SAN ANDREAS REVIEW

SANANDREAS

It’s everything you could possibly expect.

For some, a nauseating clichéd ridden mess of epic proportions. For others, a special effects extravaganza with The Rock having some B-movie fun.

FINALLY! THE ROCK HAS COME BACK . . . TO CALIFORNIA!

In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his daughter (Alexandra Daddario).

You knew from the opening five minutes what you were getting yourselves into. A big, dumb, incredibly stupid blockbuster.

I was in tears of laughter. We watch a young ditzy girl look set to crash head on with oncoming traffic as she drops her cell phone and mindlessly looks everywhere else but at the bloody road. A perfect advertising campaign for DRIVE SAFE if ever there was one.

That’s not the funny bit. After narrowly avoiding two cars, her car is swallowed up by the ground after a ferocious seismic wave. But my God! Her car. Boy, it rolled and rolled and rolled. It was like something out of the Animal. Remember that movie? You know the silly Rob Schneider animal comedy? Not sure what I mean. Check out the link. It was just as ridiculous as that.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4vwUX0qZBQ

And the girl? Miraculously only has a few scratches and a bit of dirt on her cheek. Hollywood for you. If that little segment made you sigh, then San Andreas is most certainly not for you.

It’s very much in the same vein as The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. That means two things; the first being that the special effects will be ground breaking (Pardon the pun) and second . . . Uh . . . Well, it’s got the Rock.

I’m sorry but no matter how many times he tries to reinvent himself as Dwayne Johnson; he will always be THE ROCK! BUT I’m getting worried that he will always play this type of character. Don’t get me wrong. The Brahma Bull bossed it. Playing it with the right balance of seriousness as the daring dad.

And hey! If you wanted anybody saving you from an earthquake, your money would most definitely be on this jabroni.

The special effects were intense. The 3D wasn’t bad. The detail and set design were fantastic. The panning sequence as we watch the plate shift through San Francisco in one giant seismic wave was almost worth the ticket price alone. Almost.

BUT then we had to suffer with the same old guff and cliché-ridden characters. The Rock in the middle of a divorce. Paul Giamatti playing the doctor that nobody listens to until it’s inevitably too late. Archie Panjabi playing a pointless news journalist.

So many fantastic actors playing terrible and bland character types. I mean it wasn’t that much of a surprise. I knew what I was getting myself into. I just wish it could have surprised me. That’s all.

The lovely Alexandra Daddario (Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters) did her best as the doomed daughter but you just knew no matter how smart or stupid her actions were; she would still need to be saved by the main hero.

Kylie Minogue didn’t do a bad turn as Gugino’s bitchy sister-in-law. To be honest, her character had potential to be a much needed spanner in the works to spice up the dreary exposition. But nah! Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat. Just a quick cameo for the ageless Aussie.

Ioan Gruffudd played the (Put another tick at that disaster movie checklist) douchebag step father well. BUT it’s been done to death. Counting down the minutes until he decides to do something dastardly that will make you shake your head. Not even his inevitable outcome was that adventurous. You could see it coming a mile off.

Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Art Parkinson played the nauseating and irritating British brothers. No seriously? Why British? Why were they in it? Just why? They were annoying and stereotypical. Parkinson doing his worst Hugh Grant impression. Bumbling and waffling away. Oh good golly. One needs a stiff cup of tea to get over the excitement.

facepalm

Johnstone-Burt’s dreadful romance with Daddario was as dull as dishwater. The heroic Will Yun Lee was one of the most interesting characters BUT he only lasted 10 minutes.

The lovely Carla Gugino had good chemistry with The Rock which made their schmaltzy relationship a lot more enjoyable. A cheeky exchange between her and the former WWF champion got a chuckle out of me. As they parachute to safety landing on a baseball stadium, The Rock simply says, “It’s been a while since I took you to third base”. He might as well have winked at the camera.

And Paul Giamatti did everything he could with his doctor role but all his passion couldn’t hide the stupendous theorizing or the fact that his only real sound advice during a mega-earthquake is to hide under a table.

A table? Even when vents and air conditioners are dropping down on top of it? COME ON!

The pace zipped along surprisingly well and I wasn’t bored. Entertained is another story. It was corny as hell and cliched to the max. It really was everything I expected so I wasn’t disappointed and it did the job. I was able to laugh and switch my brain off for 2 hours! BUT impressed? By the effects. Absolutely.

Everything else? Meh. It was a vast improvement from 2012 but I don’t think a film has come close to the legendary nature disaster flick that is Twister!

Watchable enough fun. Just don’t expect anything else.

2.5/5

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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

EDGE OF TOMORROW REVIEW

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The End of Tom Cruise? Not today. This little timey wimey special effects action flick is pretty much Groundhog Day meets a 12A equivalent of Starship Troopers. If that sounds terrible, then move on. If not, welcome.

If you love the Cruise, he still does his best and proves yet again that he can still be the leading man. If you don’t, well you get to see him die 200 times so win-win. To call this a blockbuster with brains is a little bit of an overstatement. To me a blockbuster with brains was Inception or The Matrix (Well the first instalment anyway).

It’s certainly delivers a different premise. But as typical timey wimey spiel goes, the plot holes still rear their ugly head. Despite being written by the legendary scriptwriter that is Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects/Jack Reacher/Jack and the Giant Pile of Sh -)

For every little plot point about the rapid Squidee like alien entities terrorising the beaches of Normandy, I couldn’t help but think . . .  oh, no wait a minute. Hmmm . . . That doesn’t make sense.

The D-Dayesque battle may be a little bit mocking. I say satirical, if a little lazy but the special effects are fantastic and the 3D sequences really shine, especially when those Squidee things scuttle about with their mechanical legs (shudder). Cruise and the BEA-utiful Emily Blunt are a good pair together and share some decent chemistry.

It isn’t really that schmaltzy or thrown in your face. Quite subtle as these big luvvy duvvy blockbusters go. It was interesting to see Cruise’s character actually turning out at the beginning (not a spoiler – DON’T PANIC) an egotistical media whore who is forced into using the very weapons he’s been flogging on the battlefield.

It all zips along quite well and once the timey wimey thing kicks in (without divulging the plot) it gets crazy, at times quite funny but eventually after an hour of it, a little tedious. It’s weird because I loved Source Code and Groundhog Day, which this film is very much like.

However, after you’ve seen Cruise reboot a few times and experience deja-vu, it gets a little annoying. Understandably, if you were ever in that position, it would be but as a viewer, come on. BUT, a few twists and turns, and we are back on track for a fast paced, exhilarating finale which may have been a little too abrupt.

Doug Liman (Jumper/The Bourne Identity) manages to bring an entertaining, if flawed, blockbuster that does rise above the number of duds that have disgraced the silver screen this summer . . . so far. And it’s a vast, vast improvement from Jumper. I was also surprised at the talented supporting cast.

Bill Paxton playing the slick toothed Sargeant. Game over, man (See what I did there). The legendary, if limited, Brendan Gleeson (The Guard/In Bruges) playing a corrupt military figure to perfection. But at the same time, did anyone else feel that he looked like he couldn’t be arsed? No? Moving on . . .

There was a number of British actors popping up in this. I mean, obviously it was a UK/US collaboration but still, great to see them making a mark.

Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood), Tony Way (Ali G), Franz Drameh (Attack the Block) all managed to make memorable grunts. Charlotte Riley (Martina Cole’s The Take) unfortunately did for all the wrong reasons with her horrific American accent and strange face pulling. Ripley gone wrong, maybe.

Laura Pulver (Sherlock/Da Vinci’s Demons) in a blink and you’ll miss it cameo? Was her scenes removed in the final cut or something? Or was she in the studio at the time? Strange. Noah Taylor finally reappearing (probably something to do with a recent appearance in a certain Game of Thrones) in a somewhat subdued role.

All in all, not bad, if a little overhyped. At its best; fast, action packed, entertaining, at its worst; all gloss not enough lacquer on the inner workings and character depth and a little rushed by the end. Run out of steam?

Well I got two things out of it; Tom Cruise screaming like a little bitch and Emily Blunt . . . she will be my future wife. What?

But still worth a gander 3.5 (just) out of 5 for me! Currently ranks 36 out of 183!

MALEFICENT REVIEW

c0b1a0a9-04fc-4c34-a018-06033f5ca8e3_Maleficent

A rehashing and re-working of a timeless Disney classic that delivers fantastic special effects, great acting but somehow misses the mark.

Perhaps the cynic in me reared his ugly head. This doesn’t normally happen with a Disney movie.

Jolie was perfectly cast as Maleficent. Her presence, her voice, the looks – brilliant. With those facial Lady Gaga implants, she looked creepily thin.

The film zipped along quite well. I certainly didn’t feel like I had sat there for 90 minutes.

The opening was sickly sweet. A little too corny and cheesy as a young fairy Maleficent soars around the woodlands. Beautifully animated and shot well. The 3D being used to its full capabilities. You felt like you were flying around the screen.

The water flicking out. The creatures jumping out of the screen. The very potential of 3D finally being used.
If you were expecting a full in-depth look into the origins of Maleficent, you may be disappointed. It is soon established by the narrator that she was a fairy. An abnormally big one. A human sized one, in fact.

All the other fairies are pixie sized or have to use an enchantment but not Maleficent. But then again, it’s magic. My main niggle was that apart from some nicely acted moments and some cracking CGI set pieces, there isn’t really a lot going on which gave my cynical mind time to wander and pick at this loosely joined plot.

I mean, come on, it’s a fairy tale. They are all ridiculous within their right by those grounds. BUT if you ever wondered what a villain was doing while the hero or, in this case, heroine lived their lives. I can tell you. Bugger all, really.

Jolie’s Maleficent literally sits on a tree and watches the young Aurora grow up. I mean the idea of her waiting to strike sounds menacing but it’s all done so light heartedly. I mean, duh, it’s Disney but the trailers (that horrible phrase) made the movie appear to be so much darker.

I mean all Jolie does is sit and fester or throw the odd prank on the pixies to keep her entertained. But this went on for 16 years? I mean, I understand that 16 was the age when Maleficent was scorned by her lover. And also if the curse said 16; why did Aurora’s father send her away for all those years?

Maleficent would have had plenty of time to find her. Especially when the pixies were right near her terrain.

Speaking of which the overly used CGI pixies (Imelda Staunton – Harry Potter, Juno Temple – The Dark Knight Rises and Lesley Manville – Vera Drake) were incredibly irritating and annoying.
Even their animated predecessors weren’t that bad. It was interesting to see Sam Riley in a normal role. Well, I say, normal. If you can call his anamorphic crow hybrid protagonist Diaval normal.

I mean for those who are still questioning why there is a spin off prequel to Sleeping Beauty, imagine what Disney could do with Maleficent and yeah you got it on the head. It is that predictable BUT also very watchable and doesn’t bore.

It was an interesting concept to provide a different dimension to a character that was just pure evil and had no redeemable features. However, the only problem this time around, Jolie’s Maleficent is not really that evil at all and you soon feel sorry for her.

BUT at the same time, it’s the same old scorned love story. Some moments surprised and near the end, I was cockily sitting there saying this is going to happen but was proved wrong. But it all ended the same way, near enough.

Sharlto Copley (District 9) was more menacing when given the screen time as the demented King Stefan. However, when given the screen time, all he was doing was sitting, grimacing and barking orders.

Elle Fanning was delightful as the dreadfully naïve Aurora. She worked well with Jolie. It was quite funny to see Jolie acting with her own daughter who played a younger Aurora for a brief scene. Jolie glaring and hissing, “I don’t like children. Go away.” Corny but nicely done.

It zips along, it’s good to look at. The cast are fantastic. The special effects are brilliant. But something about it just doesn’t sparkle, merely flickers for me.

3/5

47 RONIN REVIEW

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The Not so Magnificent 47?

Or as many critics have called it. The 90 million dollar flop?!

Watchable, if a little patchy and predictable, with great visuals that worked well in 3D.

47 Ronin is a fantastical take on an Chushingura (a Japanese fictional account) about a group of samurai who avenged their master in 18th Century Japan.

We watch outcast Kai (Reeves) as he is taken in by the samurai after being raised and trained by demons (Still with me? Good). The obvious ensues, in which Reeves is never really accepted BUT their master Lord Asano still continues to keep him around. To make matters worse, an obvious and cliched forbidden romance brews between Reeves and Asanos’ daughter (the beautiful Ko Shibasaki).

It all got a little bogged down with backstory that wasn’t really interesting and quite befuddling with Asano being tricked into attacking his rival Kira (Tadanobu Asano) by Kira’s own sorceress, the alluring Mizuki (Rinko Kinuchi). Some hoodoo about dishonour and Asano is ordered to commit suicide by the Shogun. Leaving Kira to marry Asano’s daughter.

However, Kai and Asano’s loyal servant Vassal Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada) team up with the rest of the banished samurai to prevent the wedding and avenge their shamed master. It was all a little by the book relieved by a few outstanding visual pieces. 

A beautiful mess. The Last Samurai with demons. The feudal Japan landscape was visually stunning. The opening sequence in which the samurai hunted down a demon was fantastic. The 3D was impressive with blades, trees and demons flying out at ya!

Keanu was dreadfully wooden in this outing. He looked the part BUT my God. A tree giant from The Lord of The Rings could have done a better job. Luckily, he managed to muster some chemistry in the final minutes with Shibasaki.

Kira’s villain was quite pathetic and very passive. If not for Kinuchi’s sorceress, the pair would have been the worst villains since Bambi and Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever. Sanada was very good. It’s great to see him getting awarded with bigger roles, especially after his supporting roles in Revenge and the epic Last Samurai.

Luckily where 47 Ronin lacks in originality, it redeems itself with animation, special effects and choreographed fight sequences (The little that there was). The props, sets and costumes were stunning. Except for Hiroyuki Tagawa. It was incredibly hard to take the main Shogun seriously when he looks like an angry Humpty Dumpty. 

The slave ship fight sequence was spectacular. Racy, action packed, more please! The visuals on the demon master that trained Reeves? Not so much. Looked more like Eagle from the Muppets :/

The questionable running time did drag in parts and felt like it was building up for a big finale. A big gamble if the finale doesn’t deliver. Luckily, it was a sight to see.

The animation went borderline overkill with Kikuchi’s sorceress transforming into an agitated Japanese Falcor. The Matrix nerd in me was buzzing. That sequence was how I wanted Matrix Revolutions to end with the OZ-esque head made of Squiddies battling it out with Neo.

It was easy to dissect the plot holes BUT what annoyed me was that the filmmakers created this incredible visual world that inhabited demons and sorcery. However, in trying to stay true to the retelling of the Ronin, they didn’t do enough with the fantasy element.

That was it’s secret weapon and what separated it from the numerous retellings of the samurai tale. BUT the demons just made random appearances to break up the monotonous story and the spiritual stuff didn’t really kick off until the finale. Stunning and entertaining but too little, too late?

A watchable BUT eye catching mess. However, for those familiar with the samurai culture, once their objective is achieved, there is only one ending (without spoiling too much).

If you’re a fan of the samurai or fantasy, then give it a go. Not the worst, but certainly not the best.

2.5/5