No Time To Die Trailer 1 Response

Now Marvel, THIS is how you do a spy film.

For those of you who don’t know. James Bond was the creation of the man who won the Second World War using only a dead tramp and a plan so crazy that it just might work (No, seriously, he did that- Google Operation Mincemeat if you don’t believe me.)

However, as well as creating Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – One of the great child’s films of the ’60’s he also inadvertently created the longest continually running film series of all time which have grossed over $7.040 billion in total, making it the sixth-highest-grossing film series to date, .

A franchise I love so much, the tables at my wedding were named after the films. And the musicians played the themes. And I had a 007 tiepin on when I graduated.

Naturally I got married in a tux.

So, now that you know that I…. might not be the most neutral person on the planet going in, lets look at the trailer for the 25th film in the franchise starring a man who was announced as James Bond in 2005 and stopped enjoying the role in  roughly 2007. This is his last spin in the tuxedo and whilst I like some of the things he’s done with the franchise his films as Bond have been hit and miss with me pacing him squarely in the middle of Bonds.

Naturally, Timothy Dalton is my favorite Bond and Licence to Kill my favorite Bond film.

Anyway, No Time to Die Another Day finds us with an apparently retired and destined to be newly single Bond taking on the Phantom of the Opera – seemingly with a link to Léa Seydoux’s Madeline Swann after a request from Felix Leighter brings him back into the game.

And straight off the bat, there’s a lot to love here. The cast is amazing, I will always give some serious praise to the fact that the Bond franchise still seems to have no idea what GGI means, instead stubbornly insisting on doing things for real- even if Rachel Weisz has apparently demanded that Craig stop doing his own stunts as he’s getting on in years.

The cinematography looks great, with director Cary Joji Fukunaga  (Beasts of No Nation/ Jane Eyre (2011)) doing an amazing job with seemingly several different shooting styles in one film.

I like the fact that the gadgets appear to be making a comeback including the legendary Aston Martin DB-5 with arguably the greatest weapons in Bond car history lurking behind the headlights.

The film also seems to be running with the idea that the world kept on needing saving without James Bond and as such gives us Lashana Lynch as Nomi a new 00 agent which fits with Bond cannon. There were always more 00’s in reserve just in case something happened to one of them and 007 is only a designation which bond has as long as he’s good enough to have it.

There seems to be a little more humor (mostly coming from Q as Craig’s Bond is a bit of a sourpuss.) But I do have to question the wisdom of lifting music from Mad Max Fury Road because A) a 250 million dollar budget should be enough to afford someone to write your own damn music and B) as much as I love you Bond, your car scenes won’t be Mad Max good. They just won’t.

Not too sure about bringing back Blofeld though. Yes, he and Bond have more of a book rivalry that Holmes and Moriarity (seriously people, moriarity was in 1!!! Holmes book) but as long as he’s just used to give a bit of exposition and plays no more part in the film I’ll keep my toys mostly in my pram.

But on the whole, his is the first Bond trailer in ages that has made me feel psyched and excited to go and see the film on it’s own merits rather than just ‘because it’s a Bond film.’

Welcome back Mr. Bond – we’ve been expecting you.

21 Bridges Review

21 Bridges is falling down
Falling down, falling down
21 Bridges is falling down
My fair viewer

Build it up with a better script
better script, better script
Build it up with a better script
My fair viewer

Giving it a decent plot

wouldn’t hurt wouldn’t hurt

please give it a decent plot

My fair viewer.

Your also going to need to do something about the absolutely pathetic run-time, wasted central idea and a truly predictable, one dimensional bunch of characters as well.

Aside from that. ‘Tis all good.

Which isn’t to say that the central idea is bad because it isn’t- I mean, an embattled NYPD detective being thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers after uncovering a massive and unexpected conspiracy sounds awesome.

The setups pretty awesome as well. I mean you’ve got everything here to make for a cracking old school cop thriller along the lines of the Steve Mcqueen classic Bullitt just without as good a car chase because no cop film will ever have as good a car chase as Bullitt. Or even something like a really miniaturized version of The Fugitive. Because, believe you, me, you’ve got the ingredients here for something amazing.

I mean you’ve got a cop with a rep being teamed up with a new partner being forced to track down a pair of cop killers whilst tugging on the threads of a conspiracy whilst their all trapped on a island until dawn, at which points the bridges will be re-opened and all the rats will escape into the ether.

Imagine what you could do with that! Allegiances being tested, bonds broken, a ticking clock hurting everyone, the pressure rising as the public becoming angrier and angrier as they realize more and more that their being held hostage by a massive game of hide and seek!

You’ve got the cast for it as well, with Black Panther as the lead, backed up by J. Jonah Jameson holding the politicians at bay, Sienna Miller as his partner and even Taylor Kitsch (thankfully long past Hollywood’s delusion that he was the next big thing.) Getting some work.

Now, all of this could work if the films was allowed the run-time to breathe. And I know that most Hollywood films are in need of another trip to the editing suite but this! By my watch the film had reached a natural conclusion after a truly pathetic 82 minutes and then pottered along for another 10 because it had to reveal the most obvious plot twist since I asked my allegedly full wife where my chips kept vanishing off to.

I mean 82 minutes would have worked if this was the setup to a TV where Black Panther would have realized that although he’s smashed this tentacle by accident, the rest of the vampire squid is still out there, hidden in plain sight.

But this isn’t an opening episode of a TV show, this is an alleged feature length film!

And all of this films issues can be traced back to the run-time! Look, Hollywood, I know that there are loads of kids out there who need make stuff go boom every 2 minutes but there are a few adults left in the world of film lovers who would have loved a film taking it’s time. Because more time= more developed characters. As is, what we know about these people in the first ten minutes is all we ever know about them. Which makes what I guess are supposed to be twists and turns fall completely flat. Which in  film like this is a pretty big hit for a film of this type to take.

You’ve got our alleged villains being directed to villainous helpers who appear to have wandered in from an episode of The Blacklist and help them when there was no way they would lift a finger in the real world.

Then, you have the fact that this film is just action scene after action scene after action scene which are pretty dull with very little time dedicated to actual detective work, interrogating suspects, dead ends, busted leads or even the fact that the clock is ticking and the politicians would be getting antsy. Or as us snarky film types call it THERE IS NO TENSION IN THIS FILM.

And it just blows my mind! I know that this is the directors first (and hopefully last) excursion to the silver screen but surely someone could have pointed out the fact that films like this Need. To. Breathe.

Hmm? Oh, you thought this film was directed by those guys who made Avengers Endgame? Aren’t you adorable. I’m afraid their lovely marketable names merely get a producer credit and I have yet to understand what that means, if indeed it means anything at all. No, the director is some guy called Brian Kirk who has purely done TV series up until this point – which actually explains a lot.

The best I can say about 21 bridges is that it’s a very good idea which has been completely and utterly devastated by a pointless decision to go for the people who need an explosion every five minutes instead of people who just want a good old cop thriller. It doesn’t need any work done to it’s cast but developing the characters would have helped. Bringing in some tension would have helped. A longer run-time would have helped. Doing some work on the plot would have helped. Making the twists actually twisty would have helped as well.

Aside from those little niggles this is my film of the year.

My Score- Skip It.

 

Frozen 2 Review

Frozen 2: Freeze Harder is naturally enough, the sequel to Frozen which, according to my Amazon Prime and in a somewhat off brand move for Disney starred three people stuck on a ski-lift, debating whether ’tis better to freeze to death or help to feed the local wolf population.

Now, i’m not quite sure how such a film made one point two billion dollars but I do know why a sequel has been made – the first film made one point two billion dollars.

But, given that the first film finally stopped my nephew from demanding a dog, and… sleeping, and… eating, and… his parents from talking to me which I really should look into after I finish talking about The Frozen Supremacy I was intrigued as to where the franchise would go.

And to be honest, this film seems a lot more on brand. Instead of 3 idiots getting stuck on a ski-lift you have a Scooby gang of people going to see why one of them has annoyed the spirits of Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, how it links to them having magic powers and to see how many songs you can use to pad out the run-time and sell the soundtrack album.

I do want to say, this film looks amazing, with settings ranging from beautiful forests to darkened caves to raging oceans and it all looks gorgeous. The songs are pretty good- one at about the halfway point that came out of nowhere and caused me to almost die of silent laughter but was the best song in the film.

I liked that the whole idea of one day your prince will come appears to have been quietly dropped and there’s a nice vein of sisters doing it for themselves which I liked.

Didn’t much care for quite a few other things though.

The plot has quite a few big holes – especially at the end and I can see some of the smaller visitors to the cinema being quite scared during a few bits (which I approve of) and having no idea what was going on at others (which I don’t).

Half the songs can be generously described as filler and less generously described as instantly forgettable. That flaming snowman has got to go, his song was the worst, he added nothing to the narrative and this is not a film short of cute characters to market to the kiddy winks at Christmas. Also, this film has way, way, way too many characters, which dilutes from the central narrative.

If someone could explain to me why the spirit of the water is a horse and not say a shark or a whale or even a mermaid I’d be much obliged. I’m sure there’s some mythological reason behind it but it just bugged me all the same.

I will say that the action scenes were really thrilling and well done and the voice cast (with one exception) were utterly brilliant.

I just wish the songs were a little more memorable, the plot a little more worked and a couple of characters removed is all. Otherwise there’s not really much to complain here. It is better than the first one in terms of scale and achievement but it just needed a few more tweaks is all.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have a phone call to make.

My Score – See It

 

Ford v Ferrari/ Le Mans ’66 Review

So here’s one of the questions at the heart of Le Mans ’66 (Ford V Ferrari sounds like the worlds dullest boxing match and wasn’t the title that this film was gifted with in the civilized world.)

How do you make an underdog out of one of the largest and wealthiest corporations to have ever existed when it’s going up against an almost bankrupt competitor?

You don’t.

For most of Le Mans ’66 Ford is the villain and  Ferrari is off to the sidelines which is actually a pretty cool idea as it allows Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon playing someone with minimal backstory and seemingly no social or sex life outside of the narrative) teaming up with Grade A jerk and mindbogglingly brilliant driver Ken Miles (No relation) played in a soon to be Oscar nominated performance by Christian Bale as someone from an as yet undiscovered but constantly moving part of the ‘North’ of England to be the underdogs constantly battling corporate America in a bid to deliver something that was hard enough to begin with.

Perfect.

The other question at the heart of Le Mans ’66 is… how do you make a pretty niche story that should really be of interest only to Top Gear fans, get a budget of 100 million dollars (plus advertising) and then make a profit?

Well, you can’t really go wrong with the good old underdog story, also you get some really like-able actors in, you keep the tone relatively light, have some of the greatest car scenes since Mad Mad Fury Road, allow enough time for the narrative to breathe and there you go.

Now I’m not the biggest car guy (I don’t even drive) but even I was held spellbound by this film as it powered through an epic story whose two and a half hours just flew by with seemingly no fat too cut.

I will say however that to call some of the secondary characters flat is a bit of an understatement. There’s also a really weird issue with the characterization of  Henry Ford II, who gets introduced in a way that makes me wonder if somewhere out there a kids film is missing it’s villain. He then turns into something of an easily manipulated dunce which felt a bit out of place but, then again, beyond Batman no-one gets any real depth or characterization.

Not that it matters really, this is a film about the car races and the people that make the cars race, those magnificent men and their driving machines who make the whole film work. And boy do they make the whole film work. Their tense, exciting, unpredictable and remind us that Motorsport used to be dangerous and there was always a chance that you weren’t coming back from a race, which adds an edge to the utterly thrilling race sequences.

Its a film about people driven attain a goal, fighting seemingly impossible odds to achieve something that’s one one level completely meaningless but to these guys is the holy grail. Whilst it doesn’t really produce characters for the ages (seriously, half the Ford execs are about two scenes away from being foiled by a gang of pesky kids) it also holds some of the best race scenes I think I’ve ever seen and in a film like this- that’s enough.

Check out this film (which even my seriously uninterested in car films wife loved), pick your jaw up off the floor, campaign to get Bale another Oscar, check out 2016 documentary film, The 24 Hour War if you want to know what really happened- it’s even crazier than what was on screen and I’ll see you next time.

My Score- See It 

Doctor Sleep Review

Now, the main thing to do when watching a film about a newcomer to the MCU  – as is presumably the case of this Dr. Sleep person- who is a presume some sort of Spin-off of Dr. Strange is to work out their powers, their limits, how they fit into the MCU as a whole and…

What do you mean this isn’t an MCU film?

A Stephen King film you say? And, why pray do I need another Stephen King film in my life? Really? Was Cell, The Dark Tower, It (Chapters 1 and 2) Gerald’s Game,  Pet Sematary, In the Tall Grass and 1922 in just the last 2 years not enough King for everyone? And there’s three more still to come out??!?!?

Never a communist revolution when you need one.

All right, So Doctor Sleep is ‘The Next Chapter’ of…

The !:!@”! Shining?

Ok, that’s sort of like getting a jobbing painter to paint the Mona Lisa’s sister but whatever keeps the shareholders happy I guess.

So, yeah I was slightly iffy on this going in because well… not only is it a sequel to a masterpiece that still holds up like you wouldn’t believe but the director – Mike Flanagan – whilst having a background in horror hasn’t really done anything with his films to make me think he’d be a good fit for something on this scale. I mean, he did a great job with Ewan McGregor (who’s scariest scene to date has been that baby in Trainspotting) but on the other hand Mcgregor managed to make the Phantom Menace watchable so this may well be a case of the ingredients being better than the chef.

Back with Doctor Sleep and you can call me a bluff old traditionalist but I like it when my horror films are actually scary. I like psychological horrors to get inside my head as I’m walking home and jumping at very shadow creature horrors to make me think there’s someone under my bed and creepy evil society horror films to make me look at everyone more suspiciously than I already do in case they have my designs on my tube seat.

Doctor Sleep did none of these.

In fairness though, this film didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. We start off with Danny Torrence (eventually played by McGregor) recovering from what happened in the original film, still being hunted by the ghouls from the Overlook hotel and desperately trying to escape and/or fight back which worked for me.

And then it was eight years later and I was in the opening film of  YA dystopia trilogy with Abra (Kyliegh Curran) realizing that she has a grab bag of plot relevant powers and is going to be relentlessly pursued by a miscast Rebecca Ferguson as member of a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal and.

Wow wow wow wow wow wow

Now, I’ll confess that it’s been oh… about 5 days since I last saw The Shining but I don’t remember anything about powers stealing immortal death cults, was there a scene in some extended edition I missed??

All right, calm, breathe….New Chapter’ not direct sequel remember?

The remaining 847 years of runtime is basically Abra and Danny trying to defeat the True Knot – who are about as scary as a trick-or-treating pug  and which we are told are ancient, wealthy and connected but which we are shown a bunch of random extras who seem to live in motor-homes along with some possibly interesting characters were they ever to get any development and *Ugh*  Rose the Hat (Fergussen) A fine actor but this role needed an Eva Green or someone else who can be playful and charming, drawing their prey in and then turning on a sixpence when escape is impossible. Think a deep sea anglerfish turned human and you’ve got the idea.

Now, I will confess that the last twenty minutes of this 152 (!) minute drudge really and truly worked and showed me what this film cold have been but buy then it was far, far far too late.

Doctor Sleep did not need to be 152 minutes long. No horror film needs to be 152 minutes long. Especially a film that’s in dire need of a visit from the editors pruning sheers. Where a version to be released with 30 minutes missing I doubt anything of significance would have been lost.

Which is annoying as there’s one good and one generic film in here. If it could make up it’s mind about whether it wants to be a film about a man trying to use his psychic abilities to help others, constantly hunted by things we can’t begin to understand, let alone fight- haunted by his childhood and the madness of his father or is it yet another YA novel about someone discovering that their  special snowflake with powers, getting a mentor, meeting a villain and then sequel-bait?

I know which one I wanted to see. I know which one I PAID to see.

Doctor Sleep- are we sure he’s not in the MCU? Is an Epic misfire. It’s a horror film that isn’t scary, a psychological film that can’t get in your head and just seems confused. It’s two films for the price of one with both hindering the other- with a few could this could have been a 12a action film. All that was missing were the two hunky boys fighting over our lead. It’s characters lack development, it’s villains are told to be one thing and shown to be another and with pretty much the sole exception of it’s first maybe 15 minutes and last 25 the whole thing jut felt sanitized, dull and slow.

My Score- Skip It 

Terminator: Dark Fate Review

“Oh goodie, a new Terminator film. I really must rush out and see that on opening day” Said no-one who went within a 1000 miles of Terminator Genisys…. or Salvation… or rise of the machines…

But rejoice friends as Terminator: Dark Fate has kicked all of those disasters to the kerb! As far as it’s concerned, there are only two terminator movies and all the rest took place in ‘alternate timelines.’

Brilliant.

And whats that I see on the poster? Is that a 15 rating?

Yes. Yes it is.

A 15 rated film with the budget of the latest Marvel super-blockbuster.

What a time to be alive.

And the good news doesn’t stop there. As Terminator: Dark Fate is pretty much a modern day remake of the best- by which I of course mean the first – Terminator film. By which I mean an absolute nobody discovers that they have been targeted for termination by a robot from the future who “doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop… ever, until you are dead!” They have a protector and the film is basically one long chase scene as protector and protected are relentlessly pursued by a seemingly unstoppable killer.

You might remember this as the plot to roughly 850’000 movies and TV shows over the last few years. The best of which was 2014’s It Follows.

Now, on top of a really simple plot, this film has a budget roughly equivalent to the GDP of a small country, it’s directed by the man who also directed Deadpool, it’s got a mostly great cast – i’ll get back to that – so it should be sit back, relax and enjoy, right?

Not quite.

I’ll start with the basic issues. Terminator: Dark Fate, I just know i’m going to screw up and call it Terminator: Dark Pheonix before the end of this review, is just too long. No film which is just a basic chase sequence needs to be 128 minutes. Even Mad Max Fury Road is only 120 minutes and Dark Pheo.. Fate is no Fury Road.

No sir.

A quick trip to the editors suite to remove 15- 20 minutes would have helped this film no end. And they could have done this by removing Arnold Schwarzenegger apart from the first four minutes which I found pretty jaw-dropping.

Yeah…. look, i love Arnie, but he feels forced into this film. If anything, he feels like he’s starring in his own indie film that then gets gatecrashed by this huge blockbuster without so much as a how do you do. Seriously, in some scenes I swear the film forgets he exists and in others he’s just sort of there. I mean I get that he has a story arc of his own but most of it has happened off-screen and to be honest, whilst it is something that I would like to have seen, here it just slows the pace down and got me to wondering why NotSkynet has sent back an unstoppable killing machine the has no ranged weaponry and keeps forgetting to acquire guns. I wouldn’t have minded so much (or noticed at all) were it not for the fact that our hero’s escape by helicopter via the skin of their teeth and the evil terminator- maybe 50 feet away has no recourse but to shoot them a nasty look and slink away.

Which, given that our evil terminator is actually pretty awesome- if a touch sassy for how I like my unstopable, unkillable cyborgs is kind of a tension destroying moment. Which, given that he’s a hybrid of our two original ones is a bit of a buzzkill. I mean he’s got a skeleton like the original but his ‘skin’ is an evil ooze like the T-1000 making him a two for the price of one villain is kind of a slight minus.

Oh yeah, Skynet isn’t the big bad anymore. I mean it is still acting like Skynet but they call it something else so I will as well. If I was to refer to it again in my review.

Which I won’t.

Obviously this film has way too much CGI, to the extent that towards the end I was feeling a bit punch drink- breaking up the CGI with the odd practical effect would allow the eye a chance to reset and always, always, always, looks and ages better than CGI.

The new Sarah Connor, here called Dani Ramos but is basically Sarah Connor mark 2 is fine, her protector is fine, and again, she’s a nify idea. (She’s also called Grace because of course she is) is an augmented human who can sort of go toe-to-toe with the sassinator who even has a monologue of sorts which is seriously out of tune for a freaking terminator but Grace has some seriously cool strengths and weaknesses which I would like to see developed in a future film.

Terminator: Dark Fate works on several levels. It’s a passing of the torch film, a soft reboot, a thrilling if slightly bloated chase film which somehow stands on it’s own. Its not perfect, it needs a trip to the editing suite, some less CGI and more practical effects, its own Terminator to be slightly more menacing and less sassy, also, if your not a fan of films where something goes boom every ten seconds you won’t really find a lot here but  this could have been spoken of in the same breath as the first two films but instead, it truly is the least worst of the other Terminator films and for today, that’s good enough.

My Score- See It 

Zombieland: Double Tap Review

So the first Zombieland came out in 2009 and I didn’t quite get it at the time.

I liked it, but I didn’t quite get it.

I watched it a few days ago and liked it but I didn’t quite get it.

Now, I’ve seen a few people defend it as an American Shaun of the Dead and would like to ask them exactly when the last time they watched Shaun of the Dead as to me, the whole thing played like I was watching someone else playing Left 4 Dead.

10 years later we get a sequel and again, I liked it but I didn’t quite get it.

I’m impressed that the original cast have returned to their roles and that the tone has remained consistent but other than that I still don’t get what all the hype is about.

I mean, not every zombie film has to have something to say (other than the good ones), nor does every zombie film have to be tense with death constantly following our exhausted and overwhelmed survivors who are only one mistake away from becoming a very rare steak. (Other than the good ones)

Because the Zombies in the Zombieland universe seem to pose absolutely no threat to our survivors in any way shape or form. The fact that our survivors seem to have unlimited ammunition and no need to reload doesn’t help.

But maybe i’m over thinking this. Maybe I should just enjoy a film that’s clearly just here to be a sugar rush film with loads of funny(ish) lines, some cool(ish) action, a couple of good actors blowing off steam before going back to acting for a living and that might be enough for some people. Not every film has to be some deep think piece on the human condition after all.

And I liked the characters, as before I gravitated towards Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee as someone who is clearly having a blast in the zombie apocalypse. I mean yes, it’s yet another American film about how ‘family’ is the people that you hang around with but like with Fast and the Furious there’s heart in among the action.

I’d now like to sum up the plot but this film doesn’t seem to have one.

It has four. Sort of.

We have finding a family member that’s gone missing is I guess the central plot, which blends into a road trip movie as well as having to deal with stronger, tougher zombies. Which all sort of blend together in a messy kind of way. But the film doesn’t seem to do anythign with the new superzombies. Nor dies it really do anything with it’s different types of zombies. They all get introduced like their in an old school Guy Ritchie film and then the film has no plans for them so why bother with different types? Just have your standards (or ‘Homers’ as the film calls them) and then the superzombies (or  “T-800” zombies). That would have worked and felt less like a wasted opportunity. Oh and there’s also a subplot about Emma Stones Wichita and Jesse Eisenbergs Columbus having relationship trouble after arguably the dumbest character in film history gets between them. And I have never wanted a character to be eaten by zombies more.

I mean this does feel more like a film and less like a series of zombie shorts than the first and yes, to answer the immortal question I did enjoy this film but it’s a cheesy wotsit of a film. A little puff of taste that doesn’t quite satisfy you, leaves you feeling lightly guilty and then gets all over your hands.

If you liked Zombieland then your going to like this and I can imagine watching it again and enjoying it if I’m channel hopping one night. But I wouldn’t go out looking for it and it’s not a patch on Shaun of the Dead. Which I do frequently go looking for and always enjoy when I catch it when i’m channel hopping late at night.

Zombieland is film as computer game and works on that level with enjoyable characters, some cool moments (a very funny running joke about the groups method of transportation was right up my street.) But this is no classic of the genre and i’m going to forget all about it in ten minutes.

Much like a cheesy wotsit.

My Score- If Nothing Else