*NEW* ATOMIC BLONDE REVIEW *NEW*

Charlize Theron kicks just enough ass to make this a little more than a generic actioner.

An undercover MI6 agent (Theron) is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

The slow opener didn’t build up high hopes as it flicked back and forth from bumping off obscure spies to Theron’s bruised bathing sessions.

I didn’t mind having to piece together this murky tale of deception and espionage. It just that it didn’t really amount to much by the closing credits.

The whole story was told in a series of flashbacks with Theron’s Agent Broughton recalling her mission in Berlin. And oh my God, was that John Goodman? Wow, the man is looking old.

The murky Berlin backdrop was a perfect political cesspool for treachery and backhanded deals.

James McAvoy was on scene stealing form as the eccentric David Percival. A rogue agent whose enjoyed a little too much freedom. A much needed presence in this super serious yarn. Or so I thought?

He worked well with CT. I just wish the pair were in it together more. They spent far too much time apart messing about with the cloak and dagger stuff.

I know a good portion of the film was spent trying to suss out whether the agents could trust one another BUT a lot of the fun and intrigue was lost in their separation.

The plot, for all its contrivances, was relatively straightforward and a little disappointing. The inevitable double crossing and back stabbing looming on the cards.

I was actually glad the film didn’t stick with the hum drum Cold War guff. It was getting dreadfully glum and boring.

The fight sequences were ridiculous. The set pieces took a similar style to The Bourne movies and cranked it to 11!

Kudos to Theron who did her own stunts. The punch ups were brilliantly choreographed (and redeemed a lumbering first act) as Broughton soon discovers that her cover was blown from the moment she landed on German soil.

The car chases were fast and furious. If full of continuity errors BUT I digress. All I’m saying is that one Jeep goes flying in the air, blocking the street and is miraculously gone in the next frame. Okayyyy thennnn . . .

The tone was a little mismatched BUT I enjoyed AB a lot more when it took itself less seriously.

The soundtrack was brilliant. Even with the umpteen variations and remixes of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons and New Order’s Blue Monday.

Jonathan Sela’s cinematography was brilliant and dull in the same frame. I know. Work that out. Murky and full of neon. And apparently in every room back in 1980s Germany.

I just wish more was made of the actual story line. There was a great cast at director David Leitch’s disposal comprising of the likes of John Goodman, Toby Jones (Captain America) and James Faulkner (Game of Thrones).

Sofia Boutella (The Mummy) didn’t fare too badly as the naive French ally Delphine. And no! Not just because of her raunchy rendezvous with Theron.

The pair had good chemistry and worked well together. In fact, she almost stole the limelight off McAvoy as he withered further into the background.

Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan) was completely wasted in his role as the defective agent Spyglass. Anyone could have played him.

The finale, with all the twists and turns, just didn’t do much for me. The pay off didn’t quite add up. And as I much as I love Theron, did anyone else find her accent a little muddled?

BUT by the end I wasn’t really that fussed.

A watchable actioner.

Thank God for Theron and that quick injection of high octane shoot-em-punch-em. Or else this feeble tirade would have been left out in the cold.

3/5 (just)

*NEW* MORGAN REVIEW *NEW*

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Boreee-gan, more like.

Original, I know. A bit like this movie’s premise.

A corporate risk-management consultant (Kate Mara) must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being (Anya Taylor-Joy).

If Ridley Scott’s son wasn’t directing this, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see this feature as a Late Night Premiere on the SyFy Channel.

Despite an eye grabbing opener with Morgan lashing out at her carer (Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight), the film was put on the back burner with a meandering pace and mindless exposition.

Kate Mara (House of Cards) will probably be the only one to come out of this unscathed. She might have featured in some duds (*Cough* Fantastic Four *Cough*) BUT I was impressed with her performance as Lee Weathers.

The extreme pixie haircut, cold demeanour and abrupt manner made her the most interesting character out of the bunch. I was more intrigued with her agenda than meeting the sulky Morgan.

I was surprised at the star studded supporting cast involved; Brian Cox, Narcos’ Boyd Holbrook, Toby Jones and Michelle Yeoh. A shame that none of them really made an impression.

Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) wasn’t too bad as the eccentric behaviour therapist and delivered a decent American accent. The only problem was that she wasn’t in it enough.

“Morgan’s not a she. She’s an it”.

I was happy to allow the pace to trundle along if the film went somewhere BUT for an hour, we had existential waffle, followed by more existential waffle and then . . . You get the idea.

The whole thing was a poor man’s Ex Machina. I’d seen it all before and done better. We had the same debates about defining humanity, action and consequence, cause and effect. Yawn.

I was NOT a fan of The Witch BUT thought Anya Taylor-Joy delivered a good turn. The same can be said with this. She did the best she could with the character BUT I was just wasn’t emotionally invested like I was with Alicia Vikander.

The corporate angle had potential as the scientists exchanged heated debates over artificial intelligence and profit BUT it never really took off.

“This is not Helsinki. Those were crude prototypes.”

What happened in Helsinki? All we had were endless references to an incident that was never expanded on or explored. This was the only loose thread I wanted to know about? Was there a failure? Did they go Westworld on them? What?!

The pace dragged and all the science-y stuff about Morgan didn’t do anything to help.

Within a month, she was a walking and talking biologically advanced toddler. Within a year, she could control and alter her environment (Why couldn’t we see any of that?). By the age of five, she was  . . . a sulky pale looking teenager in a hoodie. Riiiiggghhhttt.

The creepy Silence of the Lambs vibe was engaging enough as Weathers and Morgan had their intense stare-off and the game of cat and mouse began. The questions piling up. Is Morgan sentient? Is she aware of her abilities? If she can do all these things then why the hell is she sitting in a cell?

Taylor-Joy delivered a masterstroke with the expressions. She looked scary and sincere in the same instance and things (finally) picked up when Paul Giamatti’s Dr Shapiro arrived to perform a psych evaluation.

There was genuine suspense and tension as Shapiro bated Morgan. Questioning her motives and emotions. Goading her to react. A ticking time bomb. I could have watched a whole movie of just that.

The last 20 minutes seemed to realise it was clasping at straws and cranked the pace up to 11 with a frantic, violent and rushed finale.

The only problem was that with this sort of story line, there was only ever going to be two outcomes which made the end result pure predictable hokum.

Once you took away the tension and philosophical sparring, you had something very much like the protagonist; a cold pretty looking effort.

Mark Patten’s cinematography certainly made the idyllic setting surrounding The Facility like a country paradise BUT if Ex Machina hadn’t beaten Scott and co to the punch, this may have fared better.

BUT only ever so slightly.

Despite a talented cast and a mad dash finale, this was tragically flat and disappointing.

Watchable guff BUT nothing to shout home about.

2.5/5

*NEW* DAD’S ARMY REVIEW *NEW*

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This was doomed from the start. PANIC, Mr Mainwaring!

The perfect cast. The wrong script. A real bomb.

The Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon deal with a visiting female journalist (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and a German spy as World War II draws to its conclusion.

Dad’s Army was (and still is) one of the best sitcoms I’ve seen. I was introduced to it (ironically) by my dad and still laugh at the same old scenes and one liners despite knowing every word. It may have been a silly (and dated) show about a bunch of old boys and misfits guarding the cliffs of Dover BUT it was funny.

Not many British sitcoms have fared well making the leap to the big screen and a remake? Well, the less said, the better. When I heard that a remake was on the cards, I was puzzled. Why? Have we really run out of ideas? However, my doubts were relinquished slightly when the cast were revealed. Doubt soon turning to excitement.

BUT that feeling was soon extinguished. Tragically, this failed to stand alone as a homage to the iconic series. The frenetic opening sequence with a couple of MI5 agents chasing a German spy was hardly funny BUT got things going as a piece of important code that “could end the war” landed on the cliffs of Dover with our loveable misfits.

A training exercise to retrieve an escaped bull with the camouflaged covered codgers was hardly laugh out loud BUT it delivered a smile. It was just a shame that there wasn’t enough of those moments.

Toby Jones (Captain America) certainly looked the part and didn’t do a bad effort as Captain Mainwaring. BUT he wasn’t old enough or strong enough. He was far too high pitched and squeaky. It felt like a case of grabbing the smallest oldest British actor they could find. BUT it was always going to be tough to follow in Arthur Lowe’s footsteps.

Daniel Mays (Atonement) played the spivvy Private Walker very well BUT then for anyone whose familiar with his previous roles, this was hardly going to be a stretch. Blake Harrison, on the other hand, was dreadful. On paper, you would have put money on ol’ Neil from the Inbetweeners delivering as simpleton Private Pike. BUT he was highly unfunny and irritating as hell. A running gag involving an obsession with Errol Flynn flicks never got going and failed to deliver one funny quip.

However, plaudits must go to Tom Courtenay (45 Years) and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter). I wasn’t sure what to expect from Courtenay. He was superb and channeled his inner Clive Dunn. He was brilliant. Bumbling and fumbling away. Gambon was delightfully naïve and bashful as Private Godfrey. Standing in Hawaiian gear with a cheesy grin. A curtsy and “a thank you sir” and I was chuckling. I would have been happy to watch these two for the next hour.

However, their absence in the movie left a gaping hole for laughs and gags. What didn’t help was that we had such a dull story line with the gang chasing after Zeta Jones’ flirty journalist.

It was funny at first with every one trying to woo and impress her BUT after half an hour, I was bored. Bill Nighy was disappointing as Sergeant Wilson. There wasn’t enough camaraderie between him and Jones’ Mainwaring. There was too much time spent on him pining for Zeta Jones. Her return to town sparking old feelings.

Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley) was wasted as Wilson’s love interest. A great actress left moping and whining. Shame. I couldn’t remember if the Women’s Front was tackled in the sitcom and it would have been a fresh angle if they had better material.

Disappointing considering the talent. A great cast consisting of the likes of Alison Steadman (Gavin & Stacey), Annette Crosbie (One Foot in the Grave) and Emily Atak (The Inbetweeners). Felicity Montagu (Alan Partridge) did her best with the terribly OTT Mrs Mainwaring. BUT we already had a bunch of old fellas fumbling and falling about to no avail, we didn’t need any more people doing it. Crosbie and Steadman’s detective solving was the only chuckle I got. The only pair who knew what was going on.

BUT then again, there really wasn’t much. The German spy twist was so dreadfully obvious that I wondered why they even bothered. Mainwaring mispronouncing German words was funny for about 30 seconds BUT died a death quickly.

The beach finale delivered a little of what I had expected from the rest of the film. Silly, stupid and funny. A case of too little, too late with Mainwaring mistaken for Churchill. The gang trying to fight with disastrous results. Bill Paterson (Outlander) only got to shine as Private Fraser in this scene. His inevitable catchphrase didn’t quite have the same gusto as John Laurie. Otherwise he was quite weak.

I really wanted this to work BUT it merely delivered moments. Dud’s Army, I’m afraid. The hammy plot bored me that much that I didn’t even clock Ian Lavender’s cameo. This was doomed from the start.

2/5