, in his movie choices anyway.

So what’s it all about, san? When a Las Vegas bodyguard (The Stath) with lethal skills and a gambling problem gets in trouble with the mob, he has one last play . . . and it’s all or nothing.

I should have known what to expect when I saw the name Simon West pop up across the silver screen.

At his best, Con Air! One of the most iconic action movies of all time! Why didn’t he put the bunny in the box?

At his worst, Stolen. One of my worst films of 2013. Ironically both involving Nicolas Cage.

West normally has the right balance of cheese with all out action. Silly but fun. While Wild Card, on the other hand, was just terrible. My DISAPPOINTED Kevin Sorbo Hercules video doesn’t even come close to showing my frustration.

A slow opening sequence involving Stath and a little “matchmaking” hustle with the alluring Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) was silly but easy going.

For a minute, I thought it was going to be a little like Better Call Saul. They even had a similar office set up.

Jason Alexander! Good old George Costanza as a Saul Goodman type showed all the potential.

BUT oh no! All he did was introduce the Stath to Michael Angarano’s (Sky High) retarded tweenie gambler.

Leading to an uneven, badly acted and badly written film that failed on everything BUT the violence (The little that there was).

Okay, retarded was a little harsh. Angarano’s dweeby laugh and lead dialogue didn’t help me like his one-dimensional character.

Meanwhile, a more interesting subplot seemed to be emerging as we see Dominik Garcia-Lorrido’s call girl battered, bludgeoned and dumped outside a hospital.

However, before we get to find out the who, why and how? We have to drudge through mindless exposition and pointless sweeping night shots of the Stath driving around Las Vegas.

The cinematography was outstanding. I must commend Shelly Johnson for making this mess worth looking at.

But it didn’t stop me picking at the poor script. Written by William Goldman. A two time Oscar winning screenwriter penned this? (All The President’s Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)

Anne Heche and Hope Davis. Two talented actresses reduced to nothingy supporting roles.

Heche as a waitress. Purpose? To serve the Stath some lemonade and give him a break from talking to himself.

Davis as a card dealer. Purpose? To remind us that the Stath gambles. Go figure. I could tell that by the fact he was gambling!

And if that wasn’t bad enough, I was fed up with listening to Angarano’s insecure rich boy desperately seeking a friend.

However, we finally get back to Garcia-Lorrido. She seems to have inherited her actor father’s deadpan drawl. Yep, lifeless and dull.

She tried to pull off the femme fatale vibe but she didn’t have the conviction.

In between Stath’s babysitting subplot, we have a little vengeance ploy as his services are required to teach a harsh lesson to a deluded mafia monster.

Well, I say monster. More like moper.

Peter Petrelli? What happened? Milo Ventimiglia was such a whiney little nob. I couldn’t stand him. He played the douchebag mafioso well but he was just so irritating and pathetic.

I could understand him being a quivering whimp in one scene as the Stath and Garcia-Lorido dispense some justice with his manhood and some garden shears but otherwise, he lacked the conviction to be taken seriously as a scumbag.

It was such a shame considering the back story that Lorrido built up around him. The detail on what he did to her was gritty and gruesome. And then we see him and he’s an absolute plonker.

The film kept changing in tone and flitting about. Ridiculously silly one moment, brooding and menacing the next. I wasn’t sure what it was trying to be. It failed anyway.

I think the only reprieve for this film was the fight sequences. There weren’t enough but when the Stath did kick off, it was brutal, intense and brilliantly choreographed.

One particular highlight involving Stath using a knife to jam up a hitman’s firing pin.

To be honest, Stath deals with Ventimiglia too easily and we are left watching him gamble his life away.

The gambling scene was ruthless, tense and probably the most suspenseful sequence in the whole film.

However, I expected more of this in the horrendous remake that was The Gambler.

I’m sure Goldman was trying to make Wild Card a philosophical journey of one man’s decent but it was too pretentious, too hammy and just plain terrible.

I mean Stanley Tucci? What was the point of his character?

Donning another bad wig and smirking. With a look that said; “Am I really in this? Is this all they need me for?” A mediator for the mob who didn’t do any proper mediating and was only in the film for two minutes.

Easy money for the Tuc.

The frantic (and forced) fiery finale was manic, violent and everything I expected for the other 90-odd minutes.

Stath does his best to make it watchable and nearly pulls it off. BUT he gambled on the wrong project.

They didn’t even explain his knack for disposing of baddies by flicking cards.

I’m not even going to get into the fact that it’s set during Christmas and was released in March.

Too many questions, not enough action, story or character to keep me quiet, engaged or caring.

1.5/5

*THROWBACK REVIEW* ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH

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And the duds just keep on coming. I need to escape from the cinema for a while. Enough to keep the little ‘uns quiet for 80 odd minutes but parents might want to take in their Kindles (or a physical book if you’re old school).

Astronaut Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) is a national hero to the blue alien population. A master of daring rescues, Scorch pulls off astonishing feats with the quiet aid of his nerdy, by-the-rules brother, Gary (Rob Corddry). However, when the brothers receive an SOS from a notoriously dangerous planet (Earth. What? Spoilers? Come on guys), Scorch rejects Gary’s warnings and bounds off for yet another exciting mission leading to his capture. Inevitably, it’s up to scrawny, risk-adverse Gary to do the real rescuing.

Brendan Fraser (The Mummy franchise/George of the Jungle) what happened? Oh how the mighty have fallen. In all fairness, his movie list of late is hardly legendary. He does his best to bring the laughs as chughead Scorch in his strangely Buzz Lightyear-esque attire.

It’s a shame with how much talent was attached to this. I know, it’s a kid’s film but Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks (most of the time) have delivered timeless classics with great stories, great characters and enough to entertain everybody. Unfortunately this one just doesn’t make the cut.

It’s not all bad. It has enough OTT slapstick gags to keep the little ‘uns giggling and the animation is brilliant. Visually colourful and detailed. 3D hardly a must but there were a couple of clever gimmicky moments in there. Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine) plays the pathetic protagonist quite well.

Ricky Gervais once again pops up in a rather dull and fed up voice over as the computer system, BING, James Bing. Oh dear. Now I’m one for the puns and silly one liners but even that one got me cringing. Jessica Alba surprisingly goes against character type and plays the baddie for a change.

William Shatner provides his Trekky gravitas to the sinister General Shanker with aplomb. Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) plays a rather irritating and bland character that really doesn’t have a point or contribution to the film (Bit like Modern Family. Ouch. Stop it). Sarah Jessica Parker does her best with the lines, “Not bad for a mom who’s had two kids”.

As does Jane Lynch (Glee) as the one eyed creature and appropriately named Io, “First time I laid eye on you”. Does that line sound familiar? Hmmm I thought so too (*Cough* Monsters Inc *Cough*)

The characters that stood out for me were George Lopez (Rio/Rio 2) as the slimy slug hybrid Thurman. The ever talented Craig Robinson (This is the End) manages to make a memorable performance as the eccentric fast talking Doc. Steve Zahn (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) hippies it up as alien enthusiast Hawk. His first encounter with Corddry’s character was quite funny but it soon goes on too long and gets very annoying.

This isn’t the worst animation film I’ve seen this year. That honour goes to the turkey Free Birds (What?) but it’s pretty close. Interestingly enough for those who have seen Free Birds; was Escape from Planet Earth an unintentional spin off? The facility and more importantly, the quarantined Monsters Inc rip off suit guys look just like them.

Regardless, they steal the show in one tut worthy guilty pleasure of a scene in which they manage to parody a number of movies in a food fight. The Artist was a nice touch.

There is a cheeky pop at satire with the government propaganda video segment, “Do you believe in Communism? Then you are an alien”. Unexpected but not bad. The Beatle-esque aliens got a guilty laugh. The twist *POSSIBLE SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY* that humans have been capturing aliens and stealing their technology and claiming it for their own was a nice touch. Doc venting his frustration at the money he should be earning for Facebook was quite funny.

However, it gets all too corny and cheesy. For every good joke, there’s a dozen naff ones. I mean an encounter with a wacky waving inflatable tubed man brought the odd chuckle. But just doesn’t work as a recurring joke. Mainly because it wasn’t that funny the first time round.

If you’re looking for a quick distraction for the kids, then give it a go. Otherwise invest in How To Train Your Dragon 2 or something.

CHEF REVIEW

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Jon Favreau cooks up another treat, a little overcooked and missing a little seasoning. This meal may be a little overhyped but a treat none the same.

Don’t worry, there will be more food punnery somewhere. Overall, not bad. An easy going, nice film. Makes a change to have an upbeat movie. The only problem is that it may be too nice and gets absorbed too much in it’s running length and preparation that it forgets to deliver the dessert (There we go) or in my case, drama or conflict.

The film is about . . . let me guess, a chef? Come on, stop it now. A chef (Favreau) who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative premise, while piecing back together his estranged family. Favreau plays a likeable lead and the initial preparation in which we see his character’s relationship with his son and torn obligations between cooking the set menu and being creative makes for a watchable, if a little long, opener. However, once he ends up getting into a Twitter feud with a pestilent food critic (Oliver Platt) and has a Gordon Ramsey-esque meltdown, it all kicks off.

Favreau has a fantastic cast at its fingertips. Dustin Hoffman plays the arrogant owner to perfection. Scarlett Johansson is hot . . . What? And plays a restricted supporting role but pulls off the tattooed dark brunette look. Platt doesn’t really get to say much as Favreau’s chef lays into him before he has a chance. A shame as we know Platt could have done more with that role. His grimacing and face pulling were convincing, if that’s any comfort. Sofia Vergara (you may remember her from Modern Family) was surprisingly not irritating at all. I expected her to be whining and yelling like Gloria. Nope, a much more subdued role and to be honest, I wanted to see more of her. Not like that . . . well a little.

The main focus is on Favreau finding his passion again but also restoring his relationship with his son (Emjay Anthony). Anthony and Fav work well together and there are some nice moments. One critic did mention how this film was like food porn and my word, some of the dishes that are prepared, I was sweating and panting. My lord. Anyway, moving on. John Leguizamo and Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire) plays Fav’s knuckle head sous-chefs well. Leguizamo, in particular, proves yet again to be a good supporting choice. He doesn’t quite get enough of the laughs or time that his character deserves.

The only problem is the length for me dragged in parts. Once they have got on the road with the truck and served a few people, it gets repetitive. Mainly because everything is all tickety boo. No real drama along the way. Vergara is very supportive. Every one is getting on. The police appear at one point but only in the form . . . of the hilarious comedian Russell Peters. His Lady and the Tramp pic with Fav brought a chuckle. It’s all too nicey, nicey. Favreau seems to suddenly realise at the end. Hang on, can’t make it that easy. Let’s throw a quick spanner in the works but still make it alright in the end. It leaves little in plot development or surprises and gets a little predictable.

But it does keep you watching. The scenery and the dishes look fantastic. There are some funny moments. Robert Downey Jr makes a five minute, if slightly overhyped, cameo. He does deliver the laughs with him bumbling and baffling poor Fav. Friends doing what they do best. A nice touch.

The whole social media jibe worked really well, especially in this day and age with Favreau failing to understand the impact of one tweet and the issue of becoming a viral phenomenon. Favreau’s previous works have always seemed to suffer from either an overlong pace with little story or too much story and not enough pace. This was a mish mesh. Started off with a story but then the pace dragged it out that for a certain moment, I felt I was just watching two chefs work. But it’s not all bad. Chef is a nice movie to look at but just not as tasty as you hoped. Still worth a bite or two. 3/5

Currently ranked 63 out of 196!